Landscapes with the EM-1 (diffraction and sweet spot)

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by znerk, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. znerk

    znerk Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 16, 2014
    What f-stop do you generally try to stick around when shooting landscapes with the EM-1? Untill now I shot at F22(lack of ND filter on the EM-1), but I beleive I see some diffraction and as my new ND filer will arrive soon I will try to stick at a sweet spot(a good balance between DOF and less diffraction)
  2. mjgraaf

    mjgraaf Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 9, 2014
    This is one of the disadvantages for me of MFT, due to small pixels, diffraction starts around f8. For landscape i typically can get away with a smaller value, for macro i carefully weigh DOF against diffraction from f8 and smaller.

    Sent from my C6503 using Tapatalk
  3. znerk

    znerk Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 16, 2014
    So , F8 - F11 (in camera) is okay for landscapes ?
  4. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Certainly. I'd lean toward f/5.6-f/8.- unless more DoF is necessary. On a 16MP m4/3 sensor, diffraction starts being fully recorded around f/6.3-f/7.1. I would absolutely avoid f/22 if sharpness is something you care about - you're throwing away nearly half the linear resolution of the camera at that point.
  5. znerk

    znerk Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 16, 2014

    I absolutely care about the sharpness(as I shoot landscapes). I find myself needing to pull a lot of sliders to gain sharpness in my F22 photographs, so that could be the explanation. The F-stops we are mentioning, you are talking about the one showed in the camera display, right? Not the ones equal to FF.

    Is F8 enough sharpness for general landscapes shot?(for example the one underneath here)

    This shot is actually shot with EM-1 and 17mm 1.8 at F22

    View attachment 343225
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  6. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Nice shot. Yes, f/8 should absolutely be enough for that shot. You need to experiment to know exactly what sort of DoF to expect, but if you focus on the house, I'm guessing everything more than 10 ft. away from you should be in good focus.
  7. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    There is quite a row raging about this somewhere else on the Internet right now. While the effects of diffraction can be seen at larger apertures if you pixel peep, what is generally regarded as a visible effect of diffraction is connected to depth of field and circles of confusion.

    Depth of field is really an illusion. Any lens will turn any point of light into a circle on the imager. The focal distance is where these circles are smallest.

    When you use a DOF calculator, it is working out the largest acceptable circle of confusion size, where acceptable means that for a certain print size viewed at a certain distance, your eyes can't resolve those circles as circles, and only see points of light. This means those parts of the image in that print will look like they are in focus, when they are not. The most common criteria is a 12x8" print at 2 foot.

    So if any circle that size or smaller will look like a point of light, an Airy disk caused by diffraction that is that size or smaller will also look like a point of light.

    So the generally regarded practice is diffraction is only visible in the final image when Airy disk becomes bigger than the acceptable circle of confusion.

    On m43, this works out at an aperture a tiny bit wider than f/11.

    (edit, changed "focal length" to "focal distance" so as not to mix up two concepts)

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  8. It's not so much a disadvantage but rather just how it is. Lenses on larger formats may be able to be stopped down more before diffraction sets in, but they need to be stopped down more anyway to achieve the same deep depth-of-field so it all evens out.
  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    The f-stop to choose for landscape depends on several factors:
    1) Desired DOF
    2) Lens aberrations (usually need to stop down at least a stop and sometimes 2-3 stops from maximal aperture to get good edge sharpness
    3) Diffraction effects - with current lenses and sensors, some softening from diffraction is typically present but unnoticeable at f/5.6, minimally noticeable at f/8, noticeable but not extreme at f/11, and very noticeable beyond that.

    To achieve the best capture, one generally has to compromise. For example, a particulat lens may require stopping down to f/8 to overcome lens aberrations for acceptable edge sharpness, whereas due to diffraction effects the center of the image may have a hair less detail at f/8 than f/5.6. In another image, very deep DOF may be a high priority, and a person may choose to sacrifice a bit of sharpness across the frame at f/11 to get that deep DOF.

    Choosing the right focus point is key. Many people set the focus to infinity, which will require much more stopping down to get near foreground elements into focus. Also, if you are using a guide designed for 35mm film like Bryan Petersen's Understanding Exposure, cut all the f-stops in half for 4/3rds format.

    As a very quick and dirty rule, I suggest focusing about a third of the way into the composition (near to far), using f/4, and then stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 as needed for greater DOF.
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  10. znerk

    znerk Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 16, 2014
    Than you for all your answers.

    So for my Olympus 12mm 2.0 and 17mm1.8 , what aperture should i maxmimum go to? Can F11 be okay? It I try to stick between F8 and F11, will I be jus fine?
  11. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    It evens out precisely. No disadvantage there are all.
  12. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    At f/8-11, you will be sacrificing a bit of detail but not much. Experiment!
  13. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    For me, the advantage MFT (well, Oly 5 axis IBIS cams anyway) for landscape lies in being able to handhold where necessary in worse light, nod select lower ISOs; tripod is best, but not always feasible. I prefer the A7R if I can control the situation (more and better pixels) but sometimes the E-M1 is simply the better choice due to circumstances.
  14. gr8Shot

    gr8Shot Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 13, 2013
    Remember: f8 with m43 has the same DOF as f16 with FF.

    Unless you routinely use higher than f16 on a FF DSLR (I never have), there is no reason to go past f8 with m43 to get the same results.

    This is a BENEFIT of m43: greater DOF at the same aperture.

    On the downside: Some whine about shallow m43 DOF issues. Like most things in photography, you get something back in return for giving up something else.
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  15. icolquhoun

    icolquhoun Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    Long Valley, NJ
    I shoot almost entirely landscapes....
    as recommended to me on this board a few months ago, start looking into the hyperfocal distance of your different lenses. I use an online DOF calculator:
    but have a few cheater notes on a post-it in my camera bag to reference in the field.
    Depending on lens you can get away with differing f stops....
    for example, with my 14-42, I know if I use 14mm and f5.6 and focus on a point about 5.5' away, everything will be in focus from roughly 3' to infinity. This happens to be the sweet spot for this lens as well where the average of the entire frame is sharpest according to all the lens charts out there.

    The wider the lens, say your 12mm for example, the wider the aperture you can use and still achieve the dof you require for landscape shots...
    12mm f5.6 hyperfocal distance is 5.6' and will result in everything being in focus from 2.8' to infinity
    17mm f5.6 hyperfocal distance is 11.2' and will result in everything being in focus from 5.6' to infinity
    play around with the calculator and different aperatures, but always select aperatur based upon lens charts showing where the sweet spot for each lens resides ;)

    here's an example with 14-42IIR 3 stitched images but f5.6...notice that the snowy ridge on the lower left of the image was about 4' away at closest from the front of the lens and therefore in focus front to back:
    <iframe src="" width="500" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>
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  16. Bif

    Bif Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2012
    San Angelo TX
    Bruce Foreman
    I like that image very much (looked at some of the others incl the color version), very much prefer the B&W version. Exposure just right, composition perfect! Thanks for sharing it, and it proves a point I've been saying for years now. These inexpensive "kit" lenses that come as a kit with cameras are often not bad lenses for the price.

    Diffraction: I got "bit" bad by it one time. Canon 300D (original digital rebel) with 18-55mm "kit" lens. Night before I'd been shooting in low light and had the ISO set at max for that camera, ISO 1600. Next morning I had to shoot some Fort Concho "re-enactors" riding and marching in formation. Been up late and still in "sleepy fog" when I started working, I didn't notice I was still at ISO 1600 (in bright Texas sunlight). Apertures, of course, were insanely small (to get proper exposure) and I must have shot around 35 images before I finally realized what was happening and dropped the ISO to 100.

    Those first 35 images exhibited a softness I'd never seen out of that camera. There was a distinct drop in contrast and the image tones had a somewhat diffused look to them, edge sharpness was definitely compromised. The overall effect was similar to a black net diffusion filter.

    It took some work in ACR to restore some sharpness and a fair amount of work in Photoshop with levels and unsharp mask but I managed to save the images.

    on the telephoto end of that 18-55mm "kit" lens, I estimate the "actual" apertures wound up around f32 or slightly smaller, the sensor was an early APS-C with 6.3MP.
  17. brettmaxwell

    brettmaxwell Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 8, 2012
    f5.6 if there's plenty of light
    f4.0 if light is fading
    stack shots if more DOF is needed
  18. arbutusq

    arbutusq Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 10, 2011
    I find that diffraction from f11 to f16 doesn't effect the detail rendered as much as it does acutance, (edge contrast) which can affect the apearanced of sharpness even though the detail is still present. At f22 you do see a drop in detail however. Fortunately edge contrast can be easily added in post processing if you shoot RAW.

    I usually stay below f16 and have no problems. Deep DOF is far easier to obtain on m4/3 so it all balances out.
  19. LovinTheEP2

    LovinTheEP2 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    F8 at most as a rule on m43s. If you can, 5.6 is probably even better if you want to retain as much edge contrast as possible. What's even more important than diffraction is a steadyshot on a rugged tripod.
  20. znerk

    znerk Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 16, 2014
    One problem nobody mention here is that we often want a long shutter speed on landscape shots. With F5.6 you get a very fast shutter speed compared to F22.(even with ND filter sometimes you need F22)
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