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sebboh, your aperture series tells exactly why there is no point of evaluating lens bokeh from flower shots; all is blur and there is no difference between apertures. If lens has bad quality bokeh on that kind of circumstances it most likely is useless for any shots involving bokeh...
wfrank, most likely you used f/2.8 on that Mercedes shot, hard to imagine cafe behind would be that sharp if shoot with f/2.0 - also vignetting (lack of it) indicates f/2.8. I would believe even f/4, but for f/5.6 bokeh is too thin. Even shot closed down the Mercedes appears pretty "real" in my screen - thou I have never seen connection between shallow DOF and "3D" (except too shallow DOF most often kills it for me).
Thanks for the aperture discussion sebboh, wfrank. I started to evaluate my own photos from 2012 to better understand the behaviour of the lens wide open vs. closed down. Last year I made conclusions too fast from the images I shoot - sure some of the wide open shots have one of the most ugliest bokehs I have seen from Zeiss lens (e.g. this).
Based on these initial (and partially wrong) conclusion I have mainly used the lens at f/2.0-2.8 for bokeh shots and shooting landscapes with f/5.6. If I correctly interpret the last year sample images:
- ugly bokeh can come if circumstances are suitable (until closed down to f/3.2-4 depending on distance), it's mostly caused by bright edge bokeh circles, closing down will make the bokeh circles smaller but there still is quality issue in them
- bokeh magenta/green issues on contrast edges are bad at f/1.4, but depending on subject they may not be at all visible (e.g. my typical summer photos of green mossy forest with random brownish and reddish colors will never bring it up) - these issues improve a lot already closing down to f/2
- can't see similar behaviour as with planars (all of them, including 2/100 MP) that closing down would increase contrast at target - with planars, specially 1.4/50 the subject stands out MORE with f/2.5 than it does f/1.4 due to increased contrast on subject (but not on bokeh)
So my brand new guideline for myself for 2013:
- bokeh shots: shoot f/1.4, if bokeh issues, go closer and/or close aperture to f/3.2-4 depending shooting distance - if vignetting or magenta/green issues close f/2.0-2.8 depending shooting distance
- landscapes: keep shooting f/5.6
Getting used to hotspotting...eh...vignetting may be quite challenge for me. I rarely want vignetting from artistic point of view.
Some images, which hopefully show what I concluded. I placed these to temporarily folder so they won't be available forever, most likely I'll clean them at some point during 2013.
Closing down to f/2.5 (1 and 2/3 stop down!!!) didn't cure the bokeh highlight issues, just made bokeh highlight smaller size - also f/2.5 apparent bokeh contrast is much higher [handhold and branches swinging in front of the sun, so don't evaluate on focus area, just bokeh]
Closing down f/2.2 (1 and 1/3 stop down) removed magenta glow from white fence
Strong vignetting wide open, lots of bokeh highlight issues - closing down to f/3.2 (2 and 1/3 stop down) cured most of them but few give still hint of sharp edge
With correct scenario there is nothing to lose using f/1.4 - only thing gained seems to be less hotspotting/vignetting. With both apertures bokeh is very smooth.