Bokeh test

One of the downsides to shooting with smaller sensors shows up in Bokeh, or the quality and ability to render out of focus areas pleasingly. My favorite wide aperture lens of all time is the Canon 85mm f1.2 Version II for full format and the Panasonic/Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f1.2 for m43. Using the Nocticron on a micro 43 sensor gives a field of view equivalent of 85mm. So by shooting in the same spot, with about the same angle and framing, you can get an idea of the difference between a large format sensor, in this case, the Sony A7R3, and the Olympus OM-D E-m1 Mark2(god I hate Olympus naming conventions).

I deliberately choose a very dull subject matter to illustrate the dramatic difference. The Canon 85mmf1.2 can take something quite drab and generate interest, simply due to the narrow depth of field and quality of the out of focus areas. The Olympus, despite the illusion of equivalence in FOV, is just no match.

So even though the FOV is equivalent, the lenses are not as one is an 85mm lens, and the other behaves as a 42.5mm lens would on a full frame camera. Here the smaller sensor has cropped the image by a factor of two, so we get the depth of field of a lens with half the focal length.

Therefore, if you want to get the narrow depth of field that full frame offers, but on an m43 system, you will need to pick a comparable focal length AND aperture. Of course, you will also need to back up to twice the distance of full frame to keep the FOV the same.

The comparable lenses don’t exist, but the Olympus 75mmf1.8 will get you close, and it’s a beauty.

_DSC2324OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImage details – f1.2, Canon 85mm on top.

 

Olympus E-M1 MarkII

I’m going to do an extensive review of this camera. The micro four-thirds sensor format is a unique beast, and there is a fair bit of “bigger sensor” snobbery out there, so the m43 cameras tend to get ignored by the more prominent websites.

The considerable advantage of shooting m43 is the smaller lens and camera sizes, at least compared to Canon and Nikon which still cling to traditional brick sized DSLR sizes. Sony cameras have thrown a bit of a monkey wrench in the size advantage of m43 because they are full frame sensor but extraordinary small, rivalling m43 cameras.However, physics is physics and their lenses have to be big in order to cast a large enough image circle to the bigger sensors. M43 has no such disadvantage and you get in return, lenses that are much smaller. In addition, the smaller sensor provides an effective focal length “multiplier” effect so a 300mmf4 m43 lens gives the FOV of a 600mmf4 monster lens from Canon or Nikon without the 10-pound weight penalty.

Strangely, marketing for m43 largely ignores these advantages. I’ll be exploring this in great detail in future articles.

Sony A7RIII

A few days ago, I picked up the brand new Sony A7RIII mirrorless camera. I’m not going down the usual goat path of well-worn attribute lists that most review sites cover, instead, I hope to look at features that are home runs, fails and make comparisons with other gear in such a way that other places never do. To give you an idea of what I mean, consider this upcoming comparison.

I’ve wondered how a small sensor using pixel shift would compare to a native high-resolution sensor. The cameras I will analyze will be the Olympus E-M1 MarkII in high-resolution pixel shift mode to the Sony A7RIII at its native resolution. The question I hope to answer is, how well does the pixel shift of the smaller sensor of the Olympus compare to a state of the art full frame camera? Is it a blowout, or is the Olympus the “little camera that could” challenge the big boys?

Some would argue that it’s not a fair test, that the Sony full frame will have a two stop light gathering advantage and so on. Of course, I will not be using the same lenses for the comparison, and the Olympus pixel shift depends on no movement of the subject matter while it completes the pixel shift. So it will be a bit of apple to oranges comparison, but then again, there’s no other option, and if I was making prints or sending the images to an editor for consideration, they could care less about all that. How the picture looks on the screen is what’s important, and that’s the way it should be.

So in the end, I’m going to pick top quality glass for both systems and shoot those lenses at their best aperture values. Identical field of views and histograms optimized. I will take a bit different tack when I process the files. I will apply sharpening, and I will tune each image with a few quick adjustments, and then we’ll see how it looks!

Of course, there is that little aggravation about posting to the site, web compression and so on to deal with. I’ll try to post a small relevant jpg saved at maximum quality so the comparisons will be informative, but I’m not sure yet if WordPress will apply some other funky compression and wreck the detail. Hopefully, in the next few days, I’ll load some comparisons and see how it goes.

 

First Blog Post

Ok, so you may have noticed my site meanders a bit. Hopefully, by the time a lot of people find the site, this comment will seem out of place as I will have fixed everything by then. But in the meantime, you the early visitor, bear with me!

I hope to have new content a few times a week. I will be commenting on the state of the industry, camera brands, image editing, techniques and hopefully, cover topics that are largely ignored by other sites.