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Sony A7II full frame with Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 vs Olympus OM-D with Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens – real world comparison images

Monday, April 24th, 2017

In an earlier blog post, I compared the Sony A7II full frame with Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 vs Olympus OM-D with Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens in terms of how they render the background wide open at f/1.8 at approximately the SAME subject distance and approximately the same field of view. The full frame kit allows 2 stops more shallow depth of field, but for most situations, the ability to blur the background with the 45mm lens is adequate, and it does so at a much smaller size.

In this post, I tackle the photographic problem slightly differently as I tried to maintain the same subject magnification by shooting the 75mm lens twice as far away from the subject as the Canon EF 85mm lens as the 2x crop factor of Micro Four Thirds means the Olympus 75mm lens actually has the field of view of a 150mm lens in full frame terms.

These are two of the sharpest wide aperture “consumer” lenses from each manufacturer – unfortunately, neither are weather-sealed.

Thus when shooting both lenses wide open at f/1.8 at same subject magnification as outlined, one can expect for the Olympus 75mm lens, the background field of view will be narrower and more compressed (which I prefer as most Australian forest backgrounds tend to be busy, chaotic and distracting, and one can better avoid having distracting bright skies in the frame, so less background for me is better, even though it is not as blurry).

Had I shot with the background at infinity, the DOF calculations indicate that the background would be just as blurry, but when the background is quite close to the subject as in these images, the full frame does give more blurry images – but at times too blurry (although this can be addressed by stopping the aperture down but then may need to increase ISO by 2 EV if you cannot afford to have a slower shutter speed, and then the benefits of full frame are largely lost).

One big difference between the two is the far better close up magnification obtainable with the Olympus mZD 75mm lens as both have close focus of around 0.85m but the Olympus does this with twice the telephoto effect giving twice the macro.

In addition, I feel the Olympus OM-D cameras render the greens in a more pleasing way than the Sony a7II, and of course, the Olympus camera has a 4:3 aspect ratio which I think works better for portraits, while the Sony has the old, historic, narrow 3:2 ratio.

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens is a highly regarded “portrait” lens, often regarded as one of the best Canon lenses which is not a Pro L lens. It is sharp but does have some CA issues wide open. When used with the Sigma MC-11 EF-Sony lens adapter, you do get fairly fast AF but no Eye AF.

On a full frame camera such as the Sony A7II mirrorless camera, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 provides the user with shallow depth of field options when compared to the slightly smaller (58mm filter vs 58mm filter), lighter (305g vs 400g) Olympus micro ZD 75mm f/1.8 lens but will this really matter for most people and will the many benefits of the Olympus system outweigh the DOF benefits of the full frame system?

The Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 lens is regarded as one of the best lenses ever made optically and is one of my all time favorite lenses for people photography and also shallow DOF work on Olympus cameras. Unlike the 85mm lens it is optimised for mirrorless cameras and their CDAF system and thus you can have fairly fast, accurate face detection autofocus on the subject’s closest eye (if they are not moving much), which is an awesome feature indeed – this is not possible with the Canon lens.

The Olympus lens has 5EV image stabilisation thanks to the Olympus OM-D E-M1, while the Canon lens gains around 2-3 EV IS thanks to the Sony a7II (it would have none if used on a Canon dSLR).

Real world lens tests:

Let’s have a look at some images straight from camera (just resized for web viewing) with both lenses at f/1.8 as I walked around an oak forest yesterday, not really looking for great shots, but shots to show difference in depth of field and image quality between the two systems when taken from the same camera position.

The Olympus is first then the Canon, all taken at f/1.8, base ISO, with auto WB unless specified, and none had any filters applied to the lenses – both had lens hoods attached:

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I much prefer the Olympus version of the above two, gives better context and I personally find the bokeh of the Canon one a bit annoying because we have lost the definition of the trees too much leaving distracting vertical lines.

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The above was taken with “Shady” white balance.

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The following two show that if the subject distance is substantially less than the background distance, then the degree of background blurring becomes more similar with the two lenses.

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The following two were taken not with the same imagery, but I have added them anyway.

The Olympus  was with WB set to “Shady” but came out too warm – I should have taken a custom WB with a grey target to get the best rendition here.

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The foreground bokeh of this last Canon EF 85mm lens image is very distracting and busy and in fact is so annoying I would be forced to crop it out.

Each lens renders images differently even though I have tried to control subject magnification – both have nice bokeh in most cases, but you do get quite different images – sometimes in favor of the Olympus (thanks to double the background compression), sometimes in favor of the Canon 85mm (thanks to more blurring of a nearby background).

There is no “RIGHT” camera / lens combination that will suit every image – you as the photography have the decision to make as to which tool is needed – assuming you have the tools with you.

But in the end, if you had not seen the full frame imagery, most would be very happy with the degree of background blurring of the Olympus lens – it has how you use it that will determine the success of your photography.

Here is what the Olympus 75mm lens can achieve in outdoor available light portraiture:

portrait

Sony A7II full frame with Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 vs Olympus OM-D with Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens – real world comparison images

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Similar field of view and both have nice bokeh but are very different sizes and ergonomics.

I have posted similar DOF and background blurring comparisons for full frame 50mm f/1.8 vs Olympus 25mm f/1.4 and also full frame 85mm f/1.8 vs Olympus 75mm f/1.8 taken twice as far away.

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens is a highly regarded “portrait” lens, often regarded as one of the best Canon lenses which is not a Pro L lens. It is sharp but does have some CA issues wide open. When used with the Sigma MC-11 EF-Sony lens adapter, you do get fairly fast AF but no Eye AF.

On a full frame camera such as the Sony A7II mirrorless camera, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 provides the user with a further 2 stops of shallow depth of field options when compared to the much smaller (37mm filter vs 58mm filter), lighter (115g vs 400g), and similarly priced Olympus micro ZD 45mm f/1.8 lens but will this really matter for most people and will the many benefits of the Olympus system outweigh the DOF benefits of the full frame system?

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Real world lens tests:

Let’s have a look at some images straight from camera (just resized for web viewing) with both lenses at f/1.8 as I walked around some gardens yesterday, not really looking for great shots, but shots to show difference in depth of field and image quality between the two systems when taken from the same camera position.

The Olympus is first then the Canon:

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The following Olympus image I accidentally shot at f/2.2 instead of f/1.8:

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And I shot this Canon image at f/3.5:

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While this Canon image was shot at f/1.8:

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But what about portraits?

A group of young ladies asked if I could take a photo of them with their iPhone – for some reason this is an incredibly frequent happening for me – perhaps they know they can outrun me if I take off with their phone! One of the ladies became excited when she saw I had her “dream” camera – the Sony a7II in my hands and wanted to see what it can do with a portrait so I did some very rough comparisons of the two cameras (NOT the iPhone!):

Olympus 45mm:

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Canon 85mm from a touch further away.

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I tried to explain the differences, but what really got them excited was when I showed them they I could just touch the rear screen of the Olympus and instantly, it snapped it accurate AF on the subject I touched and took the candid shot:

Olympus image shot using the touch AF on rear of screen:

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Conclusion:

There is far more to photography than the technical aspects – photography should be about fun, affordability and inspiring exploration, and above all not be too cumbersome to carry around, and on these points the Olympus kit wins hands down!

The Sony’s poor ergonomics, lack of touch screen AF, no eye detect AF with the Canon lens, only 2 stops IS vs 5 stops in the Olympus, and its propensity to not turn itself off were also big factors in favor of the Olympus OM-D camera.

And, having just played with an entry level Canon EOS 1300D dSLR, it’s poor ergonomics, lack of features, very poor, dim and small viewfinder – I can’t understand why people would not just buy a much better built, weathersealed, very versatile and good looking second hand Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera for a similar price with similar image quality but much better image stabilisation, AF speed and accuracy as well as better dedicated lenses.

I can easily understand why Sony have jumped to 2nd place on full frame camera sales in the USA – leap frogging over Nikon – this would have been unfathomable even 5 years ago – but Canon and Nikon persist with their dinosaur mentality in camera and lens design – and I can understand why the traditional studio or landscape pro photographers who used their systems are jumping to medium format or to Sony.

I can understand why Canon and Nikon are reluctant to introduce functional mirrorless full frame cameras – it exposes their faithful who own very expensive dSLR lenses to the same fate that Olympus Four Thirds users have suffered when Micro Four Thirds was introduced – the realisation that all their existing AF lenses are no longer suitable for the new age of mirrorless CDAF technology and need to be replaced with CDAF-optimised AF stepping motors which will seriously devalue their lens collection – fortunately for me, most of my Canon pro lenses are manual focus tilt-shift lenses so this won’t impact me much when it happens.

In the meantime, we can buy Sony full frame mirrorless cameras with in camera image stabilisation with Eye AF capability, etc and ability to use Canon lenses and flashes even in remote TTL mode – so why buy a Canon dSLR?

In the end, you have to ask yourself if the full frame imagery is really worth it – and in some situations it may be – but if I am needing shallower DOF with the Olympus, I resort to the Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 lens which is my go to lens in this situation – of course if you have the money you could also go for the Panasonic Leica DG 42.4mm f/1.2 lens.

 

 

 

Autumn in Victoria with the Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 and Panasonic GH-1

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

autumn

and mother and daughter collecting mineral water:

mother and daughter

More images using the Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 lens on a Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds camera

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Following on from my recent posts regarding my purchase of this bargain 85mm f/1.4 manual focus lens from Rokinon/Samyang, here are some more images from today.

First to show depth of field for a head shot at f/1.4 – here I have used a store mannequin through a window and used a polarising filter to reduce window reflections:

mannequin1

and with another mannequin, but for this one contrast is decreased as I could not fully eradicate all reflections, bt nevertheless, one can see depth of field well and a small degree of purple fringing on out of focus strong highlights – this lens is incredible for its control over purple fringing in general, at least when compared to the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8:

mannequin2

Now here is a nice nature shot of a bee on some flowers – I used the lens set at closest focus (1m) and moved camera in and out until the bee looked in focus – no time for magnified view with this shot, note the delicious smooth bokeh:

bee

But how sharp is this lens? Well, even though I had not been sure of obtaining critical focus, and the bee could have been moving, here is a 100% crop of the bee in the above image for pixel peepers – not bad given the uncontrolled circumstances! (Click on image to see 100% view)

bee at 100%

and, while I was in the mood for some close up nature work, and it was Autumn in Melbourne on a lovely sunny day, here is another nature shot at close focus of 1m in the shade but with some backlight on the leaf:

leaf

Finally, as I walked in the park, I could not resist this quick snap of this lady with her grand-daughter to demonstrate that even at a distance (perhaps 15-20m from me), the background can still be thrown out of focus when using this lens at f/1.4. No Photoshop apart from sepia toning. This image is best appreciated in larger view by clicking on it.

grand-daughter

As you can see, I am enjoying this lens, and it really adds to the Micro Four Thirds fun factor as well as giving almost identical imagery as a Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L lens on my Canon 1D Mark III but at considerably less weight, size and cost.

A must have lens for the photographer willing to use manual focus – if only Olympus would make an autofocus version!

More images of this combination can be seen on my website here.

The Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 and GH-1 on the streets of Melbourne – bokeh testing for portraits

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

It was a beautiful, sunny Autumn day in Melbourne today, so in between browsing the art galleries and observing the festivities of our Comedy Festival, I took the opportunity to get a few shots in with the very cheap but amazingly good, Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4 aspeherical lens on my Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds camera.

I was carefully focusing on the dog’s eye using magnified live view when this young lady decided to jump aboard, so I took a quick snap and then let her have her play time.

young lady with dog

As we walked through a very crowded Federation Square, this elderly couple with American accents took everyone by surprise!

This shot was into the sun at f/1.4 – note that to use f/1.4 on sunlit scenes (not shadow side as with this shot), you will need a polarising filter or ND filter to prevent it being over-exposed, or else resort to stopping the aperture down.

a shocking but funny couple

And a life size statue with shop windows some 3m behind to show how well the lens renders backgrounds at f/1.4:

statue

A lovely bargain indeed!

Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4 lens on Micro Four Thirds – definitely a must have photographer’s lens

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

I bought the Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4 manual focus lens to work with my Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds camera to create a lighter, smaller, cheaper kit but with similar image quality, bokeh, depth of field, field of view and perspective as my Canon 1D Mark III with Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L pro lens and the results are amazingly similar – see my last post.

Initial testing with a resolution target at same subject distance wide open on tripod with self timer seems to show that the Rokinon lens is significantly sharper in the centre than the Canon outfit which is so surprising to me, I am going to have to do further testing.

In the meantime, I took the Rokinon 85mm and my GH-1 on a walk through Adelaide’s botanical gardens this week to test it out a bit more, and I must say I am very happy that this $US265 lens is so good, it has to be a bargain buy for those looking for nice bokeh.

So here are a few images without any Photoshop (other than resize and jpeg compression for the web) to show how versatile it is on the GH-1:

Firstly, a casual shot of a painting in the hotel I was staying at with available light at f/1.4:

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Botanicals in the shade at f/1.4:

botanicals

Roses at f/1.4:

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At close focus of 1m at f/1.4:

bees

And to show that there is almost no geometric distortion even at f/1.4:

wall

And how to blur the background with buttery smooth bokeh for head and shoulders portrait with subject at about 3m (sorry, no subject available so I used the leaves to focus upon), first image is taken at f/5.6 as would be the case had you used most kit lenses:

f/5.6

Now see what you can achieve wide open at f/1.4, superb, smooth bokeh which will make any portrait pop!

f/1.4

And here is one from last post at f/1.4:

f/1.4

A must have lens for the photographer willing to use manual focus – if only Olympus would make an autofocus version!

More images of this combination can be seen on my website here.

Brief shootout – Canon 1DMIII + EF 135mm f/2.0L lens vs Panasonic GH-1 + Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 lens

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

One of my favorite walk around and people photography kits is the Canon 1D Mark III pro dSLR camera matched with the lovely Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L lens.

Given the 1.3x crop factor of this camera, this combination in effect gives me telephoto reach of a 176mm lens on a full frame camera.

This focal length allows me to be more versatile in selection of backgrounds by virtue of compression of the perspective, while the f/2.0 wide aperture allows one to make the subject pop by having a shallow depth of field (in most situations, a touch too shallow hence I often use f/2.5 or f/2.8 for people photography), and it renders the background with a lovely smooth bokeh.

If you are shooting into a light source, using the lens shade is a must to minimise internal lens flare which is the main issue with this lens.

My biggest problem with this outfit is that it is so big and heavy, I usually don’t bring it with me unless I have something specific in mind.

I have been searching for a similar image drawing outfit with my Micro Four Thirds camera – the now very cheap, Panasonic GH-1 (you can buy it for about a fifth of the price of a Canon 1D Mark III).

I tried the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens, which although is a very nice lens, suffers from considerable purple fringing.

Last week, I received the Rokinon (Samyang) 85mm f/1.4 manual focus lens in Canon EF mount which I bought from Amazon.com for the ridiculously cheap price of $US265.

Now this lens on the GH-1 gives a telephoto reach of 170mm and a depth of field at f/1.4 similar to what my Canon outfit above would give me, furthermore, this 85mm lens is reknown for its buttery smooth background bokeh.

So how would a GH-1 kit you can now buy for well under $US1000 compare with a $US4000 Canon pro outfit?

Of course with the GH-1 you will have to resort to magnified live view for accurate manual focus but at least this is much easier than on a dSLR with its annoying mirror, and thus you may be more limited to relatively stationery subjects, but that suits me fine, as long as I can get a similar image quality at a third of the weight and size, then I will be happy.

Here are a few shots of each camera taken from identical positions at wide open aperture, hand held as I would normally take them, and focussed on similar spots with no post processing of the in-camera jpegs other than merging and then resizing and compressing for the web. Note I did not use a lens hood for any of these shots, as forgot to bring it for the 85mm so to be fair, I left it off the 135mm lens – something I would NEVER normally do for that lens! The sun was not directly hitting the lens glass in any of these images.

Click on the images for a larger view. I will tell you which is which at the bottom of this post.

shoot out 1

shoot out 2

shoot out 3

OK, have you decided which you would prefer or are they both similar enough you would be happy to use either?

1st image, the Canon is the top one, while the other two images, the Canon is the image on the left (with the unfortunate vertical line I stuffed up in my editing of the files, and I apologise too for the jpeg compression artefacts – I am not used to Corel’s software which I have had to resort to as my laptop with PS on it just died).

In the 2nd image taken late in the afternoon, the Canon 1D Mark III rendered it a lot cooler than in reality.

The important point in these images is how the background is rendered – almost identical – and that purple fringing is not problematic in any of these.

I think I am on a winner here with this 85mm lens – and it has manual aperture control, plus I can use it on the Canon 1D Mark III if I wish.

I can’t see much difference between the two, other than the more contrasty rendition by the Panasonic (I forgot I had it set to Dynamic Film Mode), and perhaps the 85mm lens draws out of focus foregrounds less well, and it may be a touch less sharp wide open.

For those who are budget challenged, or who just want a small kit to carry around, the Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 is worth a look at that price!

For those who need 10fps, relatively fast AF, weatherproofing, TTL flash, remote TTL flash, or flash sync 1/500th sec (with Pocket Wizards) for outdoor fill in flash in the sun at wide aperture, then you will have to keep your Canon kit as the Panasonic outfit just won’t cut it on these requirements.