The Myth of Full Frame


We (photographers) are all geeks, at least a little. We should go to AA meetings for that, or at least acknowledge the fact that most of us are obsessed by a convention. Oskar Barnack stated long time ago that 36×24 is THE format. Medium format shooters laugh about it, but that’s another story.

We became so obsessed by so-called “full frame equivalent” that we cannot think outside the boundaries that someone built for us.

I’m a film photographer because I like the medium, but I don’t just shoot 135. I love 120 as well and if I could I’d go even for 4×5 or bigger.

I just realized that I’m conformed like sheep into believing that 50, 35, 28, 90 are absolute values and that I should fit into some category.

I’m bloody wrong. When I look through a viewfinder, I’d like to see a certain frame. Who cares which focal I’m using? As long as I’m comfortable with it, as long as I can capture what I want, it doesn’t matter if it’s 35 or 50.

That’s the curse laid upon us by Mr. Barnack, may he rest in peace. In his quest for innovation, he managed to create a myth, the Myth of Full Frame.

We live in a world of standards and standardization, every day we push ourselves to conform, to fit everything into a box, even if it’s a cylinder.

Photography is art, and consumerization feeds on that, forcing us to acquire, leveraging on our will to improve. We are being fooled that our tools will make our work better.

No matter how much real photographers repeat ad nauseam that out gear won’t make us better, we still thrive to acquire better stuff.

I believe that image quality is a crucial part of a succesful picture, but that’s not all. It just makes an already good photo outstanding. Camera makers managed to create APS-C sensors that produce amazing quality. If nobody told us that the camera we used to take a picture wasn’t “full frame” we wouldn’t care. As long as we like what we shot.

Next time I’d buy a lens, I’m going to ask the salesman not to tell me which lens is. I won’t even look. I’d just test it and decide if I’m going to keep it or not.

X-En

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3 responses

  1. Nicely written piece. I agree with you.

    September 23, 2013 at 18:06

  2. I think that camera manufacturers have a great role in this. “Full frame” is also a commercial lever. I share your opinion and I believe that this awareness is part of the growing process as a photo passionate. (I hope so!)

    September 27, 2013 at 14:09

  3. I enjoy reading about your passion for photography and all the things you are teaching yourself about it. That’s what my vlog promotes–self-directed learning.

    September 27, 2013 at 17:00