“Full Frame Equivalence” and Why It Doesn’t Matter (Admiringlight)



How many times did we read these endless Full Frame vs Micro Four Thirds equivalence discussions? And I am sure they will come back again and again and again. But next time we may all be more prepared when discussing about it thanks to the great article posted by Jordan Steele on Admiringlight (Click here): “I’ve heard many times “Yeah, your 75mm f/1.8 is crap – it’s like a 150mm f/3.6.”  No, it’s not, it’s a 75mm lens with an f/1.8 aperture and a field of view that is the same as a 150mm lens on full frame.

It’s a must read! Thanks Jordan!

  • Boneoh

    Let the debate begin! Again!

    • It’s funny how the guy describes perfectly why equivalence is from a technical point of view completely correct (for FoV, DoF and noise), but then says that it doesn’t matter one iota because he already assumed that his images with a 3/4 camera will look different, more noisy in low light and with larger DoF.

      Well, so if he doesn’t care about the exact way his images look but about the camera he uses, then fine, this equivalence thing is useless FOR HIM.

      People who don’t care about the gear, but DO care about the way their images look like will find the equivalence very useful to know how the images will look with different gear they might buy.

      All happy.

      But to the author, just don’t try to make YOUR opinion the right one. Your technical analysis is correct. Your preferences (or lack of) about how your images will look are just YOURS.

      • To put it another way. When he hears that the m4/3 lens by Oly 75mm 1.8 is “crap because it’s like 150mm 3.6 in FF” he gets pissed off. I would get pissed off also if someone would say that a 150mm f/3.6 lens with beautiful IQ for a 35mm (FF) camera is crap. It isn’t crap. It might be a great lens and you can take great pictures with it.

        But he then admits in his analysis that if someone more polite would say: “So with that Oly 75mm 18 on your E-M5 you can take images that look exactly the same as I can do with my D4 and my beautiful (and imaginary) 150mm 3.6 lens?” He would have to answer: “Exactly. In every case and sense”.

        And if the dialogue went on like: “But then I also have a beautiful 150mm 1.8 for my D4. Can you also take the exact same images with your 75mm 1.8?”, the answer would be: “No, not in all cases”.

        • El Aura

          The problem is that these things almost always start the other way around. It is not that somebody says 150 mm f/3.6 is crap, it is that somebody starts with saying how much more compact their 75 mm f/1.8 is compared to a 150 mm f/2.

          • That’s why equivalence is so useful to mention (in aperture too).

            If 1.8 was always 1.8 no matter the sensor size (1.8 is 1.8 is 1.8 is 1.8 as some repeat here and there), the new XZ-10 with that 26-130mm eq. f/1.8-2.7 for 350 euros and pocketable would be an SLR/mirrorless killer.

            Pity that physics exist…

            • Anonymous

              absolutely, but then 75/1.8 can only illuminate a m43/43 sized sensor in m43 camera and that is why regardless of 1.8 aperture it is really the same as 150/3.5 (or whatever) that can illuminate 4 times larger sensor in FF sensor… and 4 times more light to sensor means 2 times more gain can be applied w/ lesser aperture…

              • chronocommando

                please explain me why it is relevant to illuminate a bigger area? isnt it the same in relatioin to sensor size?

              • You are getting your muddle ups muddled up.
                If you have a native 60mm lens for the 135 then this equates to the same fov being present on a m43 with a native 120mm lens. For them to be the same f stop (f2 whatever) wide open the 135 lens needs to be twice as wide as the m43. So a 60mm 135 lens with a maximum aperture of 30mm is an f2 lens. Similarly a m43 lens of 120mm will need an aperture of 60mm to be a f2 lens.
                They will both have the same FOV and both have the same amount of light per square mm of the sensor. So the same settings will be used on both cameras for the same shot for the same exposure.
                If you have a single 2/60mm lens and put it on a m43 camera you get the same result as using it on a 135 with the sensor masked to m43 size. the photons per sqmm are the same.
                Playing with higher iso, dof and oof blur is another thing.

                • I am getting myself muddled up I started writing it one way then changed my approach after some external interference.

                  I wrote.
                  “If you have a native 60mm lens for the 135 then this equates to the same fov being present on a m43 with a native 120mm lens. For them to be the same f stop (f2 whatever) wide open the 135 lens needs to be twice as wide as the m43. So a 60mm 135 lens with a maximum aperture of 30mm is an f2 lens. Similarly a m43 lens of 120mm will need an aperture of 60mm to be a f2 lens.”

                  It should read.

                  If you have a native 60mm lens for the 135 then this equates to the same fov being present on a m43 with a native 30mm lens. For them to be the same f stop (f2 example) wide open the 135 lens needs to be twice as wide as the m43. So a 60mm 135 lens with a maximum aperture of 30mm is an f2 lens. Similarly a m43 lens of 30mm will need an aperture of 15mm to be a f2 lens.

                  The rest being the same. My apologies.

                  Admin. Can we have the edit function back?

      • +1

        I did find the article interesting and the explanation good, but the author’s conclusion kind of wacky.

        He states that the equivalence doesn’t matter one iota! err….except when comparing field of view, and depth of field. :)

        Hmmm…. aren’t those the 2 key things people want to compare between the different lens/sensor format? Therefore… shouldn’t the conclusion be that crop factor is *extremely* useful when comparing those things between different formats? Maybe I missed something.

        Anyways… as to why use ’35mm’ as the reference point (for crop factor) it’s because we need to have *some* point of reference, and as far as I know 35mm is far-and-away the most common format for professional photographers (am I wrong??)

        • You are indeed wrong with regards to the origins of the ’35mm equivalence’.

          35mm has been a very long standing standard, and until the advent of digital SLRs, about the only format in the consumer market where buying and changing lenses was very common.

          For much of its history the format has been regarded as an amateur format, with ‘pro’ use limited to sports and general news photography, at least according to vocal professionals..

          Of course it has been in use by professionals for a long time also despite it having been an ‘amateur format’.


          The main reason is that consumers typically don’t know about this ‘field of view’ stuff at all, often they just know that for the only system they’ve ever known until 2000ish, 24mm was quite ‘wide angle’ and 85mm made for a nice portrait lens, and only because the magazines told them so again and again. Did they care if the lens they bought was f/2.8 or f/4? Only if the price difference wasn’t insane.

          This is where 35mm equiv comes from, and also why in general parlance it still refers to focal length only.

          Professionals should know much better, and actually understand that field of view and focal length are 2 totally different things. I know the ‘oldies’ who used large and medium format as well as 35mm did totally realize this because they used different formats and encountered this every day.

  • I have ALWAYS thought this!!

    The fools who argue it (that 4/3 is crap) are the same fools that will always use the term “bokeh”.

    That ONLY thing that changes DoF is SUBJECT DISTANCE!! If you have a 50mm f3.6 on a “FF” at 2m and a 50mm f1.8 at 4m on 4/3, you have an equivelant FoV AND DoF BUT THE SAME AMOUNT OF LIGHT!!!

    What changed the DoF was the subject distance. The same thing applies to “FF”. If you double the subject distance AND half the f-stop, you have the same DoF, BUT DIFFERENT FoV. That’s the only thing that changes, the FoV.

    Now, the only time equivelance really matters is when you are very used to shooting a particular format (typically bigger than 4/3) and you put that lens on a 4/3 body (m4/3 is more accessible for this due to flange distance), you want to have an idiea of the FoV. NOTHING ELSE!

    And those same fools leave out that EVEN IF f1.8 (4/3) = f3.6 (“FF”) YOU CAN ACHIEVE THE SAME FoV AND DoF WITH LESS LIGHT!!!!!

    OK, I’m done. :P

    • Paul Alexander

      Tsk Tsk Tsk.
      Bokeh is a function of aperture, point of focus AND focal length.
      And yes Bokeh matters a lot to those of us that use it judiciously.
      That’s why in my book, S35, not full frame or MFT is the sweet spot.
      All parameters but senor size equal, S35 has more bokeh than MFT and less than Full frame.
      This means that we can use smaller apertures than our MFT bretheren and still get Bokeh. The trouble with wide aperture and fast glass on full frame is that the narrow depth of field makes holding focus tougher in video.
      It’s too bad there are no compact S35 video cameras and the nearest ones are still in the $8K range less lenses.
      I’ve been shooting a lot of still over the past 10 years with 2/3 sensor cameras and fixed lenses. Getting bokeh is all but impossible :(

      • The Real Stig

        I don’t think you have ever looked up the true meaning of ‘bokeh’. Neither have a lot of other people, it one of the most miss-used words in photography.

        It isn’t a synonym for ‘blur’, it is a comment on the quality of the blur. Bokeh on it’s own doesn’t really mean anything, it must be paired with words like nice, soft, harsh, unpleasing.

        • Ulli

          that happens when we start using japanese words……for example if i use the word “bukkake” people might give me a dirty look, while it actually just means something like “salad dressing”

        • Paul Alexander

          In my day, they were simply called circles of confusion / Bokeh is an invention of the Millennial generation.It characterizes the type of circles ( really imaged of the iris ) and yes, their softness/hardness. The term is useful in describing the degree of out of focus at infinity as there is no other term other than COC that I’m aware of.

      • Bokeh is a sympathetic display of the out of focus areas of an image. It is purely subjective.
        The Bokeh displayed by a particular lens may be described by some as fantastic and by others as disappointing or worse. It has little to do with the native DOF of a lens and more to do with the construction and diaphragm.

        • Ulli

          yeah it is a very subjective aspect.

      • Bob B.

        Bokeh is a grouping of flowers….

      • Tsk tsk yourself…

        “bokeh” is subjective and is characterised by the structure of the lens. Nothing to do with format size.

        DoF is mathematical and can be measured in units of length. Format size can play a role in the formula ONLY when reletive field of view is determined.

        Again, what changes (if reletive FoV is involved) the DoF is the subject distance. Becuase the frame is smaller, you have to move back, and that in turn widens the DoF.

        Bokeh = Subjective
        DoF = Fact

  • Raist3d

    Equivalence matters as a way to reference the vast material that exists due to 35mm film and lenses (including FF sensors). The problem is the people that misinterpret what the equivalence means. The very quote you mention as the wrong example is a typical misunderstanding of equivalence.

  • Raist3d

    Oh and I agree its a pretty good article It’s a great read. I would say again though only matters when using 35mm as a reference point simply because of the amount of textbooks and photographs done at FF.

  • james70094

    This is why I like the 4/3 sensor. I can use my f2.8 lenses for the exposure and not worry that the DoF is too shallow. Works great for taking night shoots of city sky lines as well as other low light shots of architectural and landscapes.

    • JJNFY

      For all you geniuses, here is a simple question followed by a miracle solution to all your camera woes.

      Firstly, are you dumb sorry gullible enough to actually believe that a camera with a sensor a quarter the size of a FF has the same effects regarding aperture? {The old F2 is F2 brigade}

      Secondly, here is a one stop solution to all your camera and lens woes {this is dependent on answering yes to question one}. Here we have a camera with a built in “Leica” zoom lens that has a 24-600mm F2.8 {wow, neither Nikon nor Canon have a 600mm F2.8} long end with OIS , it has a fully articulated HI–RES LCD { bye bye E-M5 lol } , it has a 4×3 ratio sensor, made by one of the mFT big guns I give you the Panasonic FZ200.

      Now just before you fanboys start with the cries of BS remember what the idiot at admiringlights article really means. He is suggesting that the lens aperture is the same as one on a far larger sensor. The facts that many mFT users and FT users before you seem to have a major problem with is that the aperture is not just about DOF a FF lens with an F1.8 aperture lets in far more light than an F1.8 on Mft or an F1.8 on a damn point and shoot. If this wasn’t true then the joke paragraph above would be correct and all the sports illustrated guys would packing 600mm F2.8 compacts in their pockets, sadly it isn’t true. So why not smarten up and think before posting, it is embarrassing for us mFT users who are not idiots.Here is a visual aid you are sitting your office/lounge whatever and you have one window looking out at your garden , now what do you think would happen to the brightness in the room if you had a far larger window , its not rocket science now is it

      I love my mFT gear and it serves my needs perfectly, has amazing video and is small enough to be enjoyable to carry and use , I know all its pros and cons I don’t need to read BS claims about F1.8 being the same as on a FF it isn’t and anyone who says or thinks it is an idiot

      • Bollox

        You are so right but you are up against the power of marketing here.

      • Difference between aperture and relative aperture (or focal ratio).

        f/1.8 is a focal ratio or relative aperture, it is the same regardless of format, crop factor or whatever. It is defined by focal length/aperture, and nothing else. Hence yes, f/1.8 is f/1.8 regardless of lens, sensor, crop factor or whatever. Focal ratio (or relative aperture) is an indication of brightness, and ONLY of brightness. It isn’t, has never been, and will never be an indication of DOF.

        Aperture is not relative, its simply the size of the entrance pupil as seen through the front element, and this determines total amount of light admitted, and together with distance and magnification, determines depth of field.

        So yes, a 85/2 will have a 42.5mm aperture, and a 42.5/2 will have a 21.75mm aperture, which cause the lenses to have different dof when both are used wide open and at the same distance. It will also cause difference in how much light is passed, but, both will also give the same brightness, and are both f/2. Before you say that all that matters is light passed, I suggest you delve into things like flash photography, as for photography brightness is what matters.

        • Bollox

          Have you been studying Fart? You actually wrote some right stuff. Of course, that has nothing to do with the matter at hand, which is depth of field; but I am happy anyway coz you prize us with your ever funny “suggestions”.
          Please keep your rubbish coming.

          • Wrong again!
            The subject is equivalence. Not DOF. DOF is only a small part of it. Look at as the end bit, you just missed the start and middle.

      • JJNFY.
        Your logic is totaly out of whack with reality. You need to read more on the subject.
        ‘a FF lens with an F1.8 aperture lets in far more light than an F1.8 on Mft or an F1.8 on a damn point and shoot.”
        Yes that is correct. But you have missed the fact that the light passing the aperture setting has to spread out to cover a larger area. The amount of light per unit of area is the same. That is why a 1.8 is 1.8 no matter whose it is if its labelled correctly.
        A pin hole camera image at 10cm is brighter than a pin hole image at 40cm, given the same size hole and the same amount of light.
        A 100watt lamp makes a small room quite bright, but it does not much in a ballroom.
        In fact your logic is nonsensical.

      • james70094

        I do know this. When I was taking night shots of Chicago there was a foreign tourist with a Canon 5D SLR. I was using My E-30 set to iso800, 1/60sec with my Sigma 18-55mm f2.8 at f2.8. When I asked him, he stated he was set at 1/60sec, at iso3200 with his lens at f5.6. And I have no problem believing his images had the same or even less noise than mine.

        People who don’t want to believe won’t.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately,there are some people who never WANT TO UNDERSTAND about this matter,.most of them a new kid on the block who wants to look like a pro with their big DSLR,..

    btw ,.we are the m43 community the only system NOW who owned more than one NOCTILUX,.i believe it will be 5 Noct now

  • bro

    Its a very good article but misses the basic point that most FF cameras of the same generation will have about 2 stops better noise performance than M43rds camera, so any DOF benefit you would get from having more in focus or being able to use faster shutter speeds when you want more in focus is absolutely moot, just up the ISO on the FF camera and get the same result. In reality the FF camera just gives you more control over the DOF. M43 only has an advantage in those situations when you compare it to older FF cameras. My OM-D has very similar noise performance to my Sony A900, so the point would be true here, but not true with the latest Canon and Nikon FF DSLRs.

    • J Shin

      Agreed. I just posted the same point (in my typical long-winded way) on the original post.

    • Well, actually, I did point out all those things. I do just want to make sure that it is quite understood that The post is definitely, absolutely, in no way intended to say there aren’t real world advantages to shooting with a full frame camera. Just that equivalence arguments often overlook the situations where the full frame advantage is completely negated (as in the situation you mention), and the fact that if you are shooting with a smaller format, it is a pointless exercise to continually compare one small portion of a lens/format’s capabilities (shallow depth of field control) to a format the photographer isn’t using.

      • bro

        You did mention the noise advantage of the FF cameras, however, you then go on to mention a bunch of reasons why having a wider DOF is an advantage for M43, seemingly ignoring the fact that the better noise performance on the FF camera gives you the same ability to user wider DOF with roughly the same image quality.

        Like I said, its a very good article, however you’ve claimed that wider DOF is somehow an advantage of M43 which is misleading, because a FF camera gives you the same ability to use wide DOF at high ISO(but the same noise performance) and FF also gives you the ability to use narrower DOF when you need it, so its only a drawback to the M43 system, you simply have less control over DOF. Less control is not a benefit or advantage in any situation.

        There is simply no wider DOF “benefit” on M43s if the FF camera you’re comparing it to gives you ISO 3200 shots that look like ISO 800 on the M43 camera, which would be the case with say, the D600 or 5DIII vs the OMD.

        • bro

          It would only be an “advantage” if you were arbitrarily locked to the same ISO on each camera. Then (if wider DOF was right for the shot) the M43 camera would give you the advantage of using a faster shutter speed or whatever, but we’re not shooting film anymore and nobody is locked into specific ISOs.

          • In other words, except for the typically rare cases where you can afford or even want a more shallow DOF, a ‘full frame user’ is carrying significantly bigger and heavier equipment with no advantage to show for :-)

          • I say you exact point right in the article. Bart’s response below is exactly the point. FF Has real capabilities over smaller sensors, but in many, many situations, those advantages are negated.

            • bro

              I’ve read it twice now but must have missed it if you’re coming to the same conclusion as me, but its a minor point so I won’t hassle you about it any more. Thanks for putting in the time to write a great article like this, I’m sure it will be very helpful to lots of people.

    • WSG123

      It addresses exactly that, did you click on page 2?

    • WSG123

      It addresses exactly that, did you click on page 2?

      • J Shin

        Page 2!? Oh, no! I didn’t even see the link. (Actually, just now, even looking for it, I missed it completely the first time through.)

        Sorry about that. I was thinking the article ends abruptly…

        OK, so we need to coin a new term for responses to blogs by people that missed the second page. Perhaps “Second page fallacy.” :-)

    • true homer

      did you even read it? it compares 3 cameras OF THE SAME GENERATION. Holy SHIT theres a million idiots out there!…

    • Anonymous

      As others already said: this point is discussed in the article. Furthermore, your point presumes that:
      * the FF and the m43 sensor have exactly the same number of pixels (i.e breaks down in a comparison of the O-MD and e.g the D800)
      * the sensors use exactly the same sensor technology (Canon and Olympus use different technology, etc)

      • ytuytu

        For a FF to have the same pixel density as the E-M5 it would need to have 61.4mp

        • Yep, and thats exactly where it is heading.

  • Yawn! I agree wholeheartedly with Mike’s conclusion. I was never a sucker for Bokeh, perhaps because I come from another age, when DOF was difficult to obtain and therefore precious.

    And as Mike mentioned there are not many photogs., even pros, who are interested in shooting a single eyelid :)

    Even, how many times should we remind that at the roaring times of film 35mm the very word ‘FF’, was unknown?

    The true snobs were then those who used Medium Format or even a View Camera…

    Moreover, can we also remind that ‘cropped’ sensors have overcome film resolution some time ago, so that the comparison between a defunct technology, and the present one, has become irrelevant?

    Additionally Mike makes the case that even in portrait IBIS might prevent raising the ISO, and so negating one of the few advantages of ‘FF’, that is lack of noise…

    IMHO this should be a fun debate, to make fun of the ‘holier than thou’ types. Progress in technology is exposing them as serious – clowns :)

    • MAFAv8r

      Absolutely agree Almaric. Same age maybe, but in a lot of cases I am looking for more DoF. I love Nik’s Color Efex Pro for that exact reason. One click and I get a nicer DoF and Bokeh, albeit at the cost of more disk space used. If the Boken sucks then I can put in some points where I don’t gain DoF.

  • David B

    Well, Dpreview which is the most authoritative photo review site talks specifically like all the “fools” this article seems
    To suggest. I guess Dpreview is wrong then, right?

    • That is a distinct possibility. Who makes it authoritative, a self confession by those who visit there?

    • MAFAv8r

      In my observation (and opinion) DPReview lost its ‘authoritative’ place two years. Now it is just for information

  • cosinaphile

    jman …the most lucid discussion on this misunderstood topic anywhere on the web

  • Ahh! Some one says the same as I have been saying for years, only with a voice of authority. Even the ‘doesn’t matter’
    The man plays cricket with a fine flourish of the bat or a solid upright block as appropriate and a perfect seam when with the ball.

  • OneEyed

    It’s a good article. No surprises here aside from the one unanswered question – why are the so many equivalency people so insistently dogmatic and unpleasant online? :) I have to admit I have very high expectations for the Metabones Speedbooster adapter, which will help compensate for the S/N issue, even if I know better than to rely on marketing literature…

    • The Metabones’ Speed Booster – and Focal Reducer – is the final proof that m4/3 resolution is adequate enough to compete with FF 135: just compare samples.

      BTW Steve Huff had already proved with his ‘strange comparisons’ that you can’t tell the difference in resolution between a Leica M9 and an OM-D, ora an M8 and an E-P2.

      The Metabones’ thingie also does away with the last advantage of 35mm, to be able to shoot (legacy) lenses at their original focal range, lifting the problem of having cheap ultrawides in m4/3.

      In other words never the king has been more naked.

      • uip;iu

        stfu you eye tie pervert what would you know about photography sneaky upskirt shots of women is your “street shooting” perv

        • Anonymous

          Interesting reply. It confirms that some whiners use Social Medias and gear as a subsitute for sex.

          If young, perhaps they have a lot of pimples :)

  • Macx

    The main problem with the equivalence-debate is when people claim that a 75 mm/1.8 for a m43 is like having a 150/1.8 on a 135 FF camera. That really provokes a lot of people, and frankly it is also a stupid thing to say: A 75 mm/1.8 is a 75 mm/1.8 no matter what camera you strap it on. You can’t change the focal length (f) and then pretend the f-ratio is the same, like LALALA-can’t hear you! something that the in most other aspect excellent admin on this webpage is guilty of from time to time. If you insist on comparing lenses with similar fields of view you should also do everybody a favour and compare lenses with similar entry pupils as well.

    So yeah, equivalency is often a pointless debate, so don’t bring it up when describing a m43 lens. It is what it is. I love the micro four-thirds for all the advantages it brings, but let’s not pretend there aren’t disadvantages to the smaller size: Of course there is.

  • Don Pope

    Excellent article! I keep arguing this with people on forums and review sites.

    Plus, the difference in depth of field is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. It’s just a difference.
    (And I like to have a person’s nose and ears in focus.)

    • hdko

      Good work Don keep up the stupidity and then boast about it , let me guess , American ? lol

      • Don Pope

        Wow, your eloquent reply has made me reconsider my world view!

  • Stupig

    The problem has never been with “equivalence” – it’s been about A) misleading marketing, B) denial of ignorance, and C) people who do not appreciate others’ choice.

    A) – saying m4/3 17/1.8 is a 34mm FOV equivalent lens with an aperture of F/1.8 is like Bill saying he didn’t have “sexual relationship” with Monica. Such a statement is technically valid but misleading nevertheless (Hey! They didn’t say it’s 34/1.8 equivalent).

    B) – someone reads of the 34mm FOV with F/1.8 aperture claim, and half wishfully and half unknowingly assembles these figures into “34/1.8 equivalent” in his head. And when the reality of equivalence struck, he goes into denial and gets defensive.

    C) – there are those who clearly understand what the equivalence works, and made the highly informed choice to forgo bokeh quantity for convenience and unobtrusiveness. However, not everybody appreciates such choice and keeps calling smaller formats “crap” simply because they give less bokeh for the same money per lens.

    Back to the linked article – Page 1 pretty much falls into B) category. The technical comparisons are not fairly made. For example, DxOMark’s ISO rating should be disregarded, and dynamic range should be compared instead of SNR 18%. Page 2 makes reference to A) with a voice pointed at C). However, more fundamentally, the author doesn’t understand equivalence at all.

    • Bokeh. Is subjective. There is no measurement defined. Its how it looks to the individual. Indeed even if it to exist, or not, is subjective and and to individual preference.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      And you aren’t misleading people?

      Bokeh has nothing to do with sensor format. It’s term used for quality how pleasantly lens draws out of focus blur.
      Probably depends on optical design of the lens and especially position and design of diaphragm in it and any format can have good bokeh or bad nervous bokeh.

      Also still you keep messing focal ratio to aperture while they’re different things. (although related through focal length)

      • Stupig

        I said quantity, didn’t I? Read before you jump.

  • Stupig

    For more informed discussions, always refer to: http://www.josephjamesphotography.com/equivalence/

    • Anonymous

      This article by JJ is interesting. To call it more informative may be right. But us it more correct? It is definitely not balanced. Why? E.g:
      * when arguing about the advantages of an FF sensor, the argument goes as if the sensors have a single pixel. They do not! It is necessary to use the effective/available light collecting area of the pixel of the sensor when talking about photons hitting the pixel. It is meaningless to compare an FF/36 Mpx sensor to an m43/16Mpx sensor without taking the number of pixels (and even the between-pixel lost area) into account
      * the description of ISO number as an electric gain to compensate for low light is good. But again, the discussion lacks some clarity. Ideally, the ISO “gain” is calibrated such that if aperture 1.8 & shutter speed 1/125 s at ISO 200 gives correct exposure on an FF camera, the same combination should give correct exposure on a m43 camera. But if the *pixel* size (not the sensor size!!) is smaller on the m43 sensor, then fewer photons are gathered on each pixel and there is more noise for the m43 image. This is of course a main reason why the OM-D sensor appears as more noisy than e.g the D800 sensor in DxO charts, etc. HOWEVER this talk about light gathering area misses the point that this disadvantage has already been accounted for in the ISO curves! It is not particularly scientific to count twice the same problem.

      In any way, the JJ article is informative and interesting. But it is not without omissions/skewing, and as a whole does not give a more correct picture than the Ambilight article.

      As a whole, I thus find the Ambilight article very useful and informative both for clarifying concepts, and for presenting experience.

      • Anonymous

        …Admiringlight, obviously

  • hdko

    you mft fantards really are as stupid as you appear to be no matter how much BS one idiot posts you cannot change the laws of physics

  • Martin

    In general, I do agree with the author, and used similar arguments in the past. Yet the one I disagree on is “but the big rule of thumb is, for the same focus distance, lenses with the same physical aperture size will yield similar amounts of background blur”. While physically true with respect to the image on sensor, it is untrue for the final, enlarged image on paper or screen: to obtain a 20×30 print, I have to enlarge an m43 image 2 times more than a 35mm image, thereby also enlarging the background blur. Which means that a 75mm/f1.8 on m43 would produce the same FoV and DoF like a 150mm/f3.6 on 35mm, yet even *more* background blur than its 35mm counterpart. If you like background blur, small formats have an advantage! Ever seen a view camera image with considerable background blur?

    • DFJFUY

      Sorry Martin but that is nonsense a view camera has a tiny DOF in fact I think { roughly } that a 5X4LF camera has the same DOF at F9 as a mFT has at F1.0. This is one of the reasons why a LF lens goes to F64. Small formats have a distinct disadvantage against larger formats as to gain the same DOF you need ever faster lenses.
      Check out the link below , look at the samples and ask yourself how printing them larger would change the DOF

      • Martin

        I wasn’t referring to DoF, but to the radius of the circles of confusion in extremely out-of-focus regions. While the “aperture equivalence” holds wrt. DoF, the maximum circle of confusion follows absolute aperture size if measured on sensor and absolute aperture size times crop factor if considering the final image. Which means that large DoF is hard to achieve on a view camera, requiring extremely small apertures like f64, but that also large circles of confusion in the background blur are hard to achieve, despite very lare absoulte apertures, as final image magnification is considerably smaller.

    • The Other Chris

      Wrong. Also, have you seen large prints by Dawoud Bey or Richard Renaldi in person? They shoot 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 and have a considerable amount of blur in the background. You must be looking at landscapes shot in large format.

      • Martin

        I’ve now found the error in my geometric construction. Yes, so-called aperture equivalence does also apply to the background blur. Sorry for the confusion!

  • street

    wath does a photo? wath does a great photo? the eye behind the camera and the reaccion of the eye looking the photo. Thats all, its good or it isnt.

  • EnPassant

    First part of the article is mostly facts we already know. But on second page the article writer starts loosing his objective view.

    Until digital crop formats took over the 35mm format was dominating for about 50 years. This means that for most people +30 years of age serious enough about photography to know different lenses and their field of view the 35mm format is the de facto standard both smaller and larger formats are compared to. For -30 years old that never used a 35 mm film camera it may not be so. But they are still a minority of serious photographers!

    And then he starts an argument comparing the stabilised OM-D and 75/1.8 with a no name full frame camera using a 135/2 lens, both without stabilisation. Why not do a fair comparision using a Panasonic with the 75/1.8, or used the Sony A99 with IBIS, or on Canon/Nikon using the 70-200/2.8 or 4.0 IS/VR?

    Like all (especially those who left Full Frame for the new “belief” M4/3) fanboys he can’t keep his objectivity but must convince himself to make it seem that M4/3 is really the best system and full frame only have minor advantages. He even forgets to mention the advantage of higher resolution with full frame!

    And depth of field seem to be a sensitive argument for M4/3 fanboys. Either they ignore 35mm has an advantage of importance or insist M4/3 ist just as good with the 0.95 lenses Neither is correct. While 0.95 being the DOF equivalent of 1.8 in full frame terms it is definitely not comparable to 1.4 or 1.2.

    Another important fact is price for shallow DOF on M4/3. A set of Voigtländer 0.95, 17.5mm, 25mm and the new 42.5mm lenses not only have no AF but cost much more than Canon and Nikons 1.8 28mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses that are quite affordable. In fact one can even buy a full frame Nikon D600 or Canon 6D camera and have change over compared to the M4/3 shooter buying only the lenses with about the same DOF!
    (I choose the 28/1.8 lens for comparision as neither Canon or Nikon have a 35/1.8 FF lens.)

    What can’t be ignored is that 35mm full frame is the most versatile system with the largest selection of (non cropped!) lenses and accessories. It also offers the best compromise of IQ, and DOF selection. FF cameras are also more ergonomic and have better ISO capabilities etcetera.

    Now this doesn’t mean I am in any way against M4/3. I have almost every format from digital compacts to MF film cameras, even a M4/3 camera with a couple of lenses! I simply think one should use the format best suited for the task. But single format users claiming their format, whether M4/3 or FF is superior I have hard to understand. Maybe for THEIR photography. But ignoring other peoples needs is not a good way of making arguments. And starting a religious war about which format is best when the facts are such clear and every one should be able to decide what is best for THEM personally I find plain silly. Different formats have advantages and disadvantages in different areas. M4/3 for exemple clearly has a substantial size and weight advantage compared to FF.

    As far as digital cameras reached today one can say that crop formats like M4/3 and even CX have not only taken over the market for 35mm film cameras but produce comparable and in many cases better IQ as well, especially at high ISO, if not on the same “artistic” level. Full frame is still the professional format, not only for photographers who used 35mm cameras for film but also for many film Medium Format photographers who migrated to digital FF and for serious amateurs who before would have bought a MF film system. While digital MF is mostly for the few who before would have used a Large Format camera.

    To sum it up: For general photography crop formats, including M4/3 is more than good enough for most amateur photographers and even for some professional work. It is only if one have a special need or interest a FF system is a better choice. These reasons can of course be many different like need for high resolution to make large prints (Or just being a pixel peeper! The enjoyment of being able to enlarge pieces of an image and watch small details should not be despised!), the ability to use a better selection of fast lenses, especially primes, better DOF control and so on, including what I already written above.

    • “And depth of field seem to be a sensitive argument for M4/3 fanboys. Either they ignore 35mm has an advantage of importance”

      Rather, depth of field seems a sensitive argument for full-frame fanboys, as it is them who regard it as something in which 35mm has an advantage of importance, and refuse to accept that for the very large majority of photography, it is not an advantage at all, but a disadvantage that you swallow in order to get another advantage, better shutter speeds at low light levels. Ah yes, and there are a very few cases where you’d indeed just want a few hairs in sharp focus and have the rest of a face blurred in a portrait, its also ‘important’ for those cases…

      “or insist M4/3 ist just as good with the 0.95 lenses Neither is correct. While 0.95 being the DOF equivalent of 1.8 in full frame terms it is definitely not comparable to 1.4 or 1.2.”

      Nope it isn’t, and you know, sometimes that is relevant, and if it is relevant for your photography, then go for it, but, for the very large majority of photographs, having enough DOF is a much bigger concern then having a shallow enough DOF. Now if you wanna talk about ‘sensitive’ fanboys, our ‘full frame fanboys’ keep ignoring this and keep acting as if shallow DOF is the most important aspect of photohgraphy.

  • Es

    I have an f/2.0 lens on my 24mm-equivalent point & shoot camera. Clearly, I’m better than you all because equivalence doesn’t matter.

  • MarcoSartoriPhoto

    Am I the only one who does not care that much about equivalence?

    • MAFAv8r


  • Adriaantie

    Look daddy my MFT camera is as good as a FF camera. You MFT users are so so sad. Just go out and shoot and enjoy those tiny sensors with iphone quality dof. Instead of trying to compete with the big boys. It is useless. Its allright mft little girls and boys. The omd is an ok camera…………

    • Jeremy

      I dont understand why you bother coming to a website that specialises in something you have no interest in. Just wierd.

      Good article, I gave up caring about equivalence a long time ago. I’m very happy being able to shoot reasonably clean at 3600, get a body for a grand and have access to one of the best 50mm equiv. primes in the business for $500, and not that invested in the quest for razor thin DOF. Not to mention I am able to scrabble up a creek with most of my gear with relative ease.

      Jeez in the old days 35mm users complained about not being able to get enough DOF, and now it’s a drawback?

      • Adriaantie

        ???? I have intrest in mft. I own a omd and d800 and……..etc. But i am not living in fantasy world thinking mft can compete with ff picture quality.

        • Sorry Adriaantje, but you are living in a fantasy world, where (judging from your comments from at least the last 10 months) all that counts is razor thin DOF and bokeh, where m4/3 cameras have iPhone sensors, and where a full frame camera is superior to everything else regardless of application and conditions.

          Whats more, you didn’t even read the article, and as usual jump to conclusions.

          Technically, no, IQ from your D800 isn’t always going to be better then from your OM-D, rather, in many cases, when working within the limits of BOTH cameras, and trying to take the same picture (which means same field of view AND DOF), your D800 will be working at 2 ISO levels above your OM-D, and you’ll be giving up that supposed IQ advantage.

          Thats not to say there are no advantages to that D800, there most definitely are, but, until you understand why the differences are totally irrelevant for the large majority of pictures, you stand no chance in hell of understanding where you actually get to take advantage of those differences.

        • mFT CAN compete with FF image quality. You’d be ignorant to think otherwise. Just look at the images shot by this pro photog who switched to mFT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS1Ljn_cs8k
          Also, he lightly goes ove the FOV differences between FF and mFT.

        • spooner


          please teach me how to be cool like you

          • Adriaantie

            Coolness is not possible for you just like picture quality like FF is not possible for mft.

    • Anonymous

      Better to be in m43 where there’s both girls and boys. As opposed to FF where there’s just a big bunch of old gay boys. Your preferred format of course.

    • If you believe that is the point of the article, your reading comprehension is lacking. It is in NO way an argument for the superiority of smaller formats. At all. In fact, I have an entire section of the article that discusses the primary way FF cameras are better.

      • As a teacher (a fine Welshman) I once knew, sometimes said of his class when he posed a question ( I was there).
        “Look at them. Some sits and thinks and some…… just sits”
        Some readers here are bit like that, but it does not stop them making “their” statement missing the content. Also those most likely to benifit by looking at the links posted are those least likely to not even look. But that’s a common internet web site problem.

  • ED

    Can someone explain the studio work flash advantage part? Do u really need f11 on full frame to get a model’s face in focus????

    • For tighter portraits and full sharpness (both eyes, ears, etc), yes. I’ve done many formal studio shoots with m4/3, APS-C, APS-H and full frame. I did a full frame shoot at f/5.6 once and the images just look wrong in that setting. My latest shoot with the OM-D and Panny 35-100/2.8 was fantastic. Shot at f/5.6, was able to keep my strobes at lower power, allowing for more battery life and quicker recycle. And the final images are every bit as good as the shots I’ve done with the 1DsII and 85L and 100L.

  • rrr_hhh

    Great reading ! Thanks fr the link to Jordan Steel. Thus is exactly the reason why I don’t see the point of getting the F0.95 Voigtländer lenses if you are nly a stills shooter.

    • rrr_hhh

      I mean : that quest for the holy grail of shallowest DOF doesn’t make sense, especially without AF or splitted focusing screens (like the range finders used to have).

    • Ulli

      If you really think like that then you prob misread the article, for which i cant blame you, as it resulted in another yes-no debate here. Maybe I misread it also lol. Anyway it was a bad idea afterall….lets agree not to use that word “equivalent” anymore ok?

  • OMega

    Reading all this makes me ask another question or two.

    All these comments about speed and depth of field are all very well intended but I wonder how many people actually use their cameras set to Auto for ISO and P for exposure, some even wondering what the difference betweeh PASM realy means.

    • Yes. and the same ones are those that use cheap apsc cameras and claim the properties of the top of the line 135 sensors.

      • OMega

        You are correct apart from the fact that there are also many who use ‘FF’ sensors who know little or nothing about the tool they are using. Last year I attended a photographic group of about ten people, one used a E-410 another had a Pentax, while the rest were Canon or Nikon users, three of them using FF bodies (a D3S, and two EOS 5d’s), myself my trusy E-1. The sad thing about those guys using the FF’s, was their asking why I had consistently better images, their gear was clearly higher specced than mine but they simply did not know how to use them. OK while I cannot blame them for their inability to get the best out of their tools, I can accuse them of having more money than sense, a case of the sales guy seeing them coming from a mile away. They would have been better off with a good quality bridge camera. I know one of them had his Canon set at it’s lowest possible resolution “because I can get more pictures on my card”, All I can say is carry on while my E-1 records at it’s maximum resolution, it might not give so many images but at least they are good quality ones.

        • A friend of a friend has a 5d2. He never had a camera before. I asked him what he did with it. Just carry it around mostly and keeps it on auto was the reply, just push the button. ‘Do you print your shots or put them on display”? “No.” He is retired and the shop saw him coming.

  • Ragnarok

    It’s clear people here is reading just what they want to read to feel better about a purchasing decision. I won’t bother reading the “article” just because of the this same phrase in the excerpt: Yeah, your 75mm f/1.8 is crap – it’s like a 150mm f/3.6.” No, it’s not.

    Well, do the math yourself: 75(F)/1.8=41.6 & 150(F)/3.6=41.6. That’s right, exactly the same light gathering. Maths don’t lie.

    If that’s how the article begins…

    • That’s not how the article begins. It’s one sentence in the middle of the second page that was snipped out by Admin. The article speaks rationally to your exact point.

  • It’s scary how such a non-issue can stir up a war on the internet.

    Look at the facts and it’s very simple.

    A 17mm lens will always be 17mm lens. Put it on m43 and it will still be a 17mm .If the image is taken from the same distance everything except fov will also be the same. It will even have the same amount of dof. The difference will be in the cropped image, because the m43 will look lika 35mm.
    So for m43 users to get the same fov we need to move back double the distance. This is why the dof gets longer.

    Olympus and Panasonic made a choice to use half the sensor size because it is an awesome compromise between size, weight and quality. A couple of years ago it wasn’t as apparent as now. With the E-M5 sensor we have reached a level where amature shooters can get pro quality pictures.

    Technology moves forward. FF will always be better at light gathering and ISO noise compared to m43. But we all know this?! Just choose the system that suits your shooting the most.

    For me its apparent that m43 is the best compromise. For someone who likes to shoot 1mm dof images, fine get a FF and be happy! But keep in mind that the medium format will OWN your FF camera in that appartment.

  • In my humble opinion, you just have to compare and test to see. Just take some equivalent lenses and compare, that’s all.

    From images i’ve seen, if a FF 50mm lens has a M43 25mm equivalent, the f1.8 aperture on the FF doesn’t give twice a greater aperture than M43. It seems to be bit less and not a strict ratio.

    It is clear to me that everybody here do know pros and cons of FF and M43 formats. If you want shallow DOF on M43, be patient or buy f0.95 lenses.

    I believe that M43 product may have some advantages in the future for professional work because smaller and easily transportable. But FF companies are working on size too, so enjoy now with what you have !

    • It is very hard to compare like that. Since to begin with the m43 is not a true 2.0 crop size. It less than that and it uses a different aspect ratio.

    • If we put a 35mm f2 lens on the FF and focus at 2meters we will get 39cm dof.
      Put that 35mm f2 on m43 and we would have to focus at 2.8 meters to get the same 39cm dof. Difference would be in the fov.
      To get the same fov we need to move back to a focus distance of 4meters which will give us a dof of 80cm.

      Or we could put a 17.5mm on m43 and focus from the same distance as FF. But then we have the characteristics of a 17.5mm, not a 35mm. So a 17.5 f2 on m43 will give us 82cm dof at a focus distance of 2meters. Not 80cm dof like we got with a 35mm moved back double the distance.

      If we open up the aperture 2 stops to compensate for the 2x crop size we can see this difference as well. Because a 17.5 f0.95 will give us 40cm dof at 2 meters. Not 39cm.

      These are all small differences and its easier just to say double everything from m43 to FF.

      Looking at it from another angle which many people have noticed lately. Shooting FF at 35mm f0.95 at 2 meter will give you a dof of 19cm at 2meters. That is not enough to get a head or even a body in focus.
      Hence with m43 we can shoot twice as fast but still get roughly the same amount of dof. And I say roughly because a 17.5mm cannot be compared to a 35mm that easily.

    • uip;iu

      it is a matter of physics you thicko not maybe this maybe that jesus talk about dumb asses

  • Robert

    This theory does not hold. I made a test.

    The first photo was shot with a full frame Leica M9 with 50mm Leica-Noctilux at 1,4.


    The second photo was shot with the 43camera Olympus e-5 with 25mm Pana-Leica-Summilux at 1,4.


    I used a tripod, the focus was in both cases on the first coffee mug.

    The DoF is much more shallow with the Leica M9.

    • yes that is right because one lens is 25mm and the other is 50mm. As you can see the difference is dof gets bigger further away from the focus point. This is the difference in characteristics between a 25mm and a 50mm.

      The in focus area is almost the same, but the longer away we get from the in focus area the blurrier the 50mm background will be. Its simple.

      One lens is 25mm the other 50mm. We cannot double everything and get the exact same image.

    • If you would have put a 50mm f1.4 on the e-5 then everything except fov would be the same. This is why its called crop size. The only thing a smaller sensor does it crop out a part of the image. A 50mm f1.4 is the exact thing on all systems across.

      It can be made smaller though on a m43 system because it doesn’t have to cover the bigger sensor.

      • Robert

        Yes, of course. If I put the 50mm on the Olympus (unfortunately I have no adaptor and thus cannot) and took a shot from the same distance, I would get the same dof and a smaller field of view compared to FF.

        However, if I put the 50mm on the Olympus and doubled the distance to the object in focus, I would get about the same field of view and less dof compared to FF.

        Is this about right?

        • Yes that is correct. So this is why the article is perfectly good. There is no real use in using the equivalancy argument in anything else then fov.

          The fact is we compare everything against 35mm film, but there is no real reason for this since there are bigger formats as well. Its just the way things went and we have to live with it.

          Just remember that crop size is ONLY cropping the image. A bigger sensor will have larger spots to gather light at the same megapixel count. Put 60 megapixels in a full frame sensor and it will be the same performance as the m43 sensor in E-M5.

          We don’t need to scream and curse at each other over this. We all like to photograph. The tools we use should be dictated by our own needs.

          I myself see so many benefits with the m43 system. Others might like razor thin dof so much that they like to carry around heavy gear and empty their wallet to get it. We are all different, lets embrace it, not fight over it!

        • Robert. Its nice to have someone who is prepared to listen and think about things. Thank You.

    • looks like you screwed up
      look at the rim of the table,
      the 43rds image isnt in focus the same distance as the cup

  • Future MFT user

    On this DoF equivalence war.

    I don’t see any DSLR users attacking small sensor compact cameras because of DoF equivalence. Why? Because they don’t consider those cameras as a serious threat against their big, heavy gear. HOWEVER they do consistently attack Micro Four Thirds because of DoF equivalence. Why? Easy answer!

  • Who gives a crap. If you can’t get good image quality with OMD or GH2 or 3, even with a crapload of ultra mega creamy bokeh then you are obviously an idiot who should tie his/her full frame camera tightly around his/her neck, jump off a bridge and let your full frame gear take you to the bottom of the river.

    To the moron further up who mentioned sports photographers using DSLRs. No, it has nothing to do with full frame sensor. They use them because they can take twice as many images in a second and those huge telescopes they already own for those systems. They are not using same full frame crap you use either.

    Same crap with number of pixels. Nikon’s TOP OF THE LINE has only 16MP compared to D800’s 36 MP, but speed is what matters more, especially in sports photography. 36MP vs. 16MP makes no real difference, just like full frame and micro 4/3 sensor size makes no difference whatsoever unless you are a total moron who doesn’t know how to take pictures.

    • Hear hear.

      One of the most popular DSLRs for sports photography happens to be the Canon 1Dx.

      This is *not* a ‘full frame’ camera.

    • rytjmng

      Thunder god nope thunder pants maybe, there are niches where FF gear is by a long way the best tool for the job. Here is a simple challenge take a photo of a fast moving sport in low light. Problems with that and mFT , one crap EVFs rubbish for tracking a fast moving subject in low light, two, sensors at least two stops poorer than FF, problem three dreadful C-AF ,and you can round that little list off with the only long telephoto lenses being both slow ,Olympus 75-300 is F6.7 seriously !!, mediocre at their wide settings and really poor at the long end.You guys spend so much time stroking each others dicks on forums, with the old “wow, that blurry shot is awesome”

      • An advantage which will be gone as soon as you have to stick a tc between the lens and camera to get enough ‘reach’. When dealing with field sports this is a very common issue due to the typical working distances.

        You are completely right with regards to continuous focus of course, and the same for the lack of proper long lenses for such a use.

        • uirtyi

          @Bart there are professional lenses that reach out to 800mm { well beyond my budget and willingness to carry} so reach is hardly ever an issue for field sports especially for pros who get access. These lenses are better than any mFT telephoto option and are typically faster than any options we have combine this with the pro sports/high speed bodies such as the D4 you have spectacular quality.To compete we would need a 400mm lens two stops faster than the 800mm FF option to compensate for the two stop { minimum advantage of the D4 }. The 800mm whoppers come in at a high price and a high weight but to match the 800mm F5.6 on the D4 we would need a 400mm F2.8 which while obviously lighter than a FF option will certainly not be a small lenses and I imagine it would cost a small fortune.

          We also need a major advance in C-AF ,and the biggest hurdle for pro shooters a worldwide support network which is not likely to happen. The top sport photography agencies have millions of dollars invested in their chosen system and changing on a whim to what is currently a far inferior system is not going to happen

          • Yes, those exist, and they are still being used with teleconverters because for some applications, 800mm doesn’t give enough ‘reach’ either. So, the point remains, as soon as you stick a tc between the camera and lens, you could as well have used a ‘crop’ format without the tc, making for a somewhat smaller and lighter setup. Its even more of a consideration when it can bring things within ‘reach’ of the ever popular 70-200/2.8ish zooms.

  • ZOID

    So, what’s the point? All this is common knowledge, that has be discussed to death. Why write a article about it? Did anyone need to hear this again, or did the guy just feel the need to be a parrot and convince people of his self importance.

    Let me say something important, that everyone knows. Duhh, a 35 mm lens is wider than a 50 mm lens. Isn’t that interesting? I feel so important now.

  • @johnb

    First a little nitpick… bokeh relates to the quality of out of focus areas, and not at all to how easy it is to throw the background out of focus. Good bokeh is highly subjective.

    So, what you care about is shallow DOF, not bokeh (tho you may care about the later as well, but that is simply totally unrelated to what you are saying)

    With regards to high iso performance, I’m sorry but with same level of technology, same distance, same field of view (which fails but ok lets just assume it doesn’t) and same amount of DOF, a 135 format camera is working at 4x the sensitivity, so 2 ISO levels higher. That 135 format camera needs that high ISO performance without it giving any actual advantage, until you allow (or desire) a very shallow DOF.

    Its perfectly fine to want that more shallow DOF, its also perfectly fine to say that exact DOF control isn’t actually that important and one can give up some DOF for better low-light performance, but, if we assume trying to take the exact same picture, the advantage is simply gone.

    • JohnB

      Your “nickpick” point is well taken. :) Bokeh is more than just a shallow DOF. I was over-generalizing here.

      But my point is, on a FF system, you can boost both ISO and step down aperture at the same time to match the native setting of the M43 system. But in FF system, you have other options as well.

      If you can have the FF setup in a OM-D body and M43 lenses, would you not take that?

      • Yes, a 135 format camera can at least technically do all the things that a smaller format also can, but not the other way around. Question is, when do you encounter those things?

        Would I want something with the performance of say a D4 in an OM-D sized body? Sure, but do I want it to be ‘full frame’? No, doesn’t have to be ‘full frame’, actually, the format doesn’t matter at all as long as it provides for the level of control and quality that I need.

        While you can have a 135 format sensor in an OM-D sized body (I have 35mm film cameras that are substantially smaller then that in my collection, no reason why that couldn’t be done with digital), you can’t have small lenses for it except for wide-angle lenses. That alone is enough reason to not stick with the largest possible format that is still practical, but with the smallest possible format that can still deliver what you want. You are simply bound to have it with you much more often, meaning more pictures.

        Asking if someone wants an uncompromised camera is possibly interesting, but has no relation to reality because every camera (system) is a compromise.

        • BartSuxDix

          Oh crap, let me run and sell my 135 stuff and stock up on M43…
          People like this Barf ruin the internet, I am not sure if he is deeply stupid or works for Olympus.
          Watch out people, ther are no free lunches, test your toys before you buy them.

          • I see you didn’t even get past the first paragraph.. can you answer that question there affirmatively? then you better hold on to that 135 format stuff.

            But I suppose reading before spewing your flames is too much to ask.

  • Anonymous

    The author forget this 75/1.8 lens is just like soft 150/3.6 lens on FF.
    And, BTW, I seriously doubt the soft 150/3.6 lens for FF will be significantly larger than this μ43

    • It’s like you didn’t even read the article. And what does sharpness have to do with this? The Oly 75 is one of the sharpest lenses ever made for any system. It is easily as sharp or sharper than the Canon 135 f/2L on full frame. I have owned both…I know of what I speak.

      • Anonymous

        The larger the sensor, the less MTF capabilities needed to achieve the same resolution characteristics as on the smaller one. In this particular case 75/1.8 should have twice more resolution to achieve 135/2 details level. And yo most probably takes high contrast with poor mid tones of olympus lens as its “sharpness”. You can easily achieve better result with 135/2, learn how to PP ;)

      • Anonymous

        I found measurements of 75 vs 135L and the oly competes surprisingly well. It’s not better, of course, but canon wins only by a small margin http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Compare-Camera-Lenses/Compare-lenses/(lens1)/898/(brand)/Olympus/(camera1)/0/(lens2)/630/(brand2)/Canon/(camera2)/0

        • Dxo is not comparable across systems because it compares the resolution of the camera lens system, not the lens…and they’re testing with a higher res sensor.

      • 54y45y

        The sharpest lens thing is a fallacy just as with this idiotic article , the lens has to be mounted on a system to deliver an image and to compete with a lens on FF a mFT has to have double the restitution a lens test in isolation is pointless . Unless you have worked out a way to take photos that excludes a camera .

  • OldAlaskan


    Comparing 45mm f/1.8 on 4/3 to 90mm f/1.8 on FF:
    Angle of View: same
    Rq’d shutter speed (exposure): same.
    Depth of field: 4/3 is 2x deeper
    Photons/pixel: FF gets 4x more

    Nore re. exposure: Yes really. Light meters do not need the user to input their camera’s format because it doesn’t affect exposure.

    Note re. photons/pixel: This is the basis for the claim that f/1.8 on 4/3 is equivalent to f/3.6 on FF and that 4/3 lags behind FF by 2 stops as far as noise goes. This is the approximate theoretical case. In real life some sensors use photons more efficiently than others. And remember, 4 times as much noise is not a problem when the LEVEL of noise is acceptable (as it is up to reasonably high ISOs).

    • I question the x4 for photons.
      If the 90mm 1.8 was put on the 4/3 the same number of photons would hit the sensor as masking the 135 sensor to 4/3 size. As the lens calculation is standard then the photons are the same for the area covered when using native lenses.
      Is this not so?

      • Macx

        JimD, the intensity hitting one pixel would be the same, regardless of how you mask or crop the sensor, that is why exposure stays the same. But the total light hitting the sensor (obviously) isn’t the same, and the reason why this matter is because of what we call “shot noise”. If you’re interested in the quantum physics behind this, I encourage you to look it up, but the upshot of it is that the more photons that hit a sensor, the stronger the signal to noise ratio is. So for a large sensor, because we have the same intensity of light hitting it, we get more total photons and as such we end up with an image with less noise. And less noise is more details and clearer colours.

        BUT this doesn’t have to matter. And the reason why it doesn’t have to matter is because of equivalency. If we take a picture of a subject with a 25/1.4 on a m43 camera and then want to take the same picture (and use the same shutter time) with a 135 FF camera, we’ll need a 50/2.8. And with a 2.8 f-ratio, you only get 1/4 of the light through, as you get with a 1.4 f-ratio, and thusly we end up with two pictures having the same total light and therefore about the same amount of noise on the two cameras. One sensor is 1/4 the size of the other sensor, but it’s getting 4 times as high intensity light.

        Now, as I write in another comment, this is why equivalency doesn’t matter as long as we use our system in its comfort zone, but the advantage of the 135 FF cameras is that their comfort zone is larger. On a 135 FF camera and lens we can set up a shot in a way that isn’t possible to replicate completely on a m4/3, but for most of us, we’re aware of this limitation and suffer it gladly in exchange for the smaller form factor and weight.

  • The article is incorrect. It states in one place,
    “Often, many people will claim f/2.8 is a f/2.8 regardless of the sensor being used. They will claim the exposure will be identical on both. And this is true. BUT, a full-frame sensor collects twice as much photons as M43 sensor (based on the area of the sensor). What if we step-down the lens aperture by 2 full-stops (hence halving the size of the aperture) on the full-frame sensor? Then the exposure will not be the same”

    The people who get this wrong usually say 4x not x2 for the size and photons collected. So we have a change here but still very wrong.

    The fundamentals are missed. The photons per mm sq are the same. It seems that many have missed the look see simplicity that the 135 lens is wider than the m43 for the same FOV and aperture.
    The thing that so many forget is the measurement is photons per mm sq. Yes, a native lens will have more photons on the sensor of a 135 compared to an equivalent lens on a m43. BUT the photons per mm sq are the same.
    Photons per pixel are a different thing and should not be confused with this.

    If one puts any 135 camera lens (with adapter) on a m43 camera the result is the same as putting the same lens on a 135 camera but masking the sensor to m43 size.

    • This is in response to JohnB and the m43blog article.

  • Macx

    When does equivalence to 135 FF matter? At the end of the extremes of photography:

    – Once you need a DoF/exposure provided by a 35/1.4, 50/1.4, 85/1.4 and similar on 135 FF there is no equivalent lens for a micro four thirds. Yet.
    – Once you need an equivalent Signal to Noise Ratio to ISO 100 or 200 (and in some cases ISO 400) on a 135 FF, you can’t get it with a micro four thirds sensor. Yet.
    – Likewise at the other end of the ISO scale, but less pronounced, once we hit 12800 and higher, micro-four thirds have no equivalent. Yet.

    But micro four-thirds are pushing the envelope further and further, making the areas where 135 FF is the only option more and more extreme. More and more for the specialist.

    Equivalence doesn’t matter when we use the micro four-thirds cameras and lenses in their comfort zone. It doesn’t matter when we don’t need the things mentioned above, and the vast majority of us were aware of these limitations when we bought into the system, and we’re fine with those limitations, because on the other hand we get the smaller size, bulk and weight.

    So, yeah. Equivalence doesn’t matter for most of us who use micro four-thirds. But for those who use 135 FF and who needs the smaller DoF or the larger exposure gamut, it really matters, and isn’t just something they’re making up.

    • “So, yeah. Equivalence doesn’t matter for most of us who use micro four-thirds.”

      Not just for most of us who use m4/3, it doesn’t matter for the large majority of pictures taken.

      “But for those who use 135 FF and who needs the smaller DoF or the larger exposure gamut, it really matters, and isn’t just something they’re making up.”

      If they actually need those things, yes, then its certainly better to have a 135 format camera, or possibly something larger even (that also gets you movements so you can actually control the plane of focus, not just DOF). I don’t think this is being disputed by anyone who knows a thing or 2 about photography.

      What is being disputed at least by me is that many people who claim to need ‘full frame’ do really need it. The simple reason why I dispute this is because many people who claim to need ‘full frame’ totally fail to realize how it doesn’t get you any advantage for the majority of pictures, and consequently also stand no chance in realizing when those advantages do really matter.

      • Macx

        “it doesn’t matter for the large majority of pictures taken.”

        That is definitely true, since it’s a tiny minority of photographers who even use the 135 FF cameras. I just wanted to make sure that people don’t completely dismiss that 135 FF does have it advantages, and for a few specialists, such as those taking portraits for a living, having a 135 FF ISO 100 or 200 coupled with a f/1.4 portrait tele has nothing equivalent in micro four-thirds world. It might be self-evident, but the reason we know this is because of “equivalence” whether we understand it intuitively or know about the theories behind it.

        But what I don’t understand from 135 FF fanatics as well as from fanatics from our own camp is that they don’t understand that you can actually choose both. 135 FF will always be heavier and bigger. Micro 4/3 will always be a bit limited in exposure gamut, so bring the camera that suits your need best! Sometimes when reading what people write, you get the sense they think it’s illegal to own anything but their own system.

  • Oh christ… Really?

    I’ve already explained “bokeh” has NOTHING to do with format size.

  • JAN

    Post from 2009…Comparison shots FF vs. APS-C shallow DOF….

    • james70094

      That’s about depth of field, not exposure. The article is about aperture for exposure, not DoF. Why can’t people focus?

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