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10-25-2008, 09:03 AM   #1
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Spherical aberration as a friend of bokeh - which lenses?

I have come to the conclusion that for images produced exclusively for their bokeh flavor, that spherical aberration - to me - adds a unique and interesting quality to the images imparted by their respective lenses.

I've spent to get fine bokeh and high quality, but still always see a picture from an old Helios 40 or CZ 75/1.5 and think - I need that.

Some may read this and find it crazy, and I hope many do. I wish to quietly go along picking up suggests here without market competition - but for those who share this sentiment, which lenses?

I've seen the above mentioned Helios 40 and CZ 75, though their prices have escalated quite a bit. I've also seen recently the Porst 55/1.2 is a spherical aberrator and have one en route. Are there any other suggestions for lenses of this nature out there?

Thanks,


Kelly.

10-25-2008, 09:13 AM   #2
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Auto-Tamron F 35/2,8 has that going. These were the fixed mount Tamrons from the adaptamatic and adaptall (pre adaptall-2) times.
10-25-2008, 09:14 AM   #3
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i know exactly what you are talking about and i too find it very cool

aside from the two you mentioned, i have seen some intresting shots done with telescopic mirror lenses, aside from the obvious halo like specular highlights, ive seen (cant find at the moment) images wehre the background, when far enough from the subject, really takes on a weird swirl that you may find cool.
10-25-2008, 09:28 AM   #4
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mamiya 55 f1.4

10-25-2008, 09:55 AM   #5
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I have to thank you three for your suggestions so far. I just realized my eyes were dry from not blinking while doing the google/flickr/ebay circuit.

I can tell I'll be having a lot of fun in the coming weeks
10-25-2008, 10:26 AM   #6
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Kelly,

I don't have any suggestions for spherically-aberrating lenses, but I can suggest a good therapist that could help you with your...issues. PM me for more info.
10-25-2008, 10:35 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
I have come to the conclusion that for images produced exclusively for their bokeh flavor, that spherical aberration - to me - adds a unique and interesting quality to the images imparted by their respective lenses.
Agreed! Two references for optics/physics nerds:

This one focuses (actually, defocuses ) on test charts:
Bokeh

This one discusses the Nikon DC lens (where you get to dial in the spherical abberation correction you want )
Nikon | Imaging Products | NIKKOR - The Thousand and One Nights, Tale 32 : Ai AF DC Nikkor 135 mm f/2S

So I wonder:
-- Could one make a reliable, easy standardized test for foreground and background blur disk shape (like the grid-of-white-dots in the first reference)?
-- Could one predict real-world bokeh performance from the test results?
10-25-2008, 11:11 AM   #8
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as per my rangefinder craving, been reading into different lenses and it seems the sonnar designs have a tonne of Spherical abberation for some very interesting bokeh. however, it seems that one of the side effects is focus shift. for rangefinders this is killer because you don't know for sure where the true focus point is.

some samples
Flickr: Search

and here is what zeiss had to say about their 50mm Sonnar lens
QuoteQuote:

C-Sonnar T* 1,5/50 ZM

Information about special features for dealers and users

The C-SONNAR T* 1.5/50 ZM is a very special lens; based on a classical lens design concept from the 1930´s. The additional letter “C” in the name of the lens expresses this designation.

This lens design helps to achieve pictures with a special artistic touch. This lens ‘draws’ your subject in a fine, flattering manner and is therefore ideally suited for portraiture. It renders a sharpness that is slightly rounded, being less aggressive than in contemporary lens designs, but at the same time not soft in its rendition.

Many famous portraits of glamorous and prominent people during the 1930´s used this technique to great effect. These images are characterized by portraying the person in a shining, nearly celestial way. This effect is very well balanced and not exaggerated; therefore many viewers see it in a subconscious way. The trained observer, however, understands the underlining technique and enjoys the results.

This lens design exhibits some additional effects, which should be understood to achieve the maximum benefit from the C-Sonnar T* 1.5/50 ZM:

Because of the above mentioned classical characteristic of the lens the best focus position in the object space can not be kept exactly constant for all f-stop settings.
The passionate photographer might notice a slightly closer best focus in his pictures than expected. When stopping down the lens to f/2.8 or smaller this effect is minimized, so the focus position will be as expected.
In order to balance the performance at full speed and other f-stop settings the lens is adjusted with above described characteristic.

The special features of the C-SONNAR T* 1.5/50 ZM are best used in emotional, artistic, narrative images, portraits or atmospheric landscapes. For documentation or technical subjects CARL ZEISS recommends to stop down the lens at least to f/5.6 or to use the PLANAR T* 2/50 ZM lens.
source: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/lenses/zeiss-m-mount.shtml ... the review is critical of the lens but at the time it was written, zeiss had not made this statement explicitly clear

10-26-2008, 10:04 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Miserere Quote
Kelly,

I don't have any suggestions for spherically-aberrating lenses, but I can suggest a good therapist that could help you with your...issues. PM me for more info.
Noo! I want to continue to believe that life is better through spherically aberrated, rose-colored glasses!

QuoteOriginally posted by troyz Quote
Agreed! Two references for optics/physics nerds:

This one focuses (actually, defocuses ) on test charts:
Bokeh

This one discusses the Nikon DC lens (where you get to dial in the spherical abberation correction you want )
Nikon | Imaging Products | NIKKOR - The Thousand and One Nights, Tale 32 : Ai AF DC Nikkor 135 mm f/2S

So I wonder:
-- Could one make a reliable, easy standardized test for foreground and background blur disk shape (like the grid-of-white-dots in the first reference)?
-- Could one predict real-world bokeh performance from the test results?
Great links Troyz. Admittedly, I'd be quite curious to experiment with those Nikon lenses. That said, I was also quite surprised to learn how dramatically AF performance holds sway over the optical formulation of a lens. I'm left to wonder in how many cases the need for ever faster AF has influenced optical design to the deteriment of other considerations, such as 'pleasant' OOF rendering?

I suspect the market plays to each demand in such that one can find both extremes - quick focusing kit lens types and manual bokeh monsters like the Nokton. I'd also suspect that science minimizes the impact of these trade-offs - but the fact there are trade-offs was eye-opening, for me. I wonder if there is any correllation between that and the fact I'm left with only 1 AF lens at all (the FA31), which I barely use? huh... food for thought.

With regards to your suggestion of standardized tests for oof rendering - I think as long as the scope remained catagorically objective, it would be helpful. Then if you knew you liked several spherical aberrators for example, you could isolate your search to others of the ilk. Strictly adhering to scientifically minded observations could be helpful in this way, though even if a conclusive list of oof characteristics was able to define all lenses, it still wouldn't get us any closer to knowing which were more pleasing - we could never quantize beauty.

I sort of wonder why this hasn't been attempted already for informational purposes... maybe now is the time?


QuoteOriginally posted by k100d Quote
as per my rangefinder craving, been reading into different lenses and it seems the sonnar designs have a tonne of Spherical abberation for some very interesting bokeh. however, it seems that one of the side effects is focus shift. for rangefinders this is killer because you don't know for sure where the true focus point is.

some samples
Flickr: Search

and here is what zeiss had to say about their 50mm Sonnar lens


source: Zeiss M-Mount Lenses ... the review is critical of the lens but at the time it was written, zeiss had not made this statement explicitly clear
More cool linkage. I wonder how an email to Zeiss about the possibility of producing a sample of the Sonnar in K would be received? I suppose it may not even be possible, but can it hurt to ask?

Meantime, I'm off to research M42 Sonnars, lol.

EDIT - The Sonnar 50/1.5 doesn't exist for M42... one less thing to covet.

Last edited by thePiRaTE!!; 10-26-2008 at 10:59 AM.
10-26-2008, 10:27 AM   #10
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.

Kelly, For someone who appreciates the varieties of bokah/OOF rendering, I'm
surprised that you haven't delved into Takumars - you can get a Super or SMC Tak
55 1.8 for under $75... Its OOF can look standard-creamy-good, or crazy-CA-good,
depending on light source location, distance to background, and aperture.












Get one as a point-of-reference! Remember, they were being designed in the
60's, by engineers possibly under the influence of a certain Ergot fungus.




.
10-26-2008, 11:13 AM   #11
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Hi Jay, yeah - the Takumars are solid for sure. I have used a few of my fathers, some of my first lenses (28/3.5, 50/4(1:2 version), 135/? I forget) and picked up others (400/5.6, 500/4.5). I particularly liked the 50/4 macro - so sharp! In the end, there are just so many lenses out there that do a great job of various aspects.

The Nokton summed up the fast 50 for me with its build/manual focus feel/'A' setting/bokeh/price/stopped down sharpness/minimum distance (for a fast fifty). I told myself "Thats all I need", and got rid of everything else in the range. I want to be able to carry 4 or 5 lenses at all times - the sum of my researched, artistic eye - trained and available in all circumstances.

But I saw something I hadn't before, first in one pic, then in another, and another. This strange circular swirly bokeh that I wanted to add to my capabilities, but only was just learning to understand... and here we are, lol.

In the end, I'll probably research the heck out this, try a few lenses - then settle on one and find room in my bag for the spherical aberration look. If I could get it in an 'A' lens that could do the job of another lens in my bag as well, I'd rather replace than add another lens (especially a non 'A') but it seems right now spherical aberration is more the domain of older, less well engineered lenses - or the intent of the newer CZ 50/1.5, only available in M.

I still keep my eyes open for the metal focus ringed Tak 50/1.4 though. If I ever found a minty one for cheap, I'd buy it if only to admire.
10-26-2008, 11:27 AM   #12
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That reminds me, I need to put my 55/1.8 up for sale. Is $75 really reasonable? I was thinking more like $40-50. I think my favorite bokeh of the Super Taks is my pre-SMC 50/1.4 though...

Nice shots as always!
10-26-2008, 12:28 PM   #13
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10-26-2008, 12:34 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
More cool linkage. I wonder how an email to Zeiss about the possibility of producing a sample of the Sonnar in K would be received? I suppose it may not even be possible, but can it hurt to ask?

Meantime, I'm off to research M42 Sonnars, lol.

EDIT - The Sonnar 50/1.5 doesn't exist for M42... one less thing to covet.
Zeiss has a few 135mm, 180mm , and the Jupiter-9 is a Zeiss clone
10-26-2008, 12:54 PM   #15
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Is spherical aberration basically the "swirl bokeh" that some older lenses tend to have?
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