One of the most common misconceptions about mirrorless cameras, and Micro Four Thirds in particular, is their inability to achieve a shallow depth of field effect. As I've hopefully illustrated here and with previous photos in my stream, this just isn't true. Sure, you may not achieve as shallow a depth of field as a larger format camera with the same equivalent focal length lens and the same f-number, but you can still enjoy some nice blurring if that's your thing. And it is my thing!
This shot was taken with the Panasonic GX1 and the Olympus 45mm f1.8 lens, which as many of you know is one of my favourites in the Micro Four Thirds catalogue. Indeed it's a no-brainer for anyone wanting a short telephoto. Like all Micro Four Thirds lenses, the equivalent field of view is reduced by two times, so 45mm works like 90mm on a full-frame body. Unfortunately this also applies to the effective depth of field too, so f1.8 becomes equivalent to f3.6 on full-frame. So in terms of coverage and depth of field, this lens is equivalent to using a 90mm f3.6 on a full-frame camera.
But f3.6 at 90mm is still enough to achieve a shallow depth-of-field effect, especially if your subject is close to the camera - and ideally if the background is also distant. I took this shot at a bar in Las Vegas waiting for my drink to arrive. The bar had these funny little egg timers every few feet, and like most photographers who are by themselves, I started playing around with various compositions. I noticed when I focused on the egg timer that the lights at the back of the bar were rendered into nice out-of-focus circles. All I needed to do was adjust the angle until I liked their arrangement on the frame.
Well that and hold steady of course. At 160 ISO (the base of the GX1), I was metering an exposure of 1/13 at f2. What I should have done was increase the ISO to, say, 400 or even 800 ISO to ensure the shutter speed was fast enough to eliminate any camera shake. But the bravado brought on by just one previous beer made me think I could do it at 160 ISO by simply bracing the camera against a nearby napkin box.
It almost worked. The shot is almost completely sharp, but there's a small amount of motion blur if you look at 100%. It's a shame as what started as a bit of fun while I waited for my drink turned out to be one of my favourite shots later on. This proves that however many beers you drink, and however casual the shot might seem at the time, it really is worth putting in a bit more effort to be careful with your settings. A bit of noise is much better than a bit of camera shake, and this would have been a better shot had I just bumped the ISO up a couple of notches. Alternatively had I shot this with an Olympus body, I'd have enjoyed three stops of compensation with their built-in stabilization, allowing me to avoid camera shake even at 1/13. Situations like these are exactly when this capability becomes really useful, allowing you to shoot in low light with nice low ISOs without always carrying a tripod. Great for lazy photographers like me.
Now where's that drink?