On cropped sensor (dis)advantage

I like to be able to get close to the airplane I photograph, to be able to see what the pilot is doing in the cockpit, especially when the sky is not so interesting (not often it happens to be for 4 days in Oshkosh and have 3 days of dramatic clouds). This was one of the reasons I was a bit worried when I packed full frame Nikon D800 and “only” 300 mm lens (long end of zoom). At the same time, I took my Nikon D300 with me, for a last trip before I part with this camera. And I was shooting exclusively D300 for few days, before my husband made me think a bit more and eventually give up and move to unbelievable sharp D800.

My thinking:
– I can use crop sensor in D300 advantage to “extend” 300 mm lens and get 450 mm lens, better than if I had teleconverter on D800 (which does not work, see yesterday’s post in the subject).

My husband thinking:
– With three times more pixels on D800 (36 Mpx camera) than on D300 (12 Mpx camera), you can crop a lot out of image and still be ahead.

I don’t necessarily agree. Not only I prefer to have final crop in the camera (there is some craft in that), but also not so critical sharpness will do better on uncropped image. Regardless of pixels. But the numbers don’t lie… Three time more pixels beats 1.5 times closer view.

Cessna 150F crop duster at Airventure 2013, Oshkosh, WI