Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree

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Blue Swan Media
Blue Swan Media Regular Member • Posts: 373
Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree
4

I’ve been wondering for a while if I really ‘need’ my GFX system - after having it for about a year, I’ve yet to make any of those ‘big ass prints’ I’ve been telling myself were the reason for getting it, and I’ve also noticed that I never look at my existing big canvas prints close enough to (probably) see a difference. I like the ‘idea’ of owning a GFX system because it makes me feel more professional, but in reality it’s much bigger, the lens choices are far more limited, and the SOOC skin tones not as nice as the X-system.

When the 50/1 came out I wondered if that would be the final nail in the coffin, since the 110 is my ‘pictures that matter’ go-to lens for GFX. I’ve had the 50 for a couple of months, and finally had time today to do a direct comparison. I’m more interested in bokeh and DR than sharpness per se, since I shoot mostly people, so I choose the toughest background I could think of - a decorated Christmas tree!

Apologies for the subject, but I think it works OK. These were all shot wide open on a tripod with a 2 sec delay, though I forgot to turn off IBIS on the X-T4 so possibly they might be even better if I did that? I varied the shutter speed to compensate for aperture changes, and the ambient light was blessedly consistent during this. Shot in RAW then tweaked in LR to try to recover as much DR as possible, and also standardize WB between the three to 4900 and +10 hue. Focus point is the ‘D’ in Bird. Some observations:

1) 56 has the most ‘nervous’ bokeh, but we already knew that. Look especially at the area around the swirly pop ornament.

2) That said, none of these are what I would call ‘gross’ bokeh!

3) GF110 handles the lights most cleanly by a mile. Wow. This isn’t surprising - aside from sensor size leading to generally better IQ, f/2 just makes everything easier. Which makes the fact that the 56 comes in second here IMO, using an aperture of f/1.2, just really remarkable. The light blobs for the 56 have a little onion skinning, but don’t have the ‘inclusions’ you see with the 50. Some of the blobs with the 50 are really odd, looking like cells with nuclei in the middle. I’m sure there’s a name for this effect but not sure what it is.

4) Overall, I think the 50 has the ‘creamiest’ bokeh, yes even more than the 110 though it’s admittedly super close between the two.

5) Both X-series lenses are plenty sharp, but the 50 seems shaper to me. The deeper DOF from a shorter focal length vs. the 56 probably helps counterbalance the (slightly) faster max aperture.

Speaking personally, this comparison further re-enforces my doubts about the need for GFX. If that bag of bird food was a person, I’d be happy with the output of either of the X-series lenses. I like the 50 more because of the creamier bokeh and also because there’s more flexibility for cropping, but I would probably need to do a little post on some of the light blobs.

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Statto1927
Statto1927 Forum Member • Posts: 66
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree

Just flicking through posts, and absolutely not an expert in any of this, but shot 1 (the 50) looks nicest to me.

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Blue Swan Media
OP Blue Swan Media Regular Member • Posts: 373
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree

Statto1927 wrote:

Just flicking through posts, and absolutely not an expert in any of this, but shot 1 (the 50) looks nicest to me.

That’s the GF110 image - realizing now I put them in a different order than listed in the title. My bad! DOesn’t look like I can edit the post to I’m sorry, if you look in the EXIF you can see which is which.

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Rod McD Veteran Member • Posts: 7,559
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree
3

Hi,

I'm not really a bokeh connoisseur, but having conceded that, I would say that the bokeh in this example setting is as one would probably predict - Ie First, the 110mm, 2. 50/1, 3. 56/1.2. The question is whether the difference is worth $10K for the GFX system.  Obviously that is a complex question and can't be answered by a single test.  They're all eminently usable, but it's only one experiment. There are potentially many others with different subject background set ups. And other metrics besides bokeh.  (Eg DR)  But if you're not making full use of medium format capabilities for larger print sizes, it's an open question....

Regards, Rod

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SpeedyNeo
SpeedyNeo Senior Member • Posts: 1,055
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree

Thanks for taking the time to do this comparison. Some quick thoughts:

1. You said you prefer SOOC of X over GFX, nonetheless you shot this comparison in RAW. Any reason for that?

2. The 50 is showing some green edges to the bag (chromatic aberration). Neither of the other 2 lenses has this problem it seems.

3. The 110 is the nicest overall to my eyes. It just 'pops.' Nicest bokeh and colors IMO. MF 'look' perhaps? Bayer vs X-Trans maybe? 🤔

4. Yes, indeed the 56 has nervous bokeh.

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rlx
rlx Senior Member • Posts: 1,300
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree
2

Interesting battle results.  Yes, the GFX picture shows more blur in the tree.

It looks like all pictures were taken from the same camera position; the tripod didn't move. As a result, the subject in focus is not of the same size in all the pictures; the bag looks smaller in the 50 f/1 picture. If the bag were of the same size in all the pictures, I believe the 50 would blur the Christmas tree more like the 110 f/2 does. The current setup is unfair to the 50 .

biza43 Forum Pro • Posts: 13,780
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree

Seems like you are trying to justify keeping the GFX system, which apparently you bought for the wrong reasons.

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William Loney
William Loney Regular Member • Posts: 416
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree
1

What you need to do is spend the money to make one of those 'big ass prints,' as you call them, to satisfy your curiosity once and for all. Believe me, the money you spend on a huge print is far, far less than buying into a whole other system.

It's what I did. I was on the verge of buying into the GFX system for all of my studio work. but I thought, 'first, I'll do a little experimenting.'

I shot a portrait with my trusty X-T2, (I normally use X-T3s these days, but the 2 just happened to be on the tripod that day) and then, just to make it even more interesting, I cropped about a third of the image, making it, effectively, about 16 mpix.

Took that to my printer, told him what I was doing, what I wanted, (4' X 6' size) and had him print it up.

Well, I was astonished, quite frankly. Zero grain, zero loss of clarity or sharpness, or colour fidelity -even at close viewing distances!

Easily the best $250. I've spent in all of my decades of photographic endeavors!

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean this as a slight of the GFX system; it's just that these little X system cameras are capable of much more than a lot of us suspect!

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Blue Swan Media
OP Blue Swan Media Regular Member • Posts: 373
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree

SpeedyNeo wrote:

Thanks for taking the time to do this comparison. Some quick thoughts:

1. You said you prefer SOOC of X over GFX, nonetheless you shot this comparison in RAW. Any reason for that?

My preference primarily pertains to skin tones, and even with RAW files I feel X-trans is superior in that regard. However, processing in RAW seemed like the easiest way to correct for differences.

2. The 50 is showing some green edges to the bag (chromatic aberration). Neither of the other 2 lenses has this problem it seems.

Good catch! To me the 50 is clearly designed to produce a 'look' rather than optical fidelity (like the 90 f/2), and as such has a number of compromises.

3. The 110 is the nicest overall to my eyes. It just 'pops.' Nicest bokeh and colors IMO. MF 'look' perhaps? Bayer vs X-Trans maybe? 🤔

Well as I said, I think it's tough to overcome the physical advantages of the larger sensor, MF is just going to have higher IQ, period, and that ultimately might be what you're seeing when your brain says it just pops. I doubt it's Bayer vs. XTrans but maybe.

4. Yes, indeed the 56 has nervous bokeh.

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Blue Swan Media
OP Blue Swan Media Regular Member • Posts: 373
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree

rlx wrote:

Interesting battle results. Yes, the GFX picture shows more blur in the tree.

It looks like all pictures were taken from the same camera position; the tripod didn't move. As a result, the subject in focus is not of the same size in all the pictures; the bag looks smaller in the 50 f/1 picture. If the bag were of the same size in all the pictures, I believe the 50 would blur the Christmas tree more like the 110 f/2 does. The current setup is unfair to the 50 .

This was intentional - as a wedding photographer, I often have to deal with the space the day gives me, which means I'm often backed up against a wall, chair, etc. So, I wanted to see the bokeh created from the same physical location, and in that sense I think the 50 has huge advantage in that the blur is similar to the 56, but 'creamier,' AND you get a wider FOV so more room to crop, compose etc.

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Blue Swan Media
OP Blue Swan Media Regular Member • Posts: 373
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree
1

biza43 wrote:

Seems like you are trying to justify keeping the GFX system, which apparently you bought for the wrong reasons.

I bought it to take pictures, what do you suggest are the right reasons for buying the GFX?

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Blue Swan Media
OP Blue Swan Media Regular Member • Posts: 373
Re: Bokeh battle: 50/1 vs 56/1.2 vs 110/2 vs. . . a Christmas Tree

William Loney wrote:

What you need to do is spend the money to make one of those 'big ass prints,' as you call them, to satisfy your curiosity once and for all. Believe me, the money you spend on a huge print is far, far less than buying into a whole other system.

It's what I did. I was on the verge of buying into the GFX system for all of my studio work. but I thought, 'first, I'll do a little experimenting.'

I shot a portrait with my trusty X-T2, (I normally use X-T3s these days, but the 2 just happened to be on the tripod that day) and then, just to make it even more interesting, I cropped about a third of the image, making it, effectively, about 16 mpix.

Took that to my printer, told him what I was doing, what I wanted, (4' X 6' size) and had him print it up.

Well, I was astonished, quite frankly. Zero grain, zero loss of clarity or sharpness, or colour fidelity -even at close viewing distances!

Easily the best $250. I've spent in all of my decades of photographic endeavors!

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean this as a slight of the GFX system; it's just that these little X system cameras are capable of much more than a lot of us suspect!

Yes indeed - have already seen this to some extent, but I'm getting a 60" of the Grand Canyon I made with X-Pro2 and 14/2.8 a few years ago, very much looking forward to it.

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