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

Started Mar 5, 2014 | Discussions
Allan Olesen Veteran Member • Posts: 3,391
Re: Zero
1

Mike Davis wrote:


Thanks for strengthening my argument.

Your argument for something which is obvious and well-known? Why would you want that strengthened?

bobn2
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 53,180
Re: Long tele and close macro
1

TrapperJohn wrote:

Those are two areas where a larger sensor can be at a disadvantage.

With long tele, not only is the magnification less for a given focal length, the DOF can be too shallow at even moderate stops. That huge 300 F2.8 is actually being shot at F8 to get enough DOF back to get the subject fully in focus. True that one can crop a large sensor tele shot, but there's still no substitute for being able to visualize the actual image in the VF.

The thing is, you can get the lens that does the same job if you want, like for instance the new Tamron 150-600/5.6-6.3 which is doing the same job as a 75-300/2.8-3.15 on mFT. Not an expensive lens (as long lenses go) and seems to do a pretty good job. The 300/2.8 is of course a big and expensive lens, but it's giving the equivalent of a 150/1.4 on mFT, which would also be a big and expensive lens, if you could get one. Nowadays you can if you want - get a 200/2 (say the Canon at $5700 - it's a stunning lens, you wouldn't have to worry about the optical quality) and put a 0.7x speed booster behind it, and lo, you have a lens doing the same job as that 300/2.8.

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Bob

Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: On "exaggeration"

Great Bustard wrote:

Canon 5D + 50 / 1.2L @ f / 1.2, 1/50, ISO 1600

Despite it being a tightly framed shot. Would it have looked better at f/2.8 ISO 6400? Dunno. Maybe I should have tried for f/2.8 1/13 ISO 1600 and risked motion blur and/or camera shake?

In any case, what I'm saying is the DOF / sharpness, motion blur / camera shake, and noise all go hand in hand. Since the same total amount of light falls on the sensor for a given DOF and shutter speed for all systems, then anyone complaining of "razor thin DOF" has simply traded deeper DOF for a faster shutter speed and/or less noise.

Exactly, one can switch around those factors within the same format for different results, or even within different formats thanks to the lenses playing their role. I totally agree, it is all about personal choice and that is why i don't claim much difference in IQ between them, but many others do, usually the combative FF crew. For your above shot, which is very nice btw, i could have slapped a speed booster on a F1.4 for a F1 equiv which would have put me half stop closer. Or even Voigtlanders are a slightly faster option.

If you have the money to spend on a FF and F1.2 lenses, you have the money to buy a smaller format with faster glass, in the end there isn't much difference. You are correct, noise/SS/DOF/aperture are all connected when the same framing is used, so the biggest differences are non IQ related such as price, size, ergonomics, AF, ect.

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bobn2
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 53,180
Re: Cha-ching!
2

Great Bustard wrote:

I don't have any disagreement with the Wiki write-up.

It's good. A sentence from it for those who insist that 'aperture' and 'f-number' are synonyms:

The specifications for a given lens typically include the maximum and minimum aperture sizes, for example, f/1.4–f/22. In this case f/1.4 is the maximum aperture (the widest opening), and f/22 is the minimum aperture (the smallest opening).

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Bob

Great Bustard Forum Pro • Posts: 39,710
Re: On "exaggeration"
2

Ontario Gone wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

Canon 5D + 50 / 1.2L @ f / 1.2, 1/50, ISO 1600

Despite it being a tightly framed shot. Would it have looked better at f/2.8 ISO 6400? Dunno. Maybe I should have tried for f/2.8 1/13 ISO 1600 and risked motion blur and/or camera shake?

In any case, what I'm saying is the DOF / sharpness, motion blur / camera shake, and noise all go hand in hand. Since the same total amount of light falls on the sensor for a given DOF and shutter speed for all systems, then anyone complaining of "razor thin DOF" has simply traded deeper DOF for a faster shutter speed and/or less noise.

Exactly, one can switch around those factors within the same format for different results, or even within different formats thanks to the lenses playing their role.

However, it's important to understand the role the lens plays.  For example, f/2 on FF doesn't play the same role as f/2 on mFT.

I totally agree, it is all about personal choice and that is why i don't claim much difference in IQ between them, but many others do, usually the combative FF crew.

What IQ differences exist will certainly depend on the scene, the size the photo is displayed at, and the aesthetics of the viewer.

For your above shot, which is very nice btw, i could have slapped a speed booster on a F1.4 for a F1 equiv which would have put me half stop closer. Or even Voigtlanders are a slightly faster option.

Focal reducers (speed boosters) do not increase the "speed" in the sense that we care about "speed":  DOF and total amount of light projected on the sensor for a given shutter speed.

For example, a 50 / 1.4 with a perfect 0.5x focal reducer (that is, a focal reducer that introduces no additional aberrations) on mFT will deliver the same results as the bare 50 / 1.4 on FF, assuming sensors with the same pixel count, AA filter, and efficiency.

In other words, at best, a focal reducer will allow the smaller format to match the larger format with the added bulk and expense (as well as aberrations) of a focal reducer.

If you have the money to spend on a FF and F1.2 lenses, you have the money to buy a smaller format with faster glass, in the end there isn't much difference.

There are no f/0.8 lenses for APS-C or  f/0.6 lenses for mFT.

You are correct, noise/SS/DOF/aperture are all connected when the same framing is used, so the biggest differences are non IQ related such as price, size, ergonomics, AF, ect.

In my opinion, the differences in IQ between modern (and many not-so-modern) systems is not nearly as important as the operational differences, which include, size, weight, and price, for the vast majority, in terms of the "success" of the photo.

Ontario Gone
Ontario Gone Senior Member • Posts: 4,183
Re: SmartPhones and Shallow DoF - no large sensors needed

joejack951 wrote:

Ontario Gone wrote:

Here is a simple illustration. Two shots, same 45 degree angle, one shot a bit further than the other. Notice how even though they are both at F1.7, and they are of differing distances from the wall, the DOF makes up the same portion of the frame. Perhaps 15% the width of the frame. So no, if i want a subject to fill my frame and i need to use a lens at fast apertures like F1.7, distance ins't the culprit. In this case, FF will not give any advantage.

I don't believe you understand what you are saying (and I'm not so sure I fully understand it either). You are shooting with a 50/1.7 on m4/3 which equates to a 100/3.4 on full frame. I could frame exactly the same as you using a 105/2 or 105/2.8 lens on a full frame camera and create thinner DOF than your shots by virtue of the larger aperture.

Trust me, i fully understand what im saying, i will try to help you to as well.

PS- I know there is a formula for actual DOF for a given subject distance and a formula to equate that to the degree of FOV it matches to, i just don't care to look it up.

www.dofmaster.com

When you go there, you'll see that the DOF numbers are all distances, not percentages of the frame. Photographically, having some percentage of the frame in focus is quite meaningless.

Lets say your subject is a brick wall, and it is 5' away. Using a 100mm FOV lens (50mm on a MFT camera), at F2.4, you DOF is 2 inches (all these numbers are made up for the sake of the conversation). With your focal plane set to 5' in front of the lens (centered on the wall, and extending 1 inch in front and behind that as well), the distance from side to side of that focal plane will only be a certain length, perhaps 20 inches.

This all means that the DOF is going to be 1/10 of what the width of the in focus portion of the frame is. 2 inches is 1/10 of 20 inches. If you step forward or back x steps, the same ratio will exist. Take a shot 50 feet from a giant wall, with the width of your viewable DOF being 20' maybe. The DOF would be 1/10, or, 2 feet. These numbers are based on percentages and they don't change.

If you think about it, as you change your focal plane from near to far by adjusting your focus ring, the width of the scene's in focus area gets wider and wider, and the depth of that also gets deeper and deeper. They are connected, by percentage, and moving closer or further doesn't change that. Yes people refer to DOF by measurements, but there is also a percentage ratio that relates to the width of the focal plane.

I wish i could test this and prove it, perhaps i can to some extent but it is very difficult to illustrate exactly where DOF begins and ends, let alone define it the same among different people. The point still stands and it is correct.

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Mike Davis Contributing Member • Posts: 799
Re: Zero

Allan Olesen wrote:

Mike Davis wrote:

Thanks for strengthening my argument.

Your argument for something which is obvious and well-known? Why would you want that strengthened?

You're not following, but that's OK.  I'll trust that other readers get it.  Thanks again for the correction.

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bobbarber Contributing Member • Posts: 786
Re: no disadvantage
1
Can you think of a case where a cell phone is superior to a M4rds camera for photography purposes?

I have shot 4/3 and Olympus C-series cameras for years, and I prefer the smaller sensors for macro, by a lot. They perform better.

I think that the issue here is that noise does not increase linearly, at least on the digital cameras that I've used. So when you bump up ISO to match the shutter speed and DOF of smaller-sensor cameras, you don't necessarily get an equivalent result. You might get a worse result. In fact, I prefer my C8080 to my Olympus 50mm f2.0 for macro, although to be fair, I could probably get a better result from the 50mm macro if I took the time to set up the shots. But I don't want to. That counts against the larger format, because it's a useability issue.

IMHO, FF has too shallow DOF. Photographers struggled for years in all formats to get everything in focus, using elaborate techniques like tilting lenses in large format, and all of a sudden in the digital age being able to get everything in focus easily is a disadvantage! My 50mm 2.0 macro is TOO SHALLOW wide open. It needs to be stopped down considerably, maybe two stops at least, three is better, for head and shoulders shots. And people need SHALLOWER DOF than that? Er, OK.

FF to me wins on noise and dynamic range. The DOF issue is a loss for FF, and maybe for small-sensor cameras too. APS-C and especially m43 have it about right--you can easily manipulate apertures and distances to get the effects you want. Being in focus is not a bad thing, despite what some people would have you believe.

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Great Bustard Forum Pro • Posts: 39,710
Re: no disadvantage

bobbarber wrote:

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

I have shot 4/3 and Olympus C-series cameras for years, and I prefer the smaller sensors for macro, by a lot. They perform better.

If you are going for very deep DOFs (relatively) in a shutter speed limited environment, this is true.

I think that the issue here is that noise does not increase linearly, at least on the digital cameras that I've used. So when you bump up ISO to match the shutter speed and DOF of smaller-sensor cameras, you don't necessarily get an equivalent result.

If the sensors are equally efficient, then the noise will be the same. Modern compacts using sensors with BSI tech will tend to be more efficient than modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

You might get a worse result. In fact, I prefer my C8080 to my Olympus 50mm f2.0 for macro, although to be fair, I could probably get a better result from the 50mm macro if I took the time to set up the shots. But I don't want to. That counts against the larger format, because it's a useability issue.

We have to distinguish between which system delivers better results and which system is more convenient to use.

IMHO, FF has too shallow DOF. Photographers struggled for years in all formats to get everything in focus, using elaborate techniques like tilting lenses in large format, and all of a sudden in the digital age being able to get everything in focus easily is a disadvantage! My 50mm 2.0 macro is TOO SHALLOW wide open. It needs to be stopped down considerably, maybe two stops at least, three is better, for head and shoulders shots. And people need SHALLOWER DOF than that? Er, OK.

This photo:

was taken at 100mm f/2 on FF, which is equivalent to 50mm f/1 on 4/3. Granted, it's not a head and shoulders shot. But here are two that are:

Now these were shot at 150mm f/2.8 (75mm f/1.4 on 4/3) and 50mm f/1.4 (25mm f/0.7 on 4/3), and may well represent what you consider a DOF that is "too shallow". Typically, one would aim for deeper DOFs for such a tight framing, such as this:

which was at 150mm f/5.6 (75mm f/2.8 on 4/3). However, even that might be "too shallow" for your tastes, and 150mm f/11 might have been more the ticket.

The point is that FF gives you a wider range of options. If these options do not appeal to you, however, then, for sure, you would be better suited with a smaller format unless some other aspect of FF, such as greater resolution, was important.

FF to me wins on noise and dynamic range.

The noise advantage comes from using a more shallow DOF in low light. The DR advantage comes from using a longer shutter speed for a given DOF at base ISO.

The DOF issue is a loss for FF, and maybe for small-sensor cameras too. APS-C and especially m43 have it about right--you can easily manipulate apertures and distances to get the effects you want. Being in focus is not a bad thing, despite what some people would have you believe.

Particular systems are inherently better than others for particular tasks, and some people find one system to represent a better balance of those factors that matter most to them. For me, even in the case of macro, I find that shallow DOF is often appealing:

70mm f/2.8 on FF (35mm f/1.4 on 4/3) -- although I will certainly stop down as I see fit, for example the photo below was at 70mm f/11 on FF (35mm f/5.6 on 4/3):

In any event, the "appropriate" DOF is a matter of the scene and the aesthetics of the photographer and viewer.

lumigraphics Senior Member • Posts: 2,841
Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?

Engineering is about trade-offs. There is no way to design a product that is perfect for every use case.

I personally shoot full-frame DSLR partly BECAUSE of the ability to get shallower DOF than with APS-C. If I could afford it, I'd get my hands on one of the new Hasselblads with the Sony sensor and that would be a benefit.

I shot landscapes on 645 film for years and thought the tradeoffs were right for my usage. I know how to get shallow or deep DOF if I need it for a particular shot.

MediaArchivist
MediaArchivist Senior Member • Posts: 3,917
Tradeoffs

lumigraphics wrote:

Engineering is about trade-offs. There is no way to design a product that is perfect for every use case.

I personally shoot full-frame DSLR partly BECAUSE of the ability to get shallower DOF than with APS-C. If I could afford it, I'd get my hands on one of the new Hasselblads with the Sony sensor and that would be a benefit.

I shot landscapes on 645 film for years and thought the tradeoffs were right for my usage. I know how to get shallow or deep DOF if I need it for a particular shot.

I don't understand the "I don't use/like/understand [insert style or technology], therefore based on my tastes it is bad/disadvantage/silly" proclamations. We'll just add "shallow DoF" to the list:

  • mirror
  • mirrorless
  • megapixels
  • OSS
  • IBIS
  • sensor size
  • ETTR
  • flash
  • HDR
  • PP
  • cropping
  • prime lens
  • zoom lens
  • BIF
  • portrait
  • landscape
  • IR
  • CPL
  • ...
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OP sportyaccordy Veteran Member • Posts: 9,005
Re: Tradeoffs

MediaArchivist wrote:

lumigraphics wrote:

Engineering is about trade-offs. There is no way to design a product that is perfect for every use case.

I personally shoot full-frame DSLR partly BECAUSE of the ability to get shallower DOF than with APS-C. If I could afford it, I'd get my hands on one of the new Hasselblads with the Sony sensor and that would be a benefit.

I shot landscapes on 645 film for years and thought the tradeoffs were right for my usage. I know how to get shallow or deep DOF if I need it for a particular shot.

I don't understand the "I don't use/like/understand [insert style or technology], therefore based on my tastes it is bad/disadvantage/silly" proclamations. We'll just add "shallow DoF" to the list:

  • mirror
  • mirrorless
  • megapixels
  • OSS
  • IBIS
  • sensor size
  • ETTR
  • flash
  • HDR
  • PP
  • cropping
  • prime lens
  • zoom lens
  • BIF
  • portrait
  • landscape
  • IR
  • CPL
  • ...
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He was just explaining why he shoots FF. He didn't put down any other formats to do so. As opposed to Ontario Gone, who dismissed FF to validate his usage of MFT. There is an appreciable difference between "this works for me" and "i use this instead of that because that doesnt work for anybody". The latter is what I have a problem with.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,324
f/45 lenses for FF

can be hand for $500 and above. No disadvantage.

bobbarber Contributing Member • Posts: 786
Re: no disadvantage

If the sensors are equally efficient, then the noise will be the same. Modern compacts using sensors with BSI tech will tend to be more efficient than modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

You mean that noise should be the same. Theory doesn't trump empirical results. For the theory to play out perfectly in real life, then sensors have to be perfectly designed, their can't be any flaws at the level of the the pixels, etc. My experience, and it's only my experience, is that noise becomes worse at high ISO on all systems than it should, theoretically, so you get a better result at low ISO on all systems compared to high ISO on those same systems than a perfect noise curve tells you you should.

We have to distinguish between which system delivers better results and which system is more convenient to use.

Yes. However, systems which are convenient to use may deliver better results BECAUSE they are convenient to use. Therefore, some cameras belong in both categories, convenient to use, and delivering better results. An example would be compact cameras for hand-held macros of small flowers in distant fields. The convenient camera gets carried more often because it is smaller, gets better results with fewer changes which the shooter doesn't always want to hassle with on the less convenient camera, or have time for, etc.

The point is that FF gives you a wider range of options. If these options do not appeal to you, however, then, for sure, you would be better suited with a smaller format unless some other aspect of FF, such as greater resolution, was important.

Resolution should not be weighted on dpreview camera reviews. Considered, but not weighted. We are at a point where resolution is so much overkill for what consumers need, that it is essentially a non-factor. Read the article on the summary of the CEO interviews in Japan. 6 Mp is enough for a magazine spread. Now we have the GH4 which will take 8 Mp stills at 24 fps indefinitely. Are you better off with the GH4, or the D800 if you are a photojournalist covering a rally and need to capture a critical moment? Oh right, we still need to fork out thousands of dollars for 30+ Mp cameras, because an anonymous dpreview poster needs to print at 200" x 300" and only a certain camera will do. Give me a break. I bet that not more than 1% of the posters here have printed anything, ever, at more than 13x19", which my C8080 still handles just fine, thank you. The vast vast majority of people don't need more than 12 Mp any more than they need to buy a Hummer to drive to the supermarket.

Particular systems are inherently better than others for particular tasks, and some people find one system to represent a better balance of those factors that matter most to them. For me, even in the case of macro, I find that shallow DOF is often appealing:

You're right, it is a matter of taste, but a lot of the FF low-DOF bluster on these forums is driven by marketing, and "fanboys" (who are often paid shills for different brands--let's be honest) trying to distinguish one camera from another. As I pointed out, trying to get the critical parts of the photo or all of the photo in some cases in focus is a skill, and professional photographers have been doing that since photography was invented. Now certain posters on these forums want to depict in-focus photos as inferior. I like bokeh, but two thirds of the subject should not be out of focus. That's not art. It's an error. For my purposes, m43 strikes the best compromise. Others might feel differently. I do think that FF wins on noise and dynamic range, and those are good reasons to go with FF.

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(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 1,324
Thank you

I had no idea about the GH4 being able to shoot 8 MP 24p. Thank you!

OP sportyaccordy Veteran Member • Posts: 9,005
Re: no disadvantage

bobbarber wrote:

Resolution should not be weighted on dpreview camera reviews.

Why not? Because you say so?

Considered, but not weighted. We are at a point where resolution is so much overkill for what consumers need, that it is essentially a non-factor. Read the article on the summary of the CEO interviews in Japan. 6 Mp is enough for a magazine spread. Now we have the GH4 which will take 8 Mp stills at 24 fps indefinitely. Are you better off with the GH4, or the D800 if you are a photojournalist covering a rally and need to capture a critical moment? Oh right, we still need to fork out thousands of dollars for 30+ Mp cameras, because an anonymous dpreview poster needs to print at 200" x 300" and only a certain camera will do. Give me a break. I bet that not more than 1% of the posters here have printed anything, ever, at more than 13x19", which my C8080 still handles just fine, thank you. The vast vast majority of people don't need more than 12 Mp any more than they need to buy a Hummer to drive to the supermarket.

Resolution has other uses/benefits than making football field sized prints. If 6MP is good for a magazine spread then a 36MP camera has 6x digital zoom. You can crop and thus not need as much glass. It also helps improve low light performance. Also, if you are choosing to make your camera purchases based on what some anonymous DPReview poster says HE needs, how is that the camera manufacturer's fault?

What's the cause of all your anger? It can't be full frame cameras or high resolution.

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bobn2
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 53,180
Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?

lumigraphics wrote:

Engineering is about trade-offs.

Web forums are about saying my product choice is better than your product choice.

There is no way to design a product that is perfect for every use case.

Unless its my product choice.

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bobbarber Contributing Member • Posts: 786
Re: Thank you

That's what 4k video is: 8 Mp at whatever your frame rate is. It truly is an astonishing spec. People just haven't figured out what it is yet. They think that you have to use it for video. I see it more as a journalism tool. Now you don't need to decide between video or stills for documentation--just shoot video and pull stills from the footage.

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new boyz Regular Member • Posts: 314
Re: Potential dead horse: how bad is FF's deep DoF disadvantage?

"DoF is entirely a product of the aperture diameter. "

Technically yes, but consider this example - A 85mm f1.4 will has more DoF on DX camera than on FX camera for a headshot. Why? With DX, you have to step back few feet, thus increasing DoF. Same lens(aperture), different DoF(and prospective).

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bobbarber Contributing Member • Posts: 786
Re: no disadvantage

sportyaccordy wrote:

bobbarber wrote:

Resolution should not be weighted on dpreview camera reviews.

Why not? Because you say so?

Interesting comment, considering that I explained why, and you quoted my explanation. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the inner workings of a brain that says, "Why, because you say so?"
and then posts the relevant explanation which I offered. It is a sort of piecemeal way of thinking, where little bits and pieces of reality float in and out of consciousness, but the brain has no mechanism for ordering or understanding what it sees. I salute you. I can't believe that your days are easy.

Considered, but not weighted. We are at a point where resolution is so much overkill for what consumers need, that it is essentially a non-factor. Read the article on the summary of the CEO interviews in Japan. 6 Mp is enough for a magazine spread. Now we have the GH4 which will take 8 Mp stills at 24 fps indefinitely. Are you better off with the GH4, or the D800 if you are a photojournalist covering a rally and need to capture a critical moment? Oh right, we still need to fork out thousands of dollars for 30+ Mp cameras, because an anonymous dpreview poster needs to print at 200" x 300" and only a certain camera will do. Give me a break. I bet that not more than 1% of the posters here have printed anything, ever, at more than 13x19", which my C8080 still handles just fine, thank you. The vast vast majority of people don't need more than 12 Mp any more than they need to buy a Hummer to drive to the supermarket.

Resolution has other uses/benefits than making football field sized prints. If 6MP is good for a magazine spread then a 36MP camera has 6x digital zoom. You can crop and thus not need as much glass. It also helps improve low light performance. Also, if you are choosing to make your camera purchases based on what some anonymous DPReview poster says HE needs, how is that the camera manufacturer's fault?

I don't agree with the crop theory. You will not make as good a print of a bird by cropping 1/32 (or whatever) of your full frame sensor, with a wide angle lens attached, as I will by zooming in on the bird with my cheap Canon SX230HS travel zoom, even if your full-frame camera had similar pixel density. For starters, you won't be able to stabilize the image enough to take advantage of the resolution you need.

What's the cause of all your anger? It can't be full frame cameras or high resolution.

No anger, just information and opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and as to the information, apparently you could benefit from it.

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