Used Cars and Cropped Sensors: A Boxing Day Story

Happy Boxing Day, whatever the hell that is.

Today has been a day for used car shopping. I mentioned that we had become a one car household. Well, that didn’t last long. We gave our Mazda CX5 to my step daughter. After a week of driving it she was very displeased. I’m not sure exactly what her issue was but she wanted to trade in the car and get something smaller with better gas mileage. Okay, so maybe I did know what her issue was. We said no, just give us the car back and we’ll help you buy a new car. Today became that day.

We journeyed South to The Auto Mile. If you live in Massachusetts, you know of what I speak. We found something suitable at the second dealer we visited. A not-too-terribly old Hyundai Elantra. We then spent eons handling financing and paperwork and insurance calls and all of that. The car may be ready for pick up tomorrow, or failing that Wednesday. When we pick it up Bellana will take ownership and we’ll take the Mazda back and be a two car household again.

The car purchasing process went very smoothly, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s the second most stressful shopping experience one can have in modern day America. The only thing worse is buying a house, and that is WAY worse. In the end though, all went well and Bellana will have a more suitable car going forward. I am pleased.

The other note worthy story on this day after christmas has to do with my awesome new camera. My seriously ass kicking new camera. My old camera is a Nikon D90. The sensor on that camera is cropped, meaning it is smaller than a full frame sensor. The term “full frame” is not a standard, as every camera manufacturer has it’s own spec, but basically it’s supposed to be about the same size as the film that is exposed when the shutter opens on a 35mm camera. For Nikon, cropped sensors are called DX and full frame sensors are called FX. They make lenses that are specifically designed for one or the other, though they can be used interchangeably. the catch when you mix DX and FX is that the focal lengths the lenses see are different and, I didn’t know this until late last night, the resolution on the images might be off.

A month or two ago when I was researching upgrading my D90 for the first time, I am pretty sure I wrote a post about it, I was looking at new DSLRs and mirrorless cameras that were DX format so that I could use my existing collection of (three) lenses. The camera that Santa brought me is an FX format. I knew that my lenses would work fine (with an adapter as the mirrorless cameras have a new lens mount) so I didn’t think twice. Then, after uploading a bunch of pictures to Flickr, I took a look at the resolution of the images that were uploaded and was really surprised to see that it was lower than images from my D90. The D90 is a 12 megapixel camera and the christmas Z5 is a 24 megapixel camera. How could Z5 pics have a lower resolution than D90 pics?

To the Google I go!

Oh, that’s why. When the Z5 sees a DX lens it automatically crops the images down to 10 megapixels because there is a percentage of the sensor that the lens does not cover. It makes sense when you think about it. I just didn’t think about it at first. The images it takes are still seriously awesome, it just means I will need to get an FX lens to take full advantage of what the new camera has to offer. Nikon makes a few budget friendly Z mount prime lenses, including a 40mm and a 28mm, both with apertures that open up to less than f3. I think the 40mm goes to f2 and the 28mm goes to f2.8, though I might have those backwards. I’ll start with one of those lenses, probably the 40mm, and will hopefully be able to swing it before Disney World next week, though we did just buy a car so who knows. The lenses I have are perfectly fine so if I can’t get it done in time I won’t be upset, I’d just like to have 24 megapixel shots of Mickey Mouse if possible, you know?

And there you have it, the two major stories from Boxing Day 2022. What’s up for the rest of the day? Well first I am going to wait for my stomach to stop hurting due to trying to eat my lunch (three meatballs totaling five ounces and about 30 grams or protein, assuming Google gave me accurate information), and then we’ll see. I think I am going to start taking down christmas decorations, specifically the tree as it’s dead dead dead. I might also go food shopping because christmas is over and it’s time to start cooking meals for reals again. For now though, wish my stomach luck.