Is FF really better than m43? and why?

Started Jun 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
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marike6 Senior Member • Posts: 5,071
Re: Is FF really better than m43? and why?

For portraiture, (like the image you posted) FF will allow you go get better DOF control, and blow out the background without using extremely large apertures or without having to move extremely close to your subject.

I'm guessing that you also did some post processing to your image as 112mm @ f6.3 on m43, the man's left eye is OOF, as are his right ear and shoulder.

So I'm assuming you used a some kind of Gaussian Blur in Photoshop, but the layer mask you used didn't fully protect the subject.

Post work is fine, but can be extremely time consuming and even when done well, it almost never looks as good as natural bokeh. For example there is no way to get "bokeh balls" will a blur filter in Photoshop.  And as in your image, it's easy to blur part of the subject if you are not careful.

On FF, it's easy to get subject/background separation with the equivalent of what you used (i.e., 100mm @ f5.6-8 as the three images below show).  None of these are masterpieces, but I attached  them because they use a similar aperture and focal length as the OPs image.

110mm @ f5

105mm, 1/40 @ f5.6, ISO 6400.  This kind of bokeh would not be possible with a simple Gaussian Blur in PS, AFAIK.

f/7.1 @ 130mm and good subject/background separation with both eyes are in focus (even though she's squinting in the Athens sun).

Body Design:

There are other reasons to use FF like bright 100% Pentaprism VFs, larger more robust weather sealed bodies built for the rigors of outdoor use, and can be operated easily with gloves on in the winter.

Image Quality:

The IQ advantages of FF are obvious. m43 has closed the gap somewhat, but it's still lags behind the best of APS-C.  FF cameras provide in some cases 1 1/2 to a full 2 EV better high ISO ability, better DR and color depth.  So depending on what you shoot, this may be significant.  A wedding shooter for example, will benefit not only from the great DOF control, but will be able to get cleaner files with richer colors at any given ISO in natural light (Churches are not known for the good light).

Resolution:  other than Medium Format, the current highest resolving cameras are the FFs.  m43 will have a bit of a problem in upping it's resolution beyond 16 mp, as the small sensor jam packed with pixels will see diffraction earlier in the aperture scale than now (Thom Hogan in his review of the Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 talks about diffraction limitations 1 EV from wide open.  On a potential 24 mp m43 sensor, this kinds of issues will only get worse.  Of course all formats have to deal with this problem, but the large FF sensor has more real estate to add pixels).

Lenses: There are simply more FF lenses than any other format with the exception of APS-C, a crop format that has the advantage of being able to mount both dedicated APS-C lenses like the Tamron 17-50 2.8 and FF lenses like the Nikon or Canon 50 1.4.  But FF has available every lens imaginable including specialty lenses like Tilt-Shift, 3 focal lengths of macro (60mm, 105mm, 200mm), fish-eye (circular and 180 degree), etc.

Wide angle and Ultra-Wide Angle lenses are far more plentiful than in m43 what has only a few rectilinear wide angle lenses - Panasonic 14 f/2.5, Olympus 12 f/2 and Panasonic 7-14 f/4, both of which are quite expensive (SLR Magic makes a 12 f/1.6, a good lens, but MF and fairly expensive).

Telephoto lenses benefit from the 2 times crop factor of m43, but choices in telephotos are limited to slow speed variable aperture zooms, i.e., f/4-5.6 lenses.  (There is no such thing as a pro-grade 300 f/4, 300 2.8 and up telephoto prime in m43, which could be a problem depending on what you shoot).

Anyway, I enjoy my m43 cameras, which are great for certain applications like for travel, street photography, and in the case of the GH2, video.  But for the ultimate IQ, or for the most important photo trips and travel locations, I always have my FF DSLR with me.

Cheers and happy shooting, Markus

 marike6's gear list:marike6's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P330 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Nikon D800 Fujifilm X-E1 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH +7 more
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