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Thread: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

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    Senior Member bradhusick's Avatar
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    35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Steve Huff just published my new article "The Great 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout". I hope you enjoy it. Please post comments over there if you have them.

    The Great 35mm Rangefinder lens Shootout! by Brad Husick | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS
    Brad Husick

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    No, gotta do it again. You kept moving the ducks around between exposures and I can't accurately judge the detail in the frames.

    Thanks. That was very interesting. It was also interesting where moire appeared.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Nice comparison Brad. Thank you!

    The Skopar photo was surprisingly soft after having seen so many photos floating around with good sharpness.
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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Very nice work, Brad! I am suprised by the weakness of the skopar...it looks really bad. I had it once, and was impressed by it's sharpness on center, but at close focal distances. What this shows, is that the 2 Leica options and Zeiss Biogon (I saw that the Biogon-C wasn't tested...it's probably right up there) hold strong....i.e. you pay for what you get....
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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Cool, Brad. I'll be doing one myself soon with a handful of lenses.

    Already got one Lens Shoot-Out (50mm) done - next one's strictly between the Nokton, Noctilux and possibly Hyperprime.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Would be interesting to see how the Nokton II holds us next to the Biogon and Leica lenses. I agree that the Skopar doesn't look as sharp as I've see in some other pictures but I've never owned it myself. The moire was pretty strong in the Biogon but I halfway expected that if there was something that could give an example of it present in the photo.
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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    I also wonder how accurate the infinity stop is which may explain some of the results. I had a Skopar that could not focus to infinity.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    The Nokton versions I and II should perform nearly identically. If anything, the II might have the slightest edge on sharpness.

    The Color Skopar lenses are very nice indeed - I've got a couple myself (which I picked up based solely on size). Their biggest problem is barrel distortion (as with many CV lenses). The corners aren't their strong suit either (towards wide open). But unless you go looking at/for these things, it's not really an issue. They have a nice rendering, plenty sharp - and did I mention their ridiculous size? Love 'em.

    The moire isn't surprising to see from the better lenses... The sharper the lens, the more you'll see typically (as they resolve all those tiny details). I've been working on a moire shoot-out between the different apps and Capture One is probably your best bet in combating it (at this time) but I haven't given the latest from Adobe a proper workout yet.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by Armanius View Post
    ...The Skopar photo was surprisingly soft after having seen so many photos floating around with good sharpness.
    Yes, but at what distance were those 'good' photographs focused? For good reasons, including testing convenience, most lenses in tests are not focused to infinity, but use subjects fairly close to the camera. That same Colour Skopar may well have performed well at a closer focusing distance, the sort of subject distance usually used by lens testers.

    I had a 35mm Colour Skopar which performed pretty well with subjects nearish to the camera, but less so when further away. When I was able to I replaced it with a Zeiss 35mm C-Biogon which has proved to be an outstanding purchase. I have a suspicion that the 28 and 35 Colour Skopars are weaker from middle distance to infinity, anyone share my suspicion? Was the owner of that particular Colour Skopar dubious about it before the tests?

    ............ Chris

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    ^ Hmm, interesting. I just flipped through my 35 CS shots - admittedly I don't have many (if any) focused directly at infinity. Most of my stuff is all at closer range. But where infinity is sharp (through DoF), it seems decent enough. I'll have to dig a little deeper and see if there's anything behind that suspicion.

    I'm not sure there are any CV lenses that will compare with the Zeiss C Biogon T* 2,8/35 ZM in terms of... Anything. Sharpness, flat field, low distortion, flare, etc. That lens sets the bar very high.
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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Thanks Brad, interesting test and of course informative and very much enjoyed reading and looking at your posted article.

    What I personally observed when testing some moderate wide angle lenses in general, are that some exhibit mild to severe field (spherical) curvature, so that at the wider apertures, center sharpness may be fine but side/edge sharpess is soft. Yet if one examines the closer foreground of the same image, the side/edges are indeed quite sharp, in fact shaper than the sides/edges of the image thats in the same plane as the center. Therein lies a problem since when sides/edges and corners are not as sharp as some other lenses tested against it, it may simply be due to this curvature and not actually a loss of resolving power away from the center of the frame. I found the VC 35mm f1.2 II has this trait and interestingly, it appears more so than the Ver. I I tested it against. Seems that to slightly increase shapness in the VII of this lens at wider apertures (compared to VI), and therefore some field curvature had to be introduced.

    It's a trademark of some optical designed whereby they have to balance out sharpness vs. flat field (or something close to flat field). An after market company that markets a 14mm SLR lens, had their initial version of their 14mm, which only had moderate sharpness, but an update version of the same lens had incredable sharpness, but it also resulted in introducing a tremendous amount of image curvature. Seems Nikon too had to make such a compromise with their recent 16-35mm VR lens.

    With the floating element design of the 35mm FLE, this might have helped greatly with this issue.

    The Leica 35mm f1.4 Lux asph (version prior to the FLE) also showed moderate field curvature at closer range.

    Only mentioning all of this, as personal observations such as I just described, might initially influence judgement when comparing two or more lenses in terms of their center/corner sharpness.

    As you demonstrated, the Biogon is a excellent buy and I often miss the one I had some time ago. Thanks again Brad.

    Dave (D&A)
    Last edited by D&A; 28th March 2012 at 18:30.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Love the discussion! What I'm hearing also reinforces my decision to pick up a Biogon-C! It arrives this Friday!
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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Very nice Brad. Thank you!!

    I really enjoyed to read your article.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Not really surprised at the results, my experience with some of these designs has been pretty much the same, especially the Summarit

    I must say that I also have found the CV lenses to be generally much better at close focusing distances than at infinity. This has happened with a number of CV lenses that I was intending to buy based on reputation, until I test shot them. I then decided not to make the purchase.

    The one exception has been the 28 3.5 Colour Skopar, that simply amazes me with it's edge to edge sharpness, micro contrast, and flare resistance. The performance is first rate at both close and distant ranges.

    There is a light fall off issue with the lens however, but on my M8 the results are excellent, especially with B&W conversions. It has become my M8 body cap.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    That with the Skopar I canīt understand it.

    It's a fantastic lens with a dreamlike sharpness.
    The small white dots are drops

    Here's an example with the M8. The crop prevents the edge blur.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Like I said above, I like my Skopars... These are from the 35:






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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by Seascape View Post
    ... I also have found the CV lenses to be generally much better at close focusing distances than at infinity..... one exception has been the 28 3.5 Colour Skopar, that simply amazes me with it's edge to edge sharpness, micro contrast, and flare resistance. The performance is first rate at both close and distant ranges.......
    Thanks for that feedback, I'll take it at face value. I'd love to be able to apply what you wrote to my own 28mm Colour Skopar, but can't. Sean Reid stated that he hadn't come across a poor version of the lens, maybe I have the exception. Or maybe I am now spoiled rotten by having the 35 C-Biogon.

    ............. Chris

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    ^ I think you're getting spoiled by the C Biogon. Heh. You should try the Biogon T* 2,8/25 ZM some time. You want sharp infinity? Let alone everything else? That's your lens. I wrote up a review on it - one of the sharpest lenses I've ever shot and still a favorite.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Interesting report, thanks for posting it.

    I'm not a landscapist. My primary subject matter is more often than not in the 4 to 25 foot distance range, so tree detailing at or close to infinity is a lesser concern to me.

    The Skopars I have (21, 28 LTM, 35, 50 LTM) are all very nice performers and I like their rendering qualities; the 35/2.5 I've got is the sharpest of them and truly superb.

    That said, I'd love that Super Elmar 21 and Zeiss 25 mm. AND I'm in love with the Nokton 50/1.5 LTM I bought recently. ;-)

    Hooray for all the choices! There really aren't any bad lenses in the batch.

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    Re: 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout

    Godfrey - I'm with you - I think a more meaningful shootout would have been to actually focus the lenses on a subject within the range where focusing is possible.

    As is, I wouldn't draw any conclusions from this test.

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