Shallow DoF lens options

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by TimmerWeb, May 24, 2013.

  1. TimmerWeb

    TimmerWeb Mu-43 Rookie

    May 29, 2012
    I'm still pretty new (1 year) to ILC cameras, and one of the things I love compard to point and shoots is the control over depth of field you can get. I got myself the Panasonic 20mm which I enjoy, but I want even shallower depth of field.

    The SLRMagic and Voigtlander 25mm lenses both look phenomenal, but a little too rich for my blood. The Olympus 45mm gets good write-ups, and if my limited knowledge of lens optics is correct, it's DoF will be darn close to those 2 more expensive lenses, at less than half the price, plus it's auto-focus. Trade-offs? Well the Olympus obviously isn't a "normal" focal length, which I can deal with. And it won't be as good in low-light.

    Another option that occurred to me is to get a cheap Nikon or other lens, like a 50mm 1.8 and an adapter. These lenses can go for $50. Sure it's manual, but so are the SLRMagic and Voigtlanders and we're now down to a 10th of their cost, still with the ability for similarly shallow DoF. Trade-offs? Manual focus, bulk, maybe inferior optics? (But how inferior?)

    Are three other factors that I should be considering?

  2. MAubrey

    MAubrey Photographer

    Jul 9, 2012
    Bellingham, WA
    Mike Aubrey
    If the 45mm f1.8 is in your budget, go for it. There are few legacy lenses that are equally sharp wide open compared to it and they're generally significantly more than $50.
  3. mister_roboto

    mister_roboto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Seattle, WA, USA
    The 45mm is a great versatile lens, with great image quality for the price. Sure you'll have to be a little further back than the 25mm's to get the same framing, but that can be pretty minor. You might also try an old adapted lens like a Nikon, Canon or Olympus 50mm f1.4's, the Olympus can be had used on ebay for usually under $100 to $175 usd.
  4. riverr02

    riverr02 Mu-43 Veteran

    May 2, 2011
    New York
    The native lens with the best IQ that I go to for shallow depth of field is the Oly 75. Fantastic lens, and worth every penny to me.
  5. mh2000

    mh2000 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 3, 2010
    If your point is shallow DoF and you don't want to spring for the Oly 75, the Oly 45 is a great bargain. Regarding using fast legacy lenses, with ultra shallow DoF, unless you are shooting something static and on a tripod, MF makes it very hard to take successful shallow DoF shots IMO. (Ok, others will argue, but I have nice adapted 50's that I use stopped down, but prefer Oly 45 and AF for shallow DoF focusing off a tripod.)

    You can also get shallow DoF out of a cheap long lens like the Oly 40-150 at the long end. That is dirt cheap when you find a deal... also a really useful good lens for everything else!

    Think people obsess too much over shallow DoF... but that's just me. :) 
  6. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    As I'm sure you're probably aware depth of field (DOF) is a function of focal length and aperture. The longer the focal length and the wider the aperture the shallower the DOF. The other variable that needs to be considered is the physical distance between your subject and the background (a large distance between subject and background increases the perception of the shallow DOF).

    Because of these properties the Olympus 75mm/1.8 is among the most popular lenses for shooting portraits (where the shallow DOF look is en vogue). That said, it's a pretty pricey piece of kit. The 45/1.8 is another gem when it comes to this sort of shooting. I should mention the PanaLeica 25/1.4, which has a wider max. aperture and a longer focal length than your P20, but the difference between the two is not all that great.

    A less expensive option is an adapted legacy lens. Ones I would consider would be just about any major brand 50mm f/1.4 (the Canon FD is my personal favorite) which can generally be had in the $50-100 range, or something like an 85mm f/1.8 which you might find for around $150.
  7. ranxoren

    ranxoren Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    Toronto, ON
    Another vote for 45mm 1.8
  8. barbosas

    barbosas Mu-43 Veteran

    May 7, 2013
    I highly recommend the Olympus 45/1.8 .
  9. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    And focus distance. Aperture, focal length and subject distance conspire to create the effect of depth of field.

    Let's not forget circle of confusion, print size (or their electronic equivalents) and viewing distance either.
  10. neofx19

    neofx19 Mu-43 Regular

    May 16, 2012
    Another vote for the 45mm 1.8 great lens.
  11. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    I'm a narrow/shallow DOF junkie too. This is one reason why I have couple 35mm film bodies to use with my 85mm ƒ1.8 & 50mm ƒ1.8 film lenses.

    Good responses on the digital side of the house from those who posted in this thread though. :smile:
  12. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 5, 2013
    Do you have a good definition for circle of confusion? Every definition I have read seems to go around in circles and confuses me :confused: 
  13. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Well, it makes me confused as well. I like the wikipedia blurb the best.

    "The depth of field is the region where the CoC is less than the resolution of the human eye (or of the display medium)."

    This one is not too bad but not particularly helpful.
    The Circle of Confusion, Demystified

    "Viewing conditions" and "visual acuity" are not so well defined or controlled in most cases. Art or technical items on display do have a considerable amount of attention paid to controlling the "viewing conditions" as much as possible. "Visual acuity" seems to play in the other direction when wine and spirits are served.
  14. Cederic

    Cederic Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 14, 2012
    I've been utterly delighted with my 45mm, and its DoF is definitely a factor in that. It's just a lovely lens.
  15. Danny_SWE

    Danny_SWE Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 30, 2013
    Sweden (Gothenburg)
    Besides the SLRMagic* there is also the CCTV 35/1.7 and 50/1.4 they are quite cool but demands good light and is a little difficult to focus without some help (like peeking or zoomed spot). They are really cheap also so it could be an option.

    (* which is the same as the CCTV 25 with adapter)

    Attached Files:

  16. battleaxe

    battleaxe Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Not sure really what focal length you are looking at, but I have Minolta Rokkor 58mm f1.4 MF lens I got for about $45, and the adapter for another $20. Since moving to the GF3 from the G2, I haven't used it much; however, the past week I have been using that combo, and despite the lack of an EVF to help me better focus, the DOF and IQ have reminded me how much I really like the lens. Kind makes me want to find a f1.4 MF lens in 30mm range.
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