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07-15-2019, 03:10 PM   #1
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Ultra-sharpness vs. Tonality on K1 lenses vs other, new full-frame lenses?

Are lens manufacturers achieving ultra-sharpness at the expense of tonality?

I find it almost impossible to get the same tonality out of my newer, digital lenses (on full frame) that I seem to get easily from my less sharp older glass, such as my Super-Multi-Moated Super Takimar 35mm f3.5 M42.

I shoot Sony with a mix of lenses, including a couple of Pentax 67s and M42 lenses. The newer, sharper, Sony and Sigma lenses seem to lack equivalent tonality (even the FE 85mm f1.8), and images often look much flatter. Is this also the case with the new K1 lenses?

07-15-2019, 03:51 PM - 1 Like   #2
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It might help the discussion if you post sample photos. Ideally, find 2 photos of similar scenes, with a "sharp" lens and a "tonal" lens.

Tonality can IMO be further split into contrast and color. Light striking the front of the lens can cause flare and haze, affecting the sharpness, contrast, and color. The best lens to use is therefore dependent on the lighting conditions.

With respect to modern K-1 lenses, the DFA 28-105 and 15-30 provide a good combination of sharpness, color, and contrast.
07-15-2019, 04:21 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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There is a line of thinking that posits modern lenses with complex designs that optimize edge sharpness and aberration control produce flatter images with less "depth" than older designs.
07-15-2019, 05:04 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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The two are not mutually exclusive.

To detect whether continuous tones were being sacrificed, I would expect that a good indication of such might be presence of banding* in photographs of subjects having significant areas of non-textured continuous tones. There are continuous tone charts that might be useful for actual testing of the lens design hypothesis. Alternatively, a contact print of a rectangular graduated ND filter might suffice. Once generated, such a test subject would be photographed to analog film with numeric evaluation done by densitometry, though any significant banding might be readily observable by direct examination with loupe on a light table.

Of course, there is a competing hypothesis that some lenses are intentionally softer with the intent of generating continuous tones where the subject actually has an abrupt step.


Steve

* One might also expect interference patterns as well with digital capture.


Last edited by stevebrot; 07-15-2019 at 05:49 PM. Reason: completeness
07-15-2019, 05:06 PM - 6 Likes   #5
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This is why we need ALL the lenses.
07-15-2019, 05:24 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by lporrel Quote
Is this also the case with the new K1 lenses?
Pentax has some newer lenses with image circles suitable for 24x36mm format, but if there is a "K1" series, that is news on this forum.


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07-16-2019, 04:28 AM - 5 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by lporrel Quote
Are lens manufacturers achieving ultra-sharpness at the expense of tonality? Is this also the case with the new K1 lenses?
Not in my experience.

DFA15-30



DFA24-70



DFA28-105



DFA*50



DFA*70-200



DFA150-150

07-16-2019, 04:57 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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Modern Pentax lenses (coating) are high contrast. The problem of tonality isn't only coming from the lens, but from the lens and sensor response. I believe digital sensors are the problem, because higher dynamic range translates into larger tone steps. I always felt like digital images had too much global contrast and no enough micro-contrast, compared to what I remember from analog prints. I would believe that a lens such as D-FA*50 would perform extremely well on film.


Last edited by biz-engineer; 07-16-2019 at 08:15 AM.
07-16-2019, 05:27 AM   #9
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Out of curiosity, is there a lens which performs on the K1 the way the DA21mm performs on APSC bodies? Does the DA40 do that job? The pancakes are really nice, with plenty of contrast and great colors, and are just fun little lenses.
07-16-2019, 05:53 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
Out of curiosity, is there a lens which performs on the K1 the way the DA21mm performs on APSC bodies? Does the DA40 do that job? The pancakes are really nice, with plenty of contrast and great colors, and are just fun little lenses.
Why not the FA 31 LTD? 21 x 1.5 = 31.5...

Though if you want a "pancake" I guess the 40 is your only choice...
07-16-2019, 05:59 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
There is a line of thinking that posits modern lenses with complex designs that optimize edge sharpness and aberration control produce flatter images with less "depth" than older designs.
I don't know if that's a line of thinking worth pursuing. For example, flatter images are in some cases a biproduct of more DR and exposing to the right. More aberration control should produce more accurate colour, better micro-contrast and sharper images.

SO the first step is crank out a couple of images to prove the point. Then maybe we can figure out why that would be true. My personal opinion would be that the hue of older lenses is caused by the decaying of older lens coatings. To me, it is a colour cast. Some people might like a certain hue to their picture and notice that it gives all their images a certain quality of sameness (that possibly could be construed as "personality"). There are just to many possibilities to speculate on without some data.
07-16-2019, 07:26 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I don't know if that's a line of thinking worth pursuing. For example, flatter images are in some cases a biproduct of more DR and exposing to the right. More aberration control should produce more accurate colour, better micro-contrast and sharper images.

SO the first step is crank out a couple of images to prove the point. Then maybe we can figure out why that would be true. My personal opinion would be that the hue of older lenses is caused by the decaying of older lens coatings. To me, it is a colour cast. Some people might like a certain hue to their picture and notice that it gives all their images a certain quality of sameness (that possibly could be construed as "personality"). There are just to many possibilities to speculate on without some data.
Yeah, I think the first thing we'd need to do would be to define "tonality". It might mean something different to you than it does to me and the OP might have his own definition.


"I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it..." - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart

Like other photographic phenomena - "3D pop" comes to mind - there needs to be a confluence of conditions for the spirits to appear... but I'm guessing that what some of us perceive as "tonality" in some older lenses has something to do with overall contrast (echoing somewhat the point made by @biz-engineer)
07-16-2019, 08:42 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
Why not the FA 31 LTD? 21 x 1.5 = 31.5...

Though if you want a "pancake" I guess the 40 is your only choice...
I'm just considering the possibilities now, since the 21 and K3II is such a nice combination. I don't have a K1 yet, though have been considering it. I'll probably wait to decide once Pentax announces or abandons the crop format later this year.

Thanks for the suggestion, that math works out and the 31 is supposed to be very nice indeed.
07-16-2019, 09:00 AM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
Thanks for the suggestion, that math works out and the 31 is supposed to be very nice indeed.
I think that math is why Pentax made the DA 21 in the first place
07-16-2019, 09:14 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Yeah, I think the first thing we'd need to do would be to define "tonality". It might mean something different to you than it does to me and the OP might have his own definition.
It is one of those things that photographers go one about, but about which if you have a good definition, you obviously don't know about which you are speaking. FWIW, I have never heard/seen the term applied to a lens before this thread.


Steve
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