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  1. #1

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    Lens contrast: how much does it really matter?

    OK so all of my lenses (rangefinders, mostly) are fairly old: Zeiss-Opton and Leica. I haven't done any comparisons but the difference in contrast doesn't really stand out. I scan (a sin here?) my negatives mostly and print my few favorites. It works out fine, i guess, but I'm not that good in the darkroom or meticulous about my metering/developing/scanning/printing.

    Well for certain focal lengths/speeds modern lenses are more practical (Zeiss and CV mostly). The general agreement is that for b&w film low contrast is preferable, but does it really make that much of a difference?

  2. #2
    AgX
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    Quote Originally Posted by puketronic View Post
    The general agreement is that for b&w film low contrast is preferable, but does it really make that much of a difference?
    Except for certain applications (where special filters or special lenses are used) the highest "lens contrast", as you put it, is generally aimed at in photography.

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    well i'm not trying to get into the debate that you would always want a certain contrast level. I mean, to me, it seems obvious that the film, exposure, and development play a large role in determining the contrast levels.

    What I mean is that if you took a semi-modern lens like a Dr Summicron and the latest Summicron (whichever version that is). Would you be able to really tell the difference on the same roll. If this can be quantified, I'd imagine the difference to exist but be say 5% or so. I really do not know because all my lenses are old.

    Also because I'm mostly a 35mm photographer and I do not meter meticulously I'd imagine that changing lenses from say a DR Summicron to a the latest Summicron wouldn't be so offensive.
    Last edited by puketronic; 11-11-2012 at 11:27 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4
    Peltigera's Avatar
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    I use a range of camera lenses dating from 1930 to 2012 and they are all different contrast wise and all produce very usable negatives. Except for one lens - the Novar on my Tenax I dating from around 1941/2. Contrast is so low as to be unusable.

    If the lens is not visibly damaged (my Tenax I has a visible white cast to the lens), then you can compensate in exposure/development.

  5. #5
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    this makes me think about an interesting test. i have a fe brand new and 40-year-old nikkors. i wonder how they compare.
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  6. #6
    AgX
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    But what shall you compare: MTF-charts, resolution-chart photos, or photos of the same, typical for you, object? I assume the latter is what the OP is thinking of.

  7. #7
    Peltigera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgX View Post
    But what shall you compare: MTF-charts, resolution-chart photos, or photos of the same, typical for you, object? I assume the latter is what the OP is thinking of.
    The latter is the only test that matters for a photographer. Other tests are for technicians, not photographers.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht View Post
    this makes me think about an interesting test. i have a fe brand new and 40-year-old nikkors. i wonder how they compare.
    I have nikkor 50/1.8 AF-D, nikkor-H 50/2, nikkor Ai 50/1.8 and nikkor-S 50/1.4

    They are all very similar in contrast except nikkor-S which has lower contrast.

  9. #9
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    The title of this thread should read "Lens contrast: how much does it really matter when I print digitally?" and posted on another forum.

    What is the latest on some forum software filter for eliminating having to view posts about digital photography?

  10. #10
    Peltigera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    The title of this thread should read "Lens contrast: how much does it really matter when I print digitally?" and posted on another forum.

    What is the latest on some forum software filter for eliminating having to view posts about digital photography?
    The Forum title is "35mm Cameras and Accessories". It is not "Darkroom Printing on Light Sensitive Paper". The opening poster was asking about using lenses on their 35mm film camera and so is quite appropriate here. The issue is whether he would end up with usable negatives. Quite what use he puts those negatives to is neither here nor there.

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