X-T2: Indoor Shoot with 23mm F2 and 56mm F1.2

At a recent family event, I used the 23mm F2 and 56mm F1.2. It was held in a mid-sized party room at a Japanese restaurant from 6:30-8:30 pm. The indoor lighting was typical for restaurants, bright enough to read menus and see others easily. The lights were of mixed types and colors, ranging from white to yellow. It wasn’t dark by any means. The room was packed with family, adults, teenagers, and little children.

I started off with the 56mm. After the first dozen or so shots, I switched to the 23mm. The 56mm field of view was way too narrow for this type of social gathering with lots of people crowded into a room.

I shot the 23mm with aperture wide open at F/2 and kept the shutter speed at 1/125 to minimize the effects of shake. This left me with ISO priority for manual adjustment. Most shots hovered around ISO 3200.

The 23mm performed poorly. Roughly two-thirds of the shots were unusable. In post production with Photoshop, of the ones that were usable, nearly all were okay below 50% zoom levels. Above that, however, they quickly became grainy, noisy.

Sharpness was poor in all of them, even when autofocus seemed to be working fine. I used Provia film simulation. Color rendition was poor.

The 23mm handled lighting variations poorly, overexposing some and underexposing others in group shots.

I should’ve expected this. I’ve used the X100-T (with 23mm F2) in similar indoor social shoots, and the results were just as bad.

This was in stark contrast to my first daytime field test of the 23mm F2.

Perhaps the answer is to use a flash, but I want to avoid that at all costs. Subjects are a lot more natural and relaxed when they don’t see flashes. After a while, they just ignore me.

The 56mm shots were quite good. I took around 20 shots with it, and I’d say 70-80% were usable. Looking at the 56 and 23 shots side by side, the difference in IQ becomes dramatically obvious. Does the wider 1.5 stop make that much of a difference?

I’m wondering what my options are. I’m guessing that my best bet may be the 35mm F1.4. Will the full stop difference solve the problem? I’m ruling out the 23mm F1.4 because of some negative reviews.

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