Re: Fascination with full frame?
As someone who started photography with a digital SLR in 2005 and has never used (nor ever will) 35mm film, "full frame" is an entirely foreign concept in which I have no interest.
I currently use a Leica M8. I will not "upgrade" to the M9 because, to me, it's not much of an advance if you disregard the full-frame sensor (in fact, losing the auxiliary LCD makes it a downgrade for a photographer used to digital camera norms). I wish Leica had kept the 1.3 crop sensor and instead spent their money on improving the camera in other ways and keeping the camera affordable.
Full frame digital cameras are of minority interest, and as photographers who grew up with 35mm film disappear, the full-frame format will become even more niche (like 645 - not quite dead, nor will be).
As I've mentioned, I've not used 35mm film, and won't buy a full-frame camera (film or digital) because the slightly larger format is not sufficiently different from what I'm used to (APS, i.e. 1.3 or 1.6 crop). However, I've recently started a master's degree in photography, and took the opportunity to try the university's equipment - medium- and large-format film cameras, and a digital back.
Medium-format film? Nah... Current high-end digital SLRs give similar results, as does the digital back.
Large-format film? That is sufficiently different from the normal sensor sizes (i.e. everything not a digital back) to make it worthwhile - at least while large-sensor digital cameras like the Leica S2 and Phase One backs remain out of my reach.
As an aside, I've now bought a large-format film camera - which I'm using in a hybrid process: scanning reclaimed Fuji instant film negatives and printing digitally (inkjet prints now last longer than traditional C type "silver" prints). This is as close to my digital way of shooting as I can get with film - Fuji instant film giving me speed (with immediate development) and immediate feedback (I use the instant print like a digital camera's LCD).
Most of the photography students on the MA are young, in their 20s, and, like me, see the attachment to full frame as a bizarre fetish. I - and my fellow students - have no problem moving easily between formats, and between film and digital, choosing the medium and format to suit meet the aims of their photograph/project.
So, in conclusion, the existence of full frame today is largely driven by a previous generation of photographers, and its niche position reflects the ageing demographic of this group. In time, as digital sensors and computers become increasingly powerful, and the "35 film" demographic dwindles, full frame will disappear - as will associated "legacy" technology that this rather Luddite generation seems peculiarly attached to (an example being the optical viewfinder - modern electronic viewfinders, or the LCD, are more than adequate, and better than the ground glass used in previous cameras and still in some current ones - like my 4x5 large-format one).
Last edited by RichC; 02/03/12 at 10:28.