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  1. #61
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I think the critical question here is not "how sharp is the lens" but "does the lens support my photographic vision". If the qualities of the lens support making images that you want to make, all else about it from the brand name on the barrel to the number of elements to MTF chart performance are secondary. If you NEED a lens that has 0% distortion because you're photographing ultra-fine detail that needs to be kept perfectly rectilinear throughout the image area, then buy THAT lens. If you NEED a lens that produces a pleasing rendition of skin tones, buy THAT lens. DON'T use the first lens for the task the second lens is better suited to. Everything else is, as others have already stated, an exercise in gratuitous public masturbation.

  2. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    I think the critical question here is not "how sharp is the lens" but "does the lens support my photographic vision". If the qualities of the lens support making images that you want to make, all else about it from the brand name on the barrel to the number of elements to MTF chart performance are secondary. If you NEED a lens that has 0% distortion because you're photographing ultra-fine detail that needs to be kept perfectly rectilinear throughout the image area, then buy THAT lens. If you NEED a lens that produces a pleasing rendition of skin tones, buy THAT lens. DON'T use the first lens for the task the second lens is better suited to. Everything else is, as others have already stated, an exercise in gratuitous public masturbation.
    That's about it right there.
    I remember reading photo magazines, car magazines, gun/hunting mags... "Is the 30/30 adequate for deer?" was a perennial (literally). Guess what? shoot a deer in the leg with a 16" naval rifle, you've still got a wounded deer to follow. All the magazines indulged in the same thing, and many of the readers bought into it. Now we have the internet where any imbecile can bloviate to his or her heart's content. "bokeh"... a prime example. I like my out-of-focus-areas to be out of focus.

  3. #63
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh View Post
    I've never made a bad photograph due to the lens. But- when you're using a negative with one and a half square inches of storage area, resolution does become more meaningful.
    Beyond a certain point though comparing equipment becomes a form of masturbation.
    Quote Originally Posted by benjiboy View Post
    I agree with the former entirely, I've done a lot of both of the latter in the past and can attest to it's truth
    I've had quite a few images ruined by poor lenses, to be fair that was a a few years ago. Two brands were the worst Hoya and Sigma, I had a Sigma lense fall apart, the replacement had no Infinity focus, and the next replacement was faulty as well, needless to say I won't touch Sigma. I had Pentax K mount Hoya28mm and a Sigma 24mm lenses useless due to flare,

    If I'd paid less for East Gearman lenses I'd have saved money and had excellent performers but at that time they were only screw mount.

    The major problem is and always was that Lens tests in many magazines can't be trusted.

    Ian

  4. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    Yeah, to be fair, people who shoot small and print big, and want to preserve a lot of fine detail, need to---well, they need to switch to large format
    That sums it up. I worked for a photographer back in the 1970s and 85% of what he did was medium format. 35mm and large format filled the rest. He was a good darkroom printer, you had to be back then or you didn't survive, commercial work needed to be turned around within the day, sometimes in the hour. Under those conditions it was easier to make a good print from a larger negative, and advertisers demanded it.

    I later worked alongside master printers who knew every trick in the book, and could do it all under commercial time constraints. They couldn't afford to be divas and gurus or throw hissy fits, they had to produce gallery standard work for top clients, day in, day out. It left me with a great respect for their skills and a realistic appreciation of my more modest abilities. As I said before, making large prints from 35mm negatives is really hard work whatever camera lens you're using. Easier to stick to 12 x 8" in which case most lenses are equal, or opt for a bigger format.

  5. #65
    Bruce Robbins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh View Post
    Agreed.
    Why so many of us need glasses.
    But there is something wrong with calling it photography.

    I like my old mechanical miniatures, I've lately got back into rangefinders to the tune of a Kiev and a Canon IIb. I didn't appreciate just what a good job 35mm could do until I started using large format. I can make stunning 8x12 enlargements from 35, but that's about the limit for me; as you enlarge the negative you seem to divide the tones, even though it's sharp.
    12x8 is about my limit as well for the same reason. A 12x8 on 16x20 paper looks very impressive.
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  6. #66
    Bruce Robbins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    I've had quite a few images ruined by poor lenses, to be fair that was a a few years ago. Two brands were the worst Hoya and Sigma, I had a Sigma lense fall apart, the replacement had no Infinity focus, and the next replacement was faulty as well, needless to say I won't touch Sigma. I had Pentax K mount Hoya28mm and a Sigma 24mm lenses useless due to flare,

    If I'd paid less for East Gearman lenses I'd have saved money and had excellent performers but at that time they were only screw mount.

    The major problem is and always was that Lens tests in many magazines can't be trusted.

    Ian
    Funny you should say that, Ian. I was looking through an old magazine yesterday and it had a review of some Hoya lenses. The three primes were rated very highly for sharpness and the zooms were OK but not great. That test might well have tempted me to buy a Hoya prime or two if I'd been looking at that time. But I think we need to remember that the cleverer lens makers/marketers would test their own lenses until, through sample variation, they found some crackers and it was these they would send out to the magazines for review purposes. I suppose it's naive of us to expect them all to reach the same heights but then some of us are more willing to believe than others.
    The Online Darkroom
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  7. #67
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Robbins View Post
    Funny you should say that, Ian. I was looking through an old magazine yesterday and it had a review of some Hoya lenses. The three primes were rated very highly for sharpness and the zooms were OK but not great. That test might well have tempted me to buy a Hoya prime or two if I'd been looking at that time. But I think we need to remember that the cleverer lens makers/marketers would test their own lenses until, through sample variation, they found some crackers and it was these they would send out to the magazines for review purposes. I suppose it's naive of us to expect them all to reach the same heights but then some of us are more willing to believe than others.
    Not long after the Hoya lens range was withdrawn, and replaced by an entirely new range of Tokina lenses (same owners), there was also some criticism of biased testing in some magazines in the UK in favour of their advertisers products, personally I found Camera magazine to have the most objective test reports at the time.

    In the 60's, 70's & 80's there were some awful lenses made for 35mm SLRs by 3rd party manufacturers and we relied on the magazines to help us when we couldn't afford the major camera manufacturers own lenses. Wide angle lenses were the worst usually suffering from flare, or having barrel distortion. Vivitar were the first independent company with their Series One lenses to sell a range that rivalled the major manufacturers in terms of overall performance, Tamron soon followed with their SP range (I have 4 or 5).

    With larger formats there seemed to be fewer issues and even lenses from the 60's onwards are capable of excellent results today. (I've shot MF & LF since the mid 70's).

    Ian

  8. #68

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    Well I've had about 30 Cosina lenses pass through my hands and they have all been very good, some of my friends ditto.

    But on the web you would (could) be lynched for saying they were indistinguishable from Leica or Nikon lenses.

    I have learnt to use a lens that fits my hand and gbag.

    I test lenses eg with a venier calliper.

    The Cosina Voeightlander 5cm LTM is 2.5 mm larger than the post 94 Elmar 5cm with mini hoods fitted but that is with the Elmar collapsed...

    If you take landscapes on a solid tripod may be you might detect differences - used to use a contax IIa of a tripod with k chrome 25 and you could see the grain structure on axis with a loupe. Projected or printed no.

  9. #69
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    Funny that there is talk about the sharpness of lenses of which their samples have been scanned and therefore the quality of the outcome is quite limited by the performance of the scanner.
    Don't know, it might be just me, but the scans on that site look like this is the case.
    For me, at least for my DSLR, it makes a big difference say using my Nikon Micro 40mm 2.8 compared to the zoom kit lens (18-105) that came with my D90. It is a hell sharper and produces a lot better results. Plus it can focus from 3.5cm to infinity. The later might seem of no major importance, but besides ordinary photography this is what use to scan my negatives.

  10. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by zanxion72 View Post
    For me, at least for my DSLR, it makes a big difference say using my Nikon Micro 40mm 2.8 compared to the zoom kit lens (18-105) that came with my D90. It is a hell sharper and produces a lot better results. Plus it can focus from 3.5cm to infinity. The later might seem of no major importance, but besides ordinary photography this is what use to scan my negatives.
    You can certainly make a case that zooms, especially kit varieties, are less sharp than prime lenses. The question here is whether the difference between a Nikon, Minolta, Canon, Pentax, 50mm or 28mm of equivalent maximum aperture is perceivable in practice. It may be, slightly, at large magnifications, but not sufficiently to worry about in my experience.

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