Canon Crop Comparison: FF vs 1.3x vs 1.6x – Bokeh

Who hasn't wondered what the hubbub is all about. All this "crop factor" talk. Full frame, 1.3x, and 1.6x (well – for the Canon-ites out there).  I think we all understand how it effects the reach of our lenses, but how does it effect the bokeh of our images?

A Quick Re-wind…

For those who may not know the first part of that, it is pretty straight forward.  The crop factor, multiplied times the focal length of your lens, yields an "effective" focal length number, or "35mm film equivalent" number.  A full frame sensor – sized the same as a negative – has a no crop factor, or really a value of one. For Canon, this would be the 5D, and the "s" flavors of the 1D series – the 1Ds, 1Ds Mark II, and the 1Ds Mark III.  Most of the entry level (and again – I'm typing "Canon" speak here) and mid level cameras are 1.6x, (Digital Rebel, 400D, 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D, etc) while the Canon 1D (non "s") cameras toe the line at 1.3x (the 1D, 1D Mark II, and 1D Mark III).

So – in practical numbers (and an easy one at that) if you put a 100-400mm zoom on each of the different crop factor cameras, set it as wide as it could go (at the 100mm position), you would get photos out of them that appeared to be taken at 100mm (the full frame), 130mm (the 1.3x), and 160mm (the 1.6).  This can be a bonus if you are looking for extra reach out of your lens, but can be a detriment if you are looking to get wider angle shots.

Back to the Point of Today's Post…

Okay – the sharp end of today is what about those middle zones… what really is the difference? Does the crop factor make any difference to the photos that would be framed the same in all three ratios?

Let's say three people, one with each crop factor type, see the same subject and want to photograph it. We'll also say that all three people stand the same distance away from that subject and frame their shots the same way through their viewfinders. Okay – and – miraculously enough, all three are using the same lens and decide upon the same settings for f-stop and shutter speed. How will their pictures be different?

Sure – we need to throw out the differences in the sensor's sensitivities, color saturation, etc… those really are not a factor of the crop factor itself, just a part of the construction of the sensor elements and image processing software and firmware.

How the Test was Done…

I have a 1D Mark II N and a 50D, so I had the 1.3x and 1.6x covered; luckily a friend – Kevin – just picked up a 5D. Voila – gotta love a plethora of bodies to test with. Now that the gear was covered, it was pretty easy to configure a test that would minimize differences and allow for valid comparisons.

A few of my vintage cameras soon were on a table with a magazine propped up against the wall to serve as a more defined thing to get out of focus in the background. I mounted my 70-200 f/2.8 L IS to my tripod, and switched off the IS.  To get the same net image, the effective focal lengths had to be the same. For the FF and 1.6, the math was easy, shoot the 1.6 at 100mm shown on the lens, and shoot the FF at 160mm. Some quick math (160/1.3) yielded 123mm for the 1.3x.  We ended up shooting w/ the 50D first, so we metered with it and chose the exposure of 1/10th at f/2.8 (we chose the f stop to minimize the depth of field). Other tidbits – all the cameras were set to "neutral" picture style; RAW;  I shot gray cards to set custom white balance for all three cameras; all were set for mirror lockup and a remote trigger (wired) was used.

After shooting, the images were brought into Lightroom, I did boost the vibrance on the shots from the 50D as the colors looked very different from the other two bodies (more on that later - as in another post). They were then exported as 800px wide images, 70% quality, sharpen for screen (for the "full image" pictures posted here); and as 100% quality, scaled to match the smallest (the 1D) image dimension so that when cropped, they would all be the same size, no sharpening.

The Results…

The three photos below (click to enlarge) are the three "as they filled the viewfinder" images. The 1.6x (50D) at the top; the 1.3x (1D Mark II N) in the middle, and the full frame (5D) at the bottom.




Okay – to sum it up – there is a very noticeable difference between the three photos. Now the distance for these was about 7 feet from the camera to the cameras, and another 8 inches or so to the magazine. The two areas that seem to illustrate the bokeh difference for me are the forearm of the rider and the lettering of Velo News.

On the forearm, the word GARMIN is sorta readable in the 50D (1.6x crop), is a bit blurrier on 1D (1.3x crop) and is darn near un-readable on the 5D (full frame).  In the lettering of the N, you can see how much the orange color expands and blurs as the crop factor gets smaller.

Now, some might think – wow – what if I don't want that much bokeh… I should avoid full frame… Nope – just don't shoot at f/2.8.  You can add depth of field by going to f/4 or f/5.6.

The key thing here is, if you are looking for MORE bokeh, moving to a full frame sensor camera body will do the trick. It isn't just buzz… it is very noticeable.

Thanks for reading!

Canon EOS 40D Body and BG-E2 Grip – Both SOLD!

Okay – with the arrival of the 1D Mark II N, that brings me to three's a crowd for camera bodies. I'll keep my 50D as my backup, and will prob use the 50D for jobs it is better suited for than the 1D.

With that in mind – I'll get you to the nitty gritty:

Canon EOS 40D Body Only - 27,033 Actuations – great shape – clean sensor – $635 SOLD

Canon BG-E2 - Primarily used on backup body – great shape – $120 SOLD

Together – $745

Price Includes PayPal fees, and USPS Priority Mail shipping to the lower 48. Insurance and or expedited shipping can be added at cost. Best bet is to contact me here with questions or "I want to buy!" messages…

Now that's out of the way – the details! Oh – and you can click on any of the photos to enlarge.

Canon EOS 40D – Body Only40D-001-6096

This was purchased 31 August 2007 as a part of a kit with a 28-135 lens. I sold the lens when I got the kit – the lens is NOT included in this sale.

Other than the lens (sold a while back) and the video cable (no clue where this went to as I don't ever recall using it), I have all the other original contents of the box. User manuals, software disc, documentation/guide disc, quick ref guides, various "system diagrams" and other canon marketing material. I also still have the body cap, strap, battery, and battery charger. I'm sure I can get a copy of the orig receipt from

This camera was my main shooter till I purchased my 50D, 18 September 2008. It was mainly used at a velodrome in the area, shooting track cyclists. It was also used for architectural work (indoor and outdoor) as well as some other general photography and portrait work. It was never used in the rain or in any other inclement weather. Never used in dusty conditions.

The body itself is in great cosmetic shape. It always had a battery grip mounted so the bottom corners and bottom of the camera are pristine. There was also usually an L-Plate mounted as well. There is just a little bit of "polish" around the index wheel and shutter button, but no scratches, dings, or other damage to the exterior of the camera.

The sensor is clean. I can send a recent pic – straight from the camera – of a light colored surface if you would like to pixel peep to check cleanliness of the sensor. According to the software I reviewed here, the shutter has 27,033 actuations on it. It still shoots like a dream.

The display is bright and, like the body, scratch and mar free.

I think the photos show the condition very well, I'll revise this post soon to link to some examples of images taken with this camera.

40D-002-6108 40D-003-6109 40D-004-6111 40D-005-6112 40D-006-6113 40D-007-6115 40D-008-6116 40D-009-6117 40D-010-6118 40D-011-6119

Canon BG-E2 SOLD!BG-E2-001-6092

This was purchased in July of 2007 when I bought my 30D. When I got the 40D a month or so later, I purchased a second battery grip which stayed on my primary camera… So this BG has almost always been on my backup body so it has had very little actual shooting use. The index wheel, shutter button, and the other buttons all feel like new. The grip is cosmetically pristine except for a bit of "shine" to the corners of the grip. There are two minor scuffs to the grip near the shutter button from the grip getting set on concrete from time to time during shoots. There is a photo that shows the slight scuffs pretty well.

I still have the instruction sheet, the original box, and the AA battery tray.

BG-E2-002-6083 BG-E2-003-6084 BG-E2-004-6085 BG-E2-005-6086 BG-E2-006-6087 BG-E2-008-6090 BG-E2-007-6089

Again – $635 for the 40D… $120 for the BG-E2 SOLD!…  Price includes PayPal fees, and USPS Priority shipping to lower 48. Insurance and expedited shipping can be added at cost.

Contact me here with any questions… or leave a comment below…

Thanks for reading!

Canon EOS 1D Mark II N – First Impressions…

Well, it has been far too long since I've posted to my blog. What better occasion than to discuss some new gear.

I've been toying with which "Pro" body to step up to for quite a while. I've jonesed for both of Canon's 1D Mark III variants – one for sports, the S for architectural work and portraits, but just couldn't rationalize the money for a) the amount of shooting – my photog biz is steady, but not my main gig; and 2) [sic] because technology is changing soooo quickly right now, I didn't want to jump on the bandwagon and have buyer's remorse.

I know waiting was the right decision, primarily as the 5D Mark II has whet my appetite for the next gen of sensors from Canon, and because of the (you make the call about the severity of the) focusing "thing" with the 1D Mark III.

What I did need was better AF performance at the velodrome. With racers coming at me at varying angles and ever changing relative speeds (the joys of tracking fast folk flying by from one spot on the track's apron), the 40D was okay, the 50D had been a bit better; but I wasn't getting the raved about 1D Mark II "best of breed" AF performance.

As I mulled over my decision, I'd kept my eyes peeled on prices, and recently a friend sent me a link to a 1D Mk II N that I couldn't resist. After you take out the included 2 day air, the included L-bracket (no – not a RRS – but a nice Kirk none the less) and the extra battery's cost - the body only set me back around $1200 or so – a screamin' deal as I've seen abused bodies sell on eBay for well over $1,600.

As advertised, the body is in great shape cosmetically, has (according to exif data - which isn't infallible – but I trust the seller's rep – so I still think it is accurate) about 46k actuations, and other than a wee bit of dust on the sensor, is in amazing shape.

I've had it since Friday, and started learning it Saturday; so far about 500 shots in the "cards" so to speak…

A few obvious (and some not so) tidbits so far:

  • AF is worlds better than anything I've shot before - can't wait to get to my first race
  • Faster to pick up new menu/controls after initial "this is nothing like my xxD series controls at all – I'll never learn this" impression – LOL
  • Need to use firewire cable, not USB, to control or config this camera. This changed for the Mk III series, but seems the driver isn't windows 64 bit compatible either. So I've had to put a fw card in my old desktop to adjust the personal settings on the camera
  • The heft to this thing just feels substantial and bomb-proof
  • I dig the ability to make my own file prefix (subtle and geeky, I  know… but I do dig it)
  • Looking forward to 5 and 7 shot brackets (xxD limited you to 3)
  • The sound of the shutter is mesmerizing
  • IQ at 1600 is (as I understood from research) pretty amazing and very usable, haven't tried the 3200 push yet.
  • There is a richness to the images that just isn't there in the xxD bodies I've shot. Suffice to say – you get what you pay for!
  • Sharpness of my L glass is more apparent with this body.

That's about it for now. I'll be blogging about my reasons for buying used (I've been a new gear guy, for my bodies at least, in the past), comparisons (as unfair as they may be) to my 40D (while it lasts) and my 50D; bokeh diffs between a 1.6 and 1.3 crop (and I'll have FF to work with as well on loan); and whatever else may come up from the next few weeks of learning this beast. I've also just picked up a nice copy of the EF 17-40 f/4 L – so there will be info about it as well.

Thanks for reading!