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Thread: Lenses with that Special Character

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Lenses with that Special Character

    After finally obtaining a preasph 50 lux , I have become more interested in lenses that have a special character or signature. On film I often looked for those Leica lenses that had the highest color saturation ,contrast and resolution. Almost all of Leica s lens line was designed with the priorities of film. While the asph and apo lenses create amazing color and brilliance they also can render some subject with a harshness..even the out of focus areas look sharp. With digital, new renderings from old lenses seem to be interesting. The noctilux and the pre asph 50 both seem to retain sufficient aberrations to create a different signature. Do you have a favorite "special " lens.

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    After finally obtaining a preasph 50 lux , I have become more interested in lenses that have a special character or signature. On film I often looked for those Leica lenses that had the highest color saturation ,contrast and resolution. Almost all of Leica s lens line was designed with the priorities of film. While the asph and apo lenses create amazing color and brilliance they also can render some subject with a harshness..even the out of focus areas look sharp. With digital, new renderings from old lenses seem to be interesting. The noctilux and the pre asph 50 both seem to retain sufficient aberrations to create a different signature. Do you have a favorite "special " lens.
    Roger

    I finally acquired a 1950's 85 Summarex and love the renderings from it. My M8 is back for shutter replacement so i can't show you images from it but I did take a roll of Tri-X just to try it out. The images were shot on my 1954 Double stroke M3 using the original and still working light meter. Sadly the images were scanned to a CD by the lab using very mundane technology so what the lens is really capable of doing is hard to see here. But you may get some idea of what it is like.

    Best

    Woody

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Woody Interesting images. Have you tried adding contrast to them? When I watched Jack work on one of his B&W images taken with the pre lux .....the image came to life when he worked the overall contrast and then the midtones. With one of the ASPH lenses ..you don t need to do much ..often you can t because its already pretty strong. With the lower lens contrast ...he could shape the curve to fit the image ...leaving the OF areas softer/smoother while adding contrast and sharpness to the important areas . I think its a combination of how the lens renders with the techniques you use in post processing. I bet that Summarex will make a nice portrait lens when the M8 returns.

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Woody Interesting images. Have you tried adding contrast to them? When I watched Jack work on one of his B&W images taken with the pre lux .....the image came to life when he worked the overall contrast and then the midtones. With one of the ASPH lenses ..you don t need to do much ..often you can t because its already pretty strong. With the lower lens contrast ...he could shape the curve to fit the image ...leaving the OF areas softer/smoother while adding contrast and sharpness to the important areas . I think its a combination of how the lens renders with the techniques you use in post processing. I bet that Summarex will make a nice portrait lens when the M8 returns.
    Roger
    I have basically done little to these images. I need to get out the old Nikon 9000 scanner and do a good job getting a correctly scanned image. At that point I am willing to take the time to do correct PP and really show what this lens is capable of. But I am happy that even these little 6MPx files, scanned by the most cheap method, show a lot to love. I will post again when i have the image properly processed.

    By the way, tell Carolyn that I am really impressed with how she grabbed that VLux and started shooting for real. Good stuff..........5000 images already. Man that is powerful

    All the best to the best

    Woody

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by woodyspedden View Post
    Roger
    I have basically done little to these images. I need to get out the old Nikon 9000 scanner and do a good job getting a correctly scanned image. At that point I am willing to take the time to do correct PP and really show what this lens is capable of. But I am happy that even these little 6MPx files, scanned by the most cheap method, show a lot to love. I will post again when i have the image properly processed.

    By the way, tell Carolyn that I am really impressed with how she grabbed that VLux and started shooting for real. Good stuff..........5000 images already. Man that is powerful

    All the best to the best

    Woody
    Thats what I expected ...would be interesting in seeing the before and after. The big difference that I am seeing with the older ,lower contrast versions ...is the ability to create good looking images thru post processing . Carolyn really enjoys the computer work ..if you can believe it. She likes making books , turns her slide shows into DVD s with music , has her own website . The big breakthru is that she goes to Apple every week for an hour one on one session...last week she bought Aperature and she is reloading and reworking he Paris images. We are lucky in that we have Apple stores in Atlanta and Jupiter that are less than 3 miles away....so I am off the hook.

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Hello to everyone, I’m new on the forum and this is my first post. I have been reading several posts about the special qualities of the different Leica lenses and how they "draw" a certain way. After studying the various images posted, I think I can start to see what everyone is talking about. But in one post, Jack stated that after about f5.6 all the Leica lenses started to appear or render the same. So my question is that after stopping down two or more f-stops, does that certain look or the way a lens draws start to level out, or is this difference present even at the smaller f-stops?

    When discussing the different character of some lenses, it seems the term “draw” if used a lot. After looking at the posts, I can start to see what you are excited about—what a great description. Sharp is what we all start out wanting, but after we achieve it, it seems overrated. The sense or feeling (draw) of the lens becomes more important. So that is what I am asking, is the draw of a lens always present all the way through the f-stops, or do the Leica lenses start to hit a point that they all “draw” the same. I am still too new to tell or just haven’t looked at enough images yet?

    Also, a big thank you to everyone that participates on this forum, because of you all I am a very happy Leica M8 owner. I hope to be posting some of my images very soon to share with everyone, after all, isn’t that what this is all about.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Patrick I can only speak from my experience with the Noctilux. It has a very strong signiture up to 2.8 . Stopping down more, the contrast increases and of course the out of focus areas become less prominent. For this reason I try to use the lens between 1.0 and 2.0 to preserve the Noctilux look. At 5.6 the differences with say a 5o summicron are still there but not as prominent . Roger

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    Senior Member LCT's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Kolb View Post
    ...Jack stated that after about f5.6 all the Leica lenses started to appear or render the same. So my question is that after stopping down two or more f-stops, does that certain look or the way a lens draws start to level out, or is this difference present even at the smaller f-stops?...
    There is a lot of levelling for sure but some characters like vignetting, resistance to flare or OoF rendition may be more or less different. Here FF and 100% crops from a late pre-aspheric Summilux 50/1.4 (above) and the current aspheric version of the same lens at f/5.6.
    Pics taken within the same minute, grey weather, tripod, aperture priority AE, same shutter speed, Epson R-D1, 200 iso.






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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    To easily describe some of this. Like to say some lenses wide open have a certain look to them that when stopped down they will look like other lenses in the same focal length. Lenses like the 50 lux pre asph and asph . Noctilux , 75 summilux , 35mm summilux all when shot wide open have a nice soft look to them but if you stop them down to say F4 and smaller than they will look more like any other lenses in the same focal length like the summicrons in the same focal length. Just a few i picked and there is more but I call these lenses twofers because you essentially are get a 2 for 1 lens in look.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    LCT Thanks for the images. This really shows a big difference in how the OF areas are rendered. The asph has so much microcontrast and edge sharpness that the OF areas look almost sharp. For some photographs this could be helpful...for example something that requires a extensive depth of field. The preasph OF areas are soft,smooth etc creating a nicer separation of the flower from the background. The color renderings are different but I expect that they can be made to look very close in post processing.

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Thanks for the input, and thank you LCT for the images. It seems that the character of the lens, or as I think of it as ‘smooth sharpness’ has its advantages at the wide open f-stops and that some of the ‘technical sharpness’ of the more modern samples would have certain advantages as we start to go to smaller f-stops since the apparent sharpness is in the lens design. I think I can see where this is heading.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    DOWN a very slippery slope.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Wanted to keep this post on the front page -- next week I'll post some images from my 73 Hektor
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    To easily describe some of this. Like to say some lenses wide open have a certain look to them that when stopped down they will look like other lenses in the same focal length. Lenses like the 50 lux pre asph and asph . Noctilux , 75 summilux , 35mm summilux all when shot wide open have a nice soft look to them but if you stop them down to say F4 and smaller than they will look more like any other lenses in the same focal length like the summicrons in the same focal length. Just a few i picked and there is more but I call these lenses twofers because you essentially are get a 2 for 1 lens in look.
    guy, i have to disagree about 1.4/35. it has a very distinct signature even when stopped down (although there is a noticeable difference between anything wider than 2.8 and the rest). have you seen my last pictures with a dancer and a broken piano? it's f/8

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    Senior Member LCT's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Makes me think of a comparo i did between the CV 35/1.4 SC (above) and a late pre-asph Summilux 35/1.4.
    Pics taken within the same minute, no clouds, tripod, f/8, aperture priority AE, same shutter speed, Epson R-D1, FF & 100% crops.



    ___________________



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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Here is a quick snap of a rose in my backyard, more roses and weathered redwood fence in background. 73 Hektor basically as shot wide open at f1.9:



    Here's a slightly different angle of the same rose shown at 100%, as shot with no processing to better show the signature of the lens. Also at f1.9:



    Note this lens sharpens up gradually to about f4.5 where it is as sharp as any modern 75mm.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Jack Your photos really show the special character of the hektor.. no confusing those with the 75 summicron. Would imagine it makes a nice portrait lens. Even smoother than the 75 Lux at 1.4.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Indeed Roger! It is the closest thing I have found to a Cooke Portrait PS 945 large format lens for small cameras. It has some residual spherical aberrations wide open, as does the Cooke, and thus renders almost identically. The charateristic is it generates a sharp image inside a slight soft glow or halo when wide open, the glow disappearing as you stop down to f4, allowing the lens to be very crisp by then. It is however an uncoated optic, so has a bit lower contrast than its contemporaries. I do love the painterly pastel look it provides wide open though, and suspect the lack of coatings contributes to that. A great people lens too, and not nearly as "soft" as the Thambar (a similar vintage 90mm Leica lens designed for portraits) which is so bad on digital as to be virtually unusable on the M8.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Jack -- can you post some more images with the Hektor? i think i'm in love...

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    LOLOL! Will do Cam -- just need to find some time to get out and use it more! Give me a few weeks and I'll get some more up. I have fallen for this lens so much, I've decided to sell my 90 since I doubt I'll ever use it again
    Jack
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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Here is a quick snap of a rose in my backyard, more roses and weathered redwood fence in background. 73 Hektor basically as shot wide open at f1.9:




    Note this lens sharpens up gradually to about f4.5 where it is as sharp as any modern 75mm.
    wow, this is beautiful indeed. do you have any people pictures?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    wow, this is beautiful indeed. do you have any people pictures?
    Not yet. I'll get some up in the next few weeks. I got this lens back form service just before I got my medium format outfit, so have not yet taken a lot of time to experiment with it other than a few simple shots that confirm I love it
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Not yet. I'll get some up in the next few weeks. I got this lens back form service just before I got my medium format outfit, so have not yet taken a lot of time to experiment with it other than a few simple shots that confirm I love it
    please, please do. there is one on ebay right now. if this is what i think it is, i'm buying

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Good move -- I see you snagged that one

    If for any reason you don't like it, I will buy it from you.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    please, please do. there is one on ebay right now. if this is what i think it is, i'm buying
    moi aussi

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Nice "snag" Irakly. I was watching that one!

    More images from the 73mm please!

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    I had that one on my watch list as well.

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    lol, i wonder if any one of you have had by broncolor monolights on a watch list as well

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    guys, i did buy that sucker. i cannot believe how well-preserved the lens is. this is actually the first time i am not regretting a need for a UV/IR-cut filter. this is one of the lenses made with old leica technology when they were still coating glass (like summarit 1.5/50 and summarex 1.5/85).
    i'll shoot something interesting tomorrow, i promise.

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    as promised, i shot something. the first one is probably not what one would expect from a portrait lens, but the second one for sure is what this strange lens is about

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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Those are Fantastic.....Love them both
    maybe even the first shot the Most
    coupled with your M8 (?)

    Tres Cool & Atmospheric
    best-h

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Nice Irakly. The look is similar to the Summarex in the second image . I like the first image. Can't wait to see more.

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
    Those are Fantastic.....Love them both
    maybe even the first shot the Most
    coupled with your M8 (?)

    Tres Cool & Atmospheric
    best-h
    i agree, the first shot is better. the second is just an ordinary portrait, no real magic

    yes this is m8. i sold my m6!

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by cmb_ View Post
    Nice Irakly. The look is similar to the Summarex in the second image . I like the first image. Can't wait to see more.
    i also found the signature remarkably similar to summarex, but in a much lighter and smaller package

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    Subscriber Member Chuck Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Try the old 21mm SA.... pure sex!

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    Subscriber Member Chuck Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    As example....

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    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Jones View Post
    Try the old 21mm SA.... pure sex!
    lovely shot! i love it when a skill and equipment match

    oh, i love 21 SA! could you tell me how to deal with cyan offset? i cannot get rid of that bloody thing when the IR-cut filter is on.

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    ah, my! love the first shot especially, irakly, thank you! but even the second one has very nice tonalities. there's something quite rich and lush about it...

    and, Chuck, naughty boy. fell in love with the SA when i got a chance to try a beautiful mint copy in a store here. they had no idea the metering didn't work on my camera but i knew. fell for it anyway! it was so light and such a joy to use, especially compared with my old 28/2.8 (a beast). you can easily shoot from the hip with the SA... sigh. would have bought it on the spot if it hadn't been so pricey (pristine from a collector).

    this is a very dangerous thread for me!

    more more, all of you!!!

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    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    ...
    oh, i love 21 SA! could you tell me how to deal with cyan offset? i cannot get rid of that bloody thing when the IR-cut filter is on.
    Cornerfix software for the M8 by Sandy McGuffog:
    http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multime...ornerFix.shtml

  40. #40
    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Looking at the three sample images purely from a "character " viewpoint, the hektor seems to have an unusual and distinctive bokeh. The flower image shows it best ....the background has a soft ..almost smudged look . With a pastel background with some highlights ..this adds to the image IMHO . By selecting a rose colored flower ..the soft glow (which would generally be viewed as a weakness in a modern optic) gives an attractive rendering. In the two B+W images ..the "character" is less apparent. In image one ...Reflection...there is very little tone separation ...this does make it look somewhat timeless.. The unique signature isn t as apparent. In the portrait ...this is what I see ...sharpness limited to the eyes ? limited tone separation ? bokeh doesn t add anything? From the examples ...I see a real value using the lens in color but much less so in BW. This is not a critique of the images as I know they were offered up as examples of the "signiture" ....what I am questioning is "how does the signiture add to the image"?

  41. #41
    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    lens signature does not add to the image automatically. it's what you make of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Looking at the three sample images purely from a "character " viewpoint, the hektor seems to have an unusual and distinctive bokeh. The flower image shows it best ....the background has a soft ..almost smudged look . With a pastel background with some highlights ..this adds to the image IMHO . By selecting a rose colored flower ..the soft glow (which would generally be viewed as a weakness in a modern optic) gives an attractive rendering. In the two B+W images ..the "character" is less apparent. In image one ...Reflection...there is very little tone separation ...this does make it look somewhat timeless.. The unique signature isn t as apparent. In the portrait ...this is what I see ...sharpness limited to the eyes ? limited tone separation ? bokeh doesn t add anything? From the examples ...I see a real value using the lens in color but much less so in BW. This is not a critique of the images as I know they were offered up as examples of the "signiture" ....what I am questioning is "how does the signiture add to the image"?

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    lens signature does not add to the image automatically. it's what you make of it.
    agree 100%..what I was trying to say is that the two BW don t seem to showcase the potential of the signiture. The picture of the flower seems to use the signiture to an advantage using the unusual bokeh to compliment the flower and the overall softness to let the colors dominate. Am I missing something as I am assuming that the intended use of the images was to showcase the signiture. Sorry if I am assuming too much .

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    I think the black and whites show off a nice feature of some of the older designs - the low contrast. This coupled with the "overall softness" and the transition from the sharpness plane to the unsharpness blur is what I find compelling about some of the older designs. I particularly like the rendering of images even when the highlights are blown. I noticed this immediately with my 5cm 1.5 Summarit. Even when you add contrast in post the images can still retain a nice feel to them. In Irakly's first image, the whites in the top right third of the image have a softness I find appealing, same with the highlights on the left side of the woman in his second image. Same thing is happening in Jack's image to some extent.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by cmb_ View Post
    I think the black and whites show off a nice feature of some of the older designs - the low contrast. This coupled with the "overall softness" and the transition from the sharpness plane to the unsharpness blur is what I find compelling about some of the older designs. I particularly like the rendering of images even when the highlights are blown. I noticed this immediately with my 5cm 1.5 Summarit. Even when you add contrast in post the images can still retain a nice feel to them. In Irakly's first image, the whites in the top right third of the image have a softness I find appealing, same with the highlights on the left side of the woman in his second image. Same thing is happening in Jack's image to some extent.
    Thanks for pointing this out as it wasn t obvious to me and I am interested in learning. When I started this thread I was thinking about the way a Noctilux renders and how useful it is in certain situations. The smooth out of focus areas , the lower contrast that opens the shadows and the "glow" from the highlights. So I had a preconceived viewpoint on whats special and now I know a little more. Softness and low contrast alone are not enough for me ...I still look for sufficient microcontrast to separate the tones and I think the examples all show the limitations of the lens. But thats what its all about ... selecting lenses that provide the special character that compliments your photographs. .......UPDATE ON THE PREASPH LUX.....what a great all around lens for street shooting..almost a dial in the look you want....I found it especially useful in high contrast evening light...I can adjust the amount of contrast by just selecting 1.4 low, 2.8 med and 5.6 high. Thanks to all that pushed me to try it.

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Roger - I'm just learning and this is just some of my very inexperienced observations.

    My update on the 50 pre-asph - I bought the chrome one from Rangefinderforum, the one you passed on. Ditto what you say, what a great lens. I am just heading out for a walk with that mounted and one other lens along for the ride.

  46. #46
    Subscriber Member Chuck Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Real easy answer to that problem. Take the IR cut filter OFF! I hardly ever use the things anyway, and only under artificial lights which I try to avoid to start with!


    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    lovely shot! i love it when a skill and equipment match

    oh, i love 21 SA! could you tell me how to deal with cyan offset? i cannot get rid of that bloody thing when the IR-cut filter is on.

  47. #47
    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Jones View Post
    Real easy answer to that problem. Take the IR cut filter OFF! I hardly ever use the things anyway, and only under artificial lights which I try to avoid to start with!
    i used my m8 without IR filters for two months. no, i am not taking it off

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    Super Moderator Cindy Flood's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Irakly, look back at #39. I put the link to cornerfix software...it is free, too.

  49. #49
    Senior Member irakly's Avatar
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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Thank you Cindy! All my previous attempts to use it failed because I was to lazy to read that I actually needed a gray card to create profiles. I'll give it another try.
    Also, LIghtroom 2.0 supports plugins. Have you thought of making it LR compatible?

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    Re: Lenses with that Special Character

    Quote Originally Posted by irakly View Post
    please, please do. there is one on ebay right now. if this is what i think it is, i'm buying
    have you had enough time to figure out if this is what you thought it was? are you pleased?

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