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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by philosomatographer View Post
    Indeed, I never made any claims as to the resolution exhibited in my images (this was on ISO 400 film to being with!), in fact I specifically stated:



    The point of this review was to share my experiences, and the "look" of the images.
    Indeed, my observation was a personal hobby horse against the fetishisation of absolute resolution in a lens for its own sake. Apparent sharpness relies on a range of characteristics, not least the texture in a surface revealed by lighting, micro-contrast in other words. The lens looks like it would handle nicely, which is reason enough to buy one.

    I enjoy user tests but unless it's a complete dog, most fulfil what a working photographer needs from a 35mm lens in practice, so I'd purchase on looks and handling.
    Edit: Last week Brian Legge posted this image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cannelb...7625017121419/ If he'd told us it was taken on a Leica glass I'd have agreed that it certainly looked Leica quality and that tightness and resolution is what you pay for. Sharpness is sometimes about expectation.
    Last edited by blockend; 10-30-2010 at 03:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    Indeed, my observation was a personal hobby horse against the fetishisation of absolute resolution in a lens for its own sake.

    ...

    Last week Brian Legge posted this image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cannelb...7625017121419/ If he'd told us it was taken on a Leica glass I'd have agreed that it certainly looked Leica quality and that tightness and resolution is what you pay for. Sharpness is sometimes about expectation.
    Hmm, I am going to have to disagree with you there (not that that isn't a very nice shot) -and, of course, processing has a lot to do with it - but even with a web-sized image, I would have to say my small images from the Heliar are in a whole different league in terms of resolution and microcontrast, compared to the posted image.

    If the larger version on Flickr of the image you posted above is "true" to the negative, then it would fall apart in a 12x16in print, whereas the Heliar negatives hold up exceptionally well (I made one larger test print).

  3. #23

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    I disagree. If you look at the photographs of Cartier-Bresson very few are highly resolved and a number aren't close to being in focus but they hang together just fine. The reproductions of Tony Ray Jones work (it's a long time since I've seen his originals on a gallery wall) exhibit an array of resolution and exposure issues and are all fantastic photographs.
    In the end it's a philosophical issue as to whether 35mm is the correct medium to pursue absolute tonality and resolution or whether grain and processing differences intervene before lines per inch, for most viewers.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    I disagree. If you look at the photographs of Cartier-Bresson very few are highly resolved and a number aren't close to being in focus but they hang together just fine. The reproductions of Tony Ray Jones work (it's a long time since I've seen his originals on a gallery wall) exhibit an array of resolution and exposure issues and are all fantastic photographs.
    In the end it's a philosophical issue as to whether 35mm is the correct medium to pursue absolute tonality and resolution or whether grain and processing differences intervene before lines per inch, for most viewers.
    We are discussing two completely different things here. I was simply responding to your statement that the image you posted, could have happily been made on high-resolving Leica glass, whereas it is clearly technically deficient (based on the posted web image) compared to (small, 5x7in prints). This (and I repeat) does not mean it's a bad image artistically.

    Many of the great images of the past (and present) have poor technical quality, but are favourable because of their pictorial content. I am sure that this will always be most important...

    You, however, seem to be stating that their pictorial content causes them to have inherently good technical quality in a large print? That's as absurd as the (common) reverse sentiment: That good technical content makes a good picture.

    But we digress: The intent of my post was not to discuss the artistic merits of certain photographs, but simply an interesting lens. Certainly, in the 1950s, nobody had access to a Leica M- or LTM-mount lens of anywhere near the technical quality as this modern Heliar lens. (I believe this to be easily demonstrable). I am pretty sure that careful testing might show only the Coastal Optics UV-VIS-IR 60mm f/4 lens to be optically superior in the 35mm format (sure the reference lens to date), otherwise, in all likelihood, the Heliar 50mm f/3.5 is "it" - and I believe that may have been the reason for it's creation by Cosina.

    Still, even with lesser lenses, great photographers made great images. I really don't disagree with that. And that's what counts in the end!

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by philosomatographer View Post
    I was simply responding to your statement that the image you posted, could have happily been made on high-resolving Leica glass, whereas it is clearly technically deficient
    Can you explain how it's clearly deficient? I agree with the photographer that it lacks shadow detail which may well be a processing problem. On the other hand it handles contrast well at what appears to be a wide aperture in uncompromising lighting conditions, especially skin tone. It certainly doesn't look like a cheap lens image.
    The shots taken on your lens are not 'street' images and there would need to be a direct like-for-like comparison to make a definitive statement about which is 'best'. It's not a criticism of the Heliar which I'm sure is a superlative lens given its heritage and price and I have no vested interest in the outcome, being primarily an SLR user of manual focus Canon and Nikon glass, but I believe the eye is seduced by various issues that it takes for sharpness.

    As case in point many years ago I proof printed a shot taken on a 50mm Zuiko lens with 50 ASA film on Agfa Portriga at 5 x 4". A photography tutor disbelieved me that it wasn't a large format contact or at least a medium format image because at that enlargement it was to all intents grain free. The reason he did so was because the intensely textured sea wall contrasted with a white shirted man in intense sunlight gave no visual cue to interpret the film format. It was a good lens, better than good but it handled detail extraordinarily well from f8.

    Apologies for banging on but I do believe quality prime lenses of similar focal length are quite hard to tell apart and almost impossible over the internet.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    Can you explain how it's clearly deficient? I agree with the photographer that it lacks shadow detail which may well be a processing problem. On the other hand it handles contrast well at what appears to be a wide aperture in uncompromising lighting conditions, especially skin tone. It certainly doesn't look like a cheap lens image.

    <snip>
    ...but I believe the eye is seduced by various issues that it takes for sharpness.

    As case in point many years ago I proof printed a shot taken on a 50mm Zuiko lens with 50 ASA film on Agfa Portriga at 5 x 4". A photography tutor disbelieved me that it wasn't a large format contact or at least a medium format image because at that enlargement it was to all intents grain free

    <snip>

    Apologies for banging on but I do believe quality prime lenses of similar focal length are quite hard to tell apart and almost impossible over the internet.
    I agree, image quality is conveyed through multiple effects, it's not all just resolution. However, If I view the larger size image on Flickr for your posted example, it already looks a bit "mushy", which (from inspection) apears to be a combination of lower contrast (which had to be added back in in post-processing), poor resolution (in-focus areas should appear pixel-sharp in this small image, which it does not), flare (at high-contrast edges), and perhaps poor focus.

    Look, let's drop this. You keep on re-stating things I said in my original review (such as the futility of performing image quality comparison with small online JPEG images).

    A 4x5in print is so tiny, that if well done, it can look like a contact print even from a so-so lens, even on ISO 400 film, if processed correctly. It doesn't exactly prove much! Still, you don't need to convince me on anything Zuiko, it's my primary system. When using top-notch lenses, and a really high-resolution film like the defunct Kodak Tech Pan, or Adox CMS (ISO 20), it becomes difficult to believe that certain large prints were made from a 35mm negative.

    The best 12x16in print I ever made from a 35mm negative (from a resolution / tonality aspect) was made with a Zuiko 250mm f/2.0 shot wide open - this image:



    On the print, every bit of detail in the tyre on the bottom-left is crisply resolved, it looks a bit like my medium format prints (but not quite - no 35mm can).

    From what I'm seeing though, the Heliar 50mm f/3.5 likely out-resolves, out-contrasts, out-everythings even this king-of-the-zuikos, which is no mean feat. For a tiny, 5-element lens that takes 27mm filters, that's quite something

    For the analogue B&W phtographer travelling light, and photographing in good light, the Heliar is a cut above pretty much anything else. And collapsed on a Leica M3, it's certainly more than pocketable (though it looks so darned good, you rather want to flaunt it like jewelery!).


  7. #27

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    Can't argue with that but I keep to the view that if a 35mm photographer is chasing the same criteria as a medium format user, especially with static/tripod/landscape imagery, he's barking up the wrong negative. The difference between quality brands (especially at the 50mm focal length) is insignificant compared to the overall miniature camera aesthetic of visible grain, higher contrast, 3 x 2 ratio, etc. That is what the viewer will see.
    On your boat picture the right hand side of the picture, the out of focus area, is mushy. It's not an aesthetic criticism of your photography or your processing technique, it's simply what happens when a 35mm negative encounters a textured, unfocussed area. It wouldn't do that in 120 and in 5 x 4 the 'creaminess' would be quite pleasing. The viewer accommodates the general look of a 35mm negative and in the camera's usual terrain of hand-held street photography those characteristics have become the aesthetic.
    I'm only pressing the point as a response to 35 years of magazine reviews that have attempted to distinguish the practically indistinguishable for commercial reasons, which leads to a camera culture as opposed to a photographic one. Like I said, I'm sure the Heliar is a nice lens.
    Last edited by blockend; 10-31-2010 at 04:48 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    On your boat picture the right hand side of the picture, the out of focus area, is mushy. It's not an aesthetic criticism of your photography or your processing technique, it's simply what happens when a 35mm negative encounters a textured, unfocussed area. It wouldn't do that in 120 and in 5 x 4 the 'creaminess' would be quite pleasing. The viewer accommodates the general look of a 35mm negative and in the camera's usual terrain of hand-held street photography those characteristics have become the aesthetic.
    Indeed. I much prefer photographing landscapes with larger film sizes, yes - my current favourite being Ilford Line film (ISO6) on 4x5in. They aesthetic is totally different yes.

    Of course since you refer to my boat picture, the whole point of this was to make this shot unusual through the impossibly-shallow DOF which only a lens with a 125mm-diameter entry pupil can produce. And, of course, the fact that it was made from the other side of the lake - with a large format camera, I would have had to stand in the middle of the lake.

    Horses for courses

  9. #29
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    Nice article.
    I especially like the waiting-for-transportation shot because of the black velvet.

  10. #30

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    I'm certainly not going to argue that the Jupiter 8 I used in the photo referenced earlier this thread would hold up. At the same time, my shot was taken at f/2, hand held at 1/5th or so. It isn't a great reference image for sharpness. As a sonnar lens, it shouldn't be in the same ballpark when it comes to corner sharpness as your lens. Certainly a great lens and an incredible bargain.

    I am flattered that my photo was referenced in comparison though.

    Oddly enough, I almost picked up a 101st kit last week. I came across a very nice one for $600 - thought about selling the body and keeping the lens and finder. Just couldn't justify it though as I picked up a very nice Elmar f3.5 a week earlier.

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