Meaning of "GOOD LENS"

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Daniel_OB, Feb 1, 2007.

  1. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    In attempt to classify lenses word “sharpness” is the most frequent, meaning “very sharp lens” is very good lens.

    Even and Zeiss advertise their ZF lenses, beside high resolution slogan, as "sharpest lenses ..." so it turns that lens vague term "sharpness" is to many the most important think in classifying lenses.

    "Good lens" to me means a lens that consistently producing an image that coincides with my photographic requirement.

    As photographic requirement (standard) are different to different people, so and the same lens can be good to one and not good to another. In that way and Leica is not the best manufacturer of photo lenses, but just a manufacturer among other.

    What “GOOD LENS” means to you?
     
  2. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Technically, to me, it first means accurate focusing, high resolution, without too much distortion and/or light falloff on corners, etc. Secondly the weight, the size, and the cosmetics matter. And I like and I like to shoot with a 50mm lens for 35mm film in general because you can't really go wrong with it. It's a good lens of all time for me.
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    One that allows me to achieve my vision. That mean the lens could be a total piece of crap regarding focus, resolution, distortion, or "sharpness."
     
  4. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    A good lens to me is a fast lens (maximum apperture of 2.8 or below), it can be a zoom or a prime lens but must be sharp at most one stop down from maximum apperture. I don't mind light fall-off in the corners since it provides a natural vignette, distortion doesn't bother me either, just as long as it's fast focusing and doesn't hunt much in AF.

    I find this mostly in prime lenses like the Sigma 20mm 1.8, Canon 35mm F2, 50mm 1.8 and lastly 85mm 1.8.
     
  5. Donald Boyd

    Donald Boyd Member

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    A good lens to me means a Sumicron 50/2 which I cannot afford.
     
  6. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    A good lens takes good pictures. A bad lens takes bad pictures. Most of my lenses bounce back and forth between these categories.
     
  7. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    No. You take good or bad pictures :smile: A good lens allows you to do what you want whether it is making soft portraits, ultrasharp landscapes or use flare, bokeh, vigneting or pseudo zoom effects to achieve a certain feeling/mood in your images. A fisheye is bad for traditional portraits, a slow lens is bad for low light street shooting etc eh? but that doesn't make them bad lenses altogether but its true a good lens to me is the one that lets me capture the mood I want a bad lens, whether its a Leitz or Sigma, doesn't. Second, a good lens is the one I have in my bag, a bad lens is the one thats always sitting on the shelf back home when Im out shooting no matter the reason e.g weight.
    Cheers
    Søren
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 2, 2007
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    A good lens is one I have with me, and that gives me the angle of view I want for a particular scene. Everything else is up to me, not the lens.
     
  9. reub2000

    reub2000 Member

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    A good lens is one that is free from abberations and distortion.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    YES!
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    No, that would be a perfect lens. And like most perfect things, this one doesn't exist either. All lenses have some degree of aberrations and distortion; in some cases these may even be introduced on purpose - q.v. fisheye lenses and portrait lenses.
     
  12. pauldc

    pauldc Member

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    I have some lenses that I would term good or favorite because they seem to me to be lucky. That is, regardless of their technical merits or not, I always seem to get great pictures with them when I use them.

    Now I would be the first to admit this is not scientific and indeed not necessarily that rational - but, in real world situations this feeling does result in me reaching for these lenses. And as photography to me is more about the pictures that I produce than anything else this is quite an important feature of what I would call a 'good' lens.

    As an example, I have a m42 Schneider 35mm f2.8 curtagon that I can see is not technically the best lenses but does seem to get the pictures and have a higher hit rate than other lenses in that focal length.
     
  13. reub2000

    reub2000 Member

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    A good lens wouldn't turn a straight line into a curved rainbow. Unless you wanted that for an artistic effect.
     
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  15. marsbars

    marsbars Member

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    A good lens to me is one that I can afford that takes good pictures. As of yet I have not found any that would qualify as a bad lens.
     
  16. mawz

    mawz Member

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    To me a 'Good Lens' is acceptably sharp wide open, with decent contrast and colour. It's got low distortion, preferably barrel distortion rather than moustache or pincushion. The out of focus rendering is smooth and round. It's neither massive nor tiny, has a reasonably damped focus ring, a smooth and positive aperture ring and doesn't tend to come apart when it spends a week at the bottom of a bag.

    By those standards, most of my lenses are good and a couple are bad. The exception to the rule is the Sigma 24/2.8 Superwide II, which is good by optical standards, but a little recalcitrant from a handling perspective.

    I've owned a few 'bad' lenses. Still have 2 (Kenlock 135/2.8 screwmount, Soligor 35/2.8 screwmount) as they aren't worth getting rid of, and the Kenlock actually produces decent images as long as I'm willing to scan them, add contrast and sharpen.
     
  17. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Exactly right. All lenses have unique capabilities. It's up to the photographer to match those capabilities with his vision. And like Ole said, you have to have that lens with you.....
     
  18. mauro35

    mauro35 Member

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    For me, a good lens is the one that can cope with the specific situation I am photographing and can extract as much detail as possible from the elements in the frame. Obviously this is limited by the format, type of camera and especially....money.
     
  19. blockend

    blockend Member

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    A good lens is one you don't notice in the photograph.
     
  20. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    A good lens is like a good friend, you know it intimatly and exactly what to expect from it. It is the one lens you always want to use.
     
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  21. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    I have had this discussion repeatedly elsewhere where where would-be-experts tell people to buy L series lenses for their Canon cameras because they are the 'best'. When I enquire as to why they are best I get told things like 'they are tack sharp right up to the corners' (an actual response I got). My point was - if you look at your photographs and think they are not good enough because they are not 'tack sharp' in the corners, then you need a Canon L series lens. Personally, I have never thought that.

    I don't worry about lenses too much - I am not overly bothered by technology at all - but I sell more pictures taken with a fifty-odd year old Tessar than I do taken with my expensive modern (not L series!) lenses.
     
  22. jjphoto

    jjphoto Member

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    A good lens is one that's not broken or faulty, ie it's 'good'. That's all.

    Everything else is subjective. All aberrations can be good or bad, depending on what you want on the day.

    A sterile, perfect lens is not always desirable and TBH, I tend to prefer lenses with lots of aberrations. But it's good to know the difference first.
     
  23. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

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    What he said.
     
  24. momus

    momus Subscriber

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    Leica makes exceptional lenses, not good lenses, although I much prefer their older designs. I think there's a BIG agreement on this, although I also agree it's subjective. The criteria is straight forward though. Sharp, but not too sharp, smooth bokeh, flare resistant, good IQ, etc. If you can get a 3-D effect, that's a nice bonus too. What is disturbing to me is how much lens IQ has suffered over the years. Lens makers trumpet sharpness, but the lenses of today image poorly in my opinion compared to older designs. Leica and to some extent Zeiss, are the exceptions. What good is sharpness if the IQ is lousy. Harsh imagery, poor bokeh, etc are all the result of lenses being made to a price point, and out of plastic instead of high quality optical glass in order to keep costs down. Ditto the plastic in the lens construction itself. It's to keep weight (and cost) down. And on top of all this, lens makers are not interested in the best optical designs anymore. They make the lenses smaller because that's a selling feature. If you ask me, lens design reached a peak in the late '30's to the '70's, and it's been pretty much downhill ever since.

    I used to have a Nikon AF D 85 1.8, and the old non a. i lens I have now is much, much better than the new lens. By the same token, my early Leica R 90 Elmarit lens (finally found a clean one) is way better than the Nikon non a.i. 85, but then it should be. I also have an old Canon FD S.C 135 2.5 lens that makes beautiful, almost Leica like images. There's some gems out there, but you have to go back to the older lenses to get really spectacular IQ. And don't even get me started on the early uncoated Heliars and Tessars. Those lenses are just plain great. If you shoot these type of lenses on digital there's a dumbing down proscess where the lenses aren't allowed to really shine in their uniqueness, but you put them on a film camera and you see a huge difference between the old "classic" lenses and today's stuff.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2013
  25. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    A good lens is one I like. A bad lens is one I do not like. OK, so I'm a solipsist:laugh:.

    I'm with Momus regarding the old lenses. For 35, all my lenses are pre-AI Nikkors. The 105 is legendary for good reason - and it feels good, as do all the others I have, haptics matter as well. I like the images they make, color and B&W, it's about that simple.
     
  26. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

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    I share the exact same definition because the most important is the photograph, not the lens.