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actually, i find them quite useful for evaluating bokeh for other flowershots.
Good point - for flower shots it give some indication However I have never seen lens, which gives bad bokeh on that kind of ratio between focus plane and background, that was my point - when focus is at 30cm and background at 300cm, there hardly can be bad bokeh expect bokeh highlight shape and light concentration issues.
i disagree with your second statement as well. i've encountered a number of lenses that have quite poor bokeh up close that improves dramatically at longer distance. a few people on fm have suggested the zeiss 50/1.4 that you use is one of those, i've not played with it enough to know
On my experience most bad bokeh, is mostly caused by mechanical vignetting. Most lenses, which don't have inner focusing, extend during close up-focusing making effective focal length shorter and decreasing vignetting. Of course there could be other issues behind bad bokeh as well, e.g. bokeh highlight shape and light concentration, which may or may not "live" as function of focus distance.
I have quite little experience shooting 50 planar wide open close up - tried few frames years ago and that's it. The focal plane stuff shoot f/1.4 close-up is so rubbish that I mostly close down to f/2.8-4 when doing close-ups. And at those apertures I have not detected any bokeh issues, quite the opposite. I know shooting it wide open close-ups can create swirly bokeh, but I rarely manage to make it happen (at least if I want that effect it won't happen...) - it may also create bad bokeh, so I have heard (maybe I should test that too, I have just made my own rules of not shooting f/1.4 close-up years ago and I doubt I have shoot more than 10 images at f/1.4 in past 3 years, and none of them close-up with the 50).
very interesting series by the way. i think you would be disappointed by the c/y compared to your Z* for your type of shooting as the contax has much worse bokeh in the corners. i suspect most of the extra size in the new version comes from trying to even things out towards the edges. the new version has less "impact" in the center and (slightly harsher bokeh there too), but more resolution and softer bokeh towards the edges from what i've seen.
Very good point about the size - the increase in size is quite big. One dislike for me is the size and weight of 1.4/35ZE, it takes huge space from camera bag. Interesting to see what comes from Zeiss after 1.4/55 (which is gigantic size), if it's wide angle e.g. 1.4/28, most likely also gigantic size, but most interesting will be will these new ones have anymore any "impact" compared to old Zeiss designs.