Comparison of primes on M6II and R, and general comparison of M6II with R

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Alastair Norcross Veteran Member • Posts: 7,687
Comparison of primes on M6II and R, and general comparison of M6II with R

Most of my shooting on my M6II is with primes. I use the 22 F2, 32 F1.4, and Sigma 56 F1.4 about equally, and the Sigma 16 F1.4 a lot less. I recently gave in to the temptation offered by very low prices on refurbished gear to get the R and RF 24-105L refurbished. I also picked up the lower priced RF primes, the 35 F1.8 IS and 85 F2 IS, and have the 50 F1.8 on backorder. The 35 F1.8 and 85 F2 are pretty close in FOV to the 22 and 56 on my M6II, so I thought I'd do a comparison between the different combinations (I'll do the comparison between the EF-M 32 and RF 50, when I get that lens). I know quite a few people on this forum also have R bodies, and others may be contemplating picking them up, now that the RP and R have come down so much in price, both new and refurbished. First, the bodies. Obviously, the R is quite a bit bigger and heavier than the M6II (660gm vs 408gm, 136 X 98 X 84mm vs 120 X 70 X 49mm), but some of the size differences aren't for the whole body. For example, the height is calculated with the highest point, which is the EVF hump, which is only in the middle, and the depth is calculated with the grip, which for both cameras is just at the right end of the body, and the back of the EVF eyecup. For most of the width of the bodies, the heights and depths of the two cameras are much closer (the R is approx. 1/2 inch taller, except for the hump, and less than 1/8 deeper, except for the grip and EVF). I was actually surprised at how much smaller and lighter the R is than my 7DII, which I sold before I got my R, and my 20D, which I still have. It's very similar in size to my first DSLR, the original Digital Rebel (300D).

Now, the two prime comparisons. First the 22 F2 on the M6II and the 35 F1.8 on the R. Here's what they look like from above:

And from behind:

In equivalence terms, the RF 35 F1.8 IS is approximately equivalent to 22 F1.2 on an M. You can see the better background blur in these comparison shots, taken from the same place, wide open on both lenses, both off-center (not extreme corners, which I don't use for subjects) and center:

22 at F2, this is about as far off-center as I'm likely to put a subject with this lens (the AF doesn't extend all the way either in height or width).

22 F2 at F2 in center

35 F1.8 at F1.8, edge

35 F1.8 at F1.8, center

The R combo has a fairly clear IQ advantage here, though the M combo is a lot lighter and cheaper. The 22 is $199, 105gm, and 24mm long. The 35 is $499, 305gm, and 63mm long. The 35 does have IS, which is useful for things that don't move. In terms of sharpness, I'm very happy with both lenses. I also did test shots at F2.8 on the 22, and F2 and F2.8 on the 35. I don't want to clutter up this post with them, but if anyone wants to see them, I'll be happy to put them in another post.

Now, the 56 F1.4 and 85 F2. Here's the view from above:

The RF 85 is approximately equivalent to a 53 F1.3, so that's a lot closer to the Sigma than the other comparison. Here are the wide open shots:

56 F1.4, at F1.4, edge. The AF on the M6II actually allows you to get closer to the edges with the 56 than with the 22

56 F1.4 at F1.4, center

85 F2, at F2, edge. On the R, you can get even closer to the edges with AF

85 F2, at F2, center.

Surprisingly, to my eye, the 56 seems to have a bit more background blur wide open. Or maybe it's just that I prefer the character of the blur. One weird thing I notice is that on my iMac, when I select the 56 F1.4 images, the info screen gives the "aperture value" as 0.9709, and the F number as 1.4. For the F2 and F2.8 shots that I did, the "aperture value" was pretty close to the F number (exactly the same for F2, and 2.9709 for F2.8). I wonder whether this is just a mistake on the part of my iMac, or whether the Sigma is actually wider than F1.4? In any case, I don't think the RF combo has a clear advantage here at all, at least not for portraits. Again, I have shots at F2 and F2.8 on the 56, and F2.8 and F4 on the 85, if anyone is interested in seeing them. Both combos are plenty sharp enough for me, even wide open. This just reinforces my view that the Sigma 56 is quite a remarkable lens, and for portraits, the M6II with the Sigma is competitive with much bigger and more expensive combinations (though, of course, the massive and exorbitantly-priced RF 85 F1.2 lenses are in another class again). The difference in cost and size between the EF-M lens and RF lens here is smaller than the previous comparison, though. The 85 F2 is $599, 500gm, and 91mm long. The 56 F1.4 is $429, 281gm, and 60mm long. Both RF lenses claim a maximum magnification of 0.5X, compared with 0.21X for the 22, and 0.14X for the 56. But, because of the different sensor sizes, that doesn't translate into similarly different minimum focusing distances. In fact, the 22 can focus ever so slightly closer than the 35 (5.91" versus 6.69"), but the 85 can focus significantly closer than the 56 (13.78" versus 19.69"). Again, the 85 F2 has the advantage of IS, making it more useful for non-moving subjects. For portraits, that's not as big of an advantage. I try to keep my 56 at no slower than 1/160, whereas I'd probably be OK shooting people at 1/125 with the 85 (but some recent shots I did at that speed did show subject movement in someone who was seated). The 85 F2 is clearly more of an all-rounder, whereas I think of my 56 as pretty much exclusively a people lens. But a lot, probably most, of my shots are of people.

The last comparison I'll do will be between the RF 50 F1.8 on the R and the EF-M 32 F1.4 on the M6II. This is the only one where the EF-M lens is actually bigger, heavier, and more expensive (more than twice the price) than the RF lens. I wouldn't be surprised if the M combo here produces better results than the R combo (though the RF 50 should have a bit more background blur wide open). I've seen conflicting reports from others who have both lenses, so I'll be very interested to see how they compare for me, when Adorama finally sends me the lens.

I'm enjoying getting to know my R. It's a lot better camera than I expected. It's not going to displace my M6II for action, or for travel, but it's still a lot of fun to use. The 24-105 F4L is certainly a lens for which there's no equivalent in the M system (as several people complain several times each day on this forum). It's terrifically sharp and versatile, with amazing IS. I was able to get a sharp shot handheld at 1 second at 105mm (I couldn't count on that performance every time, but 1/4 at 105mm is pretty consistently sharp). That lens is equivalent to a 15-66 F2.5 on M. It's also much bigger and heavier than any EF-M lens (and more expensive). I'm happy with the M system being geared towards small, light, excellent primes, and small, slow zooms. The 11-22 is great. As a landscape lens, I'd much rather have it as slow as it is, but small and light, than be much bigger and heavier (and more expensive) and F2.8. But that's me. For my use of that lens, I'm shooting it stopped down anyway, and making use of the IS to use slow shutter speeds.

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As the length of a thread approaches 150, the probability that someone will make the obvious "it's not the camera, it's the photographer" remark approaches 1.
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