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02-24-2012, 08:13 AM   #1
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APS-C vs Micro 4/3 in DR and DOF

Of late I have been doing a bit of reading on the Oly new OMD EM5. For outdoor guy the OMD seems to offer a LOT more DSLR with the weather sealing, articulated LCD, 1080/720 60fps video and 9 fps continuous shooting mode. Oly also released a lightweight weather sealed zoom lens (24-100mm in 35mm equivalent) to go with the OMD.This M4/3 story gets even more interesting with weather sealed flash and battery pack! It is the same story I was hoping for when I bought into the Pentax system except that the weight of K5 and 18-135 is probably 30% more. And of course, the important question is, does anyone know how much difference the DOF and DR is compared to APS-C? Perhaps they are some 4/3 owners out there willing to share their experience?

02-24-2012, 08:36 AM   #2
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i thought the OM-D had a brand new sensor anyway? Probably a bit hard to compare DR against a K5 sensor until more tests are out. K5 also has the greatest DR of any current APS-C so probably not the best to compare against!

DOF of course will be larger. You can check out DOF values with the calculator using different camera models (incl m4/3) here - Online Depth of Field Calculator
02-24-2012, 08:46 AM   #3
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There is no doubt that the OMD is going to be a great camera, and the weight and size savings might be worth it to you. I have certainly seen some fantastic shots from m4/3, and in broad daylight the difference between the two systems will be much harder to see. However, you will be sacrificing quality for size. The K-5 beats the Oly in every quality metric. I say pick up the camera and see if you fall in love with it and if it's worth it to you to sacrifice some quality for compactness.

Comparison between G3 and K-5 (I believe the Olympus is using the same sensor as the G3)
Panasonic DMC-G3 vs Pentax K-5
02-24-2012, 08:51 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jezza323 Quote
i thought the OM-D had a brand new sensor anyway? Probably a bit hard to compare DR against a K5 sensor until more tests are out. K5 also has the greatest DR of any current APS-C so probably not the best to compare against!

DOF of course will be larger. You can check out DOF values with the calculator using different camera models (incl m4/3) here - Online Depth of Field Calculator
Exactly right. Depth of field is one stop bigger than with APS-C, just like APS-C is one stop bigger than full frame. Dynamic range is said to be better than past sensors for four thirds, but until Dxo Mark actually tests it, no one really knows or has official numbers to compare.

One thing to note with regard to specs: the OM-D will have 9 fps in AF-S only (that means no continuous focus during shooting at that rate), to get continuous focus, fps drop into the 4 fps range.

The 12-50 zoom for Oly is pretty slow and would compare to 17-70 on APS-C (except that the 17-70 lenses are a stop faster through most of their range).

02-24-2012, 08:54 AM   #5
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Resolution and color are both excellent.

The EM5 will get too noisy somewhere around 800-1600 ISO. But outdoors at ISO 200 or whatever, noise isn't an issue.

DR hasn't traditionally been very good on the older sensors. It is rather easy to clip whites outdoors. You can't pull detail from shadows like you could with a K-5. I doubt the new sensor is going to offer miracles in this department. For example, in the following photo you can see the white car in the background blow out beyond recovery:



DOF depends on the lens. ƒ/1.4 or ƒ/1.8 on 25mm and 45mm, respectively, provide more than a fair amount of control. Here is one at 25mm/1.4, uncropped:


These were both taken with smaller bodies, E-PM1 and GF3. Neither shot would exist from my K-5, because I would not have brought a camera if it didn't fit in my pocket. These photos were selected to demonstrate DR and DOF, and not for other qualities.

Last edited by Aegon; 02-24-2012 at 10:09 AM.
02-24-2012, 10:49 AM   #6
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New pre-production samples look better than I expected with respect to ISO:
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Hands-On Review

The 12,800 sample showing an OM10 are much better than I expected, retaining a good amount of detail.

I'm not expecting miracles, but these samples are really good.
02-24-2012, 11:17 AM   #7
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Wait for dxomark to review the OM-D and then compare it to K-5 or whatever other APS-C camera you wish.

APS-C will have better DR than MFT, but MFT has DR that is good enough for most people.

As for DOF, it depends on what lenses you can use. The f/0.95 Noktons give you f/1.4 equivalent DOF on APS-C.
02-24-2012, 11:50 AM   #8
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hope they can improve the quality of 4/3 sensor
most recent APS-C sensor score 7X at DxOMark with a few reach 8X..
but majority 4/3 sensor still score only 5X at DxOMark
that quite a big difference...

02-24-2012, 01:06 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by liukaitc Quote
hope they can improve the quality of 4/3 sensor
most recent APS-C sensor score 7X at DxOMark with a few reach 8X..
but majority 4/3 sensor still score only 5X at DxOMark
that quite a big difference...
In practice, it is not that big of a difference. The K20D and the K-7 also scored in the lower 60s. Once you get down to the details of those scores, there is even less difference. My E-PL2, for example, scored higher than the K-7 in low light score. Small differences in DR/color depth scores will influence the overall score significantly.

02-24-2012, 04:51 PM   #10
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Thanks guys, guess we will have to wait for the review. Informative replies from you guys as always!
02-24-2012, 05:02 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jezza323 Quote
i thought the OM-D had a brand new sensor anyway? Probably a bit hard to compare DR against a K5 sensor until more tests are out. K5 also has the greatest DR of any current APS-C so probably not the best to compare against!

DOF of course will be larger. You can check out DOF values with the calculator using different camera models (incl m4/3) here - Online Depth of Field Calculator
Interesting site! I never knew all things being equal the smaller the sensor the shallower the dof! I would expect the opposite.
02-24-2012, 05:10 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by lightbulb Quote
Interesting site! I never knew all things being equal the smaller the sensor the shallower the dof! I would expect the opposite.
You got it the other way round, the larger the sensor, the shallower DOF given the same focal length; and the smaller sensor, the deeper the DOF....
02-24-2012, 05:13 PM   #13
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I thought so but check the dof calculator?
02-24-2012, 06:44 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by lightbulb Quote
I thought so but check the dof calculator?
You need to use it differently. With same lens, on an APS camera you need to step farther from the subject to get the same framing as on a FF camera. By changing the distance from the subject you will alter the DOF - it will be deeper with a larger distance.

DOF depends on focal length, aperture, distance to subject, and COC.

With same lens, changing the camera in that calculator will also change the COC (it is based on the camera resolution). This will make DOF be thinner on an APS camera with the same lens at the same distance. But that doesn't correspond to how you would use the lens in practice.
02-24-2012, 06:51 PM   #15
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To take the same photo with different sensor, you need a different focal length. If you take a photo with a 50mm lens on a full frame and then swap it to a four thirds camera, you will crop out enough that your framing is totally different. So for instance, to take the equivalent photo of a 50mm lens on full frame with four thirds, you need a 25mm lens. Once you change that, you realize that there is a two stop difference in depth of field, with full frame being shallower for the same f stop.
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