Sony A7R II vs Olympus OMD EM1 II Depth of Field Comparison
I just took delivery of a Sony A7R II yesterday with the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens. Part of my decision to buy this combination was to supplement my Olympus OMD EM1 II with a camera with a full frame sensor as I believe Micro 4/3 and full frame compliment each other as systems very well. The idea being that the Olympus will be my everyday camera and the Sony will allow me to get more subject isolation and better low light performance when I need it.
The difference between micro 4/3 and APS-C is so negligible that I don’t see the benefit of owning both for my uses.
Anyway I thought it would be interesting to do a quick test to see the difference between the two when it comes to subject separation.
I shot both on a tripod from the exact same location. The Zeiss is a 55mm lens whereas the Olympus equates to roughly 50mm so the field of view is not exactly the same with the Zeiss being a bit narrower. The Sony was paired with the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 and the Olympus with the 25mm f/1.2 Pro (see my review here ).
So here are both shots wide open.
The Sony is definitely doing a better job of isolating the subject and that is no surprise as the 25mm 1.2 on the Olympus is roughly equivalent to a 50mm f/2.4 on full frame in terms of depth of field and field of view. Part of the difference can be put down to the longer focal length of the Zeiss lens but even then here are the things to look at that highlight the differences.
Look at the detail in the brown unit to the left of the top of the lens. The Olympus is picking up more texture and details whereas the Sony has blown most of that into smooth out of focus rendering.
Secondly the light sphere immediately left of the focus markings on the lens is much more in focus on the Olympus shot than the Sony one.
So even wide open and with a larger aperture the Olympus 25mm 1.2 can’t quite match the Sony with a 1.8 lens.
Here are the Olympus and Sony both at f/1.8 side by side in Lightroom so you can directly compare like for like what you would get when shooting at the same apertures on different systems.
So as you can see the Sony definitely offers an advantage when you want to isolate your subject. Just as expected. You can of course also buy lenses with a larger aperture for the Sony system which will widen the gap further. However I have no intention of buying those lenses, not because of the price (which is expensive) but because I don’t want to imbalance the camera by putting on huge lenses that will make the whole setup incredibly front heavy.
So if you want that creamy shallow depth of field look then it’s a no brainer right? Get full frame….. Or is it.
One thing to note is that these Olympus Pro line of lenses have a trick up their sleeve that can level the playing field somewhat if you are not constrained in your shooting position.
They can focus incredibly closely.
All the shots above are taken from the closest focusing distance of the Sony Zeiss 55mm 1.8. In these circumstances the full frame Sony clearly does better. However take a look below at just how close the Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro can focus. The lens hood was nearly touching the subject when I too this.
I’m not arguing that one is better than the other here. For some things the Sony will be better and for others the Olympus. That is why I bought the Sony A7Rii to compliment, not replace my Olympus OMD EM1 ii. For example when I shoot the Olympus 25mm 1.2 Pro I get the light gathering of a 1.2 lens but I gain a little extra depth of field which can be useful to ensure enough of your subject is in focus. More depth of field can be an advantage at times.
The Sony will of course give me better low light performance, a little more dynamic range and the ability to print gallery sized prints with more detail but if anyone tells you that Micro 4/3 is not capable of producing shallow depth of field images then you can safely ignore them as they clearly haven’t used lenses like the 25mm 1.2(review here ), 45mm 1.2 (review coming soon) and 75mm 1.8 (review here )from Olympus.