Mamiya TLR lenses:how good are they?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by chip j, May 15, 2013.

  1. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    Ken Rockwell said that Mamiya TLR lenses were the only med. format lenses that he ever used that were "less than spectactular". I have 6 of them (& a 330f), and a shot of a white house brightly lit bt the sun and framed by a dark fence in shadow was ruined by flare. Would using a multi-coated filter mitigate against this? Thanks, Chip
     
  2. MSchuler

    MSchuler Subscriber

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    Are yours older (silver) or newer (black) lenses? Personally, I've never noticed any significant resolution or flare issues with my Mamiya lenses, but I've never used another brand of TLR, so can't comment on comparisons. The one lens resolution comparison chart I've seen on line showed Mamiya TLR lenses as adequate but nothing like a Rollei.
     
  3. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    Mine are black.
     
  4. MDR

    MDR Member

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    I wouldn't give too much credence to what Ken Rockwell says, the Mamiya Lenses might not be as good as the latest Carl Zeiss or Mamiya 7 lenses but they are not bad lenses. Using a multicoated filter to overcome flare or coating problems enhances the problem one more glass surface means stronger possible flare and a contrast reduction. A lens hood helps much more against flare than any filter. Also check out if your lens is clean (free of dirt and scratches) and free of fungus both can enhance flare and severely reduce the sharpness of the lens.

    Good luck
    Dominik
     
  5. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    I am religious about using lrns hoods and my lenses are spotless.
     
  6. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I have had several of these cameras over the years and all of the lenses up to the 180. The 55mm was ok when stopped down to about F11, anything wider was poor at the edges and quite a way in. The 65mm was a bit better but not brilliant. The 80mm was fine. The 105mmm with the dual diaphagm One on each lens) was also good, perhaps the best of the bunch. The 135mm was fine to good and the 180mm was good also.

    These were all black lenses.

    The 55mm did have a reputation of being variable quality whilst some were good mine wasn't. I called it my Friday afternoon lens (where the workers were less interested in work and looking forward to the weekend).

    Having said that I could make a decent 12x16 from any of them.

    To answer your 2nd question, by using a multicoated filter on the front of the lens would not affect the flare created within the prime lens. It may even make it worse because it has another layer of glass to pass through.

    A good lens hood would probably help more but not eliminate flare unless the light was direct. Can I suggest also that you do check these lenses for fungus inside, these seem to be more than usually susceptible
     
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  7. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    a) Ken Rockwell is a goober. Keep this in mind at all times.

    b) multicoating on filters will reduce flare due to the filter, not any other flare. All they can do is make the filter less-bad; there does not exist any filter that will give a less-flared image than with no filter. If you want to reduce flare, use a lens hood to make sure there is no direct sun landing on the lens.

    If the contrast of the scene is so high that you can't record both shadow and highlight, then yes maybe the lens is poor or insufficiently clean. Or maybe you're just imagining that you can capture a greater dynamic range than is really possible - a white house in sunshine is about EV17 and a dark fence in shade could be EV5 or lower, which is a ridiculous dynamic range. Even with a perfect and flare-free optical system you're going to struggle to capture detail in both the fence and the house even on the best modern negative film. And you won't be able to print it without a massive dodge/burn.
     
  8. RPC

    RPC Member

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    chip j, the older black lenses are single coated and the newer ones are multicoated. Do you know which ones you have?
     
  9. dorff

    dorff Member

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    +1 to everything that polyglot has said.

    My own view is that you have to get rid of all haze, fungus, finger smudges etc that might cause a reduction in contrast. Even if the scene isn't high-contrast, it will just take the edge off every image you make if it is there. If you want to take hazy pics of models, then you can apply vaseline to a filter which can be easily removed afterwards. Lens hoods help a great deal if the issue is direct light striking the front lens element. But it will help nothing if the issue is internal flare or ghosting, especially when the sun is behind the camera. I should add, I own a lot of Mamiya MF gear, but no TLR (apart from a Yashica D). So my comment is generic, not related to your particular lens. I'd be very, very surprised if the TLR lenses are so badly coated that the issue is the coating rather than something on the elements. But as polyglot has said, 12 stops DR is stretching it, even for a state of the art lens and film combination. If the highest and lowest values are adjacent in the image, then you can expect difficulty to some degree. And if you insist on photographing every difficult scene what that same camera despite knowing better, then you obviously have to live with the consequences.
     
  10. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

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    Chip,

    Which lens, of the (7) seven, separate focal lengths available, gave you the flare problem?

    As mentioned, some people have had good things to say about the 55mm, others...not so much.
    I consider myself fortunate...my 55mm is a great performer.
    Most folks have mixed or poor feelings concerning the 250mm, too.

    I also have a copy of the '180 super.' A stellar performer...and one of my favorite focal lengths for MF portraiture.
    I have two versions of the 80mm. Both are black, but one is the latest, Black 'S' series...multi-coated.
    Again...another good performer. My other 80mm is wholly acceptable.

    When it comes to lens hoods...I hate (make that...loath), the Mamiya lens hoods.
    They're too expensive, inadequate (too short), too clunky or cumbersome, and most will mar the lens barrels.

    For all of my Mamiya, TLR lenses, I use step-up rings...from 46mm or 49mm...stepped-up to 52mm.
    I then use inexpensive, easily sourced, 52mm, round rubber lens hoods.
    Similar to this example: http://farm1.staticflickr.com/210/470197338_9ac084e115_z.jpg
    $4-$5 for each step-up ring, and another $3-$4 for each of (3) three, rubber hoods, (wide, normal, and long).

    Only a very small, (mostly unnoticeable), bump-of-a-shadow, appears in the bottom of the viewfinder from this combination.
    Lens flare in my lenses, (or images) has been noticeable reduced using this trick with the cheap hoods.

    Also...I too, take many of Ken Rockwell's comments with a grain of salt.

    Marc
     
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  11. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    for flare, nothing does a better job than keeping direct light out out of the lens. Use a lens shade or physical barrier (magazine?) to keep direct and reflected light out of the lens. The problem is when your subject itself is reflecting sunlight. A white house in the sun, although not direct light, can be considered a light source, and will flare like one. If your lens was shaded when you shot the pic, then you have found a limitation of your equipment. That doesn't mean the equipment is bad, it's just not suited to high flare situations. It is not the only camera/lenses that has this limitation. Keep shooting (with the lens shaded) and see what looks good and what doesn't. Check the gallery--there's a dude shooting night street scenes of store neon--they have a lot of flare and it's a coated rolleiflex. Every camera will flare given the right (wrong?) conditions.

    On a side note:
    Anybody that says that ken rockwell's information is useless or resorts to calling rockwell names is a person who's comments I would ignore myself--obviously no content with namecalling. Rockwell has some good information for free, and he has some opinions, just like everyone else. Why do the haters hate rockwell's opinions? Jealousy, pure and simple.

    HEY--using the word "ignore" above--I just discovered the use of the ignore function! I thought it was useless but what it does is allows you to pre-flag those people who have given known bad advice in the past, such as a certain jealous rockwell hater. That way a year later when you have a question you need real answers for, you can have the bad answers filtered out automatically without having to remember who gives the useless or bad answers. Everyone else seems to only use the ignore function to "punish" people they don't like by not listening to them, which never really made any sense to me. Now I KNOW what its value is--to prevent the suspect information from polluting the good answers.
     
  12. MDR

    MDR Member

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    I don't get it why should anyone be jealous of Ken Rockwell, as you've stated he voices his opinion that doesn't mean that his opinion is always correct though. A lot of things can go wrong with older tlr's that has little or nothing to do with the lens and more with correct alignment of the taking and viewing lens or the groundglass position. The Mamiya TLR though not as good as the Rolleiflex was used by many pro photographers who have nothing but good things to say about the system. So in this context the Ken Rockwell's opinion should be seen as what it is a personal opinion amongs many other opinions.
    I also admit that Rockwells site can be very informative and entertaining but would I base my lens or camera choice on his site alone no. Would I recommend it for information gathering purposes sure.
     
  13. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Because he's likely making some good money doing what were doing here for free.
     
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  15. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Wait. Scratch that doing here for free part. I pay to be here.
     
  16. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    By the way, if anyone bothers to actually read Rockwell's comment on Mamiya TLRs its not some comprehensive, detailed review and he does not even posture it as such. Its indeed an opinion on one set he once owned, and that's pretty much all he says. This is it in its entirely:

    "Mamiya TLRs have been around for many decades.

    Mamiya's TLRs are unique in that they have interchangeable lenses! Of course each lens is a pair of lenses.

    I owned a C3 system and thought the lenses were the only medium format lenses I've ever used that were less than spectacular.

    Mamiya TLRs are probably the best way to get a screaming deal for a multi-lens medium format system, but I never liked the lenses.

    As of 2010, I'd pass on these because you can get Hasselblads for a song as well."
     
  17. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    I had a C330 and found that the 55mm was solid, the 80mm ok, the 105mm silver in particular to be fantastic, and the 180mm and 250mm mediocre at best. They seem to have less contrast and are plenty sharp, but definitely not a Rolleiflex or a Mamiya 7 quality. I now have a Yashica LM that, by my enlargements, is roughly the same. I doubt I could tell the difference.
     
  18. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    My flare problem was w/the 65mm, and I didn't hope to have detail in the shadows. That is the only picture i've had a problem with, otherwise the lenses are nice. But I don"t think the TLR lenses, except maybe the very latest, were multi-coated.
     
  19. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    Oh, I have'nt used the 180 or 250 yet.
     
  20. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    Some of the Mamiya TLR lens designs date back to the late 1950s. Depending on the age and condition of a specific lens you will see some variation. And that is without including the lens sets that have been poorly reassembled!

    Halation in the film would be a risk, even with an ideal lens, under the conditions described.
     
  21. jelke

    jelke Member

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    on this video (at 9:15 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEjE-5kI3FQ
    paul stand is using a mamiya TLR in his garden in france, so i think the lenses are good as the photo's of this master photographer
     
  22. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    I saw the Strand photo before. Maybe it's the Fomapan 100 film I used; there are also striation marks in the gray sky. I had it developed by a top local lab.
     
  23. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    The ultimate truth comes not from Ken, or me, or anyone else here. The only answer that matters is your own. If you do not like the images the camera and lenses produce then you get a different camera. That being said I don't discount Ken Rockwell out of hand as some folk tend to do. He has an opinion, yes, we all do. He certainly has a wealth of experience. That alone counts for something.
     
  24. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Wait, who is jealous of Ken?

    The man writes for a living about photography. He depends on ad revenue, therefore he tends towards contentious linkbait and inflammatory statements. It's not to say that anything or everything he says is wrong, just that you have to keep his motives and modus operandi in mind when reading him. Sometimes he says something quite incisive, sometimes he says something spectacularly dumb and it's best to assume it's not necessarily because he's stupid, he's probably just winding up one of the many photographic football-teams so that they'll all link to him in a round of crowing or indignation.

    He doesn't do particularly scientific tests, because why would he? People read him for entertainment and opinions they can relate to.

    For all I know, Mamiya TLR lenses are crap and abominably flare-prone; I've never used one. But I wouldn't take Ken's word for it in either direction.
     
  25. agnosticnikon

    agnosticnikon Member

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    Ken Rockwell is a peanut? Yeah in the south we call peanuts goobers sometimes.
    I find that I agree with Ken at times, and sometimes I don't. One example: Nikon AF 35-70mm 3.3-4.5 lens. Ken hated it, Moose Peterson loved it, called it a sleeper lens, very sharp. I have one, and I've found it to be very sharp, and other photographers have commented on the photos, asking what lens I used. The earlier comment about the only authority you should be concerned with is you. I have Mamiya TLR cameras and lenses, and I am completely satisfied with them. I shoot Pentax 645 and don't find it to be vastly superior to the Mamiya lenses. So, I guess if YOU don't like them, don't use them, and don't worry about what other people say.
     
  26. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I like and use my Mamiya TLR lenses.

    I don't find them better or worse then my other medium format lenses, but I do find them different.

    They do present a bit more of a challenge when it comes to lens hoods, but I can usually handle that.

    I like them particularly with slide film.