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  1. #21
    jjphoto's Avatar
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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.

  2. #22
    Whiteymorange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole View Post
    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.
    What he said.

  3. #23

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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 momus; 08-30-2013 at 10:22 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #24

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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.

    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.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    A good lens is one you don't notice in the photograph.
    I share the exact same definition because the most important is the photograph, not the lens.
    "The problem with photography is that it only deals with appearances." Duane Michals

    "A photograph is a secret of a secret. The more it tells you the less you know." Diane Arbus

  6. #26
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    A "good lens" is what everybody else has.
    Ben

  7. #27

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    A good lens is one that I can use well...some versions of a lens (Nikkor, Vivitars, whatever) may have a reputation for being "better"...the better 300/4.5 Nikkor ED vs older Nikkor-H, or the better Vivitar 70-210/3.5 made by Komine vs the "same" lens made by Kino, for example.

    ...but a better reputation means nothing if I don't get better photos...
    ...for any number or reasons, some known, some unknown...the Nikkor-H is more compact than the ED and I can better operate focusing and aperture rings simultaneously on the H, better for getting correct focus and exposure on the fly as it changes.
    ...and for some reason I can better focus the "less sharp" Kino-Vivitar than the Komine version...and I prefer the heft of Kino, some don't...so I get better photos from each of the "lesser" lenses...

    ...I'm not as picky as some are regarding the "aesthetics" of a lens...e.g. bokeh...but the more they show me their way the more I see their why...

    The saddest thing is that I let go perfectly good lenses to get "better" lenses only to be less than impressed...oh well....

  8. #28

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    The question of what makes a good lens is so subjective as to make the question moot. One could argue resolution, contrast, intangibles like bokeh, etc etc. You will get as many opinions as posts. It all comes down to what the photographer likes.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  9. #29

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    A good lens is one with Nikkor on it.

  10. #30

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    When David Burnett makes pictures with a Holga that get published then the 60mm f8 single element plastic lens on the Holga 120N is a 'good lens'.

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