Pro vs. Con: Depth of Field with Small Sensors

One of the big controversies—on-line anyway—is the big back-and-forth discussions related to depth-of-field and how small sensor cameras lack the ability to produce shallow depth of field of full-sized sensor (24x36mm) cameras. Mark takes on this topic with a practical example…

Today’s Post by Mark Toal


I sometimes have to confess to full frame depth-of-field envy. As far as I’m concerned it’s the only thing that full frame cameras has over the smaller sensors in mirrorless cameras. But it’s not worth everything I would have to give up in mirrorless camera like smaller, lighter lenses, live view, easier video, etc.

I recently had a need for shallow depth-of-field for an assisgnment. I’ve been photographing the building of a rat rod in a busy garage for the past month and wanted to throw the background out of focus to draw attention to the guys that were building the car.

I decided to use the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens. At first I was worried that the depth-of-field would be too shallow at f/1.4 but gradually I worked my way down the aperture scale, as it got darker in the garage. When I looked at the final images I was happy to see that extra depth-of-field that you get from the Micro Four-thirds sensor at f/1.4 is perfect. I had very few out of focus images and just the kind of soft background that I wanted.