M4/3's DOF loses in portrait ??

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by suoersta, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. suoersta

    suoersta Mu-43 Rookie

    May 23, 2012
    I don't know much about DOF, but from what i read and understood is M4/3 can't really take portrait as nice as DSLR APS-C does(lack of '3D' feel) because of the depth of field is it true ?? Can it be overcome by techniques or lenses ??
  2. tomrock

    tomrock Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    Indianapolis, IN
    No, it's not true. Look at some of the threads here -- portrait thread, creamy bokeh thread, etc. The APS and full-frame sensors have an advantage in this area, but it still can be done with M43.
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  3. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
    This may get a little complicated. Sorry, but the answer isn't as simple as yes or no.

    Do you understand what DOF is? If not, it's the range of distance, in front of and behind your subject, that appears to be in sharp focus. DOF depends on many things, including the aperture, the focal length of the lens, the distance between subject and camera and the size of the sensor. (Well, the last isn't really accurate, but in terms of real-world results it's close enough.)

    Because of differences in sensor sizes, lenses of the same focal length have a different field of view (FOV) on different formats. For example, a 50mm lens used on an APS-C camera has an FOV equivalent to a 75mm lens on a FF camera. On an m43 camera, that same lens has an FOV approximately equal to a 100mm lens on a FF camera. Looked at another way, to get the same FOV as a 50mm lens on a FF camera, you'll need a 25mm lens on m43, or a 33mm lens on an APS-C camera. People use the term "effective focal length" or "equivalent focal length" to describe this (e.g., a 25mm lens on m43 has a focal length "equivalent to" a 50mm lens on a FF camera. This term isn't really accurate, but it's been used enough that's there's no point in trying to fight it.

    So, given equivalent FOV (effective focal length) lenses, and the same subject shot from the same location, an m43 camera and lens has a DOF equivalent to an APS-C camera and lens set to one stop smaller. A 25mm lens shot at f 2.8 on m43 will have approximately the same DOF as a 35mm lens on APS-C (since no one makes a 33mm) shot at f4.

    All else being equal, the wider the aperture the shallower the DOF, and the more blurry the background. So basically, yes, an APS-C camera will make it easier to blur the background and get more apparent "separation" between the subject and the background. But that doesn't mean you can't do it on m43.

    How much of a difference this really makes depends a lot on what lenses you're using, though. If you're using a typical consumer zoom, at an aperture of around f5.6, you're not going to get very shallow DOF anyway, even on APS-C. If you're using a 50mm f 1.8, you'll not easily match the shallow DOF that lens provides, although the Olympus 45mm f1.8 will come close.

    Also note that there's such a thing as too little DOF. A portrait shot at f 1.4 on APS-C probably won't let you get the entire head of the subject in focus. Depending on the pose, the ears may be unsharp, or one eye, or the tip of the nose. You may need to stop down a bit, say to f2 or f2.8, to get the effect you want. The 45mm f1.8 will be able to match that DOF in most cases.

    Can it be overcome by technique? Yes, to some extent. Pose your subject so the background is further away, or use the sky or other empty space (e.g., a field) as a background. Use a longer lens (like the 45mm, or the soon to be released 75mm) and shoot from a little further away. Or just shoot from further away and crop your resulting photo. Post processing programs like Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop and others can apply blur to the background, simulating shallow DOF.
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  4. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    There is a style of portrait that relies on very shallow DOF and to do that with M43 you want a long, fast lens you can shoot wide open or close to wide open. The 45 F/1.8 is currently the best native M43 option but Olympus's newly announced 75mm will probably be better if you want to shoot portraits in this style on M43. You could also try adapted lenses. Cameras with a larger sensor have an advantage in this style of photography but it is only an advantage. You can still get good results with M43.

    But that's only one style of portrait photography. There are others such as environmental portraits which show people in a place or situation relevant to them and for that you need depth of field. M43 has the advantage here.

    There are so many ways of shooting portraits and the head and shoulders isolated from surroundings is only one way of doing it. If you want to take portraits with M43, then just start shooting them. Get a feel for your lenses and what you can do with them, and what situations they work best in. Play to the strengths of your gear and style and learn how to make them work for you. Don't let others tell you it can't be done because M43 isn't the best tool for a particular approach. Not being the best tool doesn't mean that M43 can't do the job, it just makes it a little trickier/harder to do it, and there is definitely more than 1 approach to taking portraits.
  5. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Lol ..Thanks a lot and thats was the whole idea of starting these threads. We can look and see what MFT can offer .Now DOF also depends upon ur distance from the subject ,aperture , focal length and of course sensor.MFT is pretty much of capable of quite shallow DOF and beyond that IMHO is useless us.

    Here are the links
  6. TDP

    TDP Guest

    to the OP: I can get paper thin DOF on my m43, my DSLR APS-C and on my DSLR Full Frame...it depends on lens, distance to subject/background, aperture and so forth.
  7. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    It depends, but everything else being equal, for a particular effective field of view (i.e. 45mm MFT is equivalent to a 90mm f.o.v. on full frame) and subject distance, the full frame camera will yield a much thinner depth of field/greater subject to background separation.

    To what degree this matters is a different discussion entirely.
  8. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    IMO, Shallow depth of field, subject isolation and "3D feel" are not the same thing, though they are often used interchangeably.

    DOF is actual a technical measure. Subject isolation and 3D feel are subjective and qualitative, rather than quantitative.

    DOF has to do with acceptable clarity and circles of confusion as viewed from a given distance (so the viewing distance to the image plays together with the technical execution of the photograph). You can research DOF easily enough, and I'm sure others will answer.

    I'll focus for a minute on subject isolation and 3D feel.

    Subject isolation often is about your subject being in focus, and the background behind the subject being out of focus. With a too shallow DOF, though, you could have a subjects nose in focus and EVERYTHING ELSE out of focus. Is that a good picture? It depends on what you are trying to communicate! But if you want the subject in focus, then with a longer telephoto lens, you could have the whole subject in focus, with the background OOF. This might be better, but still not a "3D Pop" (IMO).

    I just googled for these pics. They are not mine, and it just so happens they all came from DPR postings.

    Here's one where someone's claiming 3D pop from a NEX 7: Re: Any NEX 3D POP?: Sony NEX Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review


    IMO, this is not a strong image. The background may be out of focus, but it is also busy and distracting. Also, note the poor mix of lighting, where your eye is drawn to the trees, rather than the subject's face.

    And another from the same DPR thread: Re: Any NEX 3D POP?: Sony NEX Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review


    This is certainly showing a shallow DOF, but it's not subject isolation, and it's not "3D pop" IMO.

    Here is a much better example of subject isolation, done with m43. m43 Bokeh: Micro Four Thirds Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review Would you consider these nice?

    Note also the lighting, and how the lighting is used to draw more attention to the subject.

    But 3D "Pop" in my experience, is more than just subject isolation. It's the subjective feeling that you could almost reach out and touch the subject, and feel the contours. In my experience, the most 3D Pop I've seen tends to come from lens that are reasonably wide open, and have an AOV similar to a 50mm lens on 135 format, and having red colors in the picture really seems to help.

    Here's another good example of "3D Pop" from the above link, done on m43 with the PL25


    My point is NOT that m43 is better than NEX. I believe it is, but not for these reasons! My point is that DOF, Subject Isolation, 3D Pop, and bokeh, are actually not the same thing, and in the end it's much more about that you know how to use your tools, than it is what tool you use. And, IMO, lenses are more important than the camera body.

    m43 can make OUTSTANDING pictures. Learn how to use your camera first, and don't get hooked on one format vs. the other.

    Now, to conclude, I'll say -- get m43 because of the Lenses. NEX lenses just aren't there, and if all you do is shoot with the NEX kit lenses, then you will NEVER get the kinds of results above (OK, maybe that first one, if you use a NEX with their 55-210 zoom, and maybe the second one if your focusing is close enough)
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  9. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hi..Welcome to MFT and I hope you are enjoy newly acquired camera .Now Here are answers to your questions
    1) MFT can give you very shallow DOF
    2) You need to buy fast lenses with big aperture or more precisely portrait lenses and only one MFT portrait lens is currenty available which is Oly 45 mm 1.8 but there are plenty of legacy lenses which can be used with adaptors and you can get that subject isolation .
    3) Now DOF also depends on focal length , you distance from subject and ofcourse sensor size
    4) Google DOF and try to understand the basic concepts .
    5) Go out and shoot with different lenses and see the results .
    6) Come back and post your pics and we are more than happy to help you .

    Here are some shots ..

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  10. Grinch

    Grinch Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2011
    What about the lumix 45, are you disregarding this lens? It's been producing great images(portraits included) since before the oly was available. If you've only used the oly, please don't mislead by stating it is the only MFT lens.
  11. sLorenzi

    sLorenzi Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 15, 2010
    Real Name:
    DOF equivalence is one of the most boring subjects in photography forums nowadays, and it's everywhere. To the OP: I'm not saying that your post is boring, but it's just not going to an endless unproductive debate just because here in mu-43 most people is very reasonable and friendly.

    Saying that, I believe m4/3 has more than enough capability on producing the desired DOF to my needs.
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  12. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Hhahah I totally forgot about it but its more of a macro lens rather than portrait but yes I agree it can give you stunning portraits .I am not misleading my friend , Oly 45 mm 1.8 is the only native portrait lens in MFT format currently . :smile:
  13. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Thanks .. I also said the same thing .If you want to stand out your subject totally then carry a white or black sheet with you and then shoot ..lol

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  14. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    You're not going to be able to get that 'single eyelash in focus' look with m4/3 unless you go really close with an adapted fast lens, but frankly, I think it's an over used effect. As a former full-frame shooter (and 85L owner), I frankly much prefer the average portrait I get with m4/3. I get most of the face in focus with a still decent amount of background blur. On tight portraits, though, even the 45/1.8 gets pretty shallow:

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  15. dcisive

    dcisive Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 19, 2010
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Real Name:
    One sure way to lose your background is adjust the subject more forward from any solid subject behind them (like a wall or flowers and such) and use a longer focal length (I find 200mm is good and sometimes even longer) and you'll find the background virtually gone or blurred to the creamy point while the subject remains in focus and sharp. I'm playing more now with my M. Zuiko 75-300 which may just be a decent choice under some circumstances. That new 75mm f1.8 will be a winner. I've also seen more than enough good results from the 45mm f1.8 but you have to adjust the distance of the subject from the background to blur it nicely.
  16. suoersta

    suoersta Mu-43 Rookie

    May 23, 2012
    So does it means that longer focal length can compensate for the loss of large aperture and produce similar nice bokeh ?? in other words, is it fine to replace Oly 45mm with pana 45-200mm for portrait ??
  17. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Amount of background blur for a particular framing is essentially exactly related to the physical size of the aperture used.

    So, a 45mm at f/1.8 has a physical aperture of 25mm. So, background blur for the same framing will be roughly the same on that as with a 200mm lens at f/8, so yes, you can use your 200mm at f/5.6 on the 45-200 and get more blur than with the 45/1.8. However, you're going to have a rather significant difference in perspective, with a much flatter look to the subject. Depending on the subject, this can be a very good thing, or it can be not good, depending on what you're going for.
  18. JJJPhoto

    JJJPhoto Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    Cincinnati, OH
    Real Name:
    Jerry Jackson Jr
    Probably the best single piece of advice any photographer can give another. :smile:

    Oh, and on the topic of shallow DOF and m4/3, I took this snapshot of my son hiding from the monster on the TV while watching Scooby Doo. Notice that because his head is tilted back his eye is in focus but his chin and the top of his head is out of focus. That's pretty shallow DOF in my book.

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  19. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    That's a great shot. Love the use of DOF limits there.

    I see you are also a Smugmug user. After years of trying everything else that was cheap, I decided to pay for Smugmug. Love it, and the integration with Lightroom is da bomb!
  20. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Real Name:
    Sorry Jordan, but this is not correct. If the subject size in the frame, the sensor size and the aperture remain the same then DOF is identical regardless of focal length. A shot taken at 50mm at f4 will have the same DOF as a shot taken at 200mm at f4 if the subject size, in frame, is the same and the sensor size is the same.


    A lot of other things do change. Angle of view, compression, perspective, but not DOF. These things can give an increased sense of separation, as described above.

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