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Thread: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

  1. #1
    Mitch Alland
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    4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    The reason I have been shooting small-sensor cameras is that they seem to be the closest to the feeling of the "35mm aesthetic", typified for me by shooting with the Leica M6 with Tri-X or HP5+, as opposed to the M8, which has, as Sean has written in his reviews, more of a medium-fornat to look. On this respect, how does the look of the 4/3rds system fit in: how would you characterise the "4/3rds look" and the experience of using these cameras?

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  2. #2
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    The reason I have been shooting small-sensor cameras is that they seem to be the closest to the feeling of the "35mm aesthetic", typified for me by shooting with the Leica M6 with Tri-X or HP5+, as opposed to the M8, which has, as Sean has written in his reviews, more of a medium-fornat to look. On this respect, how does the look of the 4/3rds system fit in: how would you characterise the "4/3rds look" and the experience of using these cameras?

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    It's an interesting blend. The noise levels in the files tend to be just slightly higher than those from an APS-C sensor camera (like an R-D1 or a D300) but the effective depth of field, of course, is noticeably deeper.

    Also very noticeable to me is, of course, the change in aspect ratio (as compared to other DSLRs, etc.). See that Digilux 3 review to get a sense of this.

    Also, I don't feel like small sensor cameras have a look that necessarily reminds me of 35 mm. They're really their own thing, to my eyes.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  3. #3
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    You're right, Sean, the small-sensor format has it's own look, but, in terms of grain and gradation, it's close to the 35mm format; where it differs is in the huge DOF.

    —Mitch/Bangkkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Hi All
    I've been using 4/3 since the beginning (first of all with the E1 (which I still have and use) and then with the E330, E510 and now the E3).

    I'm still not convinced that I prefer the 4/3 aspect ratio, but it is growing on me. As for the noise issue, there has been a lot of talk that this is inevitable, but when you realise that the 4/3 sensor is 13.5mm high, and the APS/c around 15.5, 2mm is hardly a huge difference! Of course the sensor IS shorter, but if you end up cropping . . .

    The E3 really does bear this out - a friend sent me some 3200 images taken at a play which are completely useable (with a little help). I've found that 1600 is great, and that 800 is hardly worse than 100.

    The depth of field issue also needs treating with some caution for the same reason and because diffraction tends to cut in sooner with a smaller sensor.

    All in all I'm not sure that the aesthetic is so very different, but I do think it has a lot going for it.

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    Senior Member Riley's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    The basis for 4/3rds that i enjoy is the full use of the lens available apertures. For even wide open the glass holds the edges and there is little if any vignetting, I don't have to care about and nor should i, that other systems need to be stopped down. While diffraction is in much earlier, the MTF of the lenses doesn't drop off very sharply, so I find that less of an issue.

    We have come through the first generation of noisier sensors and low iso performance, of small dim OVF's , of poor AF performance, and with delight find myself now with an OVF bigger than 40D, competitive iso to 800, and very fast AF.

    I find 4/3rds an innovative field that offers cameras with a difference and optical excellence.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    I don't own a 4/3rds camera and frankly never took them seriously. I then happened upon a stunning exhibit of B&W images taken throughout the SouthWest. They were all printed out A3, well displayed and stunning imagery --- and all taken with a 4/3rds camera. Made a believer out of me Love to see some images posted here!
    Jack
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by Riley View Post
    The basis for 4/3rds that i enjoy is the full use of the lens available apertures. For even wide open the glass holds the edges and there is little if any vignetting, I don't have to care about and nor should i, that other systems need to be stopped down. While diffraction is in much earlier, the MTF of the lenses doesn't drop off very sharply, so I find that less of an issue.

    We have come through the first generation of noisier sensors and low iso performance, of small dim OVF's , of poor AF performance, and with delight find myself now with an OVF bigger than 40D, competitive iso to 800, and very fast AF.

    I find 4/3rds an innovative field that offers cameras with a difference and optical excellence.
    HI There
    I completely agree - the lenses are wonderful, the expensive pro-range are obviously splendid, but unlike any other manufacturer I know, the mid range lenses are also wonderful, and, as you say, can be shot wide open with no qualms.

    The believable weatherproofing is another factor (do you remember that mad fool who shot his E1 holding it under water?).

    For me, the real deal is the colour that Olympus manage to crank out, model after model

    Just this guy you know

  8. #8
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    You're right, Sean, the small-sensor format has it's own look, but, in terms of grain and gradation, it's close to the 35mm format; where it differs is in the huge DOF.

    —Mitch/Bangkkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    Hi Mitch,

    At lower ISO levels, I think 35 mm film has finer gradation and a richer, overall, tonality (for better or worse). Also, of course, there are so many different ways 35 mm film can look. People often compare various digital files to Tri-X but Tri-X itself can look very different depending on how it is exposed and developed.

    When the first DSLRs were evolving, comparisons were constantly being made with 35 mm film. It wasn't until they hit about 6 MP (with an APS-C sensor) that many photographers were willing to transition from film to digital.

    I don't think that small sensor camera pictures look like 35 mm film prints, I think they have a different look which really is specific to their format.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  9. #9
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    I've always found 4/3 interesting and reviewed the E-1 for LuLa (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...s/e1-2nd.shtml) because I thought it was such a promising camera. I owned one for awhile, in fact. I've been waiting for a successor to that camera for a long time. If the ISO 1600 files are good, and resilient, my wife may switch to Olympus for her work. The weather seals are important, the lenses are quite good and the AF on the example I tried in NYC was excellent. In camera IS is also a real asset, as I found in the K10D.

    So the million dollar questions for Melissa are: Is ISO 1600 really 1600? (It wasn't with the E1) and how well do those files hold up for professional work that is often shot at that ISO.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    I've always found 4/3 interesting and reviewed the E-1 for LuLa (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...s/e1-2nd.shtml) because I thought it was such a promising camera. I owned one for awhile, in fact. I've been waiting for a successor to that camera for a long time. If the ISO 1600 files are good, and resilient, my wife may switch to Olympus for her work. The weather seals are important, the lenses are quite good and the AF on the example I tried in NYC was excellent. In camera IS is also a real asset, as I found in the K10D.

    So the million dollar questions for Melissa are: Is ISO 1600 really 1600? (It wasn't with the E1) and how well do those files hold up for professional work that is often shot at that ISO.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Well Sean - I don't shoot a lot of high ISO, and with the E1 I wouldn't have dreamed of using 800, let alone 1600. I've taken a few 1600 ISO shots with the E3, and they're fine - absolutely useable.

    You have the good fortune to be able to try one out for a few weeks so she can decide whether she wants it or not.

    The only think I would say, is that the menu system seems to have been designed to be good for the long term user . . . not the first time user. I think this is a good thing, but it is engendering quite a lot of remarks. Best not to write it off too soon!

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  11. #11
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Hi Jono,

    She's not fussy like that. It doesn't take her long to figure out whether or not a camera will work for her but an unfamiliar menu system wouldn't be an issue. Poor controls design would be - but that wasn't my sense of the E3 at all.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  12. #12
    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    When I get the exposure spot on, ISO 800 is absolutely usable, even with the E-1. Here's a sample: E-1 at ISO 800, 11-22mm f/2.8-3.5 at 11mm and f/2.8, 1/13 sec, handheld.



    Here's another, same lens, but at f/4.5 and 1/100 sec, also ISO 800



    What I find particularly useful is the deep DOF with WA lenses. I never saw the point with shallow depth of field with most WA photography anyway. Rather tack sharp all the way than slightly OOF background.

    Another aspect that has contributed in making the E-1 my most used camera is the aspect ratio. For most of my photography, I find that I crop less, and mostly not at all, compared to 3:2.
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 17th December 2007 at 03:41. Reason: Added photo

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    Senior Member Riley's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    those are some very nice shots Jorgen, and i agree with you on the available DoF which can really screw you with a larger frame system.

    Riley

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    I like the idea of a 100mm 2.8 being a 200 2.8 since I have runway stuff to do next month. Hmmm
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I like the idea of a 100mm 2.8 being a 200 2.8 since I have runway stuff to do next month. Hmmm
    Hi Guy
    You know it makes sense. Nice little kit:
    E3
    12-60 f2.8 f4
    50-200 f2.8 f3.5
    that'll give you a 24-400 equivalent, nice light setup and very able
    and all for less than the price of a WATE!

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hi Guy
    You know it makes sense. Nice little kit:
    E3
    12-60 f2.8 f4
    50-200 f2.8 f3.5
    that'll give you a 24-400 equivalent, nice light setup and very able
    and all for less than the price of a WATE!
    This is exactly my thought as well. Add the Leica 25/1.4 or Sigma 30/1.4 for low-light and shallow DOF and the Zuiko 50/2.0 macro (or the 100/2.0 macro when it arrives), and it's a very compact, very complete kit. If I didn't get this terrible lens lust now and then, I could probably live very well with that combo.

    Another OM lens that works well on 4/3, is the OM Zuiko 90/2.0 macro. Slightly bigger than the 100/2.8, but faster and sharper. Unfortunately, it's also a bit expensive.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Here's one with the 100/2.8, at f/5.6 I believe.


  18. #18
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Hi Guy
    You know it makes sense. Nice little kit:
    E3
    12-60 f2.8 f4
    50-200 f2.8 f3.5
    that'll give you a 24-400 equivalent, nice light setup and very able
    and all for less than the price of a WATE!
    Hmmm you guys got me thinking seriously about this. last thing i want is a big camera and i really don't need ultimate image quailty for this runway stuff
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Hmmm you guys got me thinking seriously about this. last thing i want is a big camera and i really don't need ultimate image quailty for this runway stuff
    Hi Guy
    You aren't going to lose much image quality - look at my comparison on the Leica forum . . . .come to think of it, I'll link the photo here - you pick which is the Leica M8 with 75 'cron and which is the E3 with 50mm f2

    Mark Cargill did a detailed comparison of image quality against the Nikon D300, and up to 1600 ISO the E3 won convincingly. I'm noticing no problems printing up to 17X24, and I'm sure you could go a great deal bigger.

    Ask Sean - the great quality of the Zuiko lenses, and now with the new E3 sensor, you don't need to consider the IQ a compromise.

    this is a 100% crop from the middle of the frame:


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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    [QUOTE=Jorgen Udvang;4529]Here's one with the 100/2.8, at f/5.6 I believe.

    HI Jorgen
    Great shots all - I think it's sad to find so many people who've just written off 4/3. I haven't explored all the old Zuiko full frame lenses, but the modern ones certainly do the business.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Jono i saw that comparision and it looks great.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

  22. #22
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Mark Cargill did a detailed comparison of image quality against the Nikon D300, and up to 1600 ISO the E3 won convincingly. I'm noticing no problems printing up to 17X24, and I'm sure you could go a great deal bigger.
    Hi Jono,

    Where would I find that? BTW, before I forget, I'll be away Weds. helping a sick friend but lets keep looking for a time.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    [QUOTE=jonoslack;4536]
    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Here's one with the 100/2.8, at f/5.6 I believe.

    HI Jorgen
    Great shots all - I think it's sad to find so many people who've just written off 4/3. I haven't explored all the old Zuiko full frame lenses, but the modern ones certainly do the business.
    The OM Zuiko lenses don't all work well at all apertures. The best ones do, lenses like the 100/2.8 are best stopped down to f/5.6, while very few of the zooms are any good. There are exceptions though.

    Olympus actually made a table which was distributed with the MF-1 OM to 4/3 converter. It lists all OM lenses and at what aperture they are sharp. Their requirement was that only the best will do, so it's more strict than necessary for everyday use, but it's a very useful guideline.

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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    [QUOTE=Jorgen Udvang;4603]
    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post

    The OM Zuiko lenses don't all work well at all apertures. The best ones do, lenses like the 100/2.8 are best stopped down to f/5.6, while very few of the zooms are any good. There are exceptions though.

    Olympus actually made a table which was distributed with the MF-1 OM to 4/3 converter. It lists all OM lenses and at what aperture they are sharp. Their requirement was that only the best will do, so it's more strict than necessary for everyday use, but it's a very useful guideline.
    Thanks for the information - I think I'll stick to the modern lenses! They seem to do pretty well.

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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    Hi Jono,

    Where would I find that? BTW, before I forget, I'll be away Weds. helping a sick friend but lets keep looking for a time.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Hi Sean
    you have mail - here is the link to Mark's comparison:

    http://www.markcargill.co.uk/pages/d300-e3-comp.php

    there is a little more discussion here:

    dpreview


    not earth shattering, but rather like my M8 comparison, it's more remarkable because of the lack of difference (actually, foliage detail seems better in the E3).
    I wonder if this isn't the big manufacturers going all out to reduce high ISO noise and throwing the baby of smearing into the bathwater of low light
    Last edited by jonoslack; 17th December 2007 at 14:38.

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  26. #26
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Hi Jono,

    Thanks. Unfortunately, I needed to stop reading when I saw that they were done at F/11.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  27. #27
    Senior Member Riley's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    heres a good reference for using OM lenses on 4/3rds cameras

    http://www.biofos.com/cornucop/omz_e1.html
    and a range of adapters here
    http://www.cameraquest.com/adapt_olyE1.htm

    using Leica R lenses is going to be a similar experience me thinks
    Ive found it to be fun when it doesnt cost anything, but a bit hit and miss quality wise. Primes do better than zooms, some lenses might benefit from the fitting of a baffle to improve contrast.

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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    Hi Jono,

    Thanks. Unfortunately, I needed to stop reading when I saw that they were done at F/11.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    HI Sean
    Of course, you are right, but that should have been an advantage to the d300, not the E3 where diffraction sets in at around f8

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  29. #29
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Hi Jono,

    To really know what's what, F/5.6 would be the way to go (or comparisons at multiple apertures). F/8 is already too far for even the Nikon *if* the camera is what is being tested.

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    The believable weatherproofing is another factor (do you remember that mad fool who shot his E1 holding it under water?).
    The acid test for the E-1's WX-prufing was the lady in Walnut Creek, CA who investigated a funny smell and found that her dog had put his mark all over and in her camera bag. It washed out just fine.

    For me, the real deal is the colour that Olympus manage to crank out, model after model
    I agree. I was nervous about the change in sensor going to the E-3, since I thought that Kodak was owed some of the credit, but color taste seems as good as ever.

    scott

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    Re: 4/3rds and the "35mm aesthetic"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    I've always found 4/3 interesting and reviewed the E-1 for LuLa (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...s/e1-2nd.shtml) because I thought it was such a promising camera. I owned one for awhile, in fact. I've been waiting for a successor to that camera for a long time. If the ISO 1600 files are good, and resilient, my wife may switch to Olympus for her work. The weather seals are important, the lenses are quite good and the AF on the example I tried in NYC was excellent. In camera IS is also a real asset, as I found in the K10D.

    So the million dollar questions for Melissa are: Is ISO 1600 really 1600? (It wasn't with the E1) and how well do those files hold up for professional work that is often shot at that ISO.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    OK, here goes with some E-3 available light stuff -- my daughter and friends at basketball practice, first at ISO 800 and then at ISO 1600. I thought the tonal renditions were nice. I haven't done any noise cleaning. For some really stylish results, look for sports shots by a guy named Don Chin, who posts things on dpreview like swimming meets and indoor volleyball, always at ISO 1600, in better light than my examples. I'll edit in a link if I can find it quickly...

    take a look here.
    Last edited by scott kirkpatrick; 18th December 2007 at 22:00. Reason: answered my own question.

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