Another Olympus E-M1 and SONY a7 walkabout test, high ISO

Started 7 months ago | Discussions
blue_skies
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Re: Thanks for the truth!
In reply to Lab D, 7 months ago

Lab D wrote:

blue_skies wrote:

Henry showing the difference between sensors

It is very clear that (me) stating that a 4x sensor difference yields a roughly 2x stop difference is a VERY BIG DEAL. Well, the A7 has 1.5x stop and the A7r has 1.8x difference (if I calculated correctly).

Could you show us where on the DxO graph between ISO100 and ISO6400 where the differences are 1.5 and 1.8 stops? Just answer with the specific ISOs please.

I see about 1/2 at almost every ISO, but not anywhere near the 1.5 you keep dreaming of.

Again, compare the ISO scores at http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A7-versus-Sony-A7R-versus-Olympus-OM-D-E-M1___916_917_909

See my other comments in my response to Anders here http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53017553

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Cheers,
Henry

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blue_skies
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Re: So what's the consenses between the E-M1 vs A7 regarding noise in stops?
In reply to Lab D, 7 months ago

Lab D wrote:

skyglider wrote:

There's been a lot of data posted in this thread. But I'm still left wondering. Which camera system will produce better looking images with less noise in low light situations like an indoor wedding at a dimly lit church (no flash allowed)?

  1. Micro 4/3: OMD E-M1 with the 12-40mm, F2.8 Pro lens?
  2. Full Frame: Alpha 7 with the kit 24-70mm F3.5 - F5.6 OSS lens?

Sky

Sony has a 28-70 f3.5-5.6 lens and an expensive 24-70 f4 lens.

The 28-70 is a poor kit lens. The other is much better.

What does "poor" mean in this context?

Have you used it? Have you read the reviews?

It gets high remarks for a kit lens.

The Olympus is a stop faster, has a wider range and makes a great close up lens.

Yes, but it is a f/5.6 lens in FF equivalent terms. That is the slow end of the 'poor' kit lens (hint - it is not that poor).

So, what is the answer to Sky's question?

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Cheers,
Henry

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Ulric
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Re: So what's the consenses between the E-M1 vs A7 regarding noise in stops?
In reply to skyglider, 7 months ago

skyglider wrote:

There's been a lot of data posted in this thread. But I'm still left wondering. Which camera system will produce better looking images with less noise in low light situations like an indoor wedding at a dimly lit church (no flash allowed)?

  1. Micro 4/3: OMD E-M1 with the 12-40mm, F2.8 Pro lens?
  2. Full Frame: Alpha 7 with the kit 24-70mm F3.5 - F5.6 OSS lens?

Sky

I for one wouldn't want either of those for that purpose.

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Daniel Wee
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Re: Thanks for the truth!
In reply to Anders W, 7 months ago

So, let me see if I can summarize some of what I understand from this debate:-

IF the following conditions are true:-

a) your mFT glass is 1-stop faster than your FF glass
b) you want to preserve the same DoF
c) you want to preserve the same shutter speed

THEN you will be able to shoot at 1-stop ISO advantage over the FF camera. For instance - mFT ISO 1600 0.8 sec @F1.4 vs. FF ISO 3200 0.8 sec @F2.8

On the other hand, IF the following conditions are true:-

a) you want to preserve the same DoF
b1) you don't care to preserve the same shutter speed
OR b2) your mFT glass is not 1-stop faster than the FF glass
OR b3) you are prepared to down-sample the FF image to the mFT size

THEN the above stated advantage no longer holds.

In terms of shooting for same DoF AND same shutter speed (something I personally don't worry too much about), you'd have something like the following two images:-

a7 ISO 3200, 0.8 sec @F8

E-M1 ISO 1600, 0.8 sec @F4

While by no means comprehensive or scientific, based on these two images, I would conclude, based on visual inspection, that:-

a) the a7 noise at ISO3200 is marginally less than the E-M1 noise at ISO1600
b) this advantage is even more pronounced when we downsample the a7 image to the same size as the E-M1

I usually shoot in aperture priority because I want to get the lowest DoF possible. Not always, but this is a personal preference. Furthermore, I like the CZ 55mm F1.8 but don't have any glass that can do F0.9 for mFT in my arsenal. Certainly none that will AF. Since I don't print, downsampling seems to be the norm when used with many web applications.

Therefore, for people who shoot like me, for whom:-

a) shallow DoF is a priority
b) maintaining the exact same shutter speed is not a priority
c) downsampling is always an option

The advantages of E-M1 over the a7 stated in this debate would lose some of their relevance. Furthermore, even if the conditions were met where the E-M1 could shoot at a stop better than the a7, there doesn't seem to be that much of an advantage noise-wise, judging from the samples above. Lastly, the a7 can go as low as ISO 50 so where shutter speed is not a constraining factor, there are more advantages that can potentially be realized, just as IBIS affords other potential advantages for the E-M1 in other situations.

So while I really love my E-M1 and its lenses, I think that in all fairness, for users who share my preferences and style, the noise advantage of the FF a7 is quite evident. I can also see that where the E-M1 has some real advantages is when you want the fastest shutter speed possible for a given DoF (and noise level). That said, for general usage, most of these issues don't come to mind - we just do whatever we need to go get the shot. So, hopefully, this is a fair summary of the debate as it relates to general usage - each tool for it's job.

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Daniel Wee
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Re: So what's the consenses between the E-M1 vs A7 regarding noise in stops?
In reply to Ulric, 7 months ago

I would possibly use both cameras, with primes. I have the Olympus 12-40 and it's an amazing lens. It's also plenty fast but for indoor weddings, it doesn't beat the primes. I would put a Olympus 45mm F1.8 or the venerable PanaLeica 25mm F1.4 on that. As a matter of fact I might just put my Olympus 12mm F2.0 on it for the wide shots because SONY doesn't yet have native fast auto-focusing wide angle lenses for the a7/r system yet. When it does show up, I suspect it will be large and expensive too.
Then for the a7, the kit lens just doesn't cut it. I'd go with the Carl Zeiss 55mm F1.8 for beautiful boken and isolation (shallow DoF). The Carl Zeiss 35mm F2.8 would be a secondary choice. This way, I can use both cameras where they're strong.

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Anders W
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Re: Thanks for the truth!
In reply to blue_skies, 7 months ago

blue_skies wrote:

Anders W wrote:

blue_skies wrote:

Anders W wrote:

Henry showing the difference between sensors

Lol, instead of 2x I will use 1.5x for A7 and 1.8x for A7r. So, at equivalency, the M1 will be slightly better?

Sorry but apparently you still didn't get it. As you can see from the diagram above, the E-M1 is about 1.5 EV ahead for equivalent images and about 0.5 EV behind for non-equivalent ones (same exposure, different DoF).

Hopefully, you also remember this part of our exchange:

Henry said: and the difference, even per DxO, they rate the ISO performance for the cameras as EM1/A7/A7r as 757/2248/2746. Two stops would have been 3028. So we all agree?

Anders W said: Not quite. While these figures too show the difference to be less than two stops, they underestimate the actual advantage of the E-M1 for equivalent images. The DR curve posted by Lab D provides a better indication with regard to shadow noise, which in turn is the most apparent problem in high ISO shooting. What the curves indicate is that the E-M1 is about 1.5 stops ahead of the A7/A7R for equivalent images (DoF held constant) and about 0.5 EV behind at the same exposure (and different DoF).

But the A7/r do allow trading DOF and noise.

So of course does the E-M1. It's just a matter of how far you want to take that trade. If, as a rule, you don't want more shallow DoF than you can get with a fast MFT prime, you will lose rather than gain signal-noise performance by choosing the A7/r.

We are only as relentless as you force us to be.

Lol, that is because you take every statement and keep adding and rebutting.

No that's because you persist, in the most arrogant manner (just look at your first reply to Lab D here) in repeating your factual errors.

Lab D has a history of being very arrogant to a number of specific people, including me, hence the tone of my response. Sorry if that hit a nerve, but I am merely responding to him.

I am not familiar with that history. Could you please exemplify.

Furthermore, you were factually wrong and he was right. Why not learn from those who know more rather than treat them with scorn?

As to the graph that you keep posting, I think that is a very specific interpretation. It is an 8Mp print measured graph, not the actual sensor/image resolution, and there have been lots of debates on this.

DxO normalizes the pixel count to 8 MP in order not to disadvantage sensors with higher pixel counts in comparison with sensors with lower. What's wrong with that?

Please read http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/dxomark_sensor_for_benchmarking_cameras2.shtml and correct or not, it does bring enough questions to the table to try to understand what DxOMark is measuring.

I have read that long ago. So what?

I think that DxOMark should be applauded for what they did, and - to my very simple naive interpretation - they put out an ISO level on their score page http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-A7-versus-Sony-A7R-versus-Olympus-OM-D-E-M1___916_917_909 which I do find relevant for the various sensor formats.

I have already explained why going by that score is not a good idea.

Each camera model begins to exhibit visible noise at their rated ISO level - I can attest to that from my own usage, as well as the various reports that are out there (dpreview).

Each camera model exhibits noise at every ISO, just more or less so. The point is that the DxO ISO score does not reflect signal-noise performance where it is worst and therefore the most disturbing: in the shadows.

DxOMark also reports an overall sensor score, and lens+camera combinations. You may agree or disagree with their metrics, but they do help interpreting the data.

No, they don't help me interpret the data. I ignore the scores, and the same is true about virtually all technically knowledgeable people I am aware of. If you understand the measurements, there is no reason to rely on arbitrary scores.

DxOMark shows, per the ll article, that larger sensors do not maintain the efficiency of smaller sensors, so "there may be some headroom left for the engineers/manufacturers". And it highlights your claims that smaller sensor perform better, in comparison.

Yes, smaller sensors tend to have better efficiency.

But I agree with the DxOMark interpretation: larger sensor outperform smaller sensor. At least in terms of noise. They have hang their ratings on this for a long time, and many do agree to their way of classifying cameras (and sensors).

Larger sensors outperform smaller in terms of noise only if DoF is left out of the IQ equation. That's an arbitrary decision with which I don't agree. If this arbitrary decision is reversed, it's the other way around.

How much, and by which difference - that is a long debate going on here - technical or not, when I see images side by side, I see less resolution and more noise on smaller sensor cameras. Perhaps the images are not matched in equivalency, and your reasoning holds up, but I would not shoot a small sensor camera at high ISO while I would not be afraid to shoot a larger sensor camera at high ISO.

I am afraid that what you'd personally do or not does not amount to a compelling argument.

Theory or not, practicality prevails. I am happy with my low light/low noise results. Perhaps your equivalency analysis holds merit, I am trading shallow DOF when lights are low (indoors), or I use the flash to get a different effect.

As a rule, I am not interested in trading more DoF than I can with a fast prime on MFT. Flash is of course an option regardless of the sensor size.

With a smaller format sensor, I already feel like being in a corner - hence the migration to larger sensors.

I don't. On the contrary, the smaller sensor buys me more versatility.

And sorry, per all the discussions, I do not see m43 matching FF for low light applications.

It outdoes FF for low light applications when DoF is considered.

You may say that DOF gets too shallow, I would say that DOF gets too deep.

Can we agree to disagree?

This last point is not a matter of fact but of preference so I have no trouble agreeing to disagree.

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Lab D
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Re: Thanks for the truth!
In reply to blue_skies, 7 months ago

blue_skies wrote:

Anders W wrote:

blue_skies wrote:

Anders W wrote:

Henry showing the difference between sensors

Lol, instead of 2x I will use 1.5x for A7 and 1.8x for A7r. So, at equivalency, the M1 will be slightly better?

Sorry but apparently you still didn't get it. As you can see from the diagram above, the E-M1 is about 1.5 EV ahead for equivalent images and about 0.5 EV behind for non-equivalent ones (same exposure, different DoF).

Hopefully, you also remember this part of our exchange:

Henry said: and the difference, even per DxO, they rate the ISO performance for the cameras as EM1/A7/A7r as 757/2248/2746. Two stops would have been 3028. So we all agree?

Anders W said: Not quite. While these figures too show the difference to be less than two stops, they underestimate the actual advantage of the E-M1 for equivalent images. The DR curve posted by Lab D provides a better indication with regard to shadow noise, which in turn is the most apparent problem in high ISO shooting. What the curves indicate is that the E-M1 is about 1.5 stops ahead of the A7/A7R for equivalent images (DoF held constant) and about 0.5 EV behind at the same exposure (and different DoF).

But the A7/r do allow trading DOF and noise.

So of course does the E-M1. It's just a matter of how far you want to take that trade. If, as a rule, you don't want more shallow DoF than you can get with a fast MFT prime, you will lose rather than gain signal-noise performance by choosing the A7/r.

We are only as relentless as you force us to be.

Lol, that is because you take every statement and keep adding and rebutting.

No that's because you persist, in the most arrogant manner (just look at your first reply to Lab D here) in repeating your factual errors.

Lab D has a history of being very arrogant to a number of specific people, including me, hence the tone of my response. Sorry if that hit a nerve, but I am merely responding to him.

Anyone can look through my history and see that is false.  Please stop resorting to insults. I invite everyone to look at your history too.  From the threads you started you have a clear agenda.

You never answered the simple question about the graph.  Anders has tried to help you too.

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Anders W
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Re: Thanks for the truth!
In reply to Daniel Wee, 7 months ago

Daniel Wee wrote:

So, let me see if I can summarize some of what I understand from this debate:-

IF the following conditions are true:-

a) your mFT glass is 1-stop faster than your FF glass
b) you want to preserve the same DoF
c) you want to preserve the same shutter speed

THEN you will be able to shoot at 1-stop ISO advantage over the FF camera. For instance - mFT ISO 1600 0.8 sec @F1.4 vs. FF ISO 3200 0.8 sec @F2.8

Not quite.

First, the speed of the MFT lens versus the FF lens just determines the baseline where DoF can be set equal. The comparison can be made regardless of how the speed of the two lenses compare.

Second, shutter speed is not really to be thought of as something you want to preserve. Rather, in practical applications, you usually need a certain shutter speed to reach your objectives. Stabilization systems aside, the speed you need to meet your objectives is the same for any given scene and AoV. It is therefore held constant for the purpose of comparisons between systems.

Third, the equivalent settings would be f/1.4 and 0.8 s at ISO 800 (rather than ISO 1600) for MFT and f/2.8 and 0.8 s at ISO 3200 for FF. With your proposed settings, the MFT image would be brighter (with default jpeg conversion) and have higher RAW values. Whether this matters or not depends on how close you are to the highlight clipping point.

On the other hand, IF the following conditions are true:-

a) you want to preserve the same DoF
b1) you don't care to preserve the same shutter speed

OR b2) your mFT glass is not 1-stop faster than the FF glass

OR b3) you are prepared to down-sample the FF image to the mFT size

THEN the above stated advantage no longer holds.

Not quite. With respect to b1) and b2), see my remarks above. With respect to b3), we usually assume that the pixel count is kept constant in comparisons of signal-noise performance. So no, the ability to use a two-stop lower ISO at the same DoF does not depend on these conditions.

In terms of shooting for same DoF AND same shutter speed (something I personally don't worry too much about), you'd have something like the following two images:-

a7 ISO 3200, 0.8 sec @F8

E-M1 ISO 1600, 0.8 sec @F4

While by no means comprehensive or scientific, based on these two images, I would conclude, based on visual inspection, that:-

a) the a7 noise at ISO3200 is marginally less than the E-M1 noise at ISO1600
b) this advantage is even more pronounced when we downsample the a7 image to the same size as the E-M1

Both images strike me as noisier than I would normally expect them to be. That my be due to the way they are processed (according to your OP, you kept luminance NR at zero but there's more to noise appearance than that). The E-M1 image is also brighter than the A7 image, which of course affects the comparison.

We can get a somewhat clearer view by comparing the crops from IR test images below, pitting the E-M5 at ISO 1600 against the Nikon D800 at ISO 6400 (the D800 sensor performance being pretty much a carbon copy of the A7R sensor performance; it's probably the same sensor). The E-M5 does not reach quite the same DR as the E-M1 in DxO tests (there's about a 0.5 EV difference) but you can see the tendency anyway.

The crops are directly out of LR 4.2 with the E-M5 images upsampled to match the pixel count of the D800. All settings at default except as indicated in the captions. Click on "view original size" to view them properly. As I think you can see, the E-M5 does better with regard to signal-noise performance.

Nikon D800 at ISO 6400, no NR

E-M5 at ISO 1600, no NR

Nikon D800 at ISO 6400, chroma NR at default (25), no luminance NR

E-M5 at ISO 1600, chroma NR at default (25), no luminance NR

Nikon D800 at ISO 6400, chroma NR at default (25), luminance NR at 50

E-M5 at ISO 1600, chroma NR at default (25), luminance NR at 50

I usually shoot in aperture priority because I want to get the lowest DoF possible. Not always, but this is a personal preference. Furthermore, I like the CZ 55mm F1.8 but don't have any glass that can do F0.9 for mFT in my arsenal. Certainly none that will AF. Since I don't print, downsampling seems to be the norm when used with many web applications.

Therefore, for people who shoot like me, for whom:-

a) shallow DoF is a priority

If you frequently want more shallow DoF than a fast prime on MFT can provide, then it is indeed a good idea to go FF. I don't, which is one reason why I shoot MFT. As to the samples in your OP, the FF image in your first, second, fourth and fifth pair have too little DoF based on my preferences. In the third pair, the MFT image is misfocused and in the last, DoF is irrelevant.

In other words, I normally don't need more "DoF control" than MFT can provide. However, I want more "FL control" than FF can provide (more lenses in my bag rather than in a drawer back home). Consequently, for my shooting, I get more of the versatility I want from MFT than from FF.

b) maintaining the exact same shutter speed is not a priority

See above.

c) downsampling is always an option

See above.

The advantages of E-M1 over the a7 stated in this debate would lose some of their relevance. Furthermore, even if the conditions were met where the E-M1 could shoot at a stop better than the a7, there doesn't seem to be that much of an advantage noise-wise, judging from the samples above. Lastly, the a7 can go as low as ISO 50 so where shutter speed is not a constraining factor, there are more advantages that can potentially be realized, just as IBIS affords other potential advantages for the E-M1 in other situations.

When you need better signal-noise performance than an MFT camera can provide at base ISO, you simply bracket exposure and then merge and align (as you usually can when shutter speed is not a constraining factor). A couple of examples here. Both have more DR than any current FF camera can provide in a single shot.

So while I really love my E-M1 and its lenses, I think that in all fairness, for users who share my preferences and style, the noise advantage of the FF a7 is quite evident.

If you want more shallow DoF than MFT can provide with a fast prime, then FF has a signal-noise advantage, yes. If not, then it is the other way around.

I can also see that where the E-M1 has some real advantages is when you want the fastest shutter speed possible for a given DoF (and noise level). That said, for general usage, most of these issues don't come to mind - we just do whatever we need to go get the shot.

These are issues that we'd want to consider when deciding which system to get and what lenses to get with it. Then we don't have to fight with the odds against us when trying to get the shots we want.

So, hopefully, this is a fair summary of the debate as it relates to general usage - each tool for it's job.

Perhaps it's at least as important to match the tool to the photographer as to the job. As shown by this as well as many other threads, photographic objectives and preferences do vary between photographers.

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Lab D
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Ability to shrink DoF is also a benefit.
In reply to Anders W, 7 months ago

Anders W wrote:

Daniel Wee wrote:

So, let me see if I can summarize some of what I understand from this debate:-

IF the following conditions are true:-

a) your mFT glass is 1-stop faster than your FF glass
b) you want to preserve the same DoF
c) you want to preserve the same shutter speed

THEN you will be able to shoot at 1-stop ISO advantage over the FF camera. For instance - mFT ISO 1600 0.8 sec @F1.4 vs. FF ISO 3200 0.8 sec @F2.8

Not quite.

First, the speed of the MFT lens versus the FF lens just determines the baseline where DoF can be set equal. The comparison can be made regardless of how the speed of the two lenses compare.

Second, shutter speed is not really to be thought of as something you want to preserve. Rather, in practical applications, you usually need a certain shutter speed to reach your objectives. Stabilization systems aside, the speed you need to meet your objectives is the same for any given scene and AoV. It is therefore held constant for the purpose of comparisons between systems.

Third, the equivalent settings would be f/1.4 and 0.8 s at ISO 800 (rather than ISO 1600) for MFT and f/2.8 and 0.8 s at ISO 3200 for FF. With your proposed settings, the MFT image would be brighter (with default jpeg conversion) and have higher RAW values. Whether this matters or not depends on how close you are to the highlight clipping point.

On the other hand, IF the following conditions are true:-

a) you want to preserve the same DoF
b1) you don't care to preserve the same shutter speed

OR b2) your mFT glass is not 1-stop faster than the FF glass

OR b3) you are prepared to down-sample the FF image to the mFT size

THEN the above stated advantage no longer holds.

Not quite. With respect to b1) and b2), see my remarks above. With respect to b3), we usually assume that the pixel count is kept constant in comparisons of signal-noise performance. So no, the ability to use a two-stop lower ISO at the same DoF does not depend on these conditions.

In terms of shooting for same DoF AND same shutter speed (something I personally don't worry too much about), you'd have something like the following two images:-

a7 ISO 3200, 0.8 sec @F8

E-M1 ISO 1600, 0.8 sec @F4

While by no means comprehensive or scientific, based on these two images, I would conclude, based on visual inspection, that:-

a) the a7 noise at ISO3200 is marginally less than the E-M1 noise at ISO1600
b) this advantage is even more pronounced when we downsample the a7 image to the same size as the E-M1

Both images strike me as noisier than I would normally expect them to be. That my be due to the way they are processed (according to your OP, you kept luminance NR at zero but there's more to noise appearance than that). The E-M1 image is also brighter than the A7 image, which of course affects the comparison.

We can get a somewhat clearer view by comparing the crops from IR test images below, pitting the E-M5 at ISO 1600 against the Nikon D800 at ISO 6400 (the D800 sensor performance being pretty much a carbon copy of the A7R sensor performance; it's probably the same sensor). The E-M5 does not reach quite the same DR as the E-M1 in DxO tests (there's about a 0.5 EV difference) but you can see the tendency anyway.

The crops are directly out of LR 4.2 with the E-M5 images upsampled to match the pixel count of the D800. All settings at default except as indicated in the captions. Click on "view original size" to view them properly. As I think you can see, the E-M5 does better with regard to signal-noise performance.

Nikon D800 at ISO 6400, no NR

E-M5 at ISO 1600, no NR

Nikon D800 at ISO 6400, chroma NR at default (25), no luminance NR

E-M5 at ISO 1600, chroma NR at default (25), no luminance NR

Nikon D800 at ISO 6400, chroma NR at default (25), luminance NR at 50

E-M5 at ISO 1600, chroma NR at default (25), luminance NR at 50

I usually shoot in aperture priority because I want to get the lowest DoF possible. Not always, but this is a personal preference. Furthermore, I like the CZ 55mm F1.8 but don't have any glass that can do F0.9 for mFT in my arsenal. Certainly none that will AF. Since I don't print, downsampling seems to be the norm when used with many web applications.

Therefore, for people who shoot like me, for whom:-

a) shallow DoF is a priority

If you frequently want more shallow DoF than a fast prime on MFT can provide, then it is indeed a good idea to go FF.

There are people who enjoy the shallow DoF look all the time and I believe FF cameras are good for them.  For most people though, as you say the M43 primes should provide a shallow enough DoF and we gain that slight noise/DR advantage over larger formats when trying to achieve the same field of view and depth of field.  We can even take this a step farther.  We can always shrink the perceived depth of field in post processing but we can’t add any back.  If we go too far and get a part of the image out of focus that we want in focus, there is little we can do except to try to sharpen and add sharpening artifacts.  If we have too much depth of field it is easy to shrink it by a stop or so with a little Gaussian blur or by using software like “Alien Skin Bokeh”, and we gain the added benefit of being about to adjust how the Bokeh looks (aperture blades, creamy vs. harsh, etc.).  I would not recommend adjust images more than 2 stops because fine detail hair become problematic, but 1 stop or 2 is in many cases a very slight adjustment (test and see, take 2 pictures with a 1 stop difference and see how similar the oof parts of the image are).

While these are very extreme examples (I wouldn’t normally apply this much), you can see more of what I am talking about here:

http://www.alienskin.com/bokeh/examples/creative-aperture.aspx

http://www.alienskin.com/bokeh/examples/depth-of-field.aspx

This can also be applied to camera like the RX100 also.  It also out performs FF cameras when you adjust 2.7 stops.  In many cases it is a wonderful camera, but because it is a fixed lens, you have less control and fewer options.  If Nikon can find better performing sensor for the Nikon 1 and release some more fast lenses, I believe it also will be a great option for many people.

I don't, which is one reason why I shoot MFT. As to the samples in your OP, the FF image in your first, second, fourth and fifth pair have too little DoF based on my preferences. In the third pair, the MFT image is misfocused and in the last, DoF is irrelevant.

In other words, I normally don't need more "DoF control" than MFT can provide. However, I want more "FL control" than FF can provide (more lenses in my bag rather than in a drawer back home). Consequently, for my shooting, I get more of the versatility I want from MFT than from FF.

b) maintaining the exact same shutter speed is not a priority

See above.

c) downsampling is always an option

See above.

The advantages of E-M1 over the a7 stated in this debate would lose some of their relevance. Furthermore, even if the conditions were met where the E-M1 could shoot at a stop better than the a7, there doesn't seem to be that much of an advantage noise-wise, judging from the samples above. Lastly, the a7 can go as low as ISO 50 so where shutter speed is not a constraining factor, there are more advantages that can potentially be realized, just as IBIS affords other potential advantages for the E-M1 in other situations.

When you need better signal-noise performance than an MFT camera can provide at base ISO, you simply bracket exposure and then merge and align (as you usually can when shutter speed is not a constraining factor). A couple of examples here. Both have more DR than any current FF camera can provide in a single shot.

So while I really love my E-M1 and its lenses, I think that in all fairness, for users who share my preferences and style, the noise advantage of the FF a7 is quite evident.

If you want more shallow DoF than MFT can provide with a fast prime, then FF has a signal-noise advantage, yes. If not, then it is the other way around.

I can also see that where the E-M1 has some real advantages is when you want the fastest shutter speed possible for a given DoF (and noise level). That said, for general usage, most of these issues don't come to mind - we just do whatever we need to go get the shot.

These are issues that we'd want to consider when deciding which system to get and what lenses to get with it. Then we don't have to fight with the odds against us when trying to get the shots we want.

So, hopefully, this is a fair summary of the debate as it relates to general usage - each tool for it's job.

Perhaps it's at least as important to match the tool to the photographer as to the job. As shown by this as well as many other threads, photographic objectives and preferences do vary between photographers.

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Fred Mueller
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"in FF equivalent terms"
In reply to blue_skies, 7 months ago

DOF only actually - you make a misleading statement - f/2.8 is f/2.8 no matter the focal length

being "stuck" with very shallow DOF in order to preserve FF light gathering advantage is not always a good thing

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Fred Mueller
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"But if you shoot at high ISO - a larger sensor is your friend."
In reply to blue_skies, 7 months ago

if you can tolerate extremely shallow DOF!  And FF primes that are often optically poor at maximum aperture ...

this is the thing you notice right away with the very best m4/3 primes - they are really sharp wide open and have "useful" amounts of DOF isolation ... (and cost half as much)

You need to spend some time with the Panasonic 25mm 1.4 on a Oly OM-D body shooting in "low" light.  I can shoot an E-M1 at iso 1600 in most dim interiors and get enough shutter speed and that lens is very sharp at 1.4 while and giving f/4.0 FF like DOF character, which is where I prefer to shoot 50mm on FF both for sharpness and overall DOF character.  But that means my D600 has got to be at iso 6400 in the same light.  Couple that with very fast contrast detect AF and I really don't spot my D600 having much over the E-M1 at all - that is just the way it is.

Full frame gets sold on the magic of the very narrow DOF "look", but in practice, that look is an outlier most of the time.

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Stu 5
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Re: So what's the consenses between the E-M1 vs A7 regarding noise in stops?
In reply to blue_skies, 7 months ago

blue_skies wrote:

Lab D wrote:

skyglider wrote:

There's been a lot of data posted in this thread. But I'm still left wondering. Which camera system will produce better looking images with less noise in low light situations like an indoor wedding at a dimly lit church (no flash allowed)?

  1. Micro 4/3: OMD E-M1 with the 12-40mm, F2.8 Pro lens?
  2. Full Frame: Alpha 7 with the kit 24-70mm F3.5 - F5.6 OSS lens?

Sky

Sony has a 28-70 f3.5-5.6 lens and an expensive 24-70 f4 lens.

The 28-70 is a poor kit lens. The other is much better.

What does "poor" mean in this context?

Have you used it? Have you read the reviews?

It gets high remarks for a kit lens.

Hardly anyone gives high marks in reviews. One of the worst kit lenses out there. It is fine on the long end but poor on wide end and gets worse on the wide end when closed down. Also has poor quality control. Quite a lot (for a lens) get returned for 2nd or 3rd copies due to the fact when not being used some of the elements including I.S. group are floating. When used these faulty elements do not centralise correctly causing blurring on the edges and the lens sometimes not engaging I.S correctly which shows on the far right hand edge from.

24-70 still needs to be proved if it is good. First photos I saw from it showed blurring again on the wide end on the edges. Hopefully this is a one off poor sample and not a poor design.

The Olympus is a stop faster, has a wider range and makes a great close up lens.

Yes, but it is a f/5.6 lens in FF equivalent terms. That is the slow end of the 'poor' kit lens (hint - it is not that poor).

So, what is the answer to Sky's question?

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Henry

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Stu 5
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Re: So what's the consenses between the E-M1 vs A7 regarding noise in stops?
In reply to Daniel Wee, 7 months ago

Daniel Wee wrote:

I would possibly use both cameras, with primes. I have the Olympus 12-40 and it's an amazing lens. It's also plenty fast but for indoor weddings, it doesn't beat the primes. I would put a Olympus 45mm F1.8 or the venerable PanaLeica 25mm F1.4 on that. As a matter of fact I might just put my Olympus 12mm F2.0 on it for the wide shots because SONY doesn't yet have native fast auto-focusing wide angle lenses for the a7/r system yet. When it does show up, I suspect it will be large and expensive too.
Then for the a7, the kit lens just doesn't cut it. I'd go with the Carl Zeiss 55mm F1.8 for beautiful boken and isolation (shallow DoF). The Carl Zeiss 35mm F2.8 would be a secondary choice. This way, I can use both cameras where they're strong.

And how to you to propose to get the A7 to focus quickly enough in low light using AF?

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MatsP
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Re: "But if you shoot at high ISO - a larger sensor is your friend."
In reply to Fred Mueller, 7 months ago

if you can tolerate extremely shallow DOF!  And FF primes that are often optically poor at maximum aperture ...

this is the thing you notice right away with the very best m4/3 primes - they are really sharp wide open and have "useful" amounts of DOF isolation ... (and cost half as much)

You need to spend some time with the Panasonic 25mm 1.4 on a Oly OM-D body shooting in "low" light.  I can shoot an E-M1 at iso 1600 in most dim interiors and get enough shutter speed and that lens is very sharp at 1.4 while and giving f/4.0 FF like DOF character, which is where I prefer to shoot 50mm on FF both for sharpness and overall DOF character.  But that means my D600 has got to be at iso 6400 in the same light.  Couple that with very fast contrast detect AF and I really don't spot my D600 having much over the E-M1 at all - that is just the way it is.

Full frame gets sold on the magic of the very narrow DOF "look", but in practice, that look is an outlier most of the time.

Once upon a time when I was shooting FF - back in old film days - my biggest concern was to get enough DOF, not the opposite. Anyway I still, as an EM-5 owner, sometimes think that maybe I should get myself an FF digital. And the 7 and 7r really tempted me. After reading this thread they are much less tempting to me.

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Re: "But if you shoot at high ISO - a larger sensor is your friend."
In reply to MatsP, 7 months ago

MatsP wrote:

Once upon a time when I was shooting FF - back in old film days - my biggest concern was to get enough DOF, not the opposite.

Same here. And we were hardly alone. In fact, I can't remember anyone talking back then about how important it was to get really fast lenses for maximally shallow DoF. Everyone wanted fast lenses to cope with slow film and low light. The shallow DoF that came bundled with those wide apertures was an unwelcome side effect. But times they are a changin' and I think we both understand why.

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Daniel Wee
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Re: So what's the consenses between the E-M1 vs A7 regarding noise in stops?
In reply to Stu 5, 7 months ago

When you need fast AF, that's when you pull out the E-M1. Like I suggested, bring both. The a7 will be good for those shallow DoF shots.

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Sergey_Green
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For fast AF one needs dSLR .. ;)
In reply to Daniel Wee, 7 months ago

Daniel Wee wrote:

When you need fast AF, that's when you pull out the E-M1. Like I suggested, bring both. The a7 will be good for those shallow DoF shots.

Shallow DoF, higher headroom, smoother looking images, with loads of detail in them .. what more to wish !?

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Sergey_Green
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Ask me ..
In reply to Anders W, 7 months ago

Anders W wrote:

Same here. And we were hardly alone. In fact, I can't remember anyone talking back then about how important it was to get really fast lenses for maximally shallow DoF. Everyone wanted fast lenses to cope with slow film and low light. The shallow DoF that came bundled with those wide apertures was an unwelcome side effect. But times they are a changin' and I think we both understand why.

Yet they still sell those fast lenses, and they aren't cheap. Even Olympus picked up (finally) on what can sell better.

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Sergey_Green
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Is that the truth?
In reply to Anders W, 7 months ago

Anders W wrote:

blue_skies wrote:

Anders W wrote:

Henry showing the difference between sensors

Lol, instead of 2x I will use 1.5x for A7 and 1.8x for A7r. So, at equivalency, the M1 will be slightly better?

Sorry but apparently you still didn't get it. As you can see from the diagram above, the E-M1 is about 1.5 EV ahead for equivalent images and about 0.5 EV behind for non-equivalent ones (same exposure, different DoF).

It is about 1.5 stops behind when you take pixel count into consideration, and is another 1.5 stop behind in headroom (highlights). So we are talking 3 stops difference from dark to white. Clearly the images from Sony will look smoother and more pleasing than the images from the OMD.

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neil holmes
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GX7 with 12 f2 and A7 with canon FD 24 1.4 L
In reply to Daniel Wee, 7 months ago

GX7 with 12mm f2 at 2.8 iso 1600 and A7 with FD 24 1.4 L at 5.6 iso 6400

You can take crap photos with BOTH cameras, just fine! (as I am sure you can with the Oly).

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