Nocticron Compared to Selected Lower Cost Full Frame Systems - Introduction

Amin Sabet

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A lot of comments in forums go something like this: For slightly more than the cost of a Nocticron, you can get a full frame camera and an 85/1.8 or Fuji X-E2 and 56/1.2!

Of course that does me no good if I'm a MFT shooter and don't want a second system. Also, if I plan to have my E-M1 and PL25 with me, it's way lighter for me to add a Nocticron to the bag than it is to add a Canon or Nikon DSLR plus the corresponding 85/1.8.

Still, it's an interesting comparison: Nocticron on MFT and full frame DSLR with 85/1.8. Worth exploring for sake of curiosity if nothing else.

So here are a few kits I have on hand:

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Left: Nikon D610 and 85/1.8G. Center: Olympus E-M1 and PL 42.5/1.2. Right: Canon 6D and EF 85/1.8.

Soon to join the party will be a Fuji X-E2 and XF 56/1.2, and then the comparisons will commence.
 

Amin Sabet

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One that jumped out at me right away are that I can handhold the PL42.5 at 1/10s with as much success as I can handhold either 85/1.8 at 1/80s. This means that for static subjects, I'm using f/1.2 and 1/10s at ISO 200 with one system when I'm using f/1.8 and 1/80s with ISO 5000 with the other system. The noise advantage for MFTs is considerable under those circumstances.

The other thing that was immediately apparent is how close I can get using the PL42.5 (whole frame, resized):

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whereas this is as close as I can get with either of the DSLR 85s (whole frame, resized):

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Even in the web resized images above, you can see the noise difference ISO 200 on MFT vs ISO 5000 on FF makes.
 

dornblaser

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I am posting to subscribe to this thread. I am particularly interested in the E-M1 and 42.5 vs. the Fuji and 56 comparison. I will be interested if any of the Panasonic lenses on Olympus bodies issues crop up as well.
 

tosvus

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It's still clear to me which combo is easier to put in the camera-bag. Even my GH3 should be smaller than the Nikon/Canon combos. I do wonder how much they "win" in the low-light department (due to sensor size even if lenses are slower). I don't care one bit about the tiresome DoF difference though. My PL 25 f1.4 has plenty thin DoF for me, and even my 35-100 f2.8 is good as long as it is used properly.

Edit: Skimming through F/Stop's excellent blog post (Thanks!), I'm reminded that the Nocticron for Panasonic owners adds another 1+ stop due to Lens Stabilization, and I guess the EM-1 is even better with it's IBIS. For more static subjects, that should be taken into account as well, I suppose!
 

DynaSport

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I'm really looking forward to seeing this! Coming from the Canon world I had the EF 85 1.8 and dreamed of having the 5D Mk II or III or the 6D. Then Nikon's FF was supposed to be better than the Canon FF camera's, but not enough that I would have sold all my Canon gear to switch systems. Ironically, I ended up selling all my Canon gear (APS-C, not FF) after I got into u4/3. But now I'd really like to see how the EM-1 with the Nocticron compares to that set up.
 

demiro

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No question that the m4/3s combo wins the beauty contest. The Canon 85/1.8 sure isn't a shower, but tough to beat for $300 in the value competition.

I'll be curious to see your results Amin, and to read your comments. Though my guess is they will all look great, and you/we will be splitting hairs to find one that looks significantly better.
 

tosvus

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Looking at Amin's three cameras, the E-M1 with the 42.5 is a beautiful and substantial looking combo.
Yes, makes me want to get an Olympus camera too. Of course I have a ridiculous wish-list at this point (Nocticron, 12-35 2.8, 75 1.8, 100-300, Gh4, Em1) .... and no money left to spend (and cannot afford to pay more interest on credit cards ;)
 

napilopez

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Really looking forward to this one Amin! Could be a great show of force for M4/3 in general. Assuming, of course, it compares favorably.

Somehow, I'm not too worried :wink:

It's still clear to me which combo is easier to put in the camera-bag. Even my GH3 should be smaller than the Nikon/Canon combos. I do wonder how much they "win" in the low-light department (due to sensor size even if lenses are slower). I don't care one bit about the tiresome DoF difference though. My PL 25 f1.4 has plenty thin DoF for me, and even my 35-100 f2.8 is good as long as it is used properly.

Edit: Skimming through F/Stop's excellent blog post (Thanks!), I'm reminded that the Nocticron for Panasonic owners adds another 1+ stop due to Lens Stabilization, and I guess the EM-1 is even better with it's IBIS. For more static subjects, that should be taken into account as well, I suppose!


I'll be surprised if they win in the low-light department for my uses, which mainly involve photographing still people. The image stabilization is a big factor to me.
I can't emphasize enough how important this is. I haven't shot FF in a a while, but I do work with APS-C pretty often and its one-stop-ish high ISO advantage. That advantage is turned around by the E-M5's IBIS and I'd imagine even more so with the E-P5 and E-M1's improved IBIS. Fuji's X-trans sensor is almost certainly the best low light APS-C sensor, arguably approaching FF levels, and having spent over a month using the X-E2 with the excellent 23mm F1.4, I still clearly felt my E-M5 plus 25mm F1.4 was the better low-light setup for most of my own uses. That said, you do need to remember to set your ISOs lower than auto ISO will typically choose(or lower your max Auto ISO). It actually makes me wish there were a sort of "IBIS priority" shutter speed option to use shutter speeds 2-3x below the general rule of thumb automatically.

Of course I still have my flash with me, but the fact that I don't have to use it as often as you'd think is great(indeed, that's very rarely). Panasonic shooters do have more trouble here of course, but hopefully Panasonic will come around. It would be great if they could implement a dual lens and IBIS stabilization system, like some video cameras have.
 

beanedsprout

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EM1 wins in comparison to high ISO (jpegs), weight, size, abilities (wifi), etc. Also for that price, you can buy used and get a ton more. For the price of an EM1 an Nocticron, you can get a 5d2/6d and 85 1.2. and probably an 85 1.8, and 50 1.4. So you're saving a lot of money if you stay away from the brand new cameras. Also who cares, it's an entirely different animal. You can't compare a full frame camera to a MFT because they render completely differently. I shoot with two systems. Usually use M43 but if you need shallow DOF you need a bigger sensor. 1.2 on a M43 is 2.4 on a full frame, and that's a HUGE difference.

So I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to compare. The price of just a lens? Ok then take a lens and compare it to a lens AND camera, which is what you could buy. Or if you include the price of a camera, ok which one? And which features? Flagship cameras? ok well drop the 610 and 6D and get a flagship camera. Want to go budget? Ok get the last generation M43 cameras, but factor that into the price.

"for the price of this lens you could buy.... a car" Honestly. A car. Go buy a car instead.
 

napilopez

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EM1 wins in comparison to high ISO (jpegs), weight, size, abilities (wifi), etc. Also for that price, you can buy used and get a ton more. For the price of an EM1 an Nocticron, you can get a 5d2/6d and 85 1.2. and probably an 85 1.8, and 50 1.4. So you're saving a lot of money if you stay away from the brand new cameras. Also who cares, it's an entirely different animal. You can't compare a full frame camera to a MFT because they render completely differently. I shoot with two systems. Usually use M43 but if you need shallow DOF you need a bigger sensor. 1.2 on a M43 is 2.4 on a full frame, and that's a HUGE difference.

So I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to compare. The price of just a lens? Ok then take a lens and compare it to a lens AND camera, which is what you could buy. Or if you include the price of a camera, ok which one? And which features? Flagship cameras? ok well drop the 610 and 6D and get a flagship camera. Want to go budget? Ok get the last generation M43 cameras, but factor that into the price.

"for the price of this lens you could buy.... a car" Honestly. A car. Go buy a car instead.
He says in the OP he's comparing the lens to an alternate Lens+Camera combination, and shows which bodies he's comparing it to. I shoot M43 but rents APS-C/FF gear when I need it, and I've considered myself whether its worth buying a used FF kit over the Nocticron, so I think it's a fair comparison.

I wouldn't say you can't compare M4/3 to FF in general either; IMO any camera is fair game as long as they can get the results for the job. I feel most photography isn't about what's best at everything, but rather what's good enough for my needs. If I can just get the Nocticron instead of an FF kit to get good enough bokeh, that's fair. Heck, for my own purposes, the cheaper and MF Voigtlander is still going to get a lot of usage, and that lens gives FF type DoF. I don't think anyone here is expecting the Nocticorn to compete against something like an 85mm F1.2 on FF for DoF though.
 

Jonathan F/2

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The Nikon 85mm 1.8 G is quite good. On my D800 it's sharp wide open. If bokeh and printing large was my goal, an FF camera/Nikon 85mm combo might be my choice. Saying that, in-camera IBIS and the built-in OIS of the 42.5mm open up all sorts of low light portrait possibilities that might triumph the high ISO advantage of a full frame camera for certain shooting scenarios. If I was a serious portrait photographer, I'd probably own both! :wink:
 

Neftun

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I'm curious on this one. In my experience, this should be a homerun for the em1/42,5mm. I've used the nikkor extensively, and that one has issues. Was not sharp until 2.8, tried it on d300, d7100 and d7/800. Plenty of CA, too, especially on DX. Don't know about the canon, though.

Curious.
 

pellicle

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Hi

nice thread idea. I've of course probably been one of those "for the cost of a ..." people. Of course being a long term-er in photography I already had a decent EOS 35mm outfit to start with, naturally this changes the equation.

I view that for the price of a nocticon you can buy a dam good used full frame and some lenses. Yes that means 2 systems, but to me I don't use only a drop saw in my home renovations, I also use a hand saw and a coping saw and many other tools.

My view on this is complex and I am not totally firmly decided and so naturally I keep a foot in both camps. What each of us decides will of course be a product of what we do with our gear, what we like, what we understand and how we feel out the results. Naturally it may shift over time.

I have in the past posted on my blog (and I started with micro4/3 back in 2009) many views and thoughts on full frame vs 4/3 ... naturally each has advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to shallow DoF this is not in itself a holy grail, and using it brings with it a requirement of precision. Improperly placed shallow DoF will just give you an out of focus image. By its nature 43rds gives us some 'room for error' and some advantages in speed.

In my blog post here (http://cjeastwd.blogspot.fi/2011/10/portrait-lenses-5d-vs-gh1.html) I discus the relative merits of 4/3 vs full frame

If I'm going out walking or travelling then lighter matters to me, and so my GH1 and just the 14-45mm kit zoom will often be all I take as it does 99%. I may add to that a FD200f4 lens as if I was thinking of perhaps taking some wildlife (like I'm on a hike) then for 440g its not a big penalty and gives me a reach I love.

But if I was shooting a wedding for a friend (or commercially god forbid) then the equation changes. I may also want both systems around. For me the trade off goes like this:
  • full frame often gives nicer shallow DoF wides than 4/3
  • 4/3 gives better use of Telephoto and reduces misses from focus error
  • full frame gives a better image quality on the limits of shadow and highlight
  • 4/3 gives you a shutter speed advantage for the same DoF requirement

Having Full Frame also allows you to have a 35mm negative loaded body in the mix too, and for nearly nothing (have you looked at the used prices of EOS cameras for instance?). There are times when a good neg image will pull a portrait in tough lighting that a digital just won't get. Portrait photogrpahers for many years have worked with good colour neg and films like kodak portra 400 still give great results.

Having Full Frame enables you to retask those same lenses and therefore throw another tool bit into the machine shop and make more diverse images.

So, I'm not trying to say anyone is wrong or right, just feed in my thoughts on how its been for me.
 

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