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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally Posted by Maris