Photography has been either blessed or cursed in the digital era in terms of sensor size. For one, you’ve got options, and there are certain ‘benefits’ to cropped or full frame sensors, but the behavioral differences between the two are the catalyst for much discussion, debate, and divergent opinions. We all know they’re different, but in what ways and to what degree is usually where the controversy arises. The two most contested talking points when comparing tend to be resolving capability, and then, how DOF and focal length behaviors differ from one size sensor to another. It’s a bit nerdy, but it’s useful.
Understanding the differences can help you in the purchasing process, and in very practical use. For instance, if we accept the fact that compression of a 50mm will be the same on a crop or FX sensored camera, but that the DOF will differ, we can understand what the limitations are, and then choose the right gear for the type of shot we’re going for. Conceptually, it’s not the simplest to grasp or extract from text, but from a visual demonstration, the concept becomes clear and easily understood. The problem is doing the set-up yourself and having all the equipment necessary to conduct such a demonstration isn’t practical for most, but as luck would have it, there’s an online DOF simulator that will help.
Polish Photographer Michael Bemowski has released a bokeh and DOF simulator which can help you to understand the concept of DOF on a whole, and allow you to ‘see’ how an image is affected by various changes in aperture settings, focal length, lens choice, sensor type, and how it all works depending on the distance from the subject and background.
For the record, let’s just be clear that those of you of a DPReview and DxO Mark persuasion will likely find this heinous, and may try to poke holes in it. But it’s not really intended for you if you’ve already got camera theory mapped on the brain. That said, it’s highly customizable and you just may be surprised at one or two things you may find.
For others, this can really be helpful in a myriad of ways. From the changes that you see visually in the preview image, you may be able to understand how to configure your gear to get certain types of shots, and that may highlight for you what type of gear you may be missing, and what you may need to achieve what you want. It’s also a good way to make sense of the numbers and ‘see’ them rather than ‘read’ them.
You can find the web app here, and if you’re interested in the differences that come with a change of sensor size, the following video is sure to be very illuminating.