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

Started Mar 5, 2014 | Discussions thread
Karaya Senior Member • Posts: 2,038
Here is some sample shots.

I shoot both Olympus 4/3 and Canon FF. I like both and use 4/3 for my nature - wildlife shooting and FF for most of my people - landscape shooting.

For people shooting, in particular, I am not entirely convinced of the supposed FF advantage. I use a 85mm L f1.2 lens and usually have auto ISO engaged on my 5DMKIII, a potent combination for low light shooting, however, I often have to stop down to get adequate DOF with a corresponding bump in ISO. This is potentially a disadvantage versus smaller formats. Here are two examples:

In the above photo I had to stop down to f7.1 to get enough DOF for the text on the wall to be legible, so the ISO went to 2000. A 4/3 camera could have given me the same shutter speed and DOF @ f3.6 and ISO 500. So which camera will have better image quality - 4/3 @ iso 500 or FF @ iso 2000? That would, of course depend on the camera, but an EM-1 at iso 500 should look good compared to any FF at iso 2000.

Here is another coffee shop example showing how razor thin the DOF can be on FF. In less then full length portraits opening up to less then f2 with FF becomes very challenging. You can end up with nothing but one eye perfectly sharp. Given a really fast and sharp 4/3 lens, like the voigtlander 45 f.95 this shot could have been done with a 4/3 camera at F 1, 1/125 and ISO 100.

So, given really fast primes that are sharp wide open much of the IQ advantage of FF vs smaller formats disappears. If you prefer zooms then FF would still have all the Aces. Of course such über fast primes are hardly inexpensive or convenient!

 Karaya's gear list:Karaya's gear list
Olympus Zuiko Digital 300mm 1:2.8 Olympus E-5 Canon EOS 5D Mark III Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50mm 1:2.0 Macro Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM +3 more
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