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F2.8 or less not always good or is the 40-150 2.8 really needed by most

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by AussiePhil, Oct 12, 2014.

  1. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    776
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    I have been reviewing and editing photos from the local zoo trip yesterday. On the day I had the 4/3 70-300mm on the EM-1 for the outdoor photos.
    For those that don't know the lens it is a F4 to F5.6 unit and part of the 4/3 standard range. It can take a surprising good photo and I have a few littering in some image threads.
    I spent some time deliberately shooting in the 100->200 range so I could have some comparison images for the 40-150 2.8.

    For the first couple hundred images I kept seeing how the 2.8 could have helped big time but then I got to a set of photos of the little penguins. These were all shot wide open from 4.5 to 5.6 depending on zoom level.
    Now the bit that got me was that on a number of shots the eye's were in focus yet the beak was out of focus less than 2 inches away despite the @ F5 aperture, I shuddered to think just how thin the dof would have been with the 40-150 2.8 or conversely how many photos I would have thrown away because I didn't stop down at that point.

    Now as I type this it raises a thought that the lenses with large apertures force you to think about the aperture your using and actually stop down as required, so unless your using P mode you have to think in advance and maybe preview the dof as needed.
    It also made me think that for a majority of people (even myself maybe) the 40-150 2.8 may well be excess to need though no doubt for the pro and serious enthusiast it appears to be a must have :smile:

    I'll post a couple images to illustrate the point very soon, just on the wrong computer at the moment.
     
  2. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    During daylight no one uses a lens wide open(well... the thing about saying no one is some people do, blanket statements are hard like that), the difference is at night or during events with poor lighting where you can't open up wider to get more light and a lower shutter speed.
     
  3. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    776
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Just to comment on the statement in daylight no uses a lens wide open. Even in broad daylight to keep shutter speed up and ISO down then yes a lot of people will use a lens wide open especially the slower zooms as it becomes critical to keep Shutter speed up. Oh and whilst 4->5.6 is wide open on the lens they are not exactly wide apertures.

    Anyway on the examples
    Giraffe - 277mm - F5.6 - 1/500 - ISO200 .... Now this one would have benefited by a faster lens to blur the background further.
    15326978447_cb2c3d22f4_b. _EM15459 by aussiephil1960, on Flickr

    Tiger in quite deep shadow - 300mm, F5.6, 1/320, ISO2000 .... the 2.8 would have given me some ISO help but given i'm double the 150 point maybe no dof help.
    15326888728_bebd056894_b. _EM15489 by aussiephil1960, on Flickr

    Now to illustrate that even F5 can give dof that's too thin for the photo. These are little penguins maybe 12 inches likely less in length.
    Penguin - 202mm, F5, 1/1250, ISO200 .... it was swimming towards me, the front of the beak is in focus but the eyes are not.
    15513527665_621aeb9f7d_b. _EM15532 by aussiephil1960, on Flickr

    Second Penguin - 202mm, F5, 1/1250, ISO200 - Eyes nailed but now front of beak
    15510379381_6cae308bd3_b. _EM15530 by aussiephil1960, on Flickr

    Third one - 202mm, F5, 1/1600, ISO200 - this one is spot on
    15490367166_881ac4eda3_b. _EM15522 by aussiephil1960, on Flickr


    Thanks for reading and maybe thinking .
     
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  4. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I agree with you on all points except the first picture, I would argue the background more in focus would work better using this lens as it gives condom shaped out of focus areas. It sort of goes...

    Slightly out of focus -> condom shaped (hard edge, soft, middle area, soft, hard edge) -> completely out of focus.

    This is due to the design of modern aspherical elements in lenses, using a faster lens allows for it to be more towards the third rather than the second by obliterating the background however it doesn't eliminate it. I find that when there's such a heavy color contrast to provide framing that slightly more in focus works better as you don't get the weird distracting shapes.


    It's all sort of personal taste anyway though, both work towards different goals.
     
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  5. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    With long lenses DoF is extremely small, but even with a normal zoom at 2.8 the DoF is small if you are close to the subject.

    Some time ago I lent the 12-40/2.8 to a friend to take some shots indoor. He shot in P mode and the camera used 2.8 for most of the shots. There were a lot of pictures where you had two persons with one clearly out of focus.
    I remember choosing to shot at f4 (rising the ISO) on a similar occasion not to risk this very thing, but I did not expect it to be so dangerous.

    I have also seen a amateur exposition of portraits where all the nose tips where out of focus and I'm quite sure not by intention.

    I think there are man situations that "non-pros" can find where 2.8 is welcome. One good example is wildlife where you usually go out early in the morning and you use long lenses that require fast shutter speed and, even with a tripod, you need a little speed anyway to freeze the movement. But yes, in these situations it is not an easy lens.
     
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  6. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    776
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Whilst I wouldn't consider the 12-40 to be "long" i guess that even with it the dof can shrink far enough to cause visual issues. Whilst it is nice to have the extra couple of stops of light one has to recognise that it comes with the reduction in dof and despite the so called handicap of 2x crop on dof it can still get too thin.

    It was interesting on the day watching another guy with a 150-500 tamron on a canon crop body, we ended up comparing shots in the cafe and I think that he was quite surprised at the reach and IQ i was getting.

    anyway back to thoughts..... I still think that in good light the F2.8 of the 40-150 will mean people need to think in advance about the actual dof and I for one will be setting a more common button for dof preview
     
  7. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I agree that many people don't think about DoF, they read internet threads and the holy grail seems to be everything but the subject obliterated to such a degree that most context is removed from what the subject is doing. The problem I myself all too often fall into is getting lazy and exploiting the high shutter speeds the camera can do combined with a fast lens and getting lazy. By doing so I purely rely on the background being out of focus and tend not to use more compositional elements to make a really good picture.

    I fall into this trap far too often and in an attempt to learn better technique I've started using film again and an older camera that can't do above 1/500th of a second, while all the lenses I have are "fast" I find myself having to stop down a long way to lower the light enough that I don't over expose (due to the shutter speed limit and using higher speed film) or balancing wide open for less shake vs having the subject sharp(when using slower, or low light).

    In the digital age most of this craft seems to be lost however going back to basics and learning the tools means that not everything looks like a nail when you happen to have a hammer. I hate to say it but it's what separates the people who have been doing it for a living for a long time and people who haven't (me!). Slowing down and making a shot vs snapping away and grabbing what's on offer without thought. If nothing else film forces you to at least attempt this due to the cost of a roll(Although I admit, $21 expired bulk rolls do mitigate this somewhat).
     
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  8. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 14, 2010
    Finland
    Teemu
    One thing to consider as well... AussiePhil, you live in Australia. You have all the light in the world. I live in Finland. To exaggerate a bit, we see the sun a couple of times a year so we need all the light we can get from our lenses. For me the main reason getting the 40-150mm is the max. aperture and the light it provides. I don't want to keep on pushing ISO up when I try to take a decent shot a of small bird I see (and yes, even our birds here are smaller, uglier and has less colours than yours... :biggrin:).

    I don't think I've really experienced any "too thin DOF"-issues with my 100-300mm so I'm not that concerned about that with the 40-150mm either. Obviously if I encounter any issues I can always decrease the aperture. The problem with my 100-300mm is that I can't do the opposite. No matter how hard I try I can't get past f/4. :rolleyes:
     
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  9. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    You should see the birds on our beaches, soaking up the sun...
     
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  10. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    659
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    I throw away a lot more pictures because of subject movement than because DOF is too thin, and I have the 150/2 and the 300/2.8.
     
  11. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    776
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    The advantage that too much light gives is we can get around the lack of dof much easier and I fully agree it is better to have ability to go wider but you still have to think about it, likely the lack of sun you have just makes it worse :)

    Here's another shot that maybe highlights better what i mean. 141mm and F4.4 and the dof is nearly ideal imho.

    15501252636_02fbc3b5ca_b. _EM15557 by aussiephil1960, on Flickr
     
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  12. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    776
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    This is another tangent i'd love to explore if I can work out the maths, I suspect that as the AOV goes down, the subject motion speed becomes inversely higher as a function of the distance travelled across the AOV thus requiring a higher shutter speed to stop movement across multiple pixels leading to motion blur.
    Likely a topic for a separate thread one day
     
  13. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    If your subject is close, like 3 meters, you have 47cm of DoF at 40mm focal length, and half of these centimetres are in front of the subject.
    And even at 25mm you have only 126cm, again only about half behind the subject.

    http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

    With two persons not in perfect line or if shooting the couple from a side it is not much.
     
  14. Fri13

    Fri13 Mu-43 Veteran

    353
    Jan 30, 2014
    That's why when playing f/2.8 with m4/3 camera one needs to use manual focus and focus to closer subject so that it is acceptable focus and this way move focus plane further to get the second person in focus too. Or simply use f/4-5.6.

    The autofocus problem is that it doesn't know there is a another person and it moves the exact focus plane to focus area. Everything from that forward or backward is out of focus and it smoothly goes from acceptable sharpness out of focus.

    Indoors (bars etc) + 2-3 person group shot is very demanding, you need a flash as using a f/5.6 on m4/3 can be a challenge.
    At same situation small format users are already often f/8-16 range and they really need to push ISO or use stronger flash power than fill-in mode.

    It isn't not wonder why Olympus and Kodak made the 4/3 format sensor size as it is. As most (nearly all) professional photographs taken with small format or medium format cameras use way smaller aperture than widest open going to (f/5.6-16) range and as 4/3 format gives depth of field 2x against small format and 4.2x against medium format (6x7) it has always benefit to use lower ISO or higher shutter speed to either get as good quality (noise size compares to subject details) or freeze the motion (or both).

    Even today we see lots of bad camera controlling in movies, where camera operator use way too wide aperture to get acceptable ISO or shutter speed but ends up having the main actor facial expressions clearly out of focus when actor moves little bit and for few seconds the operator doesn't move focus correctly.

    And watching movies 1080p from large TV/Canvas only reveals the bad camera use very quickly and clearly.
    But on old movies, background is well got out of focus, there is few person in frame in different distance and all are in focus so you can see everyone's facial expressions.
    It is like old directors of photography knew the small tricks to get things working well. There were skilled camera pullers that could keep actors in focus with pure manual focus when in intense action.

    And now people are chasing ultimate thinnest depth of field while struggling to get focus and low ISO.

    On those samples of original poster, I would like to see more from the animals itself. Penguins were like blur mostly, where their body isn't sharp and even giraffe it looks like ears and hair are in focus but not eyes or chub.
    Sure with animals many say just to get eyes in focus and nothing else matters. But it is like taking portraits from people, they don't want portraiture where everything else is unsharp than their eyes. But they like that background is little blurry so they pop-up.
     
  15. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    776
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    This is the reason for the post and photos Fri, the obsession with razor thin dof and large apertures brings with it a mandatory need to think when dealing with wide open shots at longer focal lengths and closer distances and the photos are to illustrate the issue rather than to say this is a great photo.
    The FF equivalence police keep talking about the 2x crop penalty for m43 but I see m43 having a distinct advantage in this case.

    Here's another the illustrate this.
    M43: 252mm @ F5.5
    FF Equiv: 504 @ F16 using http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
    so the same AOV at the same distance the FF aperture surprised me but both gave 0.04 feet back to front for 10 feet away.

    14920631033_01ea5fa3b0_b. _EM15861 by aussiephil1960, on Flickr
     
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  16. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    659
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    Still, you have lots of light. Here's one I shot at 3pm on new years eve. By that time of the year the sun rises at 9 am and sets at 3pm and is barely above the horizon at noon. Wide open is basically the only option.
    350 mm, f/2.8, ISO 1250 lots of noise reduction applied.
    PC310154.
     
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  17. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Top Veteran

    776
    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Rasmus, lovely photo, the green colour is stunning, and i'm in full agreement that fast zooms are needed, my point remains that if you are shooting wide open then you need to take care to get enough DOF to make the photo work. Conversely with telephoto lenses we m43 users have the benefit of extra dof whilst still being able to use the lens wide open
     
  18. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    Interesting focal length... is that the 500 with a speedbooster? Personally I can't wait for the canon version which works on the E-M1 to come out, will open up so many awesome options.

    (distracting gear stuff aside, I love the green colour too, very vibrant)
     
  19. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    659
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    Yup, it's the 500 with speed booster. I forgot to mention the shutter speed, 1/15 second. My point is that if you have lots of light, you have the choice of narrow or wide DOF. In low light it's often thin DOF or no picture at all.
     
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  20. Rasmus

    Rasmus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    659
    Nov 16, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden.
    That said, one lens I'd love to have a go with is the old OM Zuiko 350/2.8. On the other hand, I own the ZD 300/2.8, which is supposed to be essentially an af version of the old OM lens, with a slight speed boost built in.

    It would still be fun to try the even rarer 250/2.0, though!