Full frame vs Micro Four Thirds: Quick DOF and Bokeh test

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by gdourado, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. gdourado

    gdourado Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 23, 2012
    Lisbon - Portugal

    How are you?
    So, I've been shooting my Olympus E-PL2 for the past month...
    I've been having fun with it, and due to it's small size and weight, I've been bringing it along more often.
    As such, my 5D has been collecting some dust on the shelf.

    This got me thinking about selling my 5D and just use the money I make with the sell to buy some more mu43 gear and totally switch formats...

    I was thinking I would miss some things from my 5D, but if I'm not shooting it, I might as well sell it...

    I was not totally convinced, and I still ain't...
    I did today a very quick and not very scientific test to compare the DOF and Bokeh of the Full Frame 5D with the Micro Four Thirds E-PL2.
    Both cameras are 12 mpx cameras.
    I used the Sigma 50mm 1.4 on the 5D and the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 on the Olympus...

    I know they are not exactly the same focal lengths, but the Sigma is about 46mm and the panasonic is 40mm equivalent, so, pretty close for what I was after...

    I tried to do the same framing on both cameras...
    I know that the framing should not be the same, because mu43 is a crop of the FF sensor, so the framing and perspective cannot be the same and all that...

    But I used the same, because if for example, I want to do a head and shoulders portrait, I will do a head and shoulders portrait with the 5D, if thats the camera I have with me, or the Olympus, if I happen to have it with me.
    So, I want to compare the same framing with the different setups, because that is how I use them...

    So, here it goes:

    First, I'll post both at f1.8.

    5D at f1.8:

    E-PL2 at f1.8:

    Next are both at f2.8.



    Next are both at f4.0.



    Finally, both at f5.6.



    So, I can say that there are big differences...
    I will do more test, but I think that the mu43 is more of a complement to a FF DSLR system, than a replacement...
    I don't think a mu43 can go to where a FF system can go...
    Of course it depends on your uses and what you look for in an image....

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  2. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Depends on your purposes, but if minimal DoF is one of them, than you're not going to be able to fully duplicate that in m4/3.

    If you want the same 'look' from m4/3 as FF, you need to halve the focal length and the f-number. That means need a 25/0.9 to duplicate the 50/1.8 shot you have. In most cases, those lenses don't exist on m4/3, and never will (50/1.8 is the exception - there is an all manual 25/0.95 from Voigtlander thought it costs $1100).

    Wide open, the 20/1.7 you used gives you similar characteristics to a 40/3.4 on FF.

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  3. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    Put a 20mm lens on the 5D, crop the picture to the same area, and the depth of field will look the same.
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  4. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    I see my m43 as a complement to my DSLR's as well, not a replacement. The smaller the sensor, the faster you hit the hyperfocal distance, so trying to have any background separation in a wide shot is even harder.

    There are also occasions where I prefer to use m43 or even a digicam, the built in deeper DOF can be used to advantage.
  5. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Wow, yet another comparison proving we lose 1 stop DOF to FF ... And claiming that is the end all be all for every photographer.

    you don't just double the number because it's a logarithmic scale - the doubling reflects a one stop difference in aperture.

    Compare the 5D f/2.8 shot to the m43 f/1.7 - the same items are OOF about the same amount
  6. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
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  7. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
  8. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Thanks for the comparison photos!!
  9. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    Well... yeah, the proof is in the pudding, but it's not unexpected. Although I find the FF camera has plenty of DOF too when compared to a Phase one MF back ! But if you really, really, really want a thin focusing plane, of course nothing can beat a land camera. Does that spells the end of FF cameras ? I don't think so. And certainly neither do you.

    :43: is just another tool in the toolbox. If I were a news reporter, or war photographer, I know I wouldn't lug a SLR anymore, with the rugged EM-5 around the corner. Smaller optics and better reach, less weight to carry around can save the day when moving at fast pace in potentially dangerous conditions.

  10. tdekany

    tdekany Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 8, 2011
    Never mind the Bokeh - the color of the yellow can looks superior with the 5D
  11. LisaO

    LisaO Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 18, 2010
    New York Metro Area
    Thanks for the examples. They can complement each other but I don't think M4/3 can replace a Full Frame DSLR at this time. I have been shooting M4/3 for 2 years, DSLR for 10, with the current state of technology M4/3 still can't match the shooting speed of FF DSLRs, OM-D E-M5 may come closer though. As far as bokeh, it is really a matter of physics but unless there are some very fast M4/3 lenses released the M4/3 just can't match FF but then again neither can crop sensor DSLR. But then again one doesn't need the speed and bokeh of DSLR all the time and the light and small footprint of M4/3 makes lots of sense for many photographic scenarios.
  12. spatulaboy

    spatulaboy I'm not really here Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    North Carolina
    In other news: The sky is blue.
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  13. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    That's unexpected. Considering the available lenses, you should be able to get shallower DoF on FF than on medium format.

  14. gsciorio

    gsciorio Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 29, 2011
    Miami, FL
    It's not a big difference here. The 4/3 chip at 1.8 is like the 5D at 2.8. Not a big deal here.
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  15. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Medium format digital, because they are all cropped sensors anyways, even the uncropped sensors are 6x4.5.

    A 6x6 or 6x7 with a 2.8 will be shallower than the Canon with a 50 1.2.
  16. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    True. I meant in reference to medium format digital - i.e. the Phase One digital back mentioned upthread.

    6x6 or larger format film certainly can give shallower DoF. Although f/2.8 on 6x6 is equivalent to f/1.5 on 135-format, so you'd need faster lenses on 6x6.

  17. jamawass

    jamawass Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 9, 2011
    Isn't the OP missing the point here? m4/3 is not currently designed to replace FF cameras not even Olympus proclaims that. With the EM-5 it appears that you get 90-95% IQ and functionality of a FF frame at a lower price and lighter package.
    Personally I'd like to see how the EM-5 performs in sports and action shots before I'd consider upgrading as that's a big weakness personally.
    I'm currently deciding whether to get a T3i just for my kids' sporting activity and using E-Pl2 for everything else or upgrading to an E-M5 that may be a complete package.
  18. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    Sorry, that was a lame attempt at being tongue in cheek. Fact is, physically, the bigger the film / sensor area, the shallower the DOF, focal being equivalent (field of view constant), and aperture constant too. No denying.

    BUT. The smaller the area of the film / sensor, the easier to build a luminous lens covering a certain FOV. Example : a :43: 50 mm covers the FOV of a FF 100mm. You can pick up a 50mm f/1.8 from from dumpsters, and a 50mm f/1.2 is common enough, while a 100 f/1.8 is unheard of, and 100mm f/2 is a rarity.

    The DOF will be roughly the same between a :43: 50/1.2 and a FF 100/2.8 (more generally available, still likely to dent your bank account, and break your back). But the wider min aperture allows for usage in lower lights.

    Conclusion : FF advantages are overhyped. Useful in corner cases, like MF never went totally away in spite of the wide adoption of the 135 film.

  19. songs2001

    songs2001 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    The Canon 5d isn't the most fast focusing camera. If all you want to do is take shallow DOF head and shoulders portraits, all you would care about is getting a fast lens at a reasonable price.

    That being said the OP should probably compare a 85 1.8 vs a 45 1.8. 90 equiv is more head and shoulders focal length than a 50.
  20. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    This is correct, and one more thing to add (having been a 5D user now on m43 myself).

    Ask yourself how often you actually shoot at 50mm/1.8, and have the results you want. I found that I mostly would stop down my 50/1.8 to 2.0 to 2.8. The excellent Panny 25/1.4 is a fully AF lens, lightweight and great color rendition, and would operation for DOF purposes similar to a 50mm/2.8 on full frame (or a 30mm 2.0 on APS-C). This might be good enough for you. If not, there's the MF Nokton 25/0.95 as mentioned, or stick with FF. The trade off, of course, is size/weight. So, analyze what you've shot with your 5D, and see just how important that 1.4 on FF to you really is.

    Happy Shooting!
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