GFX 120mm f4 Macro lens vs GFX 110mm f2 lens with 18mm and 45mm Macro Extension Tubes (MCEX-18G and MCEX-45G)
For many GFX system photographers, the expense or added weight of having both the 120mm f4 Macro lens and the 110mm f2 lens is excessive.
For regular macro use, the GFX 120mm f4 Macro lens is the superior choice. It is much handier to simply focus at the distance you want within the greater range of focal distances available with the 120mm macro lens (18" or 45cm) which gives a reproduction ratio of 1:2 (0.5x magnification).
The 120mm features stabilization (OIS), which is a significant advantage when using such a long lens without a tripod. The 120mm f4 lens has greater contrast than the 110mm f2.
The 120mm Macro lens can work well as a portrait lens, and will allow you to take much closer range images than the 110mm, including close headshots. For handheld portraits, the stabilization (OIS) will give you a greater range of shutter speeds in which you can work with less blur, even after taking the two stop aperture difference into account. So there are some strong reasons to favor the 120mm even if you create a lot of portraits.
Naturally, the 110mm lens is two stops faster, is capable of shallower depth of field and many photographers prefer the rendering of the 110mm for portraits. It's minimum focus distance is 35" or 09m and it's maximum magnification is 0.16x (a 1:6.25 reproduction ratio).
Many photographers speak in reverent tones about the 110mm lens and many will swear that it is the best GFX lens to date. If you feel this way, or if the shallower depth of field is important for the type of photography you practice, the 110mm might be the better option for you.
If 110mm f2 is more useful for you and you only occasionally need a very close image, using extension tubes might be a good option. For example, you might be a wedding or event photographer and have the most use for the 110mm f2 lens and only occasionally need the ability to focus closer for a picture of a small detail, such as the wedding rings or a small product on display in a vendor booth.
The advantage for such a photographer is that the extension rings cost significantly less than buying a second lens and, if you need to carry it with you all day in your bag, it takes up less space and weighs much less.
The primary disadvantage of using macro tubes instead of the Macro lens are:
- The tubes will only give you a narrow range in which you can focus
- You need to take time to put the tubes on and off of the lens each time you use it, which wouldn't need to be done with the 120mm Macro lens unless you wanted to get greater than 1:2.
- The 110mm does not have OIS
In the illustration, you can see the closest focus distance of the 110mm lens with no tube, the closest and furthest distance with just the 18mm, just the 45mm and with both the 18mm and 45mm tube together, which should give you a good idea of what can be accomplished with the tubes. it will also give you a sense of how limited your range is with each of the tubes.