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09-16-2014, 09:21 PM   #1
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Old "film" glass on digital bodies... is there like a black list?

When I switched to digital at first got only a body (*istD) since my lens arsenal was pretty well populated. I have a thing for wide angles(SMC A 15/3.5, FA 20/2.8, FA*24/2, FA 28/2.8 and F17-28 fisheye zoom).

To my surprise, only the 20 and 28 are worth using on digital bodies (*istD & K20D). The others are worthless wide open and show lots of diffraction closed down.

My two 50's are Ok (FA50/1.4 & FA 50/2.8 macro). Me teles are fine too (FA 100/2.8 macro, FA 135/2.8 IF & FA* 200/2.8) except for the 135 which underexposes by 2/3 stop but gives sharp images at any aperture.

On the digital glass side, I have the DA 12-24, DA 18-55 ii and the DA 16-45 and all perform as expected.

Have you noticed or found a lens from your film era arsrnal, that produces undesirable results on digital bodies?

For me, its the SMC-A 15/3.5 and the FA*24/2 IF can make nice collectors items, but worthless as photo optics on digital bodies.

BTW, the first "optical" problem I discovered with digital photography, is that ALL my UV filters produce ghosting on every single highlight in the picture, that is not seen in viewfinder! From that day on, all my glass run naked through the woods.

09-16-2014, 09:36 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote

BTW, the first "optical" problem I discovered with digital photography, is that ALL my UV filters produce ghosting on every single highlight in the picture, that is not seen in viewfinder! From that day on, all my glass run naked through the woods.
I didn't think UV had the effect on a sensor that it does on film, Rburgoss.

The filter just acts as a safety barrier/sharpness reducing device these days, doesn't it? ;-)

Last edited by clackers; 09-16-2014 at 10:28 PM.
09-16-2014, 09:40 PM   #3
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Might some of the issues possibly be related to pixel pitch and micro lenses relative the dispersion angle of light rays from the wider FF glass. You might try those lenses on bodies with different sensor specs.
09-16-2014, 09:55 PM   #4
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All of my film-era lenses have performed quite well on digital bodies, except the Takumar 24/3.5 which seemed decentered. The SMC-A 15/3.5 and the FA*24/2 are fairly well-respected on digital, although often you need to stop down a bit. Have you checked out the lens database?

09-16-2014, 10:15 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
BTW, the first "optical" problem I discovered with digital photography, is that ALL my UV filters produce ghosting on every single highlight in the picture, that is not seen in viewfinder! From that day on, all my glass run naked through the woods.
Do a search on UV filters in this forums and you will find a majority of members discourage their use.
Use the hood as protection for your lens and to avoid flare.
09-17-2014, 03:40 AM   #6
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Yeah, remove UV filter, since DSLR sensors are not sensitive to UV anyway. Practically only filters useful for digital are (G)ND and polarizers. Next, make sure you are using a lens hood. Maybe even find one for the equivalent "crop" focal length. This will make a difference, especially since those lenses might have older lens coatings. The other problem is that ultra wides have gone a long way. Remember that 24mm was considered very wide, but now lenses going as wide as Samyang 10mm, Sigma 8-16mm exist and produce good quality images. Ultra wide optics in older lenses aren't as great. The wide to tele focal lengths on the other hand, will give you pretty good performance, rivaling modern designs (in some cases, surpassing them).
I am surprised you say the lenses are "worthless" - lots of people here use much older lenses and find them quite worthwhile. I enjoy my Pentax M 28mm, Helios 44-2, Flektogon 35mm and others. Of course DA lenses have modern lens coatings, designed for digital sensors, as well as computer-aided optical designs, which makes the lenses slightly more optimized, especially ultra wides and zooms.
Saying lenses are not great wide open holds true for most lenses on the market - many reach their optimum one or two aperture stops down, and many need to be stopped down at least 1/3 stop to be "acceptable" (though, what is acceptable is subjective). Diffraction should not be a problem until f9, by which point you should have a huge DoF to work with anyway (feel free to look up a DoF calculator)
Anyway, if you don't enjoy your old film glass, feel free to put it up for sale on the marketplace here, I'm sure someone will find worth in it
09-17-2014, 04:50 AM   #7
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I shoot with a fair amount of older lenses (using a K5). One is 50+ years (Auto Tak 85/1.8) while others are 20+ (20, 28, 50, etc.). Even with my newer lenses (landscape, cityscape, ambient low light) I really very seldom go past f8, may occasionally f11. Diffraction will set in on any lens - old or new, based on sensor size (ASP-C) starting at f11 increasingly with f13+. f8 tends to be the sweet spot for resolution with most lenses, so that is where I want to be.

The path of the light is of concern. Film was less concerned with this. Digital sensors like light hitting the pixels with a perpendicular angle. The newer sensors with microlenses do help here. I have also shot with the same lens using a K100 and K20, and really do not remember such a problem. Then again I really never went over f8.

09-17-2014, 05:07 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Since we are talking UV filters (my pet hate) ...



09-17-2014, 05:56 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for your answers. I did checked the lens database last night after I started this thread. It seems everyone is pretty pleased with old glass and some do agree the FA*24/2 is soft wide open.

Perhaps I'm being too picky here. I'got to use more my wides. Probably since thry are not as wide as they were (crop factor), I'm missing the "aaaaahhhhh!" factor from wider wides. Only God knows how much I miss the 15/3.5's angle of coverage.

About the UV filters, yes. Definitely lower quality filters are terrible for glare and ghosting, especially on telephoto glass. This guy at the local photo store says its all about coatings. He says back then only very high quality filters had good coatings and fewer had them on both sides. Now is next to mandatory to have good coatings on both sides.
09-17-2014, 06:40 AM   #10
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See this examples of ghosting on my FA 135 and FA*200.
Attached Images
 
09-17-2014, 09:49 AM   #11
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in terms of lenses and use on digital, there are only a couple of points I would like to add, which seem much more related to digital cameras than anything else.

- reflections off the sensor. Some film lenses have metal parts which can lead to ghosting of the image when used on a digital body due to the much higher reflectivity off the sensor than there was from the emulsion of the film. This has been demonstrated by many forum members
- purple fringing, which actually is the result of not so much film lenses but lens designs which suffer from longitudinal CA where the violet colors are in front of the focus plane. and the sensitivity of the sensors to the violet region of the spectrum. In film, this generally resulted in reduced contrast but in digital it shows up as purple fringing. it is easy to see fringing come and go as a function of front / back focus when using older lenses in live view.


As for filters, and reflections, even the best filters lead to reflections and flare, and the worst lead to a ton of it. i have generally, but specifically for night work, eliminated filters from ALL my legacy lenses due to the reflections the filter causes.
09-17-2014, 06:36 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
and show lots of diffraction closed down.
Huh??? Diffraction is a fact of physics and cannot be addressed with lens designs. Perhaps you are referring to some aberration?

As for a "black list", conventional wisdom is that if a lens works well for you it works well for you. I shoot almost exclusively with lenses originally designed for film cameras. Several are excellent optics and none has more LoCA or LaCA* on digital than the same lens on film. All of my (so-called) digital lenses can be made to show PF, which is not the same as LoCA. Some of my film camera lenses also have this characteristic, but never on film since PF is a sensor artifact.

About the only cautions I can make regarding vintage lenses are:
  • Older coatings are not as effective, so a hood is a good idea
  • Some lenses with large, flat rear elements will generate a central "hot" spot on the image. This is similar to the ghosting in your photos above, but less distinct. My Auto Rikenon 55/1.4 does this as does (reportedly) the Tamron 90/2.8 Adaptall-2.
  • Some M42 lenses have a very narrow diameter mount flange resulting in a poor fit when adapted to Pentax-K
  • Some copies of the Helios 44-3 have a focus ring that will bind against the mount face making the lens difficult to mount and impossible to focus
  • Various M42 lenses lack an A/M switch and will have non-functional apertures when adapted unless surgically modified
  • K-mount lenses with non-conductive base will not function properly on several recent model Pentax bodies
As for the claim that the lenses worked well on film, but suck on digital...I hear and understand your statement. Back when we were all shooting film we seldom subjected our images to microscopic examination (pixel peeking) and never had a chance to see them on a high resolution display. I have been doing a lot of scanning of my old slides to digital and have been amazed at just how crummy many of my most prized images are when scanned. Often enough the lens that is not so good on my dSLR sucked on film too. It is a little discouraging, but such is life sometimes.


Steve

* LaCA is lateral chromatic aberration that shows as complementary colors on either side of an object. LoCA is longitudinal chromatic aberration (a.k.a. bokeh CA) which shows in the out-of-focus areas, greenish behind and red-to-purple-to-blue in front. Both types are an optical issue and are a problem for both film and digital images dating back to the days before color photography. Strangely, the biggest problem is not with false color, rather it is with the lack of a common focus point for all wavelengths. The result is an overall softening of the image.

Last edited by stevebrot; 09-17-2014 at 06:54 PM.
09-18-2014, 06:18 AM - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Huh???...

As for the claim that the lenses worked well on film, but suck on digital...I hear and understand your statement. Back when we were all shooting film we seldom subjected our images to microscopic examination (pixel peeking) and never had a chance to see them on a high resolution display. I have been doing a lot of scanning of my old slides to digital and have been amazed at just how crummy many of my most prized images are when scanned. Often enough the lens that is not so good on my dSLR sucked on film too. It is a little discouraging, but such is life sometimes.
You are right sir! After reading this paragraph, I couldn't resist and went digging for some of my old slides. After a few minutes hunt, I found several shot many years ago with the "suspect lenses". (Those slides were never scanned). So I called a friend who still has a good slide scanner, and asked him to digitize some of this slides. SURPRISE! They all show the same issues I am complaining about in digital photography. That means the lenses are performing almost identically, except for some PF at the edges on very contrasty situations....

You are right, I was used to see my slides either on a big screen (dark room) or with a loupe on the light table. Even though I was seeing the same issues (flare, distortions, PF, CA and such), I always blamed either the quality of the loupe or the quality of the projector lens. I even had some old slides mounted on glass frames back then, just to make sure they were "flat" thinking my old projector's lens was not "flat field" and thus gave me blurry corners on projection.

And talking about watching slides on screen... How close to the screen? Always at least 10 to 12 feet away, 'cause I (we) were looking at the whole picture, not like now with high res monitors... that we've turned so picky, we forgot to see the whole picture and started looking for defects.

After this enlightenment, I could easily claim that I've recovered about half of my legacy lens arsenal... hurray!
09-18-2014, 07:08 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rburgoss Quote
You are right sir! After reading this paragraph, I couldn't resist and went digging for some of my old slides. After a few minutes hunt, I found several shot many years ago with the "suspect lenses". (Those slides were never scanned). So I called a friend who still has a good slide scanner, and asked him to digitize some of this slides. SURPRISE! They all show the same issues I am complaining about in digital photography. That means the lenses are performing almost identically, except for some PF at the edges on very contrasty situations....

You are right, I was used to see my slides either on a big screen (dark room) or with a loupe on the light table. Even though I was seeing the same issues (flare, distortions, PF, CA and such), I always blamed either the quality of the loupe or the quality of the projector lens. I even had some old slides mounted on glass frames back then, just to make sure they were "flat" thinking my old projector's lens was not "flat field" and thus gave me blurry corners on projection.

And talking about watching slides on screen... How close to the screen? Always at least 10 to 12 feet away, 'cause I (we) were looking at the whole picture, not like now with high res monitors... that we've turned so picky, we forgot to see the whole picture and started looking for defects.

After this enlightenment, I could easily claim that I've recovered about half of my legacy lens arsenal... hurray!
We never looked at our film shots with the scrutiny that we view our digital shots. We sent the film out, had it developed and a bunch of 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 inch prints made. A lot of flaws don't show up at those sizes. Many of my film shots that I have scanned don't look too good on a high res 24" monitor. Of course, this works the other way too. I shot a lot of pictures at a party this summer and neglected to pay attention as the sun went down and ended up with some motion blur and less than sharp pictures. But with a few tweaks in PP, I had a lot of very usable 4 x 6 inch prints to give away that folks thought were great. On a computer screen viewed full size however, they don't look good.
09-18-2014, 12:09 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
I had a lot of very usable 4 x 6 inch prints to give away that folks thought were great.
Been there...done that


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