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06-19-2012, 05:58 PM - 1 Like   #16
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I'm sure the best modern glass can beat most older manual lenses, but a lot of the oldies can still beat the low-end glass which you would otherwise be using if you're on a budget. I'm pretty sure my M50/1.7, M75-150, and K135/2.5 still could hold their ground. As stated above, the 135 needs a little help in PP because of colored fringing, but try getting an equivalent modern lens for a similar price! And the bokeh is beautiful. I also have an M28/3.5: I'm sure that one lags behind modern lenses a bit, but it still has nice color and contrast. I have found all my SMC lenses have lovely contrast and little flare.

06-19-2012, 06:18 PM   #17
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Some new vs legacy lens tests, with mtf measurements, here: K Mount Primes : ERPhotoReview
06-19-2012, 07:23 PM   #18
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It's a bit like asking whether a modern car is better than one from the 60s. Yes, most of them will be. Most modern cars are faster, safer, quieter and more refined than cars from the 60s. But do they have as much character, and are they as much fun to drive? Most of them won't be!
06-20-2012, 05:02 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by ihasa Quote
As stated above, the 135 needs a little help in PP because of colored fringing, but try getting an equivalent modern lens for a similar price!
Of course it is not only older lenses that have problems with colored fringing.

A valid point about this issue was made by the guy who wrote the new Lightroom defringing controls:

QuoteQuote:
Axial CA affects nearly all lenses, from inexpensive cell phone lenses to very expensive top-of-the-line lenses. It is particularly pronounced with fast lenses at wide apertures.
New Color Fringe Correction Controls

As shooting fast lenses at wide apertures is very much the modern fashion, CA may be as much (or more) of a hassle for many users of modern glass than it may be for users of (decent) older glass. A lot depends on shooting style, and lighting circumstances.

06-20-2012, 05:56 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by GhoSStrider Quote

no modern 135mm can compete with my M 135mm f3.5 in size and weight. Some of them may be slightly better, but that doesn't earn them any points for me. When I want to take a 12 mile hike in Colorado's back country, I'll reach for the M 135 every time.

It's all a matter of perspective I guess.
Absolutely right.
I picked this lens up recently and it's a great lens for all the reasons you mentioned.
06-20-2012, 06:14 AM - 3 Likes   #21
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We really should look at the whole question in several parts.

first of all there have been technical advances in materials and processes, that allow the lens designer to do things differently today.
- computer aided design, this was first fully exploited in the late 1970's with the vivitar series 1 70-210 F3.5, which today still remains a top performer in terms of sharpness and contrast.
- different optical lens machining processes which allow for thinner and more precise optical elements
- different optical materials, such as low dispersion elements, and plastic elements which offer the ability to make optical designs, when combined with the lens machining above, that were simply not possible in the past.

The above 3 points all go to making lenses cheaper, lighter, and with less CA especially.

Then there are changes in optical designs themselves. Many of these changes are the result of different levels of automation.
- the first optical designs were simple 3-5 element designs, with the aperture close to the front element. requiring manual activation
- these designs gave way to auto aperture designs with the aperture moved further back in the lens design to permit automatic aperture with minimal linkage, and open aperture focusing.
- we then began to see fixed rear element designs, (like the K28/2) which were the forerunner of internally focused designs, (useful for AF, and weather sealing)

Then there are the coatings. these have improved substantially over the past 60 years (35mm SLR era) and these continue to improve, reducing flare internally, which results in improved contrast, improving light transmission, and allowing more elements to be installed, permitting more complex optical designs.

overall as lens designs progressed, the center sharpness has not changed, but what has changed is the sharpness at the side of the image, the freedom from CA especially, freedom from vignetting, etc...

but the real thing, as I posted earlier, that is never considered is the rendering of the lens in the out of focus areas i.e. the bokeh. this is largely what keeps older lenses in use, the out of focus rendering. Lenses that have pleasing bokeh will always remain popular.

Edit note

while optical coatings have improved flare resistance and contrast, there is one thing to consider here, and this has been shown over and over again in posts. Contrast and flare resistance can be greatly improved simply by adding a lens hood. This is NOT a trivial matter, and not to be taken lightly, because the lens hoods for legacy lenses in many cases are shorter than optimum even for 35mm format, let alone for the APS-C format we currently use. As a minimum, when I use legacy lenses, I step the hoods down one focal length or more. for example, I use the hood from a Takumar 200/4 on my 85/1.9, i use the 105/2.8 hood on my 50/1.4 etc.

There is also a spreadsheet that I posted on the forum, called hoodcalc. which can be used to calculate the hood length limit before vignetting at the corners. It is worthwhile looking at this because it can help eliminate internal reflections and loss of contrast.

Last edited by Lowell Goudge; 06-20-2012 at 06:44 AM.
06-20-2012, 06:45 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I find some have lower contrast and wider ones suffer from flare. Former can be fixed in post, latter, not.
Are you talking about Pentax lenses? At least the old SMC lenses are as good flarewise as they come! Few newer lenses, and certainly no Canon lens, is as good.
06-20-2012, 07:02 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Pål Jensen Quote
Are you talking about Pentax lenses? At least the old SMC lenses are as good flarewise as they come! Few newer lenses, and certainly no Canon lens, is as good.
My A24 w/hood shows more flare than I would like, and certainly much more than the samples seen from the DA 15 Ltd., which is in a league of its own regarding flare control.

My 100/4 Macro, 135/3.5 and 200/4 M-primes have measurably less contrast than my DA 55-300. Not a deal breaker, and they all have hoods. This is easily fixable.

So my summation is wide Pentax manual focus primes can exhibit a bit more flare than newer models, probably due to coating advances. Teles of the same vintage suffer from reduced contrast.

None of it breaks the deal. They all are sharp when used correctly, and all deliver that Pentax warm colour.

06-20-2012, 07:13 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
My A24 w/hood shows more flare than I would like, and certainly much more than the samples seen from the DA 15 Ltd., which is in a league of its own regarding flare control.

My 100/4 Macro, 135/3.5 and 200/4 M-primes have measurably less contrast than my DA 55-300. Not a deal breaker, and they all have hoods. This is easily fixable.

So my summation is wide Pentax manual focus primes can exhibit a bit more flare than newer models, probably due to coating advances. Teles of the same vintage suffer from reduced contrast.

None of it breaks the deal. They all are sharp when used correctly, and all deliver that Pentax warm colour.
Are you using a hood, and if so, is it the OEM hood designed for film.

See my post, a good hood, can improve the performance especially contrast and flare resistance dramatically. Even on a lens such as an A series lens with SMC coatings.

While I agree newer coatings are even better, a lot can still be achieved with old lenses when shielded with an optimum hood
06-20-2012, 07:53 AM   #25
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Of course production methods improve over time. And of course that goes for lenses too. But isn't the point of using legacy glass to be using something that otherwise wouldn't be available? Either because there just is no modern counterpart to outperform them. Or either because the modern counterpart is not affordable.

Those are my reasons anyway. I use a Porst 55 f1.2 because there is no Pentax SMC DFA 55mm f1:1.2 ED if SDM ltd. And I use a legacy 85mm because I'm nowhere near being able to justify paying for the FA 85 ltd.

And sometimes it's just about taste and personal preference. I've tried more manual 135mm's then I'm willing to count. But there's just something about the rendering of the Tair 11a that I really love.

Anyway, I don't see how it could end up in a heated discussion.
06-20-2012, 08:00 AM - 1 Like   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clavius Quote
Of course production methods improve over time. And of course that goes for lenses too. But isn't the point of using legacy glass to be using something that otherwise wouldn't be available? Either because there just is no modern counterpart to outperform them. Or either because the modern counterpart is not affordable.

Those are my reasons anyway. I use a Porst 55 f1.2 because there is no Pentax SMC DFA 55mm f1:1.2 ED if SDM ltd. And I use a legacy 85mm because I'm nowhere near being able to justify paying for the FA 85 ltd.

And sometimes it's just about taste and personal preference. I've tried more manual 135mm's then I'm willing to count. But there's just something about the rendering of the Tair 11a that I really love.

Anyway, I don't see how it could end up in a heated discussion.
Legacy glass is good for the company IMO,It gets new users to try out primes and get hooked. many of those people will ultimately end up buying new AF primes as well. They are like a gateway drug.
I use them for many reason. Nostalgia since i started with them, rendering, they do look different not always better not always worse just different. price - i can't afford to have all the primes i have as AF (though I will slowly build the AF set up now that my manual; setup covers all the FL I want)
and these lenses have brought users to the brand, or kept existing ones. Anything that gives Pentax something to differentiate itself from Canikon is a good thing. Heck with the M42 lenses Canon users butcher the mirrors on their 5D cameras just to use them. there is an ad in there for a ff pentax....tired of butchering your camera to make lenses work.......the new Pentax LXD
06-20-2012, 08:05 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by joe.penn Quote
Many legacy lenses do not produce the same on Digital as they do Film. Advancements in coatings has helped modern lenses perform "AS GOOD ON DIGITAL" as legacy lenses perform "WITH FILM".
Actually, that isn't completely true. Pentax has only added Aero Bright since they quite making film bodies. SP has been added as well but it is more of a protective thing than anything else. SMC has been around a long time. Sure they have tweaked it, but nothing indicates Pentax has done so since the MZ-S and *ist were discontinued. Ghostless Coating was patented in 1992 and was first used on the FA 43 LTD and every other Limited lens since as well as some others including the FA 35/2. However, there are some DA lenses that don't have Ghostless Coating. Aero Bright is Pentax's nano tech coatings. Nikon has had a similar history with their current nano tech coating called Nano Crystal Coat.

All that said, it might surprise a lot of people how well a Tak or Auto Tak or Super Tak will do with a hood (when needed).
06-20-2012, 08:08 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
My A24 w/hood shows more flare than I would like, and certainly much more than the samples seen from the DA 15 Ltd., which is in a league of its own regarding flare control.

My 100/4 Macro, 135/3.5 and 200/4 M-primes have measurably less contrast than my DA 55-300. Not a deal breaker, and they all have hoods. This is easily fixable.

So my summation is wide Pentax manual focus primes can exhibit a bit more flare than newer models, probably due to coating advances. Teles of the same vintage suffer from reduced contrast.

None of it breaks the deal. They all are sharp when used correctly, and all deliver that Pentax warm colour.
Again, the only real recent advance is the nano coatings such as Aero Bright and Nano Crystal Coating. There are digital era lenses that flare.
06-20-2012, 08:51 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Are you using a hood, and if so, is it the OEM hood designed for film.

See my post, a good hood, can improve the performance especially contrast and flare resistance dramatically. Even on a lens such as an A series lens with SMC coatings.

While I agree newer coatings are even better, a lot can still be achieved with old lenses when shielded with an optimum hood
I alway use a hood or as with the teles one is built-in. The 100/4 macro vs the Tamron 90/2.8 is one I see contrast difference. Both are equally sharp. The old Pentax has a more solid close focus feel. Neither need hoods due to the recessed lens.
06-20-2012, 10:06 AM   #30
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One big factor is that zoom lenses are always a compromise, by their very nature they cannot be optimised for any one focal length. Most modern lenses are zooms and are therefore handicapped to begin with. I've tried dozens of zoom lenses old and new and they are all inferior to good primes, with only a very small number of exceptions and those exceptions are very expensive top-end optics.

If manufacturers put all the latest techniques into making prime lenses then they would no doubt be better than old ones, but comparing a modern zoom to an old prime, the prime will win in 99% of cases.

For me, the biggest factor in why I use old lenses is character, no modern zoom lens will ever give you the wonderful renderings that you can get from old lenses. One example is the CZJ Biotar T 2/58, it's sharp at all apertures and has good contrast and colours, but what makes it special is the character of it's rendering. In large part this is due to uncorrected spherical abberation which is why it has glow wide open and swirly bokeh, to a lens designer this would be a bad thing, but to a creative photographer it's not.

I firmly believe MTF charts and statistics are useless in determining a lens' quality, if it's sharp enough it's sharp enough, what matter is the rendering it gives and no MTF chart is going to give you any insight into that.
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