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07-26-2010, 08:47 PM - 1 Like   #31
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A couple of the pictures are ok, and the rest are totally uninteresting to me. I would have deleted them in the camera, or not transferred them, or if for some reason I liked them enough to keep personally, I would not put them in a public place asking for comments. I don't see lens issues, I see composition and conception problems. A collection of random shots from an unknown lens might be fun to puzzle out, if they were compelling pictures.

07-26-2010, 08:53 PM   #32
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I merely wanted to see how people felt about the rendering of the lens. Do you like it? Dislike it? That's all. The guessing game was thrown in as a little bit of fun. This wasn't meant to belittle anyone. I think people made this out to be a bigger deal than it really is. The option of quietly abstaining from participation was lost on a few folks.

The lens is an Angenieux 28mm f3.5 Retrofocus, a roughly 50 year old lens. For those in the know, it's one of the most expensive manual focus lens of its class. Part of it is its collector's value but I've heard numerous top tier collectors and photographers swear by the Angenieux rendering. I've heard of Angenieux since my film days at school and the unique rendering the lenses provide for the 16mm Beaulieu camera. About 2 months ago, I had the privilege of speaking with an eminent art dealer/photographer who has been photographing and collecting lenses his entire life. He has collections of Noctilux f1, f.95, Makro Kilars, all the Leica M cameras, everything you could dream of from the MF era. His belief was that Angenieux was one of the best lens maker, in terms of rendering, ever. I've since started collecting them and they've temporarily replaced my beloved Takumars. I think I have to agree, my photos are no longer as sharp or well saturated but the rendering gets me every time.

I would make it a poll next time with a list of available answers instead of making it so open ended. A few people have lashed out because they have a preconceived idea of what I was testing for and felt I was doing it wrong. Beyond that, it does tell me a lot about the worth of tangible qualities in lenses such as contrast, saturation, flare resistance and especially sharpness. Perhaps the value of a lens' rendering or its intangible characteristics are overlooked these days? Are the intangibles even important anymore with the advent of PP? Does sharpness make a good photo or a good lens? Are some of us completely ignorant to everything but the most obvious qualities such as sharpness? A few posters have completely ignored the rendering part even though I specifically asked for that only. Instead, they have focused only on the sharpness, contrast and flare resistance, all of which, I made no mention of. Are we just brainwashed by all the lens tests, resolution tests and head to head comparisons?

On the flip side, how important is the lens maker anyway? I'm in love with some of the photos I've taken lately with the Angenieux lens, but am I just falling in love with the name? My Pentax-K 28mm f3.5 absolutely destroys the Angenieux in every tangible quality, it's sharper, easier to use, lighter, smaller, cheaper, better saturated, no PF, no CA and etc. Yet, the K28 hasn't been able to get on my camera besides a few test shots.

Some of the responses are rather interesting. Peter Zack has stated that he hoped for my sake that it wasn't an expensive purchase, another member compared the rendering to a Super Albinar, my favorite one was the comparison to a $3 lens. In all seriousness, if I love my Angenieux so much, should I be saving my money and buying Super Albinars instead?

If I had given out its name before posting the photos, surely the responses would have been drastically different. I do know another member who posted similar "mushy", "low contrast", "edited in post production" and flare prone photos and got incredibly positive responses in return. Of course, he did mention that he was using an Angenieux from the get-go....

So, I hope this raises some points that we can discuss further. Equipment has really changed drastically in the last decade or so. I haven't been around long enough but it seems like lenses are sold today based on sharpness via pixel peeping and resolution tests. Few people buy equipment based on their unique rendering, like the unique rendering that only Pentax cameras and Takumar lenses can give. Are we just buying into this like we do with megapixels?
07-26-2010, 08:57 PM   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Siebers Quote
A couple of the pictures are ok, and the rest are totally uninteresting to me. I would have deleted them in the camera, or not transferred them, or if for some reason I liked them enough to keep personally, I would not put them in a public place asking for comments. I don't see lens issues, I see composition and conception problems. A collection of random shots from an unknown lens might be fun to puzzle out, if they were compelling pictures.
Best response of the day.

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07-27-2010, 01:54 AM   #34
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I have no wish to bash or be bashed.
I liked the chair photo.
As I like the idea of the other discussion: what defines a perfect lens.
To me rendering is at least an equally important characteristic of a lens. Sharpness alone is not enough to make a lens a tool I want. My best ones are those that are in symbioses with me, because they can visulaize my perception. To help me do that they offer me outstanding flare, unsurpassable correct softness, enchanting dof, ravishing color. All without pp. Of course that is a great tool too.

But I am no expert.
Often I wonder, what are the parameters of the critique. General concensus, or a truly individual input.

A great lens to me with touchable qualities is smc tak.50/1.4.
Transcending this are some stupid meyers like the 180mm telemegor.
But my parameters of critigue are somewhat different.

07-27-2010, 02:00 AM   #35
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For my part, I appreciated the guessing game even if my guess was far from correct (Albinar).

I appreciate also the rendering vs. physical/mathematical sharpness debate. Even if often lenses that are good at rendering, are also good at sharpness.

I would say that firstly there is the personal taste of the photographer. Some of us are captivated by the images produced by these "baby" lenses. They remind of very old cameras with their charming results. Images are totally mushy, but just do post-process in sepia tone, and you get a nice "retro" styled picture! However, I can get a similar result starting from a tack sharp picture given by a modern lens, just by adequate post-processing... Similarly, there is this fashion of cheap (a few dollars) chinese plastic film toy cameras. One year ago the german magazine "Der Spiegel" published a series of "artworks" done with these toys that were appreciated for their rendering reminding me old Kodak "Instamatic" results.

Second, there is a matter of trade: if I accept some lens flaws or drawbacks, do I get otherwise pictures that I appreciate nonetheless? Everybody does such compromises. For instance, my Jupiter 21 is stupidly heavy to carry, however I get sharper pictures with it than with any other 200mm lens I tried. Or, my M 2/85mm is allergic to direct sunlight -- just carefully avoid it, and you get ultra-superb-amazing rendering. I suppose that this 28mm lens did satisfy you in some way (that you carefully hid in the picture set).

As for your 50 years old Angénieux, I would love to see its performance with 'nice' pictures!

BTW, Angénieux got its legendary reputation rather with zooms than with fixed focal lenses, for which it had too much german competition. And for the curious, there is just one of those 28mm on the bay to look at.

Last edited by danielausparis; 07-27-2010 at 02:25 AM.
07-27-2010, 03:36 AM   #36
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QuoteOriginally posted by danielausparis Quote
For my part, I appreciated the guessing game even if my guess was far from correct (Albinar).

I appreciate also the rendering vs. physical/mathematical sharpness debate. Even if often lenses that are good at rendering, are also good at sharpness.

I would say that firstly there is the personal taste of the photographer. Some of us are captivated by the images produced by these "baby" lenses. They remind of very old cameras with their charming results. Images are totally mushy, but just do post-process in sepia tone, and you get a nice "retro" styled picture! However, I can get a similar result starting from a tack sharp picture given by a modern lens, just by adequate post-processing... Similarly, there is this fashion of cheap (a few dollars) chinese plastic film toy cameras. One year ago the german magazine "Der Spiegel" published a series of "artworks" done with these toys that were appreciated for their rendering reminding me old Kodak "Instamatic" results.

Second, there is a matter of trade: if I accept some lens flaws or drawbacks, do I get otherwise pictures that I appreciate nonetheless? Everybody does such compromises. For instance, my Jupiter 21 is stupidly heavy to carry, however I get sharper pictures with it than with any other 200mm lens I tried. Or, my M 2/85mm is allergic to direct sunlight -- just carefully avoid it, and you get ultra-superb-amazing rendering. I suppose that this 28mm lens did satisfy you in some way (that you carefully hid in the picture set).

As for your 50 years old Angénieux, I would love to see its performance with 'nice' pictures!

BTW, Angénieux got its legendary reputation rather with zooms than with fixed focal lenses, for which it had too much german competition. And for the curious, there is just one of those 28mm on the bay to look at.
The guessing part REALLY is NOT important. I'm glad at least a few of you took it humorously and tossed me a bone. I appreciate that.

I don't think it's just the "mushyness". Any Chinese made plastic lens will get you "mushy" photos. I think Angenieux made its name with its retrofocus/zoom lenses and it's its rendering that has kept it on the upper echelon of MF lenses to this day.

People here can not get past the tangible part of a lens... if it's not sharp and flare resistant, then they don't want any part of it. But toss out a big name and they will overlook that. Of course, I'm every bit as guilty. Sometimes, I'm worried that I'm seeing something that that's not even there, like the supposed magical rendering.

Here are some of my better shots with this lens:
Angenieux Retrofocus - a set on Flickr

It's not an easy lens to use by any means. I tried shooting car photography with it and it has been an epic fail in that department. It seems much more suited to organic, atmospheric, portraits... I've got much better photos with the DA12-24, K35 3.5, A35-105, SMC TAK 50 1.4, well just about every lens. I think it's because those lenses were so easy to pick up on, you get it sharp, compose it well and that's it. You can really do some amazing things with the Angenieux with intentional soft focusing. You can't pull that off with other lenses.

On the other hand, I'm fairly certain I could have got the same shots with your Super Albinar now that I really think about it...

QuoteOriginally posted by PentaxMom Felua Quote
I have no wish to bash or be bashed.
I liked the chair photo.
As I like the idea of the other discussion: what defines a perfect lens.
To me rendering is at least an equally important characteristic of a lens. Sharpness alone is not enough to make a lens a tool I want. My best ones are those that are in symbioses with me, because they can visulaize my perception. To help me do that they offer me outstanding flare, unsurpassable correct softness, enchanting dof, ravishing color. All without pp. Of course that is a great tool too.

But I am no expert.
Often I wonder, what are the parameters of the critique. General concensus, or a truly individual input.

A great lens to me with touchable qualities is smc tak.50/1.4.
Transcending this are some stupid meyers like the 180mm telemegor.
But my parameters of critigue are somewhat different.
Aw, that's sweet of you to like my chair photo.

I guess what I'm trying to get at partly is, just how much do we emphasize sharpness, saturation, contrast, pf/ca/flare resistance? Are we becoming blind to the art in photography?

I mean this lens pretty much fails at all of the most important characteristics of lenses, yet is considered by many experts to be one of the greatest lenses ever made. There's clearly a disconnection there.

Last edited by hangu; 07-27-2010 at 03:43 AM.
07-27-2010, 04:01 AM   #37
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nick Siebers Quote
A couple of the pictures are ok, and the rest are totally uninteresting to me. I would have deleted them in the camera, or not transferred them, or if for some reason I liked them enough to keep personally, I would not put them in a public place asking for comments. I don't see lens issues, I see composition and conception problems. A collection of random shots from an unknown lens might be fun to puzzle out, if they were compelling pictures.
What part of this in my original post was confusing to you?
QuoteOriginally posted by hangu:
]The images are purposely compositionally mediocre in order to judge the rendering by the lens and not the photograph itself.
After taking a quick gander at your album and gallery, I find it ironic that you could be so critical of my test photos... whole articles have been written on why test photos should probably be mediocre.

Take a good look at the photographs you've taken lately and the ones you've shown online for the public to comment on. Are you sure it's a good idea to belittle someone else's work that you know nothing about and likely have never seen? Do you honestly think you're that much better?

Nice attitude you have there, I hope for your sake that you have an amazing portfolio to compensate for that.
07-27-2010, 04:45 AM   #38
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QuoteOriginally posted by hangu Quote
Here are some of my better shots with this lens:
Angenieux Retrofocus - a set on Flickr
Thanks for the link. Beautiful shots! The portraits are superb. The lens is... awesome! I have however the slight feeling that the Angénieux is not that strong in the bokeh department... if I may say so? I felt this in particular with the shot having a bike in the background, comparing with my K 3.5/28 (that you have as well).

07-27-2010, 05:09 AM   #39
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Rendering, interesting subject and completely subjective. What makes up rendering? Is it some esoteric pixie dust that only a few see? Is it a combination of factors that result in the final image? Is it the name of the lens maker? The shooter who uses a lens/camera a certain way unlike many others?

I dont know. You commented that sharpness, contrast and flare resistance were not part of what you asked about. Are not these also some of the factors in the final rendering of an image? Maybe your lens does a beautiful job in some situations but if the image created is warm and has a glow that another lens can't produce, yet has PF on every high contrast edge or flare from a reflection, then the lens can't render a good image in my way of looking at it.

I've tried a lot of lenses and never based the tests, shots or purchase only on the name. Mostly on the results. There are so many factors, barrel distortions, pincusion, edge sharpness, flat field and the list is nearly endless. There is no single lens that can control all of these things.

Like a painter's brushes, we need at least a few choices for certain situations to get what we want. As I said before, the lens is the foundation to which everything else flows from. If that foundation isn't solid enough, then you just aren't going to get there.

A long time ago I posted a long rant about lens lust and just shoting with what you have in the bag. Sure you need good/correct tools to do the job, but we obsess over having all the best in every FL. You can't take wildlife shots with a 24mm very well and the 400mm gets you there. So you do need the right tools for your style of shooting.

You might be surprised to know (with the exception of a bellows setup) that I have 4 lenses. Considering some of the signature lines here, that's darn small. Also considering what I do on an almost daily basis.

I don't put much stock on these 'collectors' that have a huge, gathering of dust, ridden lenses on the shelf. What matters to me is that I know each and every lens like it was my left hand. I know exactly what it can and can not do. I think it's far better for a shooter to have a few good lenses that they understand rather than a ton of obscure glass that can only do limited things in certain situations.

So for me, I'll revise my assesment. This would not be a lens I'd ever buy. The reputation means nothing. I only care if it is versatile enough to be used in a lot more varied situations to get me what I want in the final image.
07-27-2010, 10:04 AM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by danielausparis Quote
Thanks for the link. Beautiful shots! The portraits are superb. The lens is... awesome! I have however the slight feeling that the Angénieux is not that strong in the bokeh department... if I may say so? I felt this in particular with the shot having a bike in the background, comparing with my K 3.5/28 (that you have as well).
No way man, I think its bokeh is superb and truly unique. The K28 3.5's bokeh I have to admit, is... different. It has 5 aperture blades so I'm wary of stopping down. It tends to separate things into individual circles or pentagons. Is it bad? Some people think so and I think it's very useful in certain situations. Here is one I took with its cousin the K35 which has a very similar out of field rendering:



Notice the individual circular globules, would it look as nice if it were mushed up and creamy? I think not. The little dew like globs really made this photo acceptable even though it was clearly out of focus.

The Angenieux 35mm Retrofocus has two versions, one with a high aperture blade count with perfectly circles at all stops and another spiky one not unlike the Helios 40. The bike shot you're talking about is odd in that it's not what most people would consider good rendering, yet I like it because there is a certain vibration you see in the out of focused areas. It's as if it's moving or vibrating when the photo was taken. Perhaps only I see it. A better example to illustrate it would be this photo:



I missed the focus on the moth completely because I didn't have a right angle viewfinder with me but I still really like this photo. There is a nice swirl about it, I'm not entirely sure how to describe it....
07-27-2010, 10:24 AM   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Rendering, interesting subject and completely subjective. What makes up rendering? Is it some esoteric pixie dust that only a few see? Is it a combination of factors that result in the final image? Is it the name of the lens maker? The shooter who uses a lens/camera a certain way unlike many others?
Perhaps, these were all questions I had going into this experiment. What makes up rendering? Sharpness and all those tangibles are important of course but I wanted to get at certain points that are almost indescribable. I sound like an idiot trying to describe it at times knowing full well that my words would not do justice to what I was seeing. In some ways, I think it's just an illusion, something we put out there to justify our liking something and spending vast amounts of money on. There are lenses sharper and tangibly better than the FA LTDs yet will never be on the same level.

You say you judge a lens based on the final image. Which curiously is also what I did here with PP and got ripped for it... the other aspect I wanted to address is how people judged that final image. It seems to me that quite a lot of folks just look for major issues like PF and if it has it then the lens is garbage. If a lens is not as sharp as another similar one, then it gets sold to fund another lens. I just think we're missing out on something here. Photography is often a business, a way to capture things but it's also art. We're somehow completely oblivious to that aspect nowadays. I've been doing that with all my lenses, completely oblivious to rendering in general. This isn't anything personal against you of course, if your style of photography calls for it then 4 lenses is all you need. I just think a lot of amateurs, like I, are missing out on something very important in photography.
07-27-2010, 12:29 PM   #42
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Interesting turn of events. Honestly, I think I've only once heard of Angenieux, so I don't have any positive or negative bias attached to the brand. Like what Peter Zack said, if we are to ignore the most prominent characteristics of a lens like sharpness, contrast, CA control and flare resistence, all that is left is a very subjective "pixie dust."

I agree that it could just be an illusion to justify a large purchase, based purely on the brand name. I don't think anyone in this thread would purchase this mystery lens without knowing it's history, given the sample images. I'm not bashing your images, but like I said, all they show to me is that on the average, the lens renders a poor image given the things we primarily look for in an image (sharpness, CA, flare etc). Any "pixie dust" is lost behind these flaws. This is excluding subject matter, of course.

Looking at a few of your shots that have had these flaws removed or were shot in optimal conditions, the lens does show potential to produce great images. Of course, almost all lenses are this way. My RAW images taken with the kitlens are typically low in contrast, and I expect to bump it up a bit in post, to its full potential. Perhaps the whole appeal of these cult favorites is not the original "rendering" but its potential?
07-27-2010, 12:38 PM   #43
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QuoteQuote:
The bike shot you're talking about is odd in that it's not what most people would consider good rendering, yet I like it because there is a certain vibration you see in the out of focused areas. It's as if it's moving or vibrating when the photo was taken.
Well, this vibration is just what most people would call "harsh bokeh", as opposed to "creamy". But if you like it, it's all fine by me!
Also, bokeh does not depend that much on the number of aperture blades, but rather on the optical design itself. Do not fear to use the K28's aperture! and you'll fiind quite creamy bokeh.
BTW, I think that a side by side comparison of the Angénieux and the K28 with a few shots would be highly informative! Pleeeeeaaase...
07-27-2010, 01:04 PM - 1 Like   #44
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Many, many years all I had was a spotmatic and a tak.55/1.8 and a super albinar 135/2.8 and I could take pictures if there was money to use for my hobby. Life got better, more money brought more possibilities. But not always the time one needs. So, close to home, I often walked my bramble lane, many, many times. Many, many seasons. And took shots with many, many different lenses. And had many, many different pictures of always bramble lane. Which I still deeply love, maybe just because of it. And I learned that all these lenses have their moods, some of them are difficult (tair 135 allows for sharpness in mistlike flare) or masters in a certain color (100mm meyer - grey). some so sharp it pains the eyes (jupiter-11, well, my copy - astounding blues), and so on. They are are are so different, they walk with me my bramble lane and change it for me into different worlds. They are my companions, my poetry.

Special love goes to smc.tak 85/1.8 the only lens I have to picture the heather and the moores with the true colors brown and purple when the heather doesn't flower. The moores are always purple, even when brown.

Photography as the art of living the live I see around me. Lenses like pens to write the words I see.
07-27-2010, 06:29 PM   #45
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QuoteOriginally posted by hangu Quote
What part of this in my original post was confusing to you?


After taking a quick gander at your album and gallery, I find it ironic that you could be so critical of my test photos... whole articles have been written on why test photos should probably be mediocre.

Take a good look at the photographs you've taken lately and the ones you've shown online for the public to comment on. Are you sure it's a good idea to belittle someone else's work that you know nothing about and likely have never seen? Do you honestly think you're that much better?

Nice attitude you have there, I hope for your sake that you have an amazing portfolio to compensate for that.

Hi Hangu,

I was in a pretty bad mood when I made my first comment, and it was too harsh. Observing silently and not commenting certainly would have been a better choice. I apologize.

I missed it when you said those were intentionally bad compositions. And I have never read one of those articles recommending against good test shots. I can't really see the logic, I am more a fan of "this is the best shot this lens could produce for me under these conditions". If you had put up the 10 best shots you've ever made from this lens and had us guess, that seems to me like it would be pretty fun.

I wasn't belittling any of your other work, which you correctly point out I haven't seen. Apparently I was only agreeing with you about the quality of the shots shown. I won't apologize for the pictures I have in my galleries, they are what they are. Perhaps you would have deleted them from your camera; perhaps I like the rendering shown in them. Luckily, we just do this for fun.
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