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Phase One XT Rodenstock 32mm f/4 in-depth review

vieri

Well-known member
Hello everyone! I completed the second of a series of in-depth reviews dedicated to Rodenstock lenses, in particular used in X-Shutter and on a Phase One XT. This second instalment will analyse the Rodenstock 32mm f/4, an equivalent to 21mm for full-frame medium format.

While lacking automations and other features that we are used to expect from lenses, these days, tech camera lenses such the XT Rodenstock 32mm f/4 are a feat of optical engineering. In particular, the Rodenstock 32mm is considered to be a legendary lens, and it definitely didn't disappoint in my tests.

You can find the whole review here, if interested: https://www.vieribottazzini.com/2021/07/xt-rodenstock-32mm-f-4-in-depth-review.html

Looking forward to your comments! Best regards,

Vieri
 

Bill Caulfeild-Browne

Well-known member
Hello everyone! I completed the second of a series of in-depth reviews dedicated to Rodenstock lenses, in particular used in X-Shutter and on a Phase One XT. This second instalment will analyse the Rodenstock 32mm f/4, an equivalent to 21mm for full-frame medium format.

While lacking automations and other features that we are used to expect from lenses, these days, tech camera lenses such the XT Rodenstock 32mm f/4 are a feat of optical engineering. In particular, the Rodenstock 32mm is considered to be a legendary lens, and it definitely didn't disappoint in my tests.

You can find the whole review here, if interested: https://www.vieribottazzini.com/2021/07/xt-rodenstock-32mm-f-4-in-depth-review.html

Looking forward to your comments! Best regards,

Vieri
Well, Vieri, another great review and your findings match my experience. I have had the advantage of shooting with this lens for about 8 months and I'm more impressed with it each time I use it. My Phase One dealer recommended it as my "starter" lens with the XT simply because it is so sharp (and the shutter so quiet and vibration free). I do use the LCC card for shifted images, but find it unnecessary for most "straight shooting". I tend to use it mostly at F8.
Thanks for confirming my fan boy impressions!
 
Hi Vieri,

thank you for another excellent review. When I considered going for a technical camera I was looking for samples as well as reviews on the HR Digaron lenses. But except for the few samples provided by Phase One and DT which didn’t include aperture sweeps or more rigorous information on the far corner performance, all the reviews I could find had been user reports on mostly this forum. Having such extensive reviews as you provide is a great service to anyone interested in this small niche of technical camera photography. Thanks again. I’m especially looking forward to your review of the HR 50mm.

In the built quality part of your review you mention that the aperture mount version is an improvement in strength over the legacy Copal-0 shutter and then imply that the X-Shutter assembly is even stronger than the Rodenstock Aperture Mount. Did you compare both mounts to get to this conclusion?

There is a thorough article by Doug Peterson about the Rodenstock Aperture Mount on DT’s website. I guess a direct link is not allowed, but googling “Digital Transitions Rodenstock Aperture Mount” should get you there. To quote Doug’s article:
“The Rodenstock Aperture Mount was designed to be significantly more physically robust than the legacy Copal Shutter it replaces. First, the actual material of the chassis is stronger, so that heavy lens elements like those of the storied Rodenstock 32HR will not pull the mount out of alignment as it could with a Copal Shutter.”
Based on Doug’s information I would assume that the Aperture Mount also took care of any issues regarding the strength of the assembly.

The Aperture Mount certainly has its limitations for shutter speeds below one second as the electronic rolling shutter is sensitive to introduce inter-frame distortions. It also lacks the electronic integration of the X-Shutter lenses. But the Aperture Mount lenses have the optical advantage that its diaphragm consists of nine rounded aperture blades compared to just five straight aperture blades in the X-Shutter and therefore will have more pleasing rendering of out-of-focus specular highlights and aperture flares. I still wonder why Phase One keeps sticking to just five aperture blades, even with their new 80mm Mark II Blue Ring lens introduced in 2020.

-Dominique
 

Ben730

Member
But the Aperture Mount lenses have the optical advantage that its diaphragm consists of nine rounded aperture blades compared to just five straight aperture blades in the X-Shutter and therefore will have more pleasing rendering of out-of-focus specular highlights and aperture flares. I still wonder why Phase One keeps sticking to just five aperture blades, even with their new 80mm Mark II Blue Ring lens introduced in 2020.
I also don't understand. Maybe it's too difficult to build a "fast" aperture with 9 blades or it's too expensive....
Regards,
Ben
 

Paul2660

Well-known member
It’s already pretty expensive with 5 or how many are in the x shutter now. Over 4 K per lens last time I checked. This is cost to move from existing Copal.
Paul
 

ThdeDude

Member
Would be nice to have also a review of the Digaron-S 35mm, also comparing it to the Digaron-W 32mm.

Yes, some might say that would be a bit comparing apples and oranges but sometimes one doesn't know whether one wants an apple or orange.
 
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Paul2660

Well-known member
35mm is an excellent lens. But only has a 70mm IC this limits movements the same amount as on the 23mm 28mm. All are in the same family. Magenta/pink band on lens.

Paul
 

vieri

Well-known member
Well, Vieri, another great review and your findings match my experience. I have had the advantage of shooting with this lens for about 8 months and I'm more impressed with it each time I use it. My Phase One dealer recommended it as my "starter" lens with the XT simply because it is so sharp (and the shutter so quiet and vibration free). I do use the LCC card for shifted images, but find it unnecessary for most "straight shooting". I tend to use it mostly at F8.
Thanks for confirming my fan boy impressions!
Hello Bill,

glad you found the article interesting and that it matched your experience! About the LCC, I find it useful also for straight shots, that - albeit little - colour cast is a bit annoying to me :) Best regards,

Vieri
 

vieri

Well-known member
Hi Vieri,

thank you for another excellent review. When I considered going for a technical camera I was looking for samples as well as reviews on the HR Digaron lenses. But except for the few samples provided by Phase One and DT which didn’t include aperture sweeps or more rigorous information on the far corner performance, all the reviews I could find had been user reports on mostly this forum. Having such extensive reviews as you provide is a great service to anyone interested in this small niche of technical camera photography. Thanks again. I’m especially looking forward to your review of the HR 50mm.

In the built quality part of your review you mention that the aperture mount version is an improvement in strength over the legacy Copal-0 shutter and then imply that the X-Shutter assembly is even stronger than the Rodenstock Aperture Mount. Did you compare both mounts to get to this conclusion?

There is a thorough article by Doug Peterson about the Rodenstock Aperture Mount on DT’s website. I guess a direct link is not allowed, but googling “Digital Transitions Rodenstock Aperture Mount” should get you there. To quote Doug’s article:
“The Rodenstock Aperture Mount was designed to be significantly more physically robust than the legacy Copal Shutter it replaces. First, the actual material of the chassis is stronger, so that heavy lens elements like those of the storied Rodenstock 32HR will not pull the mount out of alignment as it could with a Copal Shutter.”
Based on Doug’s information I would assume that the Aperture Mount also took care of any issues regarding the strength of the assembly.

The Aperture Mount certainly has its limitations for shutter speeds below one second as the electronic rolling shutter is sensitive to introduce inter-frame distortions. It also lacks the electronic integration of the X-Shutter lenses. But the Aperture Mount lenses have the optical advantage that its diaphragm consists of nine rounded aperture blades compared to just five straight aperture blades in the X-Shutter and therefore will have more pleasing rendering of out-of-focus specular highlights and aperture flares. I still wonder why Phase One keeps sticking to just five aperture blades, even with their new 80mm Mark II Blue Ring lens introduced in 2020.

-Dominique
Hello Dominique,

thank you for your comment, glad you found the review interesting. About the Rodenstock Aperture Mount vs X-Shutter, I obviously didn't compare both mounts, I based my comment on information I got from Phase One. Supposedly, the X-Shutter is stronger than the Rodenstock Aperture Mount, but what counts for me is that X-Shutter took care of the weak point in the 32mm - as did Rodenstock AM. As long as they both work, it's fine by me.

Incidentally, I believe it to be fairly inaccurate to consider Rodenstock Aperture Mount as a "replacement" for Copal 0, as DP mention in his article. It obviously is a completely different thing, since one has a shutter and the other does not. They just slide in the sam position in the lens body, but that is not enough to consider the one a replacement for the other.

Best regards,

Vieri
 

ThdeDude

Member
35mm is an excellent lens. But only has a 70mm IC
Yes, not much coverage beyond Sony's IMX411 (Type 4.2) diagonal 66.7mm.

But I wonder with how much shift one actually could get away with. Rodenstock historically has been quite conservative with their stated coverage.
 

vieri

Well-known member
Yes, not much coverage beyond Sony's IMX411 (Type 4.2) diagonal 66.7mm.

But I wonder with how much shift one actually could get away with. Rodenstock historically has been quite conservative with their stated coverage.
I find it interesting that everyone keeps saying that about Rodenstock, but I haven't seen any evidence corroborating that expect for anecdotic evidence of the "people says" kind. In my experience with the 23mm and Phase One XT, shift is exactly as per Rodenstock specifications. Perhaps older lenses didn't have the IC limiter or something, but current ones sure feel like they work as specified. See my 23mm review here, if interested: https://www.vieribottazzini.com/2021/07/xt-rodenstock-23mm-f-5-6-in-depth-review.html

Best regards,

Vieri
 

Paul2660

Well-known member
I believe you are correct, on the 23mm, as you pointed out the IC limiter shows up quickly past 5mm of shift maybe a bit before, on a full sized sensor and maybe 8mm? on a cropped sensor. The 23mm albeit an excellent lens on center as you pointed out, has no room for movements that matter. I found that even inside the 5mm on a solid subject it was common to see a white band right before the black edge of the IC indicator. This made shifting for outdoor shots with skies next to impossible. The 35mm as far as I know has the exact same issues, due to the 70mm IC. The 32mm with 90mm has much more range, easily making the 12mm limit of shift on the XT and past it to 15mm on other cameras.

My only issues with the 32mm are the fact that subject matter is effected slightly towards the edge of the center frame, objects will flatten and fatten, very easy to see on a object with know dimensions like a car wheel. And as you shift this issue become quite a problem as the issue gets worse. Both the 32mm and 40mm I own show this.

It might just be my lenses. CA is also a bit bothersome on the 32mm, only on shifts for me but on the 40mm, it's very noticeable towards the edge of the frame.

Paul
 

ThdeDude

Member
I find it interesting that everyone keeps saying that about Rodenstock, but I haven't seen any evidence corroborating that expect for anecdotic evidence of the "people says" kind.
That's precisely why I suggested to consider also doing a review of the Digaron-S 35mm!
 
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vieri

Well-known member
I believe you are correct, on the 23mm, as you pointed out the IC limiter shows up quickly past 5mm of shift maybe a bit before, on a full sized sensor and maybe 8mm? on a cropped sensor. The 23mm albeit an excellent lens on center as you pointed out, has no room for movements that matter. I found that even inside the 5mm on a solid subject it was common to see a white band right before the black edge of the IC indicator. This made shifting for outdoor shots with skies next to impossible. The 35mm as far as I know has the exact same issues, due to the 70mm IC. The 32mm with 90mm has much more range, easily making the 12mm limit of shift on the XT and past it to 15mm on other cameras.

My only issues with the 32mm are the fact that subject matter is effected slightly towards the edge of the center frame, objects will flatten and fatten, very easy to see on a object with know dimensions like a car wheel. And as you shift this issue become quite a problem as the issue gets worse. Both the 32mm and 40mm I own show this.

It might just be my lenses. CA is also a bit bothersome on the 32mm, only on shifts for me but on the 40mm, it's very noticeable towards the edge of the frame.

Paul
Hey Paul,

thank you for your reply - I agree with you on pretty much everything. Just two points about the 23mm:

1. While I agree with that shifting with the 23mm is too little to matter much for fixing converging verticals, I still think that there is a point in using shift for stitching, especially so if you plan on cropping other than 4:3;
2. I haven't seen the white band you mention, there are two rings (yellow / blue) around theuseable IC though, perhaps are those the ones you are referring to?

And one about the 32mm:

1. I didn't see any CA, once I apply C1's profile;

That's precisely why I suggested to consider also doing a review of the Digaron-S 35mm!
That would be interesting, but I haven't got the lens, unfortunately!

Best regards,

Vieri
 

bshigeta

New member
Thanks for the review Vieri!

Would you happen to have any night shots showing how the starbursts render? I’m curious how they appear with a 5 blade x shutter compared to the 9 rounded blades of the aperture mount.
 

mikejmcfarlane

New member
Also thanks from a new member for the review Vieri, as I moved into the world of medium format photography about a year ago I have often found myself on your site:)

Pragmatic question, you mention the Think Tank Emergency Rain Cover. I'm currently using a clear plastic disposable shower cap! What do you like about this cover? What size do you use? Does it work ok securing around the usually smaller lens of a technical camera ( I use SK apo-digitar lenses which are def smaller than your review lens!)? Thnx.
 

vieri

Well-known member
Thanks for the review Vieri!

Would you happen to have any night shots showing how the starbursts render? I’m curious how they appear with a 5 blade x shutter compared to the 9 rounded blades of the aperture mount.
You are very welcome!

About night shots, no, sadly not yet. I hope to be able to shoot some after summer, when I'll go to Iceland & Faroe!

Also thanks from a new member for the review Vieri, as I moved into the world of medium format photography about a year ago I have often found myself on your site:)

Pragmatic question, you mention the Think Tank Emergency Rain Cover. I'm currently using a clear plastic disposable shower cap! What do you like about this cover? What size do you use? Does it work ok securing around the usually smaller lens of a technical camera ( I use SK apo-digitar lenses which are def smaller than your review lens!)? Thnx.
Hello Mike,

You are very welcome, glad you are finding my website & reviews interesting! About your question, what I like about the cover is that it's long enough to cover not just the lens but the whole lens / camera / IQ4 assembly, while leaving enough room to operate the camera under it. Sorry about the poor quality, two quick & dirt iPhone shots to show you what I mean:

IMG_5195.jpg

This is the SMALL version, on the Rodie 23mm, and as you can see it squeezes down pretty nicely to snugly cover the lens

IMG_5196.jpg

and, you can insert your hand under it and work like nothing happened :)

Hope this helps!

Best regards,

Vieri
 

vieri

Well-known member
That helps a lot thank you. Looking at your photos and I can see that I am likely going to need the large version of the cover for my Cambo Actus DB.
You are very welcome Mike, glad to help! Luckily Think Tank has a range of these in different sizes, I am sure you'll find the one that works for you! :)

Best regards,

Vieri
 
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