Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?

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sportyaccordy
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Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?
9 months ago

DoF is entirely a product of the aperture diameter. So a 24mm F4 will have the same DoF as 48mm F8, 12mm F2 etc etc.

As someone explained to me in another thread, for equivalent photos this phenomenon cancels out larger formats' high ISO advantage for completely equivalent pictures. For example to maintain shutter speeds, that 24mm F4 on an FF camera will need to be shot at 2 ISO stops higher than 12mm F2 on an MFT camera. At which point the noise on the FF is at best the same but in some cases worse if we are talking very high ISOs.

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting? Did you ever find yourself frustrated with the inability to get deep DoF from larger formats, or is it not that big of a deal?

It seems to me more and more like no format is superior to another... they all have advantages and disadvantages that make them better for different kinds of photography, with no clear all around winner

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Lee Jay
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Zero
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting?

Not at all.  As you pointed out, for constant (deep) depth of field, all formats are the same.

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darklamp
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Re: Zero
In reply to Lee Jay, 9 months ago

Lee Jay wrote:

sportyaccordy wrote:

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting?

Not at all. As you pointed out, for constant (deep) depth of field, all formats are the same.

This is not quite accurate. At narrow apertures the pixel-level resolution obtainable is also dependent on the effects of noise. Clearly that favors the sensor with the larger pixel size ( i.e. area per pixel ) other things being equal. So, for example, you're still going to prefer the output of a FF system to a P&S just for noise and dynamic range.

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The Incredible Hoke
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Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

DoF is entirely a product of the aperture diameter. So a 24mm F4 will have the same DoF as 48mm F8, 12mm F2 etc etc.

As someone explained to me in another thread, for equivalent photos this phenomenon cancels out larger formats' high ISO advantage for completely equivalent pictures. For example to maintain shutter speeds, that 24mm F4 on an FF camera will need to be shot at 2 ISO stops higher than 12mm F2 on an MFT camera. At which point the noise on the FF is at best the same but in some cases worse if we are talking very high ISOs.

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting? Did you ever find yourself frustrated with the inability to get deep DoF from larger formats, or is it not that big of a deal?

It seems to me more and more like no format is superior to another... they all have advantages and disadvantages that make them better for different kinds of photography, with no clear all around winner

For digital it never really bothers me. And you are right the different formats all have advantages and disadvantages. I use a FF DSLR and it doesn't affect how I shoot. I like the shallow DoF most of the time and it gives me just enough DoF for landscapes and that type of shooting.

But when I shoot portraits with my 8x10 it's an issue! Shooting portraits at f16-22 gets squirrely, especially with ISO 100 film. 

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joejack951
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Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

DoF is entirely a product of the aperture diameter. So a 24mm F4 will have the same DoF as 48mm F8, 12mm F2 etc etc.

DoF has many factors depending on what you are trying to compare. If comparing multiple sensor sizes while holding field of view and distance to subject constant (taking the same picture), then yes, it is a product of the aperture diameter.

If comparing different focal lengths and f-stops on the same sensor size, aperture diameter is no longer the only factor because you are now comparing different pictures. Holding subject framing constant, DoF varies only with changing the f-stop (to get equivalent framing with different focal lengths distance to subject must vary though). Holding distance to subject constant, DoF varies with focal length, but the resulting photos will have nothing in common.

As someone explained to me in another thread, for equivalent photos this phenomenon cancels out larger formats' high ISO advantage for completely equivalent pictures. For example to maintain shutter speeds, that 24mm F4 on an FF camera will need to be shot at 2 ISO stops higher than 12mm F2 on an MFT camera. At which point the noise on the FF is at best the same but in some cases worse if we are talking very high ISOs.

If one is always aiming for equivalent pictures to a smaller format, then it would make no sense to shoot with a larger format.

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting? Did you ever find yourself frustrated with the inability to get deep DoF from larger formats, or is it not that big of a deal?

Depending on the subject, the large DoF of smaller formats can be a big advantage in macro shooting. I sell some small products and when discussing issues with the manufacturer, I find it much easier to take a close up shot with my P7700 than my D3S and 105VR because the latter yields very minimal DoF, effectively ruining the shot. For everything else, I'll take the D3S, please.

It seems to me more and more like no format is superior to another... they all have advantages and disadvantages that make them better for different kinds of photography, with no clear all around winner

It is very true that all formats have some advantage, but then some are more compromised than others. Deep DoF can be achieved on a larger format by focus stacking (not possible with moving subjects where the smaller formats are the way to go or when you just want a quick snapshot like my example above). Small formats, certainly anything smaller than m4/3s, struggle to get anywhere near the shallow DoF on a larger format.

My "slow" f/4 zoom would require an f/1.5 lens on a 1" sensor for equivalent DoF. You'll only see an f-stop that fast on a prime while my f/4 zoom can go from 24-120mm. My zoom only stops down to f/22 though whereas that f/1.5 1" theoretical prime would likely stop down to an equivalent of f/43 (2.7 x f/16). I don't think I've gone past f/16 though, and that was only when I was testing my new studio light.

Again, if your main concern is achieving equivalent shots to a smaller format, you might as well own the smaller format then.

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Lee Jay
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Re: Zero
In reply to darklamp, 9 months ago

darklamp wrote:

Lee Jay wrote:

sportyaccordy wrote:

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting?

Not at all. As you pointed out, for constant (deep) depth of field, all formats are the same.

This is not quite accurate. At narrow apertures the pixel-level resolution obtainable is also dependent on the effects of noise. Clearly that favors the sensor with the larger pixel size ( i.e. area per pixel ) other things being equal.

No, it doesn't.  As was pointed out in the OP, for the same shutter speed and depth-of-field, you're going to have the same (shot) noise from all systems.

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Steen Bay
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Re: Zero
In reply to darklamp, 9 months ago

darklamp wrote:

Lee Jay wrote:

sportyaccordy wrote:

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting?

Not at all. As you pointed out, for constant (deep) depth of field, all formats are the same.

This is not quite accurate. At narrow apertures the pixel-level resolution obtainable is also dependent on the effects of noise. Clearly that favors the sensor with the larger pixel size ( i.e. area per pixel ) other things being equal. So, for example, you're still going to prefer the output of a FF system to a P&S just for noise and dynamic range.

Noise will be the same too if shutter speed is the same, because the larger format then must use a higher ISO.

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Steen Bay
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Re: Zero
In reply to Lee Jay, 9 months ago

Lee Jay wrote:

darklamp wrote:

Lee Jay wrote:

sportyaccordy wrote:

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting?

Not at all. As you pointed out, for constant (deep) depth of field, all formats are the same.

This is not quite accurate. At narrow apertures the pixel-level resolution obtainable is also dependent on the effects of noise. Clearly that favors the sensor with the larger pixel size ( i.e. area per pixel ) other things being equal.

No, it doesn't. As was pointed out in the OP, for the same shutter speed and depth-of-field, you're going to have the same (shot) noise from all systems.

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Assuming same QE. Small BSI sensors, for example, can have an advantage in practice.

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Lee Jay
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In reply to Steen Bay, 9 months ago

Steen Bay wrote:

Lee Jay wrote:

darklamp wrote:

Lee Jay wrote:

sportyaccordy wrote:

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting?

Not at all. As you pointed out, for constant (deep) depth of field, all formats are the same.

This is not quite accurate. At narrow apertures the pixel-level resolution obtainable is also dependent on the effects of noise. Clearly that favors the sensor with the larger pixel size ( i.e. area per pixel ) other things being equal.

No, it doesn't. As was pointed out in the OP, for the same shutter speed and depth-of-field, you're going to have the same (shot) noise from all systems.

Assuming same QE. Small BSI sensors, for example, can have an advantage in practice.

True, though a small one.

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crashpc
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Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

DoF is entirely a product of the aperture diameter. So a 24mm F4 will have the same DoF as 48mm F8, 12mm F2 etc etc.

generally yes.

As someone explained to me in another thread, for equivalent photos this phenomenon cancels out larger formats' high ISO advantage for completely equivalent pictures. For example to maintain shutter speeds, that 24mm F4 on an FF camera will need to be shot at 2 ISO stops higher than 12mm F2 on an MFT camera. At which point the noise on the FF is at best the same but in some cases worse if we are talking very high ISOs.

Yes, but if you know what are you doing, you realize that you don´t need that deep DoF so often. With shorter focal range/longer focusing (scene) distance, you can shoot wide open. So you get many shots with nice background blur and you loose no light by NOT stopping down your lens aperture. This does not happen everytime, but it still gives occasional advantage. There is no good reason to compare this with small sensor camera unless you really need it for some critical work. That work won´t be done with small sensor compact cam anyway. There are more reasons, not only DoF...

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting? Did you ever find yourself frustrated with the inability to get deep DoF from larger formats, or is it not that big of a deal?

Yes, I had some issues with DoF, but not one sided "too much" or "not enaugh" DoF in the image. I usually fight both problems at once in one image. You need to blur background, but you need huge things in focus. Hard to deal with this. No compact cam and no pro cam is going to solve it instantly for each shot.

I had some situations which made me want smaller sensor, so it could acquire more light with deep DoF, but I still could handle that situation with bigger sensor camera with some penalty. (nothing is perfect right?). Maybe compact cam with fast lens can keep up. It happens these days. But this does not happen everytime. I had problems which CAN NOT be solved with small sensor cam. Usually landscape photography. Try to shoot grass going from where you stand to the horizon so it touches the sky. Not a chance to get nice grass with small sensor cam, no matter how much you stop the lens down. You hit diffraction wall so early!. Only thing you get is smudged green stuff in major part of the image. With APS-C/FF you clearly win in resolution here.

It seems to me more and more like no format is superior to another... they all have advantages and disadvantages that make them better for different kinds of photography, with no clear all around winner

If you do your comparison based on PRICE, then yes. Those are precious devices which need to be chosen carefully, based on what you do and what you need. If you look at it in a way of "show me the best of class", bigger sensor technically wins over smaller sensor no matter what. But who will lug with that crazy weapon and who will pay for it?

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Dennis
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Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

As someone explained to me in another thread, for equivalent photos this phenomenon cancels out larger formats' high ISO advantage for completely equivalent pictures.

True. But how often do you need completely equivalent pictures ? Particularly when you need deep DOF ? If you need to underexpose (i.e. raise ISO above base) to maintain a certain shutter speed and maintain a certain DOF, then yes, you're talking about equivalent pictures. But if you have the option of shooting at base ISO, either because you're in good light or because you can shoot at a slow shutter speed using IS or a tripod, then the larger sensor enjoys the advantage. It makes sense to choose one or the other depending on how you shoot. (I doubt many landscape photographers regularly bump up the ISO to shoot their landscapes with fast shutter speeds, though I'm sure there are times when it's appropriate).

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting? Did you ever find yourself frustrated with the inability to get deep DoF from larger formats, or is it not that big of a deal?

Dating back to years of shooting slow 35mm film, it's never been an issue.

It seems to me more and more like no format is superior to another... they all have advantages and disadvantages that make them better for different kinds of photography, with no clear all around winner

Very, very true.

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EinsteinsGhost
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What Disadvantage?
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

DoF is entirely a product of the aperture diameter. So a 24mm F4 will have the same DoF as 48mm F8, 12mm F2 etc etc.

As someone explained to me in another thread, for equivalent photos this phenomenon cancels out larger formats' high ISO advantage for completely equivalent pictures. For example to maintain shutter speeds, that 24mm F4 on an FF camera will need to be shot at 2 ISO stops higher than 12mm F2 on an MFT camera. At which point the noise on the FF is at best the same but in some cases worse if we are talking very high ISOs.

So my question is, for folks who have used an array of different formats extensively, how much does this affect real world shooting? Did you ever find yourself frustrated with the inability to get deep DoF from larger formats, or is it not that big of a deal?

It seems to me more and more like no format is superior to another... they all have advantages and disadvantages that make them better for different kinds of photography, with no clear all around winner

Ability to access shallower DOF with wider FOV is a significant advantage, more than the often quoted higher ISO performance.

Even with ISO, using 35/4 vs 24/2.8 on APSc vs 17/2 on m43 does not mean that you must use ISO 1600 on FF vs 800 on APSc vs 400 on m43.

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tko
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Re: no disadvantage
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

You start out correct. For the same DOF, all formats act about the same.

How did you jump to the conclusion that FF has a DOF disadvantage? Just stop down until you get what you want.

Sure, sometimes FF sensors are worse per unit area, but sometimes they're better. No clear advantage. And I own a FF lens that stops down to F/50 or something silly. I'd rather shoot a D800 stopped down than a smaller format at the equivalent F-stop.

Your conclusion is wrong. Large formats can get the restricted DOF that small formats can't touch. And they can be stopped down to get the same DOF as smaller formats.

Think of M43rds (for example) as being FF but the sensor cut into four pieces, and three thrown away. How can it be better with less? Makes no common sense.

Can you think of a case where a cell phone is superior to a M4rds camera for photography purposes?

It seems to me more and more like no format is superior to another... they all have advantages and disadvantages that make them better for different kinds of photography, with no clear all around winner

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joejack951
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Re: no disadvantage
In reply to tko, 9 months ago

tko wrote:

And I own a FF lens that stops down to F/50 or something silly.

What lens? My 105VR will display f/57 when stopped down to f/22 and at minimum focusing distance, but that's just Nikon's way of displaying the light loss at close focus distances (effective aperture as explained in the lens manual). DoF is still f/22.

I don't know of any full frame lenses that go smaller than f/32.

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enemjii
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Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

Huh. I always thought a shallow DoF was what everyone is chasing with the larger sensors. The smaller sensors on a P&S literally have an infinity focus and a correspondingly deep DoF, which is why they have a fixed focus.

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Steen Bay
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Re: no disadvantage
In reply to joejack951, 9 months ago

joejack951 wrote:

tko wrote:

And I own a FF lens that stops down to F/50 or something silly.

What lens? My 105VR will display f/57 when stopped down to f/22 and at minimum focusing distance, but that's just Nikon's way of displaying the light loss at close focus distances (effective aperture as explained in the lens manual). DoF is still f/22.

If you shoot af f/22 at 1:1 magnification, then I think that you're effectively shooting at app. f/44 in terms of both exposure, DoF and diffraction. Kind of like using a 2x TC.

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Dave Lively
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In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

About the only advantage I see for small sensor cameras is dust on the sensor will be less noticeable since they can achieve deep DOF without having to stop down so much. From what I have seen dust on the sensor starts to become visible around f16 regardless of sensor size. This obviously depends on how big the dust speck is too. A micro four thirds camera at f11 will be less likely to have visible dust spots than a FF camera at f22.

If dust is causing a problem you can always clean your sensor but every time I check at f22 I see a few spots. Since I use a m43 camera I never bother cleaning the sensor unless I can see it at f11. If I had a FF camera I might have to clean it more often. I have to admit this does not sound like a big deal to me.

Deep DOF is limited by diffraction at the extremes. Since larger sensors can stop down more before diffraction becomes a problem once again the smaller sensors have no advantage. If you need deep DOF the smaller sensors have no advantage over the larger ones. For shallow DOF the larger sensors have a clear advantage.

I disagree with you about sensor size not mattering much anymore. If price, weight and size do not matter to you then FF cameras are clearly better. Price, size and weight do matter to me so I went with m43. I have been happy with the results and do not spend a lot of time searching for those rare scenarios where I would get better image quality as the result of the smaller sensor.

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Steen Bay
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Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?
In reply to enemjii, 9 months ago

enemjii wrote:

Huh. I always thought a shallow DoF was what everyone is chasing with the larger sensors. The smaller sensors on a P&S literally have an infinity focus and a correspondingly deep DoF, which is why they have a fixed focus.

I'm not aware of any compacts with fixed focus (they all have AF).

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Bill Robb
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Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

sportyaccordy wrote:

DoF is entirely a product of the aperture diameter.

You need to go back to school if you think this.

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Mike Davis
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Larger sensor = more f-Numbers from which to choose...
In reply to sportyaccordy, 9 months ago

A larger sensor = more f-Numbers from which to choose without concern for diffraction inhibiting a desired print resolution at an anticipated enlargement factor.

Many tiny-sensor cameras have lenses offering f-Numbers that would allow diffraction to inhibit a desired print resolution of 5 lp/mm at the enlargement factors encouraged by the number of megapixels they deliver. In other words, with many tiny-sensor cameras, you have to shoot wide open (or nearly so) to actually exploit the resolution one might anticipated with a given number of megapixels.

With equivalent Pixel Count, DoF, Diffraction, Print Size, and Viewing Distance...

Small Sensors can give us the same DoF and diffraction as larger sensors, but with faster shutter speeds at smaller f-Numbers, and thus, fewer "diffraction-free" f-Numbers from which to choose (unless the lens is much faster than the lenses available with most small-sensor cameras).

Large Sensors can give us the same DoF and diffraction as smaller sensors, but with slower shutter speeds at larger f-Numbers, and thus, more "diffraction-free" f-Numbers from which to choose.

It's the higher enlargement factor required by small sensors having the same pixel count as larger sensors that forces the use of smaller apertures (smaller Airy disks at the sensor) before magnification, to produce like-sized, like-resolution prints.

The cameras with tiny sensors suffer greater enlargement factors to achieve a given print size, thus, both the Circles of Confusion (defocus) and Airy disks (diffraction) must be smaller at the sensor, in order to be the same size after magnification in the print.

So, aside from the better signal-to-noise ratio had with larger sensors, especially at higher ISO settings, the only difference between shooting with a small sensor vs. a large sensor is finding yourself with fewer diffraction-free stops from which to choose - with the smaller sensor forcing the diffraction-savvy photographer to shoot wide open or nearly so, while the larger sensor allows a choice of several f-Numbers that will not inhibit the same desired print resolution in a given print size.

I find the popular Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II to be remarkable in that it does not offer any maximum apertures (at any focal length) that would inhibit a desired print resolution of 5 lp/mm in a non-resampled 360 ppi print (which would yield dimensions of 10.1 x 15.2 inches). Diffraction would not begin to inhibit a desired print resolution of 5 lp/mm at the 29.25x enlargement factor until one attempts to use f/5.1, but the RX100 II's maximum apertures across its zoom range vary from a relatively fast f/1.8 (at 10.4mm) to f/4.9 (at 37.1mm). That lens speed allows a couple of extra diffraction-free stops from which to choose (vs. a slower lens on a like-sized sensor), when attempting to actually exploit the resolution offered by its 20 megapixels.

But the RX100 II does allow the use of f-Numbers as large as f/11 (actually f/11.3), which thanks to diffraction, would effectively reduce the print resolution by a factor of 2.2 (vs. shooting at f/5.1), yielding a 10.1 x 15.2-inch print with true subject detail rendered at a resolution of 2.3 lp/mm (equivalent to 163 ppi) vs. the 5 lp/mm (equivalent to 360 ppi) that can be had at f/5.1 or smaller f-Numbers.

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