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  1. #1
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Colour Saturation and Lenses

    It's an obvious matter that some lenses render colours in a less saturated manner than others: old uncoated lenses, for example, not always give as rich colours as modern multicoated ones.

    But is it because such lenses increase colour saturation (e.g. by selectively letting certain wavelength corresponding to primary colours go through more easily) or because they avoid the problems, such as flare, that desaturate colours?

    I'm suspecting coating and glass type have a lot to do here with the avoidance of problems, in that they reduce parasitic light due to internal reflections, but I wonder if there are other variables at play.
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  2. #2

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    According to the books I’ve read about lens-making, antireflection lens coatings maximize light transmission by minimizing reflection at the air-to-glass transitions. Coatings cannot make the color of light more intense than is to begin with. They only prevent degradation of what’s already present in the light reflected from the scene.

  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    The saturation is due to flare or the absence of it, an extremely well Multi-coated lens will give the best saturation.

    Early coatings often tended to be rather cold (in colour terms0 and give a bluish tinge hence the warm up filters that most people used in the 1960's and early 1970's. Some lens coatings were decidedly strong I have a CZJ 150mm Tessar from the early 1950's that gives a distinct blue cast but by the late 1960's the coatings on many German LF lenses (Schneider & Rodsenstock) were close to later MC versions and extremely good.

    The term Single coated is a bit of a minomer because often lenses had more than one coating, but these were applied individually. CZJ were using more than one layer by WWII for some applications.

    The best lenses are multi coated on eveery glass/air surface but one major lens manufacturer had to scrap their entire range and drop their brand name from lenses after a disasterous series of poorly coated lenses went on sale, suprisingly that was Hoya. Hoya and Tokina have common ownership and a completely new redesigned range of lenses was released under the Tokina brand name

    Ian

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Hardy-Vallée View Post
    It's an obvious matter that some lenses render colours in a less saturated manner than others: old uncoated lenses, for example, not always give as rich colours as modern multicoated ones.

    But is it because such lenses increase colour saturation (e.g. by selectively letting certain wavelength corresponding to primary colours go through more easily) or because they avoid the problems, such as flare, that desaturate colours?

    I'm suspecting coating and glass type have a lot to do here with the avoidance of problems, in that they reduce parasitic light due to internal reflections, but I wonder if there are other variables at play.
    With color reversal films, slight overexposure reduces color saturation, slight underexposure increases it. Great stress, slight.

    In my experience with lenses in shutter, shutters that run slow are more of a problem for color saturation, at least for reversal films, than lenses' coating or lack thereof. I have, though, used a couple of single-coated lenses that were flary and needed careful use of hoods to reduce the effect of light sources outside the frame on color saturation. Prime examples are 150/9 and 210/9 Konica Hexanon GRIIs. Both single-coated, both problematic with difficult lighting. I keep the 210 GRII in the closet, use a 210/7.7 Beryl-S instead; it isn't quite as sharp near wide open but gives much better color saturation. Oh, yeah, Beryl-S = Dagor and it is single-coated.

    Mustafa, once upon a time lens design was done with hand calculations. Now fast digital computers are used. They're much much faster than people, and because of this are better at optimization. You're too young to have done large calculations manually, but when I was a young graduate student I burned out several electromechanical calculators. They died in clouds of blue smoke.

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    The problem is to find a mathematical way to shortcut this problem. Only few companies have ability and will to do that , thats why Leica sells his last lens for 6000 euros
    .

    Absolute nonsense. Lens design programs have been around since the early 1950s. Good ones are commercially available.

    As for Leica, until recently they were mired in the dark ages. For all I know they still are. Zeiss and Nikon had smarter management, didn't tie their lens divisions to the camera business. Leica had a fine merchant lensmaking operation in Canada, sold it. Leica was run for many years by (choose at least one) short-sighted fools or fools who thought they knew than their customes what the customers should want.

    In a way, they're like Rolex. If you want a timepiece that keeps good time, buy a Casio or Seiko. If you want an instrument of intimidation, buy a Rolex. Except that nowadays Leicas aren't intimidating.

  6. #6
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Perhaps it's interesting that around the time Multi-coating became common the contrast of colour films changed as well with newer emulsions and processes like C41 and E6, also K25/64.

    I think exposure needs to be taken out of the equation Dan, it's long been used for controlling colour saturation particularly with Kodachromes regardless of lenses being coated r not. Also I've found newer Copal shutters often run slower than Compurs of any age (that aren't sticky). I have tested my Compurs and some Copals and even a 1913 compur is still remarkably accurate.

    Ian

  7. #7
    Slixtiesix's Avatar
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    Yes had Leica were in hard troubles some years ago but since 2009 they have been seeing great success again. I appreciate that very much because all Leicas are still offering the classic exposure-dial aperture-ring user concept that most japanese manufacturers have abandoned.
    I thought about buying an R8 some years ago but instead went medium format. The Leica lenses really have a look of their own. I think Mustafa is right when he says that japanese manufacturers today release new lenses every year but most of them are only mediocre. For example, I was really shocked when I saw the heavy distortion of some of the new lenses for the Fuji X Pro1, and this is a rangefinder! On the other hand I think how carefully Zeiss had eliminated distortion in many of their lenses to nearly zero in the past. Fuji does it electronically now, but without the camera software, these lenses would be hardly enjoyable.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    I think exposure needs to be taken out of the equation Dan, it's long been used for controlling colour saturation particularly with Kodachromes regardless of lenses being coated r not. Also I've found newer Copal shutters often run slower than Compurs of any age (that aren't sticky). I have tested my Compurs and some Copals and even a 1913 compur is still remarkably accurate.

    Ian
    Ian, when I was working hard at trying lenses out I found that apparent differences between pairs of lenses in color saturation usually (note, usually does not mean always) went away when I used the same shutter for both sets of cells. Since most of my lenses cover formats much larger than 2x3, I ended up hanging longer lenses in front of a Nikon (with aperture priority autoexposure, and I let it set the shutter speed) for testing central sharpness. With the same shutter running at the same speed most of the lenses I tried out differed not at all in color saturation. The Konica Hexanon GRIIs I mentioned were the biggest exceptions.

    I use a Calumet shutter tester. I check my leaf shutters at least annually. Few are absolutely consistent shot-to-shot, Compounds consistently run fast at low speeds, slow at high, Compurs, Copals, Prontors, Rapaxes and Supermatics tend to be close to spec at low speeds, slow to very slow at high. No two run exactly the same.

    To change the subject slightly, I've read claims that not all lenses render colors the same. I've encountered the effect when shooting in daylight -- on first trial some lenses have shot very blue -- but it hasn't been reproducible and I've never seen it when shooting with flash (always the same flash). It turns out that my blue shots were taken while the sun was behind a cloud. This raises color temperature ... I have somewhere a really nice shot, taken on an E6 emulsion, of an electric blue alligator. The 'gator was in deep shade. Same effect.

    When I try lenses out I control everything controllable as well as I can. This may be why my results differ from many other peoples' assertions.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  9. #9
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Dan, my experience with LF lenses is quite a marked shift in colour balance between modern Multi-coated lenses and very early coated lenses, there's no doubting the bluse shift with my 1950's CZJ T coated Tessar it can be seen visibly as well as in colour images if no correction is used- I tested it in Turkey where the light's very constant in the Summer.

    I've an early coated 65mm f8 SA (Linhof select) and that gives colder colours than my Multi coated Schneider and Rodenstock lenes, same lighting shot alonside on the same film stock, however later coated Schneider lenses are closer and it would be hard to tell between a coated and Multi-coated versions.

    Ian

  10. #10
    Klainmeister's Avatar
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    Placing a series of slides that I shot on the same film stock, in the same scene but from different cameras actually surprised me. I had a Fuji GW690III and the Mamiya 7II. Side by side, the color difference was somewhat noticeable, but what really made the difference was the contrast. I had always thought the Fuji lenses were fantastic, but putting the slides side by side made me realize that the Mamiya had that much more punch in the image and overall was more pleasing (to what I wanted as a photographer). Oddly though, a 1952 Moskva slide looked quite nice as well...haha!
    K.S. Klain

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