It seems as though whenever you read a review of a Micro 4/3 camera, there's a statement like, "Of course you can't get good out-of-focus blur with a sensor this small, " or "The bokeh isn't very good because, after all, this is Micro 4/3." For the most part I've never paid much attention to these disclaimers because I'm usually trying for more depth of field rather than less, wanting to get as much in focus as possible.
But occasionally I do want my viewer to focus more on one part of the picture than another, and here I've always been happy as long as the part I want to feature is more in focus than the rest. I absolutely don't care about beautiful "bokeh balls," as long as I have enough selective focus to help tell the story I want to tell. Such was the case recently when I was putting together a Christmas present for my sister, the real artist.
Kate has been working with Japanese kokeshi dolls, making and photographing marvelous little scenes in which the dolls are the characters. (See Kate's work HERE) The other thing you need to know about Kate is that she has had a lifetime love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with slugs in her garden and elsewhere. I thought it would be fun to combine these interests, so for her present I made her a little story triptych featuring both kokeshi and slugs, formatted vertically, one picture on top of another, to resemble (with apologies) the hanging scrolls the Japanese call kakemono or kakajiku. I used my E-M1 with the Olympus 60mm Macro lens wide open at f/2.8 for all three shots. The first (top) picture is here:
I wanted to introduce the little kokeshi man here and show that he was on a path that led under a natural bridge. The man is clearly in focus because he's the most important thing in the picture.
In the second photo, I needed to show what awaits the little man when he gets to the bridge:
Here the sinister slugs are the most important part of the story, so they and the bridge they're hiding behind are in focus, while the little man, who doesn't yet know his gruesome fate, is not. The third picture shows the aftermath of the slug attack, and the focus is appropriately on the slaughter. You can almost feel the slime and the tiny, rasping teeth:
My point here is not that this triptych is an example of great art, but rather that if the purpose of selective focus is to help the photographer tell a story, razor-thin depth of field just isn't necessary, and even a relatively slow piece of glass like the Olympus 60mm Macro at f/2.8 on a relatively small Micro 4/3 sensor can do the trick.