Which photo do you like better? And what role does aperture play?

[Photos in this post were taken with the GFX100s using the Ektachrome film recipe)

I’m sitting at a table in the Roadhouse Cafe in Big Sur, admiring the warm wood tones of the cute interior. I place the X100V on the table top in front of me and take two photos of this “premium compact camera” with the GFX100s. One photo is at F/2.8. Look at the shape and size of the bokeh from the lights in the background. I’m sure you can tell which is softer, broader, and rounder. When I changed the aperture to F/5.6, I slightly recompose the image so the shutter button is set right in the middle of a bright background light. I don’t notice at the time but that shifts the bottom left corner of the camera out of a bright tabletop reflection, essentially trading one contrasting point that helps frame the camera with another.

What, if anything, distinguishes these images from each other?

Is it only the roundness of the bokeh?

I did adjust the shutter speed a bit to slow it down because the change in aperture let in less light. I notice a slightly smaller gleam or play of light on the top of the barrel of the lens and on top of the grip, probably due to the change in shutter speed.

What do you see?

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