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Thread: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

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    Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Hi all -

    I'm considering one of these mounted on a TC with an IQ180 for shooting full spherical panos. Would not be looking to ever shift this lens.

    Can anyone comment on image quality of this set-up compared to alternative lens/camera options around that focal length? I have the Mamiya 80/1.9 and 80/2.8 AF on the Phase One AF. I'm assuming this is a night-and-day comparison with those two, yes?

    What about compared to the latest Phase One 80mm focal plane or leaf shutter lenses? (I don't really want to look at the LS as that would mean dumping the AF body for the DF, and I don't think the DF is a smart buy right now).

    Thanks in advance for any feedback.

    Kind regards,

    Gerald.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Hi Gerald, I can't comment on the exact Alpa lens you mention as I'm an Arca user but compared to the Rodenstock 90mm IMO there is very little if anything to choose between modern lenses of this focal length. Wides are a totally different can of worms but standard focal length up the SLR lenses are excellent.

    I love the RS 90mm as it has a very nice rendering quality but from a sharpness perspective I sometimes think the Phase/Schneider 80's are sharper.

    I did own the Phase 80D but recently swapped it for the Schneider 80LS for the leaf shutter capabilities. The Phase 80D is every bit as sharp as the Schneider and I found it to be slightly higher contrast giving the impression of it being a sharper lens. Wide open the 80LS is a tiny bit better but 1+ stop down there is nothing in it.

    I've never tested them side by side however, stopped down I very much doubt the differences between your old Mamiya 80 f2.8 and the newer 80D/80LS will be all that great as the old 80 f2.8 as I remember it was a great lens.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Thanks Gareth -

    The reason I was looking at this lens was because Alpa specifically call it out on their website -

    "This lens offers a sensational high resolution of over 60 line pairs/mm, a nearly inexistent distortion of 0.3 % and lateral color abberation of lower than 2 micrometers (= lower than one third of a pixel)."

    I was wondering whether this really was an exception or not, as they don't seem to make similar comments for any other lenses.

    Regards,

    Gerald.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Quote Originally Posted by gerald.d View Post
    The reason I was looking at this lens was because Alpa specifically call it out on their website
    I'm not saying too much regarding my view on Alpa equipment as my comments usually lead to people getting their knickers in a twist but it looks like the standard Schneider Apo-Digitar 72L but Alpa being Alpa just rebrand it and call it a 75mm as the actual effective focal length of the 72L is 74.8mm.

    Looking at how older Schneider lens MTF's are measured, I'd take the "over 60 lp/mm" with a pinch of marketing BS.

    A great lens no doubt but nothing "sensational"

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Thanks Gareth.

    I'll see if I can get one to test out. One advantage is that the Alpa lens/camera/back combined weight would I believe be around a kilogram less than the AF option. This should make a difference with regards the speed I can shoot panos, since presumably with less weight spinning around on the VR Drive, the less time I need to allow for the rig to settle in each shooting position.

    Kind regards,

    Gerald.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    If your after truly a truly sharp lens for the Alpa around this focal length, I would look at the Schneider Apo-Digital 5.6/60mm, Rodenstock HR Digaron S 4.0/60mm or Rodenstock HR Digaron W 5.6/70mm.

    All much sharper options than the Alpa you are looking at and the two 60's have very low distortion..

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Hi Gareth -

    That's much appreciated advice. Thanks.

    So odd that Alpa would make a song and dance about the 75/5.6 if there are other lenses around that focal length that are better options if ultimate sharpness is what one is looking for.

    Kind regards,

    Gerald.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Quote Originally Posted by gerald.d View Post
    So odd that Alpa would make a song and dance about the 75/5.6 if there are other lenses around that focal length that are better options if ultimate sharpness is what one is looking for.
    I could but I'm not saying a thing!

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    the SK 72L as ALPA suggest is very good in terms of resolution but more-so in terms distortion and CA. It is popular in both aerial mapping, photogrammetry as well as technical drawing reproduction and other machine vision applications
    Yair Shahar | Product Manager | Phase One | Mamiya Leaf
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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Thanks Yair.

    Given the specific circumstances - no desire to shift, IQ180 and Alpa TC - which tech camera lens in the 70-90 range would you recommend, and are you able to comment on optical quality vs a DSLR option?

    Weight is a big advantage from a practical point of view for this use-case, so that's a huge tick in the Alpa box, but it would be comforting to know whether I can expect a $3500 lens to out-perform a $300 one!

    Kind regards,

    Gerald.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Gerald,
    Gareth is right. I think without exception the Alpa lenses are rebranded std Rodenstocks and Schneiders. I think you are on the right track for the lightest camera. I wouldn't read too much into Alpa's little statements about each lens on the web. Some of them are pretty goofy. It's like the text was created out of context with other lenses.

    I have the 70 HR-W with the Alpa STC. The 70 is not too big like a lot of the Rodi's. I think Guy has the SK72 (AKA 75) in Cambo dressing doesn't he?

    Dave

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Thanks Dave -

    Yes - I believe what you say to be the case. You do pay quite a premium for mounting these lenses for Alpa!

    Great to hear that you have the 70 HR-W, which Gareth is recommending over the SK.

    Do you have any experience/thoughts/comments regarding the quality of that lens (unshifted) on your STC against the Phase/Mamiya options?

    Kind regards,

    Gerald.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Gerald if you're looking for distortion and CA free images then the SK is the better option. Resolution wise you won't be able to tell the difference between the SK and the HR-W, unless you shoot wide open. The HR-W being retrofocal is better in terms of colour shift (or the lack of it) and is sharper wide open. It also suffers a bit less from luminance fall off when shifted

    With regards to comparing an ALPA TC with one of these lenses to an SLR solution, In general I would say that the bigger differences will be in handling and functionality and less in terms of sheer image quality. The 80mm LS for example, gives you autofocus (or a proper viewfinder with focus assist if you use it manually), higher sync speed (1/1,600), higher max shutter speed (1/4,000) and another stop of light...but the camera is bigger, heavier, noisier and needs batteries...

    Distortion and CA are handled very well in Capture One so you are left with comparing resolution and sharpness. IME the 72L and the 70 HR-W at f8-f11 are better than the 80mm LS but definitely not miles better...

    Yair
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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    No experience with the lenses. But would you not want an SLR when using the VR Drive so that firing is fully automated? Otherwise you'd need to cock and fire the shutter manually every time wouldn't you? Negating the point of the VR Drive.!?
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Hi Craig -

    I'll be using the VR Drive with the Hartblei HCam for low res spheres (using Canon lenses), and with the Phase One AF for very high resolution panos (200 and 300mm Mamiya lenses). Both those options, the VR Drive can fire the shutter.

    In each of the above cases, they are the only real options available for the output sizes.

    But in the mid-range (in the 3-5 gigapixel range) there a few ways of going about it. For these, I'm simply interested in the absolute best quality achievable, and don't see having to manually fire the shutter as a major disadvantage.

    Regards,

    Gerald.

    /edit
    Just to put it into context, I think it would be around 60-70 shots for a full spherical with a 70mm lens. The last major pano I shot with a 1D4 was over 4,500 images, and those were all fired manually. The big benefit of the VR Drive is the positioning for the shots.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    You can also have the lens mounted in an electronic shutter (Rollei ro Schneider) and fire it remotely if that is needed...

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Ooh.

    Now that would be interesting. I'll have to look into that.

    Thanks!

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Gerald, I've had a second thought regarding your lens choice when creating your mega multi image stitches with regards to tech camera lenses. I've had a quick look at the illumination fall off charts for all the lenses in this discussion and it would seem all have pretty sharp fall off from centre to edge. Unshifted it looks to be between about 1/3 to 1/2 stop. Not a great deal to most of us but for your unique application it might cause a problem.... not sure?

    Somewhere the (newer 80D/80LS) SLR lenses and their auto corrections have their advantages it would seem.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Quote Originally Posted by gazwas View Post
    Gerald, I've had a second thought regarding your lens choice when creating your mega multi image stitches with regards to tech camera lenses. I've had a quick look at the illumination fall off charts for all the lenses in this discussion and it would seem all have pretty sharp fall off from centre to edge. Unshifted it looks to be between about 1/3 to 1/2 stop. Not a great deal to most of us but for your unique application it might cause a problem.... not sure?

    Somewhere the (newer 80D/80LS) SLR lenses and their auto corrections have their advantages it would seem.
    Don't think that would be an issue. Here's a test I shot with the Mamiya 50mm shift last week. Shot an LCC, most basic of processing in C1, and no discernible vignetting in the output pano:

    Virtual Tour generated by Panotour

    That took around three hours from first photo being taken, to being online (2.2 gigapixels).

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Quote Originally Posted by gerald.d View Post
    Don't think that would be an issue. Here's a test I shot with the Mamiya 50mm shift last week. Shot an LCC, most basic of processing in C1, and no discernible vignetting in the output pano:
    If you're fine with adding the LCC to each image then yes, you'll have no problem. Just wasn't sure how much processing you wanted to do with so many shots to stitch together although the advantage is the LCC will be the same for each image.

    Nice work on the stitch but the way!

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    I just shoot one LCC for the whole set, and then apply it to all.

    Seems to work OK.

    Totally automatic stitch that one - I didn't need to touch it at all

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Ah ok Gerald, didn't realize you had the VR Drive already. If your not doing HDR spherical pano's then I don't see any problems.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Quote Originally Posted by yaya View Post
    You can also have the lens mounted in an electronic shutter (Rollei ro Schneider) and fire it remotely if that is needed...
    Trying to find out more about this option (not least because until Craig's post I'd totally neglected the need to cock the shutter for each shot, which would be a pain), but struggling.

    SK seems to be very old tech, and limited to 1/60th maximum speed? Rollei seems to imply a PC is required as well.

    Real shame if this is the case, because it's nearly a very good option indeed.

    Kind regards,

    Gerald.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Hi Gerald, if your going down the road of electronic shutter you need some manner of control to fire the thing. Be that in the form of a hand held controller or a PC, IMO you might as well stick to the DF as the compactness of the Alpa will be in vein. As you say also, I think all are limited from 30 seconds to only 1/60sec. Rollei was 1/500 but don't think they are made any longer. Another consideration is the shutter mount itself does add considerable bulk and weight.

    Thinks are never easy.... just as you think your getting somewhere..... always compromises!

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    DHW can still sell the Rollei e-shutters. The standard one is 1/500 in #0 size and the "industrial" one is 1/1000 in #1 size so bigger and heavier. You can use the control S unit or a black box that replaces it and that is controlled buy either a PC or the digital back

    but as Gareth says this makes everything more cumbersome and expensive. Probably worth the effort if you are building a business around this application....but if you're already looking in that direction then I would put the Phase One iXR/ iXA on the shopping list...
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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Yeah, I'm starting to feel that way a bit. The compactness bit is advantageous only with regards what needs to be mounted on the VR Drive. I definitely don't want to have to tether to a PC to do this.

    However...

    I've been doing some more investigation, and I don't actually think the Rollei does need a PC. It's starting to look like a very plausible option. If I understand correctly, if the lens is mounted in the Rollei shutter, then the handheld unit just needs to connect to the lens with one cable, and the back with another.

    My search has led me to this fairly recent ad on LuLa...

    Alpa Aerial camera body & lens for sale $5,200

    I wonder...

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Quote Originally Posted by gerald.d View Post
    Do you have any experience/thoughts/comments regarding the quality of that lens (unshifted) on your STC against the Phase/Mamiya options?
    Well yes, but no direct comparisons. I had the 80LS with the DF for about a year. It did a fine job and no need for LCC either. I do need LCC for this lens w/ IQ180 even unshifted. Pretty sure you would need one for the SK as well, especially since it is not a retrofocus design.

    I really don't think you should make this choice based on what you think is sharpest. All three (the SK72-75-whatever, 70HR-W and 80LS) should give you impeccably sharp images. You could make the argument that the 70HR is sharper in very controlled conditions, but I don't think we run into those conditions very often in the real world. As Yair points out the SK has less distortion. Not sure if that matters to you. I have the SK43 and like it very much, although it is not without its challenges...

    The tech camera route is a quirky one. If you start wishing to yourself you had e-shutter, autofocus and/or a light meter you might as well go with the DF. I don't know much about the e-shutters. Dennis at Dodd has e-shutters hanging around on his desk and deals with Alpa. You might want to reach out to him to get his thoughts: 216-361-6805.

    Ciao,
    Dave

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Still looking into this. Thanks all for the comments and suggestions so far - they are much appreciated.

    I'm a bit of a noob when it comes to shutters, and have only just discovered that there is a "press" version of a Copal 0 shutter than is self-cocking.

    Does anyone know if Alpa lenses can be ordered with this shutter?

    Kind regards,

    Gerald.

    /edit

    Answering my own question - had a really helpful reply from Alpa on this, detailing all the diffenent shutter options and their pros/cons. Press version of the Copal 0 is not reliable when used with digital backs.
    Last edited by gerald.d; 5th August 2012 at 09:01.

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    Re: Schneider/Alpa 75mm/5.6 L APO Helvetar

    Update:

    Thanks for all the advice. In the end, I've gone with the 70HR. Should have it in a week, and will hopefully share some results when the weather improves towards the end of September.

    Alpa incredibly helpful via email by the way. Can't praise them enough

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