µ4/3 vs FF - a look at equivalent lenses

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Phocal, Oct 29, 2015.

  1. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    With all the talk and excitement about the 300mm ƒ4.0 Pro lens coming out I have started to see more and more equivalency arguments both here and over at DPR. One thing that I have noticed is all of the equivalency attacks have been against the 300/4 and none (that I have seen) against the Panasonic 100-400. This tells me that some of the full frame long lens shooters are really worried about this lens and what it could mean to their sacred systems (especially with the advancements Olympus is making in C-AF).

    One of the common things I see brought up is that the 300/4 is equivalent to a 600/8 and those do not exist, so you really can't compare it. What always makes me laugh about this is they use this as an argument but if that lens did exist and you used it to compare it against my 300/4 you have just given up any of the two stop advantage you gain by using full frame. So now, the only real difference you can talk about is weight. Yes, you could compare actual photo IQ but you would have to do that vs every FF camera out there because all of them have different IQ (especially between companies). So, basically you come down to price and weight of the setup as a general difference WHEN talking about using equivalent lenses.

    So this actually got me thinking about same vs same. One of the things that drew me to µ4/3 was the smaller size. As someone who heads off into the wilderness, every oz less I have to carry is a godsend. I also highly value the weather resistance of the Olympus cameras and lenses. Yes, you can use those camera condoms but honestly they just get in the way and are a pain to use. When crawling around on my stomach in the swamp trying to get a photograph of a frog I don't want to worry about catching that bag on something or trying to get to some camera control quickly only to have the bag get in the way. Yes......I put my cameras thru hell and so far the Olympus weather sealing has held up to everything I have thrown at it, even a drop into a foot of water that took a few seconds for me to retrieve the camera. I digress........ If I used equivalent lenses am I coming out with a lighter system by going full frame? What is the price difference? Which system am I really better off using? Well, I was able to find an equivalent lens to answer this question and a close put not perfect look at comparing the 300/4 to a 600/4 (this does give the FF a 2 stop advantage tho).

    I will use my EM1 + ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 to do some comparisons. As you can see, I am already giving up some weight advantage by using this 4/3 lens that is somewhat heavy and huge compared to µ4/3 lenses. But, it is the only lens that actually has a full frame equivalent when talking about telephoto lenses. For comparison I went with Canon because I shot Canon for 20 years and I am familiar with them (honestly have not clue how Nikon naming works for their cameras). I originally thought about using the 5DIII but that camera really does not compare to the EM1. For one, it is weather resistant and not weather sealed (Canon does not stress the weather sealing of the 5D like they do the 1D so this leads me to believe it is not up to Pro standards). Second, it only shoots 6fps and for capturing birds striking at fish the higher fps really helps (if I was to switch to FF I would not get a 5D because of the lower fps).

    So............................... lets compare 300mm ƒ4.0 lens

    2,342g (5.16lbs) = EM1 (497g) + Grip (235g) + MMF3 (can't find weight) + 150/2 (1,610g)
    $3,852 = EM1 ($1,299) + Grip ($199) + MMF3 ($155) + 150/2 ($2,199)

    2,730g (6.02lbs) = 1Dx (1,540g) + 300/4 (1,190g)
    $5,898 = 1Dx ($4,599) + 300/4 ($1,299)

    So, it would seem that the EM1 combo comes out 388g (0.86lbs) lighter and $2,046 cheaper. But, the Canon setup is not weather sealed as Canon elected not to make it's 300/4 a weather sealed lens even tho it is an L series lens. Now I could use the 300/2.8 which would give me a weather sealed setup and 1 stop advantage over my EM1 but that would come in at 3,890g (1,548g or 3.41lbs heavier) and $10,698 ($6,846 more expensive). That is a lot of extra weight and money to have 1 stop better noise and 1 stop less DoF (which in my type of photography I actually prefer the extra DoF).

    Now.................... we don't know the stats on the Olympus 300mm ƒ4.0 Pro but we can look at a few things. I will take a liberty and use an average weight of all current 300/4 lenses on the market (average = 1,114g) and I will use $2,000 for the price of the lens (about the median price per the rumor).

    1,846g (4.07lbs) = EM1 + Grip (732g) + 300/4 (1114g)
    5,460g (12.04lbs) = 1Dx (1,540g) + 600/4 (3,920g)

    So, my willingness to give up 2 stops of noise (once again I don't care about the extra DoF and actually welcome it in most situations) saves me 3,614g (7.97lbs). That is a huge difference in weight and one that I honestly feel is worth the 2 stops of noise difference. Especially since I cannot see myself belly crawling in the swamp after a frog with that huge 600mm lens.

    Price..................

    $3,498 = EM1 + Grip ($1,498) + 300/4 ($2,000)
    $16,098 = 1Dx ($4,599) + 600/4 ($11,499)

    WOW.....that is a $12,600 difference to gain 2 stops of noise. Just based on price alone I see more people who need that amount of reach owning the EM1 setup vs the Canon setup. You combine the price difference with the weight difference and I am more then happy to give up the 2 stops of noise difference. In reality, you will not always get that 2 stops of difference when you are having to stop down to get your entire subject in focus, or the parts that you want in focus. Hell, when photographing gators (my favorite subject) I am often stopping down to ƒ4.0 just to get enough of the head in focus to make the photograph presentable.

    So, when taking everything into consideration I feel that the compromises of the µ4/3 system are worth it for my type of photography. I am not saying that it's the best for every type of photography, or any for that matter. But, for what I use my camera for it is the best overall choice when you take IQ, weight, physical size, weather sealing, and price into consideration.

    Ronnie
     
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  2. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    For what it's worth, there are 600mm f/8 lenses. Very lightweight and compact, clearly.

    4102_P6279983_1.

    I think, realistically, the best system to compare to the E-M1 for telephoto would not be FF, but rather APS-C with the 7D II, which is weather sealed and retains the crop factor advantages.

    So you'd be looking at:

    7D II + grip + 400mm/f5.6 = $3000, 2.6 kg
    E-M1 + grip + 300mm/f4 = ~$3500, 1.9kg

    Given the sensor performance of the 7D II, you'd probably be behind in terms of equivalence vs. the faster E-M1. But you'd probably be ahead in terms of AF performance with the Canon, and the rest of the performance like burst rates are directly comparable. You will get slightly better resolution with the Canon, though it entirely depends on the aspect ratio of your final image. If you like 4:3, you're at 17.7MP, so the difference is totally negligible there.

    So really, you're trading a moderate amount of money (17%) for a fairly significant weight savings (37%).

    And for what it's worth, I strongly agree about stopping down telephoto lenses. I frequently shoot my 300mm lenses at f8-f11 on M4/3 to get better DoF.
     
  3. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Ok, there are no autofocus 600/8 weather sealed lenses by major manufactures.....how is that. What lens is that anyways?

    This brings up my biggest bitch about people that like to argue about equivalency. If they want to show the perceived lower IQ of µ4/3 they compare it to full frame. But, as soon as the discussion comes around to reach and weight they break out the APS-C cameras. So µ4/3 ends up having to defend against both..........the really funny part is how many people actually shoot full frame compared to APS-C given the huge price difference? I would say a lot more now shoot with full frame with the advent of some cheaper full frame cameras like the 5D or 6D (then a few years ago), but those are really not up to Pro specs when it comes to fps or weather sealing or other things added to the "Pro" cameras. I also suspect that most people who argue that full frame is so much better either shoot APS-C or shoot inferior cheap consumer full frame bodies like the 6D (those shooting APS-C probably aspire to one day buying a full frame camera but most never will).

    Personally, I don't think APS-C has that much to offer over µ4/3 in terms of IQ or less noise. They (in my opinion) are pretty much equal in both when I look at them and most APS-C cameras are more consumer cameras then pro cameras, Canons exception is the 7D which does excel at C-AF (no idea about Nikon) and is weather sealed. The one flaw in your example is that the 400/5.6 is not weather sealed and does not have IS (two things that I absolutely require in any setup I am going to use out in the wilderness). But even looking at that setup, the EM1 setup is still lighter by a significant amount even if it is a bit more expensive. But it is an interesting look into equivalent setups vs APS-C, even if it is not weather sealed or have IS.
     
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  4. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I posted the 600/f8 with my tongue firmly in my cheek, just trying to lighten the mood a bit. It's some old Vivitar or Noflexar or something. I think it weighs about 2500 kg by itself, and in fact is not even a telephoto, strictly speaking, as it's a full 580mm long!

    In any case, I agree with you on this. APS-C offers very little benefit in terms of image quality over M4/3, and in my personal view, you need to be something of a masochist to use long tele lenses on Full Frame. That, or you'd better hope that someone is paying you to break your back in order to justify it. But then again, I think all bird-in-flight photographers are masochists in the first place...

    The reason FF and APS-C tend to be used interchangeably in these arguments is because they use lenses and mounts interchangeably with full functionality, that's all. Obviously the image quality benefits are nowhere near as large with APS-C, which is only modestly larger than M4/3. In Canon's case, their 1.6 crop sensor is 47% larger, and only 29% larger when cropped to a 4:3 aspect ratio...
     
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  5. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    Let's not forget the FZ300 from Panasonic.

    691 grams. Weather-proof. 25-600mm equiv zoom. Constant f/2.8. Plenty of DOF. $600.

    Maybe a slight trade off in IQ, but way easier to crawl through a swamp with to shoot those frogs and gators. :)
     
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  6. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    It is a pretty interesting comparison, really.

    I wouldn't want to put the ISO anything above 400 on it, though. Some quick Sunny 16 math means you're at 1/800s (necessary for the long focal length) for ISO 400 and f/11 on a bright day, so for f2.8 you've got 4 stops of room to play with to deal with changing conditions. You might be able to shoot in overcast or some time after dawn/dusk, but it would be pretty dicey. And of course you're limited in resolution, especially if you need to crop at all.

    How good is that lens when it's wide open?
     
  7. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    The lens is the strength of the camera. I have not really seen a need to stop it down.

    My post was half in jest, at least, but of course it really comes down to what you are doing with your images. If you are a pro or intend to print large then I think you need to use a different tool. But if pics are for fun, conditions are good from a light perspective, and you will mostly post on line or print smallish a superzoom can certainly be an option. I think the 4K photo setting would be interesting for wildlife as well.
     
  8. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    I have that beast!

    From what I have found out, it was made by Tokina and was sold as a Tele-Tokina and Vivitar. That is about all I have found online.
     
  9. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I have actually looked at those but the IQ is just not worth it, especially above base ISO. The DoF is also a bit to large, especially for subject isolation. But, that is just my opinion.
     
  10. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Equivalency debate centers around "FEAR" and it has been going on for ages. Fear from change and you will have militant people who would do anything to forcefully impose their will upon you and the masses. They do this because they are themselves fearful of their own insecurity in their own personal photography. In the old days, only view camera and medium format are "AUTHORIZED" by the landscape luddities to make landscape photos because of tradition (Ansel Adams made his mark with a 4x5 and fear). Anything less than tradition meant you sacrifice image quality. Then Galen Rowell came along and broke that tradition. Same with Vincent Versace when he started to represent Nikon when Nikon was just a small booth (the size of Olympus today) against the behemoth industry of medium format cameras like Rolleiflex, Hassy and the rest. Galen and Vincent and others who chose 135mm film and SLR bodies all had one thing in common. They all want to have a portable travel friendly system and 35mm SLR is much smaller and lighter than a Rolleiflex. And the lenses are much smaller compared to medium format. The debate then was no different than they are today -- aperture and light but revolves around film and lenses. It was just as nasty then as it is today. Well today, the debate takes on a new incumbent. Full frame vs APS/m43 and cell phones. The fear is still the same.

    Every camera is a tool and the photographer chooses the tool based on what he or she needs to achieve whether it is a 300 f/4 lens or a 600 f/4, but the key is if you can achieve that with your equipment. Most of us who are deeply invested in m43 understood the balance m43 can deliver. But it is those who are not deeply committed into m43 and aren't sure of their own personal photography journey are the ones who are easily swayed by fear. They upgrade, then downgrade and go sideways.
     
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  11. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee

    772
    May 3, 2013
    California
    I'm still not a fan of using crop factor on aperture measures, and it's especially pointless on a super tele lens.

    Multiplying aperture by crop factor is a decent way to compare depth of field between systems, but it does not apply to exposure. With a super tele lens like a 300mm, creating shallow depth of field is neither (a) difficult, nor (b) especially desirable. It's light gathering that really matters at 300mm (or 600mm FF equivalent), as you need fast shutter speeds to negate vibration magnified that highly. And in this measure, f/4 is f/4.
     
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  12. Don't forget how much National Geographic photographers used 35mm. If it weren't for 35mm and Kodachrome, that mag wouldn't have been the same.
     
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  13. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Wasn't it 10x8?
     
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  14. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I think it's a reasonable approach if you concede that the FF camera will have zero improvement in image quality (and often a penalty). It just assumes that you're quadrupling ISO to compensate in the exposure.

    In the real world, the very, very best FF sensors (A7r II and D750) have signal-to-noise performance about 1 2/3 stops better than M4/3. The average FF sensor is maybe 1 1/2 stops. The A7 II is perhaps even slightly less than that. So assuming a 2 stop improvement due to size is overly optimistic.

    Equivalent apertures are an easy shorthand to get you in the right ballpark for estimation, but they don't tell anywhere near the full story.
     
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  15. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee

    772
    May 3, 2013
    California
    Huh?
     
  16. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    To approximately match image quality and depth of field, you would need to use these settings for equivalence (as an example).

    M4/3: f1.4 @ ISO 800
    APS-C: f1.8 @ ISO 1250
    FF: f2.8 @ ISO 3200

    That's based on equivalence theory by surface area.

    In reality with real sensors and cameras, you can only squeeze out ISO 2000-2500 on FF to match the image quality of ISO 800 on M4/3.
     
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  17. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee

    772
    May 3, 2013
    California
    ...

    Yeah, IMHO, this is where crop factor goes far beyond usefulness and ventures into the realm of pointless squabbling. Crop factor is very useful for understanding field of view. Beyond that, I'm out.
     
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  18. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I disagree completely.

    I think that it's only pointless squabbling if people feel they have something to prove or they think that pointing out the value of another format / brand decreases the value of their preferred format / brand. All formats have different strengths, and none are unequivocally better than others. For those of us that use different formats, it's a useful shorthand. I find I end up defending both formats against different people depending on the discussion...

    Understanding the relationship with image quality can also let you recognize when it simply doesn't make sense to try and use a larger format. If I need to stop down my 85mm/1.8 to f4 to get acceptable DoF, then why wouldn't I just take an M4/3 camera and shoot with a 45mm/1.8 wide open and shoot at 2 stops less ISO for the exact same image quality? By contrast, if I'm shooting environmental work and DoF isn't a limiting factor, then a 50mm/1.4 on FF can net me valuable noise and DR improvements over a 25mm/1.4 on M4/3.

    With my film cameras, the math is a little bit trickier, since I think I can probably hand-hold my 6x7 leaf-shutter rangefinder at half the speed without getting mirror slap compared to my 35mm SLR, so the f3.5 maximum aperture isn't as huge a disadvantage, and the giant negative means that I can shoot with film that's twice the ISO and still have better quality. Like a rangefinder or a leaf-shutter, IBIS is a similarly disruptive technology that can change the math on what circumstances merit which format.

    But anyway, I'm an industrial designer, so my art brain dances hand-in-hand with my engineering brain, and I'm actually interested in evaluating this stuff practically and objectively. If this isn't something that actually interests you, I heartily recommending just picking whichever camera makes you happy and shooting. It's the best policy.
     
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  19. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee

    772
    May 3, 2013
    California
    To be clear, I think not that it's pointless to understand the differences between formats, but that using crop factor to get there is beyond the usefulness of crop factor.

    RE: Depth of field, it's simpler to understand that depth of field is a product of focal length + aperture + distance to subject. And that a 25mm f/1.4 lens on Micro 4/3 won't give the same shallow depth of field as a 50mm f/1.4 lens on full frame because the focal length is shorter -- not because of the sensor size. Depth of field is an attribute of a lens, not a sensor, whereas field of view is a combination of lens + sensor.

    RE: ISO noise, it's not an absolute value. ISO 400 is ISO 400 as far as exposure is concerned -- but the noise that you get from that ISO is a non-absolute metric that varies as technology improves, and as cameras trade priorities (e.g. resolution, price). The Sony A7s is a good example of why crop factor math on ISO noise is a sloppy metric. At high ISOs, it produces a better result than other cameras of the same format. And if Olympus / Panasonic don't move sensor technology forward, the gap gets wider than a 2x multiplication will calculate.

    I get that using crop factor on aperture + ISO is a shortcut to roughly understanding differences between formats, but it's (1) at best imprecise, (2) suggests an effect on exposure calculations which is inaccurate, and (3) injects sensor size into calculations where sensor size is not actually a factor. If you're doing back-of-the-napkin math, sure, but it's not an accurate understanding of the components that contribute to a result.
     
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  20. duke

    duke Mu-43 Veteran

    420
    Dec 4, 2010
    Tulsa, moving to Houston
    Duke
    I use an a7r2 and have used many m43 cameras in the past. Currently I only have an em5 with the 100-300 panasonic lens in order to have a nice compact tele kit. Equivalence is a good thing to understand but something that is being left out of the discussion is resolution.

    M43 used to be about the same size file as my a7 or 5d3 but now with the a7r2 I can crop so much that it is negating the benefits of m43. I can use a 300f4 on my a7r2 and crop it to the equivalence of 600mm and still have as much resolution as m43 (possibly more).