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The Half-Frame Fiasco
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Half-Frame sensor

Half-Frame Sensor Outline. It helps me keep adding to this site when you use these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, Calumet, Ritz, J&R and eBay to get your goodies. Thanks! Ken.

January 2009


Ritz Camera

I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R.


Having worked in marketing, where we had to dream up all these tricks, it's rare that I get scammed myself. When I do get scammed, I always get a huge kick out of it.

This is why I'm so humored that this misrepresentation completely flew under my RADAR until now.

I've long let everyone know that megapixels are a scam measurement devised by camera marketers to exaggerate the very small differences in camera resolution. Instead of counting the pixels in one dimension, camera makers instead multiply horizontal and vertical together to double the apparent percentage difference between today's and yesterday's otherwise identical camera models.

For instance, a 10MP camera sounds twice a good as a 6MP camera. A 6MP DSLR file is 3,008 x 2,000 pixels, and a 10 MP DSLR image is merely 3,883 x 2,582. Is 3,883 much bigger than 3,008? No, but multiplying the horizontal and vertical together you get 10MP instead of 6MP makes the newer camera sound like a big deal.

Now we get to the puny half-frame sensors that have been pawned off on amateurs since 1999.

We all know about the crop factor, but what flew under my RADAR is that you'll never see any camera company multiply the horizontal and vertical crop factors together to show you the actual sensor size.

Nikon's DX has a 1.52x crop factor. That means the DX sensor's area is only 1/(1.52 x 1.52), or 1/2.3, or less than half the size of a full-frame sensor!

DX is less than a half-frame sensor! I've been scammed! All these years I figured 1.5x was no big deal.

Also notice how the scammers use the reciprocal, so instead of saying a sensor is 0.67x the proper size, they've instead been saying it's 1.5x, which sounds like it's bigger. This is classic marketing 101.

Don't laugh. When I was in marketing in a multi-billion dollar automotive and electronics giant, we sometimes would deliberately chose product names that subtly sounded like dirty words people would like, and these were products formally sold to very serious customers!

Here's a table:

Sensor Size (area)
FX, 35mm film
100% (Full-Frame)
Canon 1.3x
Leica M8
57% (half-frame)
Nikon DX
Canon 1.6x
35% (one-third-frame)
4:3 System
25% (quarter-frame)

Hee hee, Sigma's pathetic little sensors are only third-frame, and the 4/3 system is only a quarter of a sensor!



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If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

The biggest help is to use these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, Calumet, Ritz, J&R and when you get your goodies. It costs you nothing and is a huge help to me. eBay is always a gamble, but all the other places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

Thanks for reading!


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