My Odd Relationship With M43 (And possibly seeking advice or similar anecdotes).

JDS

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What I sense is that in M43 land, there are a couple lenses that aren't that good, there are a bunch that are really good and can deliver beautiful photos if the photographer is talented, and there are a bunch that are extraordinary and can deliver drool-worthy photos in the hands of great photographers. I'm sure there's some small advantage that FF cameras have in certain circumstances (certainly shooting team sporting events), but honestly who cares? Check the image showcases, M43 offers gear that can enable absolutely amazing photos, at a size/cost/weight that nobody else can match. For the vast majority of us, that should be enough to now just focus on shooting great photos and sharing them. For those who 'need' to switch systems over and over, fantastic: please make sure you unload your epic M43 gear here!
 

Clint

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You are not alone. Many people buy a camera and then are disillusioned by their photos. Some give up, others buy different gear hoping it’ll improve their photos. Some of these will buy and sell gear, sometimes they rebuy the same type of gear they previously sold - maybe many times. Eventually many fall by the wayside disillusioned.

Then there are those that at some point figure out they really need to learn photography basics, artistic concepts, and lighting and they see their photography improve over time. Instead of new gear, and more expensive gear: most would be better served by good on line courses, paid group shoots, joining a photography club. Or the like.

While gear can make some things easier, better, or quicker – without the knowledge and skills to use them can easily lead to the expensive and time consuming road of a gear head and GAS without making a marked improvement in their photography.
 

Bushboy

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Even budget, kit gear is very good.
And, as Clint just said, most people never realise the potential of it.
Save the money for necessary things in life...
Young family is not interested in daddy’s new 1.2 Pro Olympus lens.
 
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My canon FD 50/1.4 with lens turbo (for a 35mm f/1) blurs backgrounds for cheap. I prefer to put my subjects in front of something interesting instead, though.
 

Bif

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Then there are those that at some point figure out they really need to learn photography basics, artistic concepts, and lighting and they see their photography improve over time. Instead of new gear, and more expensive gear: most would be better served by good on line courses, paid group shoots, joining a photography club. Or the like.
To the OP: Perhaps the first step is to separate oneself from preoccupation with the pursuit of "shallow depth of field" until the concept of Depth Of Field is fully understood. The term is a label for the "zone of acceptable sharpness" and the depth of sharpness or depth of focus is affected by several factors:

1. Aperture (wide tends to provide a shallow zone of acceptable sharpness, small deepens the zone of sharpness).
2. Focal length (short tends to render the image with a deeper appearing zone of acceptable sharpness while longer seems to result in shallower zone of acceptable sharpness).
3. distance from lens to subject (the closer you get the more the zone appears shallower).
4. distance from subject to background elements (the longer this distance is, the easier it becomes to blur background elements).

To control "Depth Of Field" and have the image turn out the way one wants, all four of the above factors may need to be addressed.
 

BPCS

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A typical affordable (and you say budget is important) FF zoom kit lens F3.5-5.6 is going to have less or equivalent background separation to a m43 f1.7 prime (eg. m43 25mm f1.7 vs FF kit zoom at 50mm and a typical f4.5). So to get truly great background separation you need f2 or f1.4 FF lenses (or else you end up with no benefit) and most of these cost a fair bit. So m43 at f1.7 is a good compromise of many things. Sure, some cheaper FF camera models with a 50mm f1.8 is hard to beat for price, bokeh and still compact but then ask yourself what your position will be when you add a fast wideangle and fast tele to your bag? And one day you want an ultra wide and/ or super tele... my point is that as a system, m43 has a lot going for it, fun being a big part, so consider a fully committed investment of lenses and get out there and shoot.
 

JG Hall

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@JDS @Clint @Bushboy @Mountain @Bif @BPCS Thank you all so much for the valuable and insightful contribution, very refreshing to find some input that not just gear-sniffing and is thinking outside the box and holistically, and realistically. Quite glad I joined this forum.
 

TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

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Hello folks, this is my first post here after much time lurking without an account. It seems like a much friendlier place than some other forums/websites (don't think they need to be named :p).

For as long as I can remember I've had a keen interest in photography. When I traveled abroad to South East Asia in 2008 my drive to want a camera was snapped into 5th gear. It wasn't until about 3/4 years ago I managed to scrape enough pennies together to get my first camera (and seek family approval to spend such a large sum on something 'non-necessity', perhaps the part harder than saving lol).

As all of us here know, the camera market is an utterly infuriating and confusing one for new comers. I think, whilst saving, I spent about a solid year researching cameras, watching videos, reading articles, and learning about photography (which in all fairness, was more fun than my first few years of photography, lol). When I was about to bite the bullet on some Canikon, this little thing called the Lumix G6 caught my eye. I was blown away by the feature spec for the price, the glowing reviews on handling and customisation, little things like a 100% viewfinder, the 1080p video (at the time I was quite into video, now I couldn't care less. Had my fair share of video projects and don't find much fun in it). Despite it being a pretty unsung camera, I trawled for reviews and videos of it, all of which were pretty positive- on top of all that it was £399, which in that price point seemed to blow the similar priced Canikons out the water with feature and usability.

I knew nothing (much) about sensor size, lens selection etc, I didn't buy into M43 for the size or weight or to downscale- in my eyes the G6 was simply a camera. I bought it within a months time without trying it in any store.

After buying it I was brimming with excitement- the moment finally came! I took it to the closest restaurant to sit down and open it up just to examine it.

When I got home that evening and took my first picture, I was sorely disappointed.

Using the kit lens in doors, at night, in a dimly lit room- what went wrong? (Of course, I knew nothing back then really). Where was the blurred out background? The silky smooth transitions? The amazing colours and 'pop', and pristine detail? I felt duped, like I was tricked into a forced marriage. And, now I was stuck.

As time passed on, I began to really appreciate some features of the G6. The IQ never really shook itself off- the colours, auto WB, noise levels, and overall 'wow' factor all seemed to work against me more often than I'd like. Over the time, I bought the 20mm (sold about 2 years ago even though I loved it- at the time I was doing more video and the MF bugged me), the 14mm (love the FoV and size), panny 25mm f1.7 (second fave FoV, not a bad performer either) and the sigma 60mm f2.8 (just for the hell of it. Rarely use this lens, but it's a good performer). That was over the course of a few years, and all the while I've been up and down with M43.

Unfortunately, I don't have a massive amount of cash to chuck on camera gear, and when I do, it ends up on family or the house (guess I need to stay somewhere, huh :p). I just never felt satisfied, from my G6's ugly shutter and grubby material to the output.

In the last year, I said 'sod it' and decided to just take pictures regardless, and spend more time on art, composition, learning how to use flash etc and I've been more happy with photography. I took some time away from forums and did some soul searching because I really do love photography and it means a lot to me. I dedicate a lot of time to it and want to always keep it up. In the end I found a new direction and life in photography by changing my mindset to focus more on stories, my experiences, and memories.

I really wanted to jump to Fuji. They enchanted me. I did all the research, but the pennies in my bank just didn't match up to the prices in store, and not for anytime soon, especially considering the lens prices. Alas, I still lusted after Fujifilm against my will.

Although, when I was close to biting the bullet on the new XT100, I felt a pang and realised I'd miss some things like the extra DoF (which I sometimes do appreciate), the usability, prices of lenses and the overall reliability of M43 cameras and Lumix's pretty resilient RAW files.

A few months ago, I got a GX80 in a flash sale and love the thing to pieces. It's such a joy to use, I also tried all the new Lumix cameras and was floored by them. I bought it because the price was too good. And- I much more enjoy using this camera, I feel like taking it everywhere. However, yet at the same time I still sometimes feel as if I'm not happy with the M43 output. When I'm actually out there taking pictures (a lot of urban and street stuff) all my G.A.S melts away. But this is where my (and want for a better word) 'dilemma' kicks in: I sometimes just want more shallow Dof. I hate feeling this way, it feels cheap. But when I look at some APS-C images they look amazing. Is this some sort of syndrome where I try to make myself feel jealous or left out? I've even read the difference between APS-C and M43 is quite negligible in reality. But, even APS-C seems to... 'pop'? Or am I being downright stupid and finicky.

I know M43 is capable of some cream OOF backgrounds but sometimes, the due to physics and distance etc I just don't get much DoF even at like f1.7 on my 25mm.

I sometimes muse to either add a new system, completely move to a new system (so selling of the M43 gear :crying:) or- what seems most sensible, just putting money into the fastest best lenses for M43 (that'd be the Voigtlanders for me). Even considered 35mm film or the Mint Instantflex TF70 to avoid the digital dilemmas I face lol ... I hate to whinge and be a G.A.S producer but I've wanted to get this off my chest for a while and this forum seems to be the only place with nice enough folk to get some civil discussion. (Can I just say all the 'M43 is dead talk' drives me nuts because of how silly it sounds).

I really do love the whole M43 ecosystem, because all the lenses and bodies are really well made and function great. The optics are just so well put together. People say lenses like the Leica 15mm and 25mm have a 'magic' to them, that I wonder if my issue is more glass related and these could solve it perhaps... hmmmmmmm *exhumes G.A.S* ;). At least the M43 lens prices seem to be a bit easier to swallow compared to fuji/sony for what you get.

Thanks for taking the time to read. In all fairness I feel like I've reached some sort of an equilibrium with photography in my life now but I'm glad to have written this up. Would welcome any insights or anecdotes.
MF bug means manual focus right?
there is cheap mitakon 25mm f0.95, and there are other even cheaper ones. skip f1.4, unless you really need af.
also, you can do x0.76 speed booster + 50mm f1.4 lens to get 37.5mm f1

for me, it´s not about price, but features camera offers. my equipment reproduces anything FF above f1.8/2 and ISO 400 has to offer, but i get so much more features and options that make my life and work more easier and more enjoyable.
 
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longviewer

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Good advice here, for OP and all of us! Definitely slow down with shots when possible to see how those parameters Bif mentioned affect the oof blur; distance and distracting backgrounds make a major difference! Seeking a few speedy manual lenses is also a good call - e.g. Sigma 56mm is getting raves right now, but maybe just maybe my 50/1.7 Pentax needs some camera time?

I will welcome you, but my best advice is that you go away and don't come back. You sound like you are way happier when you are shooting then when you are researching. All of the recent cameras you mention are great. No need to fret about the ones you don't have or can't afford.
Yeah, this needs to be printed and hung over my computer :) maybe even covering the screen.
 

JG Hall

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Good advice here, for OP and all of us! Definitely slow down with shots when possible to see how those parameters Bif mentioned affect the oof blur; distance and distracting backgrounds make a major difference! Seeking a few speedy manual lenses is also a good call - e.g. Sigma 56mm is getting raves right now, but maybe just maybe my 50/1.7 Pentax needs some camera time?



Yeah, this needs to be printed and hung over my computer :) maybe even covering the screen.

I'm thinking of completely re-jigging my kit. I'm most likely going to sell off my sigma 60/2.8 and replace it with a 7artisans 55/1.4. it sounds crazy but I'm not that massively obsessed or concerned with sharpness, although I'd miss the snappyness of its AF.
 

longviewer

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I'm thinking of completely re-jigging my kit. I'm most likely going to sell off my sigma 60/2.8 and replace it with a 7artisans 55/1.4. it sounds crazy but I'm not that massively obsessed or concerned with sharpness, although I'd miss the snappyness of its AF.
I still have a set of good Pentax lenses, including the Limited 40+70 pancake primes. AF is nice but it's one of many parameters one can choose from, and I'm satisfied with my 14-42ii and 45-150 when versatility is a big deal.
 

SojiOkita

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What you are after is a lens effect; not at all related to photography and you are influenced by GAS. You are not alone. The increase in full frame sales is due to the same influence that you are suffering now. A lot of other people are chasing shallow DOF, more dynamic range and lower noise, because they believe that it truly what photography is all about. Creating effects, because it's really simple to create, because it really doesn't need any creative thought process. How do you tell a story when you blur out most of the background that your viewer can't tell where the subject matter is, have so much DR that it felt like the subject is living out of this planet and noise so clean, it is so perfect that life itself is never is perfect. If you look at all the great photographs taking by the masters; very few of them come with backgrounds so blown up to bits that you can't tell what the heck it was in the back.
Yeah, good point.
Even sharpness is sometimes overrated.
And I've taken many pictures with m43 where in the end the pictures would have been a little better with a little more DOF.
That being said, I like great bokehs and blurred background, but most of the times it's not necessarily the best choice for the picture you want to take.

There is no magic to the Leica 15mm and the 25mm and to the Zeiss lenses.
I also tried the "magic" lenses. That's probably why I was so disappointed at first with my 25/1.4 and when I bought the 75.
Now that I know there are not magic, I like both lenses very much :)
Some lenses will get you a little better rendering in some conditions, but it will only work when the picture is good on the first place.
For instance, I prefer using my 25 f/1.4 than my 25 f/1.8 when taking portraits, but it only helps the little. Someone disappointed with what he gets with the O25 f/1.8 will probably won't be with the 25 f/1.4.
 
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Then there are those that at some point figure out they really need to learn photography basics, artistic concepts, and lighting and they see their photography improve over time. Instead of new gear, and more expensive gear: most would be better served by good on line courses, paid group shoots, joining a photography club. Or the like.
Very true!

.... shallow DOF, more dynamic range and lower noise, because they believe that it truly what photography is all about.
Which is kind a funny regarding the fact that during most of the photography history shallow DOF was something that was avoided at all costs and only the result of needing to use faster lenses to be able to shoot film in lower light... an annoyance has turned in to something to lust over.

There are even quite a few Instagram accounts run by photographers shooting images only of very fast and expensive lenses where the shots themselves have very shallow depth of field. Interesting sub genre of photography for sure (but than again.. to each their own).
 
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D7k1

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I've had two kits that I just loved. My Nikon D200 with the 12-24, 80-200, and the 300mm f4. I had other Nikons but never got that special feeling from them. Then by accident I got an EPL1 and a bit later an EP5. During that time I only had the 14 + GWC1, Sigma 30 f2.8, and the 75-300 II. Sold my Nikon kit, and well look at my profile to see my 3 cameras and 9 lenses (more to come). I've been a photographer a long time, sometimes it was part of my job, othertimes selling on Getty and Adobe. I can say that with the G9, Photoshop,LR, and On1 I've learned to do the DOF thing to my satisfaction. But here is the deal, I have big and small lens kits and you just can do that with any other system. Compare the PL100-400 to the $12,000 150-400 Nikkor, or that than Pany 14 on my gx85 for a point and shoot or the Oly 9-18 and 75-300II (or 35-100 f4/5.6) as a complete system travel kit (with a Canon 500D on the 75-300/35-100 for macro. If you don't want to use software for DOF, the for very reasonable prices used the Sigma 1.4's while a bit large will get you far into the shallow DOF game.

I can't think of any system that provides such a combination of lens with such capabilities. With the lens line up and the various great processing programs available the combinations and permutations available to a m43 system imager would take a lifetime to explore without that size and weight thing taking its toll on your body:)
 

JensM

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most would be better served by good on line courses, paid group shoots, joining a photography club. Or the like.
This, somewhat*.

On a personal level, I am at a place where I am somewhat more interested in, should I call it "philosophy of photography" for a bit of pretentiousness, and would like discuss Who/Why/What more than the technical aspects of cameras and lenses. A couple of years ago, I for the most parts stopped buying technical photo books, and bought quite a few photographers books and have kept that going since. I have also started visiting Photography exhibitions and such.

These changes has done something with my outlook on photography, not sure exactly as to why and how, but I find it more intriguing than gear, not that I don't discuss gear and suffer from GAS as much as the next person, but something "mental" has changed to some extent and that is quite refreshing.

*Somewhat due to me buying my 40-150 Pro from a fellow that was "bullied" or ribbed into buying FF Sony gear at his local club.
 
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To the OP: Perhaps the first step is to separate oneself from preoccupation with the pursuit of "shallow depth of field" until the concept of Depth Of Field is fully understood. The term is a label for the "zone of acceptable sharpness" and the depth of sharpness or depth of focus is affected by several factors:

1. Aperture (wide tends to provide a shallow zone of acceptable sharpness, small deepens the zone of sharpness).
2. Focal length (short tends to render the image with a deeper appearing zone of acceptable sharpness while longer seems to result in shallower zone of acceptable sharpness).
3. distance from lens to subject (the closer you get the more the zone appears shallower).
4. distance from subject to background elements (the longer this distance is, the easier it becomes to blur background elements).

To control "Depth Of Field" and have the image turn out the way one wants, all four of the above factors may need to be addressed.
Agreed, if you you just get close enough and have a long(er) lens the depth of field will be shallower.

Comparing the Olympus 40-150 f4-f5.6 (at f5.6) vs the Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 (at 1.4) on a Sony aRiii the Olympus will have a shallower depth of field (focus at 50cm). Sure the image will be a bit more compressed due to the longer focal length but with the razor thin DoF it would be very hard to notice the difference. Even an Canon 85mm f1.2 on full frame wouldn't beat the Olympus at 150mm f5.6 on shallow depth of field. You could buy the thirteen 40-150's vs one Planar T* and more than twenty vs one Canon 85mm f1.2.

Light gathering abilities is something that is fixed however... and that is where very fast lenses come in handy if you need them (but things get expensive quickly). Creating shallower depth of field can be done by using a long(er) focal length and some common sense.
 

fransglans

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Get some distance to the background and get little closer to the subject. And yes PL 25, makes for smooth stuff, or my fav 45 1.8, oly
 
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