MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

Started Feb 8, 2014 | Discussions
Superzoom2 Regular Member • Posts: 167
MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

I'm thinking of buying my first ever MFT camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 14-42 EZ lens.

I've had lots of compacts and DSLR's, mostly Canon.  Once in a while, you have these beautiful blurry background pics when the lens and aperture combination are right.  I am a former pro photog, and understand fully camera optics and depth-of-field physics.

I just want to know if you sometimes miss the easily attainable shallow depth-of-field that you usually get with an APS-C or bigger sensor camera.

I know you can buy fast MFT lenses for more aperture control, but I'm probably going to just stick with a cheap 14-42 for various reasons.

Thanks!

Olympus E-M1
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mpresley Regular Member • Posts: 470
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

Well no, I guess I don't since a shallow DOF and nice creamy backgrounds are pretty easily obtained with M43 gear, just not with the lens you mention... I used to shoot with the Nikon D700 using a 85/1.4, 135/2, and the 70-200/2.8 - it's simply a matter of understanding how it works, with the right lens.

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David Kieltyka
David Kieltyka Veteran Member • Posts: 4,754
Nope
5

Shallow DOF is as much a matter of technique as an intrinsic feature of any particular format. Of course if your sensor is too small you run into problems, but m43 isn't too small. It's ironic: my largest sensor camera gets used mostly on a tripod with the lenses stopped down to f/11 or so. Deep DOF. My m43 cameras get used handheld with fast lenses, including three of the fastest ones (Voigtländers) commercially available for any format. Often quite shallow DOF.

Panasonic GX7, Y/C Zeiss 85/1.4 + Metabones SpeedBooster @ effective f/1.

-Dave-

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mpresley Regular Member • Posts: 470
Re: Nope

David Kieltyka wrote:

Shallow DOF is as much a matter of technique as an intrinsic feature of any particular format. Of course if your sensor is too small you run into problems, but m43 isn't too small. It's ironic: my largest sensor camera gets used mostly on a tripod with the lenses stopped down to f/11 or so. Deep DOF. My m43 cameras get used handheld with fast lenses, including three of the fastest ones (Voigtländers) commercially available for any format. Often quite shallow DOF.

Panasonic GX7, Y/C Zeiss 85/1.4 + Metabones SpeedBooster @ effective f/1.

-Dave-

I've just ordered the Rokinon 85 (Nikon mount) along with the SpeedBooster, I'm thinking it's going to handle much like my 135 mm f/2 AIs did on the D700 as far as DOF and framing... haven't found any examples of that combo - your's is as close as I've seen.  To be mounted on the GX7 or the EM5.

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Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,356
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?
2

I think you'll be disappointed with the DOF flexibility you can get with the kit lens. It's a relatively slow lens, and it gets even slower at the long end.

I do miss my larger-sensored cameras a little for DOF control. The 20mm f/1.7 gives me some relief, and it gives beautiful results under the right conditions - but it still doesn't compare to an f/1.4 lens on a full frame camera.   You have to be reasonably close to your subject (maybe around 6 feet or less) in order to get decent DOF isolation from the background.

You can do a lot better with longer lenses, but their tight field of view isn't always suitable for the subject.

I have my eye on the f/0.95 17.5mm Nokton, I think that'll make me pretty happy

Skeeterbytes Forum Pro • Posts: 11,514
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

By adding a fast prime of a desirable focal length to your kit you can have very shallow DOFs anytime you care to. There's a large set of options, both manual and autofocus, with more coming. Doubly inviting are how tiny many of the primes are.

The zooms tend to be slow and not conducive to focus isolation, at least at shorter focal lengths. Luckily, fast zooms are finally being added so that too, is being addressed. They're a big jump pricewise over the more standard zooms, though.

Cheers,

Rick

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wazu
wazu Senior Member • Posts: 1,373
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

Picked up m4/3 for the size and IBIS knowing I will hang on to my FF DSLRs for DOF control. While the Olympus 75/1.8 does give you some nice oof background wide open and decent bokeh, it still falls short of FF. None of the zooms including the 12-35 12-40 and 35-100 at f2.8 provide enough DOF control or creamy bokeh.

IMHO the best solution is Sony RX1(R) or A7(R)  if you want small size good IQ and great DOF control and bokeh potential.

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tjuster1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,797
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

no.

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Wilu Regular Member • Posts: 480
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?
2

Superzoom2 wrote:

I just want to know if you sometimes miss the easily attainable shallow depth-of-field that you usually get with an APS-C or bigger sensor camera.

rarely. probably because i know what i can expect with this system and just live with it. sometimes the larger DOF is an advantage, sometimes it's a disadvantage.

it makes about 1 stop of a difference compared to APS-C and two compared to FF. for me it's either FF (if i really want that shallow DOF) or MFT - APS-C is a moot compromise in my view. has neither the benefit of small and light lenses nor the the benefit of shallow DOF.

Lab D Senior Member • Posts: 6,938
With your experience you know...

There are many beautiful ways to isolate a subject and often shallow Depth of Field means out of focus.  If you really want a shallow depth of field take a step back and use a longer focal length.

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jalywol
jalywol Veteran Member • Posts: 8,514
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

Superzoom2 wrote:

I'm thinking of buying my first ever MFT camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 14-42 EZ lens.

I've had lots of compacts and DSLR's, mostly Canon. Once in a while, you have these beautiful blurry background pics when the lens and aperture combination are right. I am a former pro photog, and understand fully camera optics and depth-of-field physics.

I just want to know if you sometimes miss the easily attainable shallow depth-of-field that you usually get with an APS-C or bigger sensor camera.

I know you can buy fast MFT lenses for more aperture control, but I'm probably going to just stick with a cheap 14-42 for various reasons.

Thanks!

If you are planning to only use the 14-42mm, you will not get the results you want from M43.  If you decide to go with a faster, (or faster and longer) lens, you can do quite well.

-J

Kameraphil Regular Member • Posts: 445
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

I use both MFT and FF systems and either can render beautiful bokeh when I'm good enough. It seems too simplistic to assume that MFT is any lesser in this aspect. It's in fact a user question.

DanCar Forum Member • Posts: 77
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?
3

I get shallower depth of field than my friends who shoot with bigger cameras and big zoom lenses, although I'm just shooting with primes.

CrisPhoto
CrisPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,438
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

No. I rarely miss it! And if I do, then in the range 12-25mm.

It is very easy to get shallow DOF with f2.8 or f1.8 lenses, especially if you go near the subject and take a tele lens.

Starting with my 25/1.4 DOF is more than small enough.

Most of he times I use tele lenses (75/1.8, 50-200SWD) and I get plenty, plenty background blur. When I compare my photos with the ones from typical APS-C or even FF shooters using their kit lenses, stepping down their lens for sharpness or having their cam in "P"-mode, I have much more background blur ...

It is more the opposite: With a long tele or with my macro the DOF is much to small, unfortunately.

Overall:

  • in 5% I would like less DOF (wide angle shots)
  • and in 25% I would like much more DOF (macro or tele) but light/diffraction forces me to open the aperture.
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Dave Lively Senior Member • Posts: 1,796
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

I sometimes want shallower DOF than I can get with my GX7 and kit lens.  But that was also the case with the APS-C NEX and kit lens I used to own.  In both cases there were times when the background was busier than I would have liked.  The NEX was better but the .8 stop advantage due to sensor size was not enough to solve the problem.

The solution was the same in both cases too, a fast prime.  I had a 50mm f1.8 for the Sony and a 45mm f1.8 for the GX7.  It is quite uncommon for me to want less DOF than I can get with the 45mm.

If you still have your APS Canon SLRs you can decide for yourself.  Just stop down an extra 2/3's of a f-stop and you will match the DOF of a m43 camera.  How thin is thin enough is very subjective, I have no way of telling what is good enough for you.  While the 2 stop difference between FF and m43 is pretty significant I think the DOF advantage of APS over m43 is very real but often exaggerated.

Dave Sanders Senior Member • Posts: 2,295
Yes.
9

Superzoom2 wrote:

I just want to know if you sometimes miss the easily attainable shallow depth-of-field that you usually get with an APS-C or bigger sensor camera.

You will not really get unbiased opinions here but the honest truth is that in some situations, yes, I do. One of my favourite looks, especially in crowds, is a wide angle FOV with shallow DOF from a reasonable subject distance. My RX1 at f/2 does this beautifully, as does the D700 with 28/1.8. I also like being able to do a half-to-full body portrait with the background heavily OOF with something in the 75-135 range. The 75/1.8 does this well, but not quite as well as Canon's 135/2, for example. That said, there are easy workarounds and I find that when this frustrates me I'm frequently just being lazy. If I really need to do it..well, that's why I have the RX1 and D700.

Really, the honest truth is that I miss it at times because I simply like shooting with my E-M1 so much more than my other cameras that I find myself in a 'cake and eat it too' situation. I almost always keep my RX1 with me so really, I've got the best of both words and that makes me a very happy camper. I miss so very little with the E-M1, to be honest.

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s_grins
s_grins Forum Pro • Posts: 11,524
I like it more..

Superzoom2 wrote:

I'm thinking of buying my first ever MFT camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 14-42 EZ lens.

I've had lots of compacts and DSLR's, mostly Canon. Once in a while, you have these beautiful blurry background pics when the lens and aperture combination are right. I am a former pro photog, and understand fully camera optics and depth-of-field physics.

I just want to know if you sometimes miss the easily attainable shallow depth-of-field that you usually get with an APS-C or bigger sensor camera.

I like deeper DOF

You can add some shallow DOF later, during PP. It is easy

I know you can buy fast MFT lenses for more aperture control, but I'm probably going to just stick with a cheap 14-42 for various reasons.

Thanks!

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JoeVC Contributing Member • Posts: 699
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?

Superzoom2 wrote:

I'm thinking of buying my first ever MFT camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 14-42 EZ lens.

I've had lots of compacts and DSLR's, mostly Canon.  Once in a while, you have these beautiful blurry background pics when the lens and aperture combination are right.  I am a former pro photog, and understand fully camera optics and depth-of-field physics.

I just want to know if you sometimes miss the easily attainable shallow depth-of-field that you usually get with an APS-C or bigger sensor camera.

I know you can buy fast MFT lenses for more aperture control, but I'm probably going to just stick with a cheap 14-42 for various reasons.

Thanks!

I don't miss shallow DOF with micro-4/3. In fact, for much of my shooting subject matter, micro-4/3 still has too shallow of a DOF. Which is why I'm working with a Fujifilm X10 as a street-shooting camera, and less with micro-4/3.

If I wanted truly shallow DOF, I'd just use my 4x5 or 8x10 view cameras.

~Joe

Bluephotons Veteran Member • Posts: 6,071
NO! nt
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Skeeterbytes Forum Pro • Posts: 11,514
Re: MFT Users: Do you miss the shallower depth-of-field of bigger sensor cameras?
1

Awwwwww!

Cheers,

Rick

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