Tag: omd

Nifty Fifty studio shootout

This is a shootout of the FF and MFT ‘nifty fifty’ lens. I used my much loved 50mm Sigma ART f1.4 lens on the Nikon, and the Olympus 25mm (which is 50mm ‘full frame equivalent) on my E-M1.  Although both of these lenses were acquired by me because of their fast speed, for studio work its normal to shoot stopped down because throwing a background out of focus is not an issue with a plain paper background, and it also ensures focusing isn’t as critical, so all of the model is in focus.

3 x light stand

4 x 8′ x 4′ black board for flagging light

3 x Elinchrom Digital SEE studio strobes (unmodified)

Elinchrom trigger

Nikon D750 with Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART Lens

Olympus OMD E-M1 Olympus f1.2 lens


The model is Tsui Kim

Tsui KimE-M1, Olympus 25mm f1.2 @ISO200, f11, 1/200s (studio strobe setting not recorded)


Tsui KimD750, Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART @ISO200, f8, 1/200s (studio strobe setting not recorded)
In a studio environment the weight saving of the MFT system is perhaps not such a big advantage, but on the other hand the extra shallow depth of field of the full frame system is cancelled out because we are shooting stopped down.  So unless the photos are being enlarged really big, this one really is a dead heat in my view.

Two Light, Off Camera Flash Shootout

Following on from my one light shootout blog, I now introduce a second light as a rimlight/hairlight

For this shoot I packed the following:-


2 x light stand

2 x Godox AD200 with bare bulb head

1 Godox Ad-S7 Multi-functional Softbox

1 Godox 5″ reflector with basic diffuser

1 Godox Bowens S Type adapter

I Godox angle bracket to fix to light stand

Nikon D750 with Sigma 135mm f1.8 ART Lens

Godox X1-TN (wireless transmitter, Nikon fit)

Olympus OMD E-M1 with Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f1.2 ‘Nocticron’ lens

Godox X1-TO (wireless transmitter, Olympus fit)

The Panny Leica 42.5 (when the 2x crop is taken into account) is the classic ’85mm’ portrait lens, and when space is tight it is my preferred lens for portraits. However, in this case it was an outdoor shoot and I had room to stand back and use my 135mm Sigma. As in the previous blog, I re-positioned myself so the field of view was as close as possible.

This was shot in church ground in near midday sun, so I positioned the model in open shade under a tree. The Godox AD200 with softbox keylight was mounted at about 45 degrees and camera right for the FF shot, with the second AD200 just with the 5″ reflector behind the model camera left.  The run was actually overhead camera right, although the rimlight leads the viewer to believe otherwise.

The model is Sandra.

D750 with Sigma 135mm f1.8 ART @ ISO100, f1.8. 1/1250s. Keylight TTL, rimlight 1/32 power

For the MFT shot, the the keylight was switched to camera left, but the rim light remained behind the model camera left but away from the tree.

E-M1, Leica 42.5mm f1.2 @ISO100, f1.2, 1/1000s, Keylight TTL, rimlight 1/32 power

Personally I prefer the D750 shot here. The eyes are razor sharp and really make the model pop from the background.

This is how my rimlight and keylight looked with modifiers attached

One Light, Off Camera Flash Shootout

Since Godox introduced their 2.4Ghz ‘X system’, it’s been possible to use one set of strobes, triggered by two completely different camera systems. So for this test, I wanted to use a common lighting set up and pitch my favourite MFT portrait lens against my favourite full frame portrait lens, and compare the results.

For this shoot I packed the following:-


1 light stand

1 Godox AD200 with bare bulb head

1 Godox Ad-S7 Multi-functional Softbox

1 Godox Bowens S Type adaptor

Nikon D750 with Sigma 135mm f1.8 ART Lens

Godox X1-TN (wireless transmitter, Nikon fit)

Olympus OMD E-M1 with Olympus 75mm f1.8 Lens

Godox X1-TO (wireless transmitter, Olympus fit)

I chose the Salt Lake near Larnaca in Cyprus at sunset as the setting for this brief test. The Olympus 75mm (when the 2x crop is taken into account) is close to the angle of view of the 135mm Sigma, but I re-positioned myself so the field of view was as close as possible. The Godox AD200 was mounted at about 45 degrees and camera right, and not moved between shots.

The model is Georgia

CyprusE-M1 with 75mm f1.8 @ISO100, 1/2000s, f1.8 / AD200 on HSS (High Speed Sync) & TTL


CyprusD750 with Sigma 135mm f1.8 ART  @ISO50, 1/2000s, f1.8 / AD200 on HSS and TTL

The results are very similar, showing that the Olympus can run its full frame counterpart very close.  When viewed at 100% crop, inevitably the larger sensor produces a cleaner, clearer image. But for most uses, I am losing very little by using the Olympus, and gaining quite a bit in terms of weight saving and bulk.

The ability to use professional strobes at consumer prices really does allow Olympus users to punch above their weight.

Bokeh Shootout #1

Model Georgia – D750/Sigma 135mm f1.8 ART @ISO50, f2.2, 1/4000s

One of the main reasons that photographers prefer larger sensors, is that gives them the ability to create a very shallow depth of field (DoF) affect, so that portraits in particular really ‘pop’ and separate from a creamy out of focus background. It gives photos that professional ‘3D look’ that.

What is ‘bokeh’?

In photography, bokeh  is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions

There are many factors that affect the amount of bokeh.  They are:-

  • Aperture of lens (wider makes more ‘blur’)
  • Focal length of lens (longer makes more ‘blur’)
  • Distance of camera to subject (closer makes more ‘blur’)
  • Distance of subject to background (greater makes more ‘blur’)
  • Size of sensor (larger makes more ‘blur’)

This doesn’t take account of ‘quality of bokeh’, which is influenced by additional factors like the number of aperture leafs (more are generally better) and the micro contrast of the lens, which is down to the grade and quality of the glass.  These last factors are not not part of this first test, as I want to focus on the different amounts of bokeh you can achieve from various lenses of various focal lengths across the MFT and FF formats.

Crop Factor  – How it affects DoF

The size of the sensor is the main reason why full frame cameras are capable of a shallower depth of field in photos. In the past few years, the micro four thirds producer (mainly Olympus and Panasonic and some third party producers like Sigma) have been trying to reduce the difference, by releasing a series of super fast (f1.8 ~ f1.2) high performance prime lenses.  Most people appreciate that on a ‘crop sensor’ like MFT, the full frame equivalent focal length of an MFT lens is double. In other words, in my 42.5mm Nocticron lens on my Olympus, produces an image in the viewfinder that looks a similar size as my 85mm lense on my full frame Nikon. This is because the full frame sensor (36x24mm) is exactly twice the size of my Olympus MFT sensor, so this is known as a 2x crop.

However, that same crop factor also affect the depth of field by an equivalent of 2 STOPS. What does that actually mean?  In terms of the two lenses I just mentioned, the 42,5mm Nocticron, which has a maximum aperture of f1.2, will produce very similar images to the 85mm Nikon when the Nikon is stopped down to f2.4.  A little known fact is that although the progression of f stop numbers advances in a seemingly random fashion to anyone other than seasoned photographers, if you want to add 2 stops to any f stop number, you just double it. So 1.2 x 2 = 2.4.   There are some pro build MFT lenses that offer a constant maximum aperture of f2.8, which is certainly fast enough to let lots of light in, but in terms of depth of field, it’ll produce a shallowness similar to a full frame lens set to f5,6 (2.8 x 2), which is similar to most DSLR kit zooms.

While shallow DoF is not everything in photography, for example in landscape photography having more DoF to play with is actually a benefit, in portraiture, in most cases, you do want shallow DoF, and so the only way MFT can take the fight to FF is by going the fast prime route.

For this test I used my Nikon D750 and Olympus OMD E-M1 (mk1)

The lenses I used here on my Nikon D750 were the Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART, Nikon 85mm f1.8, and Nikon 105mm f1.4 .  For the Olympus, I used the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron and the Olympus 75mm f1.8.  All 5 of these prime lenses are very highly regarded and score top marks for sharpness and clarity on independent lens review sites like DxO.

Because the lenses are of differing focal lengths, I adjusted my distance to the model so that the framing was similar in all shots. The subject to background remained constant as the model was stood on the dockside with the a large expanse of water behind her. However, the background appearance changes quite dramatically, not only due to bokeh differences, but also due to the changes in perspective of the different focal lengths.

Full Length Portraits 

For this first test, the full frame 105mm f1.4 produces the most ‘pop’ by a considerable margin, with the 85mm Nikon and 75mm Olympus vying for second place.  Although this is subjective, I think it is quite clear.

Head and Shoulders Portraits 

By moving closer to the subject, the amount of ‘pop’ has imprived across the board. To my eye, all of these are now very pleasing. For sure the 105mm f1.4 Nikon is still the one with the most extreme background blur, but both of the MFT contenders now give a very good account of themselves, and for 99% of photographers is probably ‘enough’, particularly when you factor in cost saving, and the bulk/weight benefits of MFT over FF.

One caveat to this test. These shots were taken in London on a pleasant, but freezing cold winter morning. My long suffering g/f agreed to model for me while I messed around changing lenses and cameras. She is not a professional model, so many thanks to her for putting on a brave face in testing conditions.

I hope you found this little test interesting. Since shooting it, I’ve acquired the brilliant new Olympus 25mm F1.2 lens. I plan to re visit this topic later in the year so I can include this new lens.