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Thread: Do you miss your fast lenses?

  1. #1
    Alexander DeVoe
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    Do you miss your fast lenses?

    So this is for anyone who has converted from 35mm to MFD.

    When making the switch to a MF system, do you often find yourself missing the fast (f/1.2 - f/2.0) lenses of 35mm? Do you find yourself shooting less in available light?

    I recognize the big difference in high ISO performance between 35mm world and MFD, but I rarely shoot high ISO anyway. I don't think the ISO issue would bother me. But thinking about it, I am noticing that I might be avoiding shooting at those high ISO's by shooting at extremely fast apertures (with my 35mm gear). On average my lens line up would be losing at least a full stop (sometimes 2 or more) in speed assuming a switch to MFD... not to mention the faster shutter speeds needed due to higher resolution.

    What do you pros and non-pros alike find yourselves doing? Do you miss those super fast lenses?

    Also, how are MFD lenses wide open? Coming from 35mm I know that most lenses are a bit soft WO, but how about MF? I know this can't be generalized, but what about the more common lenses from Hasse and Phase/Schneider?

    Thanks
    -Alex

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    The depth of field at f2.5 on MFD is extremely narrow. I can't imagine how f1.2 would be useable on a MFD.

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    Senior Member JimCollum's Avatar
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    I use a 110/2 and 80/1.9 all the time.. and find no shortage of shallow DOF with them

    at portrait distance, and wide open you typically just get the surface of the eye in focus.. with everything in front of and behind blurry

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    As to DOF I agree with Mark.

    But if you want to use MFD in "available light" (in the sense of little light) you are most likely on the wrong track…
    The newer backs are quite usable at higher ISO, especially the H4D40 seems to be really good up to ISO800.
    Still, low light is DSLR territory.

    lenses...
    The wide-open-king is most likely the new Leica S2 70mm lens.
    Though the S2 is obviously not the high ISO king…

    The Rollei lenses are known to be very sharp wide open.
    Discontinued system...

    The Contax has the fastes lens lineup (3.4/35, 2.8/45, 2.0/80, 2.8/140).
    For certain purposes they are usable wide open, especially on DBs with a larger pixel pitch. But in general they have to be stopped down to be really sharp.
    Discontinued, too…

    Others will comment on Hassy and Phase lenses...

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Although I haven't yet taken any photographs with my recently acquired Contax / P30+ outfit, I took it with me on my outing last Friday to see how difficult it will be to use for my nighttime photography (examples of which you can see at http://audiidudii.aminus3.com/) as compared to my m4/3 gear and collection of Olympus F2 zooms. Mind you, I don't actually shoot any of them at F2, just compose and focus, but the extra speed has made this quite a bit easier.

    My tentative conclusion? It's going to be more difficult, thanks to the one-stop (or more!) slower lenses as well as the fact that the viewfinder doesn't gain-up the way that an LCD does. Several scenes where I was able to compose and focus an image using just the ambient light with my Olympus E-PL1/14-35 combo required me to use a flashlight with the Contax 35/f3.5, which has given me pause for concern.

    I'm also concerned about having less DoF to work with, as my exposures are already fairly long at ISO100 and f5.6 and stopping down further will make them even longer, but my number-crunching tells me I should be okay at F8 most of the time, so we'll see.

    So, to answer your question, Yes, I'm going to miss my fast lenses, but for a different reason than most people will cite.
    Last edited by Audii-Dudii; 28th July 2010 at 14:49.

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    My most used MFD lens is the HC 100/2.2.

    I've shot this lens side-by-side with a 75/1.4 on a M9 ... and the look and feel is remarkably similar.

    -Marc

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Audii-Dudii View Post
    It's going to be more difficult, thanks to the one-stop (or more!) slower lenses as well as the fact that the viewfinder doesn't gain-up the way that an LCD does.
    You have to get 2 items for your Contax:
    - a Hilux screen from Bill Maxwell
    - a waist level finder

    these will improve the finder experience massively...

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas View Post
    You have to get 2 items for your Contax:
    - a Hilux screen from Bill Maxwell
    - a waist level finder

    these will improve the finder experience massively...
    Bill is preparing a screen for me as I write this. In addition to the MF-1 viewfinder, I also tried focusing with a Hoodman LCD finder held in place of the viewfinder (surprisingly, it covers the finder opening almost perfectly and works quite well) and with my 3.6x Toyo loupe directly on the screen.

    Based upon my results, I'm not sure I'm going to pay through the nose for a waist-level finder but instead have S.K. Grimes adapt my 3x Mamiya loupe to mount on the body instead. Not only will it work better, it will cost me less than half the going rate for a used waist-level finder.

    At least that's my plan...

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    This crop shot (taken from about 4') should give you an idea how shallow the DOF is in MF land. Taken with the Hassy 110/2 wide open on the Leica S2. I may have over-sharpened it a tad in post but I think it's still informative. First time I've nailed it with this lens wide open

  10. #10
    Alexander DeVoe
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    I know I wouldn't be able to shoot an f/1.4 on a MFDB, but was just wondering if the required stopping down in MF was something that low-light shooters found to be too much of a hassle. But then again, there probably aren't many MF low light shooters. Issues and situations like the ones that Audii-Dudii ran into are more what I was thinking of.

    Most of what I shoot would have plenty of light available or added, but I was just curious as to how these lenses performed/looked or if they were even usable wide open. Just another thought as I research MF...

    Think I am going to test drive the H3DII-31 and the H4D-40 within a few weeks, so in coming times maybe I will be more able to tell if MF will be at all a fit for me... I think hands on is necessary. It helped a ton going into Large Format for sure.

    -Alex

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Audii-Dudii View Post
    ... At least that's my plan...
    sounds like a very good plan!

  12. #12
    Alexander DeVoe
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    This crop shot (taken from about 4') should give you an idea how shallow the DOF is in MF land. Taken with the Hassy 110/2 wide open on the Leica S2. I may have over-sharpened it a tad in post but I think it's still informative. First time I've nailed it with this lens wide open
    Thanks for the example David. That is exactly the kind of info I need. Awesome shot, by the way!

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Maybe you should look at this, Steve McCurry is an available light shooter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCOhk...eature=related

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    FWIW... here's the Contax 2.0/80 on a P45 at f2.0

    without sharpening and with 2 different approaches to sharpen the image.
    finally a version with some grain added.
    still would require some work to get rid of the sharpening artifacts but it shows something.
    things get better at f2.8...

    scene:


    without sharpening


    sharpening 1:


    sharpening 2:


    sharpening 2, grain added:

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    This crop shot (taken from about 4') should give you an idea how shallow the DOF is in MF land. Taken with the Hassy 110/2 wide open on the Leica S2. I may have over-sharpened it a tad in post but I think it's still informative. First time I've nailed it with this lens wide open
    That is a very good demonstration of the shallow DOF. Plus, the pun (nailed it) was a bonus.

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    David - how did you use a hasselblad lens on an S2?

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    David - how did you use a hasselblad lens on an S2?
    I was wondering if anybody was going to ask. There's an adapter (not cheap) which allows this and I was anxious to see how well it worked. David F has two of them but only one of the two locked securely on the lens. Once it's on the camera it's the same stop down metering story, i.e. shooting in manual mode and turning the shutter speed dial until you have proper exposure. Shooting in bright Florida sunlight I was able to accurately focus with the lens stopped down to 5.6. Obviously easier to focus wide open but really not a problem either way... and my eyesight is not what it was before I started staring at computer screens for hours a day. I left my Hassy 350 SA with David for testing... maybe he'll post some shots when he gets around to them.

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by David K View Post
    I was wondering if anybody was going to ask. There's an adapter (not cheap) which allows this and I was anxious to see how well it worked. David F has two of them but only one of the two locked securely on the lens. Once it's on the camera it's the same stop down metering story, i.e. shooting in manual mode and turning the shutter speed dial until you have proper exposure. Shooting in bright Florida sunlight I was able to accurately focus with the lens stopped down to 5.6. Obviously easier to focus wide open but really not a problem either way... and my eyesight is not what it was before I started staring at computer screens for hours a day. I left my Hassy 350 SA with David for testing... maybe he'll post some shots when he gets around to them.
    For visual reference....
    David Farkas
    Leica Store Miami

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by dfarkas View Post
    For visual reference....
    Now that has got my attention

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Thanks David and David ( btw David F ) you really should check your emsils -

    This adaptor is very interesting...

    There are then - a lot more 'lenses' available than 'just' Leica...

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    Thanks David and David ( btw David F ) you really should check your emsils -

    This adaptor is very interesting...

    There are then - a lot more 'lenses' available than 'just' Leica...
    I think the most useful V lenses will be unique ones like the 110 f/2 that have a special look as well as focal lengths missing from the Leica lineup (for now) like a 250 SA, 350 SA, or even 50 f/4.

    So far we've tried the 40 FLE (non-IF) CF, 50 f/4 CF, 60 f/3.5 CF, 80 f/2.8 CF, 110 f/2 FE, 120 f/4 CFi, 150 f/4 CF, 180 f/4 CFE, and the 350 f/5.6 SA CF. All focus quite easily on the S2 and achieve perfect infinity focus. Ironically, most show more CA than the Leica 70mm, and unsurprisingly, aren't quite as sharp when shot wide-open. Hopefully, when we've compiled enough data we will publish our findings (most likely on my blog).

    Peter, no email..... do you have my current email address? It's [email protected].

    David
    David Farkas
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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Just to add to what's been said, I find that MF DoF is about 2 stops over what the equivalent 35mm DoF is. IOW, f1.4 on a 50 in 35mm, is roughly equivalent to f2.8 on an 80 in MF if that makes sense. Hence, the 110/2's popularity to be mounted to everything out there -- it is roughly equivalent to a 50/f1.0 in 35mm

    Moreover, I find my latest Phase 80/2.8 LS to be spectacular wide open, with great bokeh and a gentle progression to the creamy rendering, very reminiscent of the Leica M 50 Lux pre-asph.
    Jack
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    A 36x48mm sensor ("normal digital medium format") has twice the area of 35mm, therefore you "loose" 1 stop DoF.

    f2.8 on 35mm would be f4.0 with medium format (altohugh the overall look of MF is still different).

    The "real" (~60x40mm) medium format backs (60MP) "loose" about 1.5 stops, the small MFDBs (31/40MP + S2) only "loose" a little bit more than half a stop.

    Most fast MF-lenses have a distinctive ("soft an creamy") open-aperture look, like older f1.4-designs for 35mm - the S2 lenses lack this look.

    Another issue is the mirror, handhelding long times is not a good idea when you want to keep the resolution high.

    So: MF for available-light (there are only two cameras with current CCDs and microlenses for usable >640ASA: H4D-40 + S2) not so much, but a narrow DoF with an interesting look shouldn't be an issue.

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    For me I don't really miss the fast glass anymore and reason being is my back for one can do high ISO full res. The other issue is lens performance and on a couple lenses I have like the 150 D for instance at 2.8 it is brilliant although paper thin DOF on some gigs I absolutely need 2.8 and this lens would be the first to turn too. Lenses like a 28mm D are not great wide open anyway so little need there. But the 45, 80 , 150 and even the 300 4.5 are very good wide open and with a higher ISO back like the P40+ i rarely run into trouble and still get nice bokeh from them. Plus even at F4 or so the bokeh is the same as the 1.8 and 2.0 lenses on 35mm. So honestly the number means very little it is more sensor size and lens combination.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by dfarkas View Post
    I think the most useful V lenses will be unique ones like the 110 f/2 that have a special look as well as focal lengths missing from the Leica lineup (for now) like a 250 SA, 350 SA, or even 50 f/4.

    So far we've tried the 40 FLE (non-IF) CF, 50 f/4 CF, 60 f/3.5 CF, 80 f/2.8 CF, 110 f/2 FE, 120 f/4 CFi, 150 f/4 CF, 180 f/4 CFE, and the 350 f/5.6 SA CF. All focus quite easily on the S2 and achieve perfect infinity focus. Ironically, most show more CA than the Leica 70mm, and unsurprisingly, aren't quite as sharp when shot wide-open. Hopefully, when we've compiled enough data we will publish our findings (most likely on my blog).

    Peter, no email..... do you have my current email address? It's [email protected].

    David
    David, I would strongly suggest trying the 100 3.5 CF lens, a very high performing lens.

    David K. (Toronto)

  26. #26
    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    This is a great thread...

    As someone who's been a 35mm shooter forever, I've often wondered (anecdotally) what the MF shooters felt about having "slower" glass. I shoot between f/1.2 and f/2.8 essentially all the time in my 35mm work (at least my portraiture and wedding work) and the "slower" MF glass has given me pause a few times when considering the move up to MF.

    For me, the main pause has been about resulting shutter speeds, not DoF... but it seems like that's getting to be less of an issue with the newer backs and their ability to handle middle/higher ISOs better.

    The thoughts on here are very helpful to a wide-aperture-35mm-shooting-guy like myself, lol. Thanks all...

  27. #27
    Alexander DeVoe
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelby Lewis View Post
    This is a great thread...

    As someone who's been a 35mm shooter forever, I've often wondered (anecdotally) what the MF shooters felt about having "slower" glass. I shoot between f/1.2 and f/2.8 essentially all the time in my 35mm work (at least my portraiture and wedding work) and the "slower" MF glass has given me pause a few times when considering the move up to MF.

    ...

    The thoughts on here are very helpful to a wide-aperture-35mm-shooting-guy like myself, lol. Thanks all...

    Shelby, You did a better job of translating my thoughts into words than I did!

    Most of my shooting, (after acquiring fast glass...) has been down in the f/1.4 - 2.8 range as well. Consequently, although risky due to camera/hand shake, I have been getting away with low light conditions that I would have been unable to shoot in before. But, then again, I'm pretty stubborn about raising ISO. A back that handles ISO800 cleanly is starting to sound really sweet right now. Which makes that H4D-40/35-90mm deal even sweeter. MUST WAIT TILL PHOTOKINA... RESIST JUMPING! (I won't buy anything until I've seen everything, by the way. I just want to.)

    I might have to check out the 110 f/2 as you mentioned Jack, it seems like it gets a lot of love from a lot of people...

    I guess my concern was twofold - both shutter speed and DoF. The explanations and examples everyone has been giving are perfect and exactly what I needed. I love the creamier look of the MF glass, and certainly wouldn't miss the slightly splotchier Nikon bokeh that I'm used to in my lenses. Not that I don't like it, I just prefer the smoothness of the Hasse + Phase/Schneider rendering.


    -Alex

  28. #28
    Shelby Lewis
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alexander DeVoe View Post
    But, then again, I'm pretty stubborn about raising ISO
    This is where I'm NOT stubborn... and have wondered if my standards for a "clean file" are a bit looser than many here. I've had many a wedding file that clients loved that most here would deem "unusably noisy". I've surely seen online reviews where the comment was made that "ISO 400 is for emergencies only" and I thought to myself "it's not that bad, especially given the amount of resolution in the file".

    From that side of things, I wish there were more ISO 400 (and up) samples from some of the lower priced backs out there.

    As a location shooter, a file that captures the essence of the moment is often of the greatest importance to me...Still, wouldn't an 80mm f/1.4 MF lens be something interesting?! That might get us portrait shooters something closer to the LF "look"

    Who knows

  29. #29
    Alexander DeVoe
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    Re: Do you miss your fast lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shelby Lewis View Post
    I've had many a wedding file that clients loved that most here would deem "unusably noisy". I've surely seen online reviews where the comment was made that "ISO 400 is for emergencies only" and I thought to myself "it's not that bad, especially given the amount of resolution in the file".

    From that side of things, I wish there were more ISO 400 (and up) samples from some of the lower priced backs out there.
    I have to agree that when I do find myself bumping up the ISO a bit, I'm getting a file that is more than usable, and sometimes one of the best/most liked shots from a given scene. This is especially true when rather liberal post processing takes place (like with my own little bit of wedding/portrait work).

    I think this is a bit of a photographers curse (at least when dealing with non-technical clients/audience): a VERY critical eye regarding the technical aspect of a given photograph. I know that I find myself looking for it more and more with a direct relationship to how much I know, and how technically "accurate" my own work is.

    How does that saying go... The best photographs are the photographs you actually take? Something like that. Basically, I think it is more worthwhile to nitpick less and shoot more. At least in my own work. A little noise shouldn't scare me, and I don't know why it does. But don't let the sensor manufacturers hear that. My story for them is I want nothing less than perfection.

    I guess it's just one of those things where I need a reason to remember to set the cleanest usable ISO, or I won't. I know that was a problem in my early work (not at all anymore). The metadata from my early digital stuff is pretty humorous.

    -Alex

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