Lens je ne sais quoi

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by cliveh, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I think some lenses have a certain “je ne sais quoi” in terms of image quality, which is unique to their design and construction. My favourites related to 35mm are an uncoated Leitz 3.5 Elmar, Leitz 1.4 summilux and the 2” Taylor Hobson. Do others have favourites related to their particular choice of format?
     
  2. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    Noctilux f1, Summilux 50 v1 (or summarit 5cm f1.5. which is the same)... Way too many to list :D

    I have to add the Noct-Nikkor to the 2 above as a notable fine, unique performer. It's my workhorse lens when I use my Nikon rig. I always get something fresh, unique out of the Noct-Nikkor.
     
  3. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    80mm Zeiss Planar f/2.8 for Hasselblad.
    50mm Leica Summitar f/2.
    Pentax 55mm f/2.
    Pentax 35mm f/2.
     
  4. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Thomas, I forgot about the 80mm Zeiss Planar f/2.8 for Hasselblad and would definately include.
     
  5. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Taking portraits, too much reality is often not a good thing so I ended up putting a chunk of plastic in front of my Hasselblad Zeiss lenses.

    On my 4x5 some of the old portrait lenses did remarkable things.

    I found that 35mm and medium format lenses were pretty standard impressive lenses, but using different old lenses on a 4x5 created some beautiful effects on portraits. It amazed me (I'm not real technical) how shooting portraits with lenses not normally considered portrait lenses did some wonderful things.

    The image would be so much different than if you shot it with a Hasselblad 150 or even "distorted it" with an 80. As I'm sure every knows, a portrait lenses is called that because we decided as a group that people looked better with a longer lens than "normal", because normal tended to make the nose come forward and the cheeks go back which we decided was not so flattering.

    With 4x5 these things sort of went out the window.
     
  6. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I agree with you about focal length and sheet film. With 5x7 I'd shoot with 210mm lenses, and with 4x5 I'd use a 5" or a150mm lens.
    But strangely, I find that with 35mm I like from 35 to 100mm focal length for portraits, not worrying about distortion, just being careful with angles. Same with the Hasselblad; some of my most appreciated portraits are done with the 80mm, and even a few with the 50mm, in addition to the 150. I often carry just one lens, so it becomes a matter of making the most of what I've got, but also it forces me to challenge some widely held norms, which is fun because I often find that there isn't much substance to those norms.
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    my favorite lens these days tends to be a 100+ year old rapid rectalinaer named laverne.
    she has been very good to me ...

    too much reality ...

    i also like to stick a chunk of plastic infront of my lenses ...
    sometimes covered in dried elmers glue or rubber cement ..
     
  8. Araakii

    Araakii Member

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    Noctilux f1, 75mm Summilux
     
  9. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    I must be stupid to have forgotten the legendary Nikkor 10.5cm and any of the latter 105mm f2.5 Nikkors which share the same design. It is the lens that made the Nikon name famous up to what it is today.

    I don't really care about history and theory... but there is truth to it in regards to this lens. This lens is so unique that one can see how special it is just by looking through the viewfinder while focusing. No other lens does that (in the 35mm world).
     
  10. Bateleur

    Bateleur Member

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    Does an enlarger lens count?

    If so I've recently swapped a EL-Nikkor 2.8 for a Leitz Focomat-2 enlarging lens. During the transition I made a few comparisons. While my eye's are loath to say one is sharper than the other there is a different signature between the two lenses an increased acuteness with the focotar-2. Call it emotion.
     
  11. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    My outstanding optic is my forty year old Canon FD 35mm f2 Thorium lens which at almost every aperture is sharp right into the corners defying the laws of physics, I had it cleaned lubed and re- collimated last year, and they will have to prise it out of my cold dead hands.
     
  12. Maris

    Maris Member

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    I would conjecture that the je ne sais quoi quality of lenses is most apparent to photographers who have never looked through them to see the actual image. Users of rangefinder cameras (and to a lesser extent 35mm SLR's) must get continual surprises, good and bad, when the photographs they get don't match what they saw through the viewfinder. In my experience with view cameras where every aspect of image structure is available for detailed inspection in advance of exposure there is no je ne sais quoi quality at all.
     
  13. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    Maris, i have to disagree about rangefinders.
    Rangefinders, as tools, force the serious photographer to have much more imagination and a solid vision. Knowing his lenses by heart, how they behave at different apertures and distances.
    Shooting getting comfortable with rangefinders have taken my photography to new heights. SLR shooting was getting limiting to me.

    What you described is something similar to chimping.
     
  14. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I don't think the point was that you don't get what you see in the viewfinder but that you marvel at the interesting and magical qualities that some lenses have.