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I would like to shoot wide open with an f/1.4 lens. I have an Olympus e-510 with two kit lenses and I have been using them for three years. I have no prejudice (negative or positive) to any DSLR brand.

What combination of a DSLR and a lens of f/1.4 would you suggest so I can get good / best results wide open?

EDIT: Low light is the primary concern. Another one is realistic color.

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What kind of photography are you interested into? Landscape, portraiture? Why exactly 1.4 and not simply "fast"? Are you looking for maximizing bokeh of a given shape, or are you trying to have more light on your sensor in a given frame of time? –  Francesco Oct 14 '12 at 10:34
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Your concern with only aperture is bizarre. A 24mm and 85mm can both have F/1.4 but give very different images, widely differring depth-of-field and require different shutter-speeds to get a sharp images. What I can tell you is that there are very few such lenses for your camera and only two currently can autofocus. –  Itai Oct 14 '12 at 14:32
    
@Itai: what about the Panasonic Leica 50mm –  mattdm Oct 14 '12 at 22:01
    
@mattdm: Do you have a reference for that one? I do not have it. Google shows nothing relevant, nor is it in the dpreview database. Discontinued maybe? –  Itai Oct 14 '12 at 22:38
    
Sorry, I meant 25mm (50mm-e) — posted that comment from my phone. But, looks like they discontinued the non-micro Four Thirds version. That explains the relatively high price. –  mattdm Oct 14 '12 at 22:48

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Since the post is tagged low-light, I assume you are primarily asking for low-light capabilities.

There are three aspects of low-light sensitivity:

  • Lens aperture: An f/1.4 lens will give almost 3 stops more light than an f/3.5 kit lens. (At the cost of a very shallow DOF, and some vignetting and distortion when used at the largest aperture.)
  • Sensor size: Larger sensors can collect more light. Your Olympus has a four-thirds sensor[1]. DxOMark tests sensors (see the "Sports (Low-light ISO)" tab). By the metric DxOMark is using, compared to your current camera you can gain about 1 stop of low-light performance from switching to the best four-thirds camera, 1.5 stop from the best crop sensor camera, or close to three stops from the best full frame cameras. (By using a correspondingly higher ISO when shooting.)
  • Sensor generation: Newer sensor generations generally have better low-light capabilities than older generations, and different brands/models may use sensors that are a generation or two better or worse than the rest. (E.g. the DxOMark tests show a 1 stop difference in high-ISO capability between your Olympus E510 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 - both Olympus, both Four Third cameras, but there's five years between the two models.)

So all told, you can get close to 6 stops better low-light performance by picking e.g. Nikon D600 and an f/1.4 lens, if you're comfortable with the dramatic increase in bulk, weight and price compared to what you have today.

For actual brands and models, you're better off reading reviews, which also cover other aspects like image quality and handling. (None of them are best in everything, and you know better than us which trade-offs you are comfortable with.)

But in terms of low-light capabilities, now you know what to look for.

[1] Comparison of sensor sizes: http://www.dpreview.com/learn/?/key=sensor%20sizes

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From your answer, I understand Olympus or Four Third dslrs has some disadvantages concerning low light. So At least I should change my dslr. –  mustafa Oct 14 '12 at 11:25
    
@mustafa Well, you can get better low-light performance by getting a camera with a larger and/or more modern sensor. (It's not so much the brand, it's more a function of sensor size and generation.) If you get a camera with a larger sensor you will need new lenses too, the old ones won't fit. But if you're using an f/3.5 kit lens, you can get close to two steps improvement with an f/2.0 lens that fits the camera you already have. The primary question is "how much am I willing to pay, and how much weight am I willing to carry, for how much improvement". The DxOMark results are a good start. –  j-g-faustus Oct 14 '12 at 13:03

your question is rather vague, and a bit odd, but i'll try.

As with most of these questions it totally depends on budget. I assume you are looking at a 50mm 1.4f - which will cost in the region of £300.

After that the only other big decision is full frame or crop. on the crop sensor your 50mm will equal a 75mm.

You say you are looking for the "Best" result; so i will suggest the Nikon D800 and the Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 ZF2 (best consumer-grade combo Around £3300)

Or the ACTUAL Best: Hasselblad H5D-60 and the Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 - around £34000

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Are there any other reasons those should be considered the best, besides the price? –  Imre Oct 14 '12 at 9:23
    
forget price... name a better combo?! (given how vague the question is) –  Darkcat Studios Oct 14 '12 at 9:36
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I don't have enough f/1.4 experiences to feel qualified to answer the question. I'm pretty sure though the Zeiss lenses don't excel in all categories, e.g. AF performance (being MF lenses) or size (bigger than say Pentax 50mm f/1.4). I was hoping you could clear some of the vagueness by explaining the reasons behind your choices a bit more (as requested in the question). –  Imre Oct 14 '12 at 10:37
    
Also, a 50mm f/1.4 macro lens for medium format - that's sounds too good to be true, and £34k with H5D-60 body is quite a bargain. Do you have any reference where such combination is available? –  Imre Oct 14 '12 at 10:43
    
Actually i am mistaken, that lens isnt available in hasselblad H series fit. The price for the H5D-60 is currently listed at £32k - see procentre.co.uk/Hasselblad%20Sales/HAPL0110v2.pdf (they have recently dropped their prices across the board to drive sales) –  Darkcat Studios Oct 14 '12 at 10:50

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