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10-31-2013, 02:56 AM   #1
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Learning curve of various lenses

Hi!

Being infested with LBA I have discovered that some lenses seem more difficult to master than others, without no obvious reason.
The AF lenses are easier to catch up fast in general, especially zooms like the F35-70.

With MF there seems to be more variation, I find the manual 50's to be easy, like the M50/1.7, but the M85/2 was more tricky. And the M100/4 was again easy to get accustomed to.

Anyone else who find some lenses more difficult than the other? And why?

Seb

10-31-2013, 04:00 AM   #2
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Learning + Focusing?

Hello Seb,
I see from your profile that you have several M lenses as well as film and digital bodies. I'm in the same situation, and have come to realize that it's easy to be spoiled by the great, bright and accurate focusing (of manual lenses) on a film body compared to a digital one.
Digital body viewfinders just aren't made for manual focusing and when you add in the very real possibility of back-or-front focusing issues with certain lenses, it's near impossible. My 85mm f/2.0 is a good example, wonderful rendering when it's right, terrible when it's not! By comparison, the M50 f/1.4 and f/1.7 are much easier and needed no focus adjustment. The M 100 f/2.8 required a slight adjustment, the M 135 f/3.5, none. A Katzeye focusing screen helped somewhat, now I've added a Pentax O-ME53 eyecup to my K10D, which also helps.
I've made the 'Ten' my dedicated manual-focus body and use the K-7 and (now) K-5 for AF lenses. Yes, it's limiting and perhaps impractical, there may be better options for the old glass, which I'm still searching for. The K10D doesn't feature focus-peaking or live-view, two other aids.
For some odd reason, 3rd party lenses like the Vivitar Series 1 90mm f/2.5 (Bokina) Macro is dead-perfect for focusing with every digital body I've owned and so is the Miranda 24mm f/2.4 and Kiron 28mm f/2.0. So are the three 'A' series Pentax lenses I own a 28mm, 35mm and 135mm.
It's not exactly random, which lens will be better at focusing with a DSLR, but the old M's seem to be hardest.
If you can fit a better VF screen and the Pentax magnifying eyecup, along with focus-peaking and live view focusing, your results should improve.
That, and stopping way down!
Ron
10-31-2013, 04:51 AM   #3
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The answer: Single in Challenges. Use the same lens every day for a month and post your favourite shot to the group for appraisal, approval or criticism.
If you haven't got your head around a lens by the end of the month, you're doing it wrong.
10-31-2013, 05:09 AM   #4
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I agree with the "single in" advice, or more generally taking the time to learn a lens.

As for me, I find my results usually improve fast with a new lens, when I learn in which situations it can be used to best results. My first shots are usually poor, then it steadily improves and I come to love the new lens and work naturally with it.

Only exception so far : DA40 limited. This focal length is so natural for me that I was able to use it properly right from the start.

10-31-2013, 06:11 AM - 1 Like   #5
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A few years ago, I read an article from a pro who stated that it took him a bout 100 shots with a new lens to learn the lens. I've not forgotten that and there is much wisdom in it. Not too long after that I got involved in the "Single in" challenges on this site and I would say that this is another way to learn (to love or hate) a lens. Using the same lens for a month, producing one (final) image each day is a great way to both expand your creativity and learn that lens. I've gotten a lot of experience with my stable of lens this way.
10-31-2013, 10:11 AM   #6
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Original Poster
Hi!

Many good answers and suggestions. I did not think it would be a focusing issue as rbefly suggested even if MF is trickier, but bdery gave a good clue, focal length.
Somehow my primes all seem to be too long when I pick one, often I tend to shoot at the shortest length with the zooms. I'm always too close.

Yes it took me 100 shots or more to get used to the M85. I do have lenses "in my stable" that I haven't shot that much with, like the Tokina 500/8...

Seb
10-31-2013, 12:55 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sandy Hancock Quote
The answer: Single in Challenges. Use the same lens every day for a month and post your favourite shot to the group for appraisal, approval or criticism.
If you haven't got your head around a lens by the end of the month, you're doing it wrong.
+1 to that. Such a fun and useful thing to do.
10-31-2013, 01:19 PM   #8
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To be honest, there are a lot of things to learn about old MF lenses, not just go out and shoot.

For me, and I have been at it for a while there are really at least 3 issues.

Exposure each camera has some correction on exposure with modern lenses based upon the known aperture of the lens. I have plotted this for several cameras, or cameras with different focusing screens. Understanding how your camera meters at each aperture is important, even with modern lenses. For example, my tamron 28-75/2.8 is spot on wide open,but gradually moves to 1 stop over exposed by F32, so using the lens in Av mode can be a challenge. Then there is the whole non linear behaviour of metering in general on DSLRs . So learning or mapping how a lens behaves for exposure on each body you have is important.

Focus throw. Focusing ease and accuracy are mutually exclusive. Long focus throw is very accurate, but not fast to acquire focus. Short throw is easy to get close but lacks accuracy.

Focusing and viewfinder. Most new viewfinders do not give a true perception of DOF for lenses faster than F5.6, so fast lenses, especially long ones can be hard to get focused accurately. Fast 85 mm lenses are the worst IMO.

You need for focusing to learn where the limits of acceptable focus are with the autofocus detector, even with MF lenses, and learn to center the focus between the limits. A split image finder with micro prism collar help in this respect

Once you have learned how each lens you own behaves, getting good results is easy. Spend the time to learn the limits of each lens, it is much more enjoyable afterwards

10-31-2013, 10:21 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
A few years ago, I read an article from a pro who stated that it took him a bout 100 shots with a new lens to learn the lens. I've not forgotten that and there is much wisdom in it. Not too long after that I got involved in the "Single in" challenges on this site and I would say that this is another way to learn (to love or hate) a lens. Using the same lens for a month, producing one (final) image each day is a great way to both expand your creativity and learn that lens. I've gotten a lot of experience with my stable of lens this way.
I agree completely. You really need to use a lens a while to learn how to get the best from it. The pro probably has a shorter learning period than most of us.
11-01-2013, 11:25 AM   #10
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Lenses that focus in the opposite direction can throw me off. My Panagor 90mm f2.8 macro had that, and a really tight focus ring with a ~1080 degree sweep. At close distances, it wasn't always obvious which way I needed to go to improve focus. The simple macro solution was to move the camera.

I don't always get along with certain focal lengths. Someone without LBA wouldn't have bought those focal lengths in the first place, of course. I can use those focal lengths a lot and become more comfortable there.

Manual focus lenses are much easier to focus when they have great wide open sharpness. Lenses that are soft wide open will bother me. I may never use them wide open for the shot but I'm focusing that way.

Some lenses just have a combination of issues. My Cosina 55mm f1.2 has the opposite-direction focus ring and lots of coma wide open, plus lots of competitors in my lens cabinet for 55mm. It often stays on the shelf.
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