Depth of Field experiments: PanaLeica 25mm f/1.4

The micro4/3 system has many advantages with for those wanting to (try to) take fully ‘controlled’ pictures using camera bodies and lenses that take up less space and weigh less than the ‘equivalent’ DSLR options.  There are, of course, undeniable advantages to larger sensors; but I’ve found very little I miss about the Nikon D80/Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR pairing that I used day-in day-out down the Americas by bicycle.

The latest (and possible last, though I’ll wisely not commit to that) addition to my Olympus OM-D EM-5 mounted stable has been the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 prime lens.  There was a little time spent weighing up the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens given it’s smaller size and lower weight (90g vs 200g).  Apart from concerns about high ISO banding when the latter lens was paired with the OM-D, the relatively slower auto-focus pushed me to the 25mm lens.  I also realised that my wilderness/expedition needs (Olympus 12mm f/2.0 and Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8) didn’t include this type of lens, and that I was really wanting it for about-town and portrait use – meaning that the size and weight differential ceased to matter.

David and Goliath - the Nikon D80/16-85mm vs the Olympus OM-D EM-5/12mm

David and Goliath – the Nikon D80/16-85mm vs the Olympus OM-D EM-5/12mm

What follow are some early experiments with just how shallow a depth of field (DOF) the PanaLeica gives you.  Sometimes too shallow, with care needed to get the whole subject in focus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grevillia in dazzling bloom

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New Holland Honeyeaters

Just how shallow the DOF can be

Just how shallow the DOF can be (f/1.4)

Sharpness and greater DOF, but still not quite there for parts of the flower nearer the camera

Sharpness and greater DOF, but still not quite there for parts of the flower nearer the camera (f/4.5)

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4 thoughts

  1. Have you thought about stacking several shallow DOF images to get one that has the whole subject in focus? I haven’t tried it myself but I’d like to, apparently it isn’t too hard with the right software.

    • I’ve not yet tried it either – I try to review images in camera before I move on if I’m using wide apertures now – especially the f/1.4 that the panaleica allows.

  2. Sorry, one more question. Australia is pretty dusty, do you change the lenses on the fly on your bike? I avoid that like the plague and have a dedicated body for each lens. I have narrowed my touring stable down to a Nikon D300 (or D7000), with the Nikkor 70-300 mm VR, and a Nikon V1 with the 10-30 mm kit lens. I also have an FT-1 adapter that will bring my 70-300 to around 450 mm on the V1, although AF isn’t so great, and it means I have to switch lenses. For macro I bring along a Canon 500D screw-on lens for the 70-300, it works well.

    • I mostly work with 2 lenses – the 12mm f/2.0 Olympus and the 35-100mm f/2.8 Panasonic for touring by bicycle. I also try to keep lens changes to a minimum, but not to the extent of multiple camera bodies – as I’d lose the advantage of a more compact and lighter system. If I was pushed to a single lens it would be the 12mm Olympus.

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