m43-FF Comparison part III (Olympus E-M5 vs. EOS 6D)
As part of testing out my new Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15 mm f/1.7 I did another m43/FF comparison (Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Canon EOS 6D). My main purpose was to make sure the Panasonic lens didn’t have any defects but also to do a comparison towards a prime lens on the full frame (35 mm) Canon, the EF 35 mm f/2. This lens has its problems but stopped down a little it’s quite sharp in the center (see photozone.de for test results) and I thought it would be fun to see how the m43 system performed compared to it.
I have tried to make the comparison as fair as possible but the following should be noted:
- I don’t claim to have done a very scientific test, my main purpose was to see what kind of results I can achieve from the two systems during normal shooting conditions and with my normal post processing flow
- I have shot in RAW and have used the same input sharpening settings (which give a result I’m happy with on both cameras) and adjusted white balance and exposure to get as similar looking images as possible. For some of the shots I have also adjusted highlights and shadows but I have done the same adjustments on the pictures from the two cameras
- The 15 mm focal length on the m43 system equals a 30 mm on the Canon 6D, so while they don’t give the exact same framing they come pretty close after cropping the m43 shots to 3:2 aspect ratio
- I have used aperture priority mode and let the camera meter and decide on shutter speed and ISO
- I have set the aperture two stops smaller on the Canon to get the same DOF. For f/1.7 on the Panasonic lens I have used f/3.2 on the Canon which is almost two stops
And here are the photos! Click on the pictures to get to the full full resolution versions (JPG) if you want to compare details but I have also included a side-by-side comparison of 100% crops.
- The Canon shots show (IMHO slightly) more details, but the difference is mostly visible at maximum aperture on the Panasonic where it’s a little bit soft. Once stopped down the difference is not as obvious.
- The comparison of f/1.7 on the Panasonic lens and f/3.2 on the Canon lens shows more background blur for the Canon since it’s not two full stops smaller. The Canon focal length of 35 mm is also a little bit longer than the full frame equivalent for the Panasonic (which is 30 mm).
- The default images from the Olympus and the Canon look quite different in terms of color. I had to set the white balance of the Olympus colder and greener to make them look roughly the same.
- These tests (and some additional ones) showed that my copy of the Panasonic was slightly decentered. I replaced it for a better one but the problem was mostly seen on the edge and corners of the frame and close to maximum aperture of the lens so I think it had very little impact on the result of this test.
I think I’m done with these kind of tests now. For me the difference in details is purely academic and I’m perfectly comfortable to use the m43 system instead of the Canon for all my amateur purposes. The full frame Canon of course has a clear advantage in high ISO performance and for sports I trust the auto focus more. If I want really thin DOF (as I see it not useful for more than full body portraits) the m43 system don’t have a lens to match my Sigma 85 f/1.4 on the Canon 6D. On the other hand, for travel where size and weight is an important aspect the m43 system has a clear advantage and my set of prime lenses for it (Panasonic Leica 15 mm f/1.7, Panasonic Leica 25 mm f/1.4 and Olympus 45 mm f/1.8) give me good enough possibilities to get some background blur and subject separation when needed.