Lens Comparison on an Orchid

Orchids

Key: R20120527-131801

Panasonic GH1 with Konica Hexanon 50mm f1.4 at f2.8

Bored on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and while doing some half-hearted yard work, discovered this orchid blooming in our tree. I’m generally as bored with flower pictures as the next guy, so I decided to take a few shots with my different portrait primes to compare the differences further.

I won’t bore you with the entire set (I’ve added them to this Flickr set here, if you are interested), but I’ll give you the executive summary. It pretty much confirmed my earlier findings.

The Konica Hexanon 50mm f1.4 is a fabulous value at the current prices on ebay. The bokeh is a bit harsh wide open at f1.4, but you won’t want to use it there as a rule anyway as it is too halated and soft. There is a nice compromise at f2.0 (where I think it makes for a great soft portrait), but the lens truly sings at f2.8, as in the shot above. At f2.8 the bokeh is just lovely, the focused areas are sharp without being clinically sharp, and it’s just a peach.

The PanaLeica 45mm f2.8 Elmarit again impresses me with how sharp it is wide open, and shows how a modern lens design using computers and aspherical elements performs. It’s just a tad less sharp (maybe) at f2.8 and the bokeh is not quite as pleasing as the Hexanon at the same aperture, but there is more micro contrast to the image (check out the edges of the leaves and buds). That said, the bokeh is not bad at all, and I would not hesitate to use it wide open. The price has come down a fair bit since the introduction, becoming a better value. It is been sidelined even further by the introduction of the wildly popular Olympus 45mm f1.8 which clocks in at just under $400. I have to say that I’m tempted by this lens, hearing all the good things about it, but I’d be giving up the macro capability and the image stabilization on Panasonic bodies. I just don’t shoot that much (yet) at this focal length to justify adding yet another lens in that length.

The Konica Hexanon 40mm is not quite up to the quality of the 50mm, and lacks the half aperture click stops. The image resembles the 50mm in some ways (as you might expect), but if you can get the 50 there is no reason to get the 40mm, IMO.

Orchids

Key: R20120527-130948

Panasonic GH1 with PanaLeica 45mm f2.8 Elmarit at f2.8

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