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03-08-2013, 05:52 PM   #1
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Sharpness compared

When I read some of the old glass reviews and someone claims it is "sharp" is the sharpness being compared to the glass back then or the modern glass?
In other words, can any of the older lenses even come close to what is offered today as far as resolution, sharpness, and contrast?

Any opinions much welcome!!

Thanks

Randy

03-08-2013, 05:56 PM   #2
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How about DIY assignment?
03-08-2013, 06:00 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Vasyl Quote
How about DIY assignment?
If only I could afford it

Randy
03-08-2013, 06:09 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by slip Quote
When I read some of the old glass reviews and someone claims it is "sharp" is the sharpness being compared to the glass back then or the modern glass?
In other words, can any of the older lenses even come close to what is offered today as far as resolution, sharpness, and contrast?

Any opinions much welcome!!

Thanks

Randy
"Sharp" is likely being compared across eras. Sharp is sharp, right? However each review has their own standards, so it is hard to get definitive information from them. Can old glass be as sharp as modern glass? Absolutely. Although the average has probably climbed over time, the outliers remain winners. Contrast has probably improved even more than sharpness on average, but still you can find some great old lenses.

03-08-2013, 06:22 PM   #5
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I have no means to test it, and I doubt if any member of this forum has the possibility to scientifically test it.

But I think I can remember that German photo magazines of the sixties and early seventies found, that some top notch 50mm glass of Zeiss and Leitz outmatched the resolution even of very low ISO film on 24x36. So I think resolution-wise they could still be very good. Contrast may strongly depend on stray light, as the coatings, compared what we see today, were poor. Colour correction of lenses of the fifties may also not have been near to today's standard.

But of course all this would not apply to zoom lenses. For these the big steps were made all through the eighties and nineties (computers!).
03-08-2013, 08:36 PM   #6
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Photozone has a few old lenses among their lens tests. The K 135mm was rated very good for resolution (not so good for CA).
03-08-2013, 11:24 PM   #7
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Older primes compare pretty well to modern designs. Vintage zooms (say 80's era generic 70-210 or 28-80), on the other hand, are often not so good as the new stuff. Go back to the mid-70s and before and all zooms sucked.


Steve
03-09-2013, 06:04 AM   #8
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I think most reviews and comments on older glass you see today are coming from users and not magazines although many were tested back in the day and some of those reviews may still be available. Most magazines and websites that test lenses are receiving them on loan from the manufacturer for the purpose of testing with the ultimate goal of selling more lenses and more magazines. Every once in a while, an article pops up comparing old glass to new. There are tons of shots posted here in the forum and online in other places to compare older glass to modern. As for sharpness, much of my older glass holds it's own very well. An unscientific opinion of course but I think all of us do our share of pixel peeping. My M135/3.5 is one of the sharpest lenses I own. The trick of course is to nail the focus which might be a little difficult for someone who didn't grow up with manual cameras.

I agree with Steve also. All my old lenses which I use regularly are primes. The few zooms I own are new.

03-09-2013, 10:15 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
My M135/3.5 is one of the sharpest lenses I own.
I would have to say the same for my S-M-C Takumar 28/3.5. Pain to focus though (dim...).


Steve
03-10-2013, 05:49 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by slip Quote
When I read some of the old glass reviews and someone claims it is "sharp" is the sharpness being compared to the glass back then or the modern glass?
In other words, can any of the older lenses even come close to what is offered today as far as resolution, sharpness, and contrast?

Any opinions much welcome!!

Thanks

Randy
Read all the review and find out what you consider an informed review. Different people have different perception of lens quality (not jsut sharpness). Most lens reviews completely overrate their glass on a 1-10 scale considering all lenses ever made. Look at the descriptions in more detail...
03-10-2013, 05:50 AM   #11
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My M50 F1.7 is practically as sharp as my Sigma 50 F1.4, which is one of the sharpest modern 50 F1.4s out there.
03-10-2013, 06:36 AM   #12
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The Kiron 28mm f2 is as resolving as a modern lens and has excellent contrast. I've never noticed any particular weakness with flare either, but I'm not saying it would match Pentax DA Limited standards. I always use a hood to minimize flare, regardless of lens.

The only oddity with the Kiron is a noticeable blue cast, but some modern lenses also have a noticeable cast (e.g. Sigma is known for extra warmth).
03-10-2013, 07:01 AM   #13
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Out yesterday with My A-400 and DA*60-250 both gave me sharp images, the A-400 needed a lot of work to correct CA. A couple shots had both purple fringing and CA to the point they were unusable. That being said, a slight change of camera angle and other images were fine, or at least correctable. But that is more than modern vs old. The Sigma 120-400 I had for a few days had the worst purple fringing and CA I've ever seen in a lens. Just because it's modern, doesn't mean they've controlled the CA.

Once you have achieved a certain degree of sharpness, which many modern lenses do, it's all about how the lens renders colours, how it controls CA and how badly it purple fringes. ( And also distortion is an issue for many of us.)

If your images look like they've been run through a PS watercolor filter, you have CA problems affecting IQ. I don't see that with the A-400. I've seen it with a number of long extreme zooms.
03-10-2013, 07:05 AM   #14
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My M50/1.7 is incredibly sharp (when I nail the focus ). I'm not so good with manual focus though so getting an actual sharp shot is difficult, at least at low apertures.
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