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07-11-2016, 01:21 AM   #1
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film era lens experiments

I keep hearing how the older 'film era' lenses are not going to work very well on the 36mp sensor of the K-1. It's a bit of a quiet day around here, so I thought I might do some off the cuff experiments.

I set up a tripod to get a window lit view of a bunch of drying native flowers, which I thought would give some good colour and texture, and then shot the three amigo's at wide open, F/8 and F/16. I had to move the tripod back with each lens to get MFD. I happened to have an A 135 F/2.8 hanging around the place so, I tossed that into the mix as well.

I then opened the pixel shifted files in PCU5 and output 16 bit Tiffs from there. Then on into C1 9.2 to allow the auto adjust feature arrange each set to more or less the same exposure levels and output to jpeg. No additional sharpening, no HDR sliders, no clarity, nothing but as close to out of camera PS raw to jpeg workflow as I think I can do. If anyone has any comments or suggestions about how this can be done better, please chime in.

Lens pics in ascending FL order, starting with the 31

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07-11-2016, 01:23 AM   #2
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next, the 43
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07-11-2016, 01:25 AM   #3
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the 77
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07-11-2016, 01:26 AM   #4
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and finally the 135mm

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07-11-2016, 01:33 AM   #5
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first comment is regarding the 43mm

MFD is 'worst' of the four lenses (puzzled by that) and the colours are 'cold'.

Any 100% crops from centre and edges??
07-11-2016, 02:19 AM   #6
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Mark, I'm happy to send the original raws to you in a drop box if you are interested
07-11-2016, 02:26 AM   #7
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yeah OK that would be great

---------- Post added 07-11-16 at 07:27 PM ----------

have you got a FA*80-200? If you do then some samples of that lens would be awesome
07-11-2016, 03:01 AM   #8
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I compared the D FA15-30@f3.5 with Meyer Optics Lydith 30/3.5 and this old gem is actually sharper in the center and alot softer towards the edges fully open. Perfect portrait lens I recon. Will do some more tests stopped down but I don't know if I dare since I paid a bunch for the 15-30

07-11-2016, 03:47 AM   #9
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For close up work old glass works excellent. Full frame is more forgiving than aps-c because aberrations are relatively smaller. So if a lens did well on a K-3 it will do even better on the K-1 for close work. For wider photography you may not get the corner tot corner sharpness you require, also micro contrast is more important, something modern lenses are generally better at.
07-11-2016, 04:26 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wild Mark Quote
yeah OK that would be great

---------- Post added 07-11-16 at 07:27 PM ----------

have you got a FA*80-200? If you do then some samples of that lens would be awesome
I'll get the files into a drop box in the morning, Mark.

Sorry, I have many lenses, but not that zoom.

---------- Post added 11th Jul 2016 at 22:29 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Tjompen1968 Quote
I compared the D FA15-30@f3.5 with Meyer Optics Lydith 30/3.5 and this old gem is actually sharper in the center and alot softer towards the edges fully open. Perfect portrait lens I recon. Will do some more tests stopped down but I don't know if I dare since I paid a bunch for the 15-30
I suspect there will be many older lenses that will exhibit this trait.
07-11-2016, 04:30 AM   #11
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no worries. Do you have the DFA 70-200?
07-11-2016, 04:35 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by D1N0 Quote
For close up work old glass works excellent. Full frame is more forgiving than aps-c because aberrations are relatively smaller. So if a lens did well on a K-3 it will do even better on the K-1 for close work. For wider photography you may not get the corner tot corner sharpness you require, also micro contrast is more important, something modern lenses are generally better at.
Interesting. I would have thought close up work would show any flaws more obviously.

I'm very interested in this subject, any suggestions about how I/we can either prove or disprove the assertion that older glass is not up to the task?

---------- Post added 11th Jul 2016 at 22:37 ----------

What I was thinking of doing next is developing one of each series, say the F8 pic and see what I can bring out in post. Would that be of any benefit?

---------- Post added 11th Jul 2016 at 22:39 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Wild Mark Quote
no worries. Do you have the DFA 70-200?
Not yet! it is very tempting. In fact all three of the 'holy trinity' lenses look very tempting.
07-11-2016, 05:26 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by wizofoz Quote
any suggestions about how I/we can either prove or disprove the assertion that older glass is not up to the task?
I think the big question here is "Which task?"

If I need eye-bleeding corner to corner sharpness and flat-field reproduction, I'll reach for one of my macro lenses, thank you very much (one of which is perfectly good on those MF film cameras that will drive the aperture).

If I want art, if I want subjective qualities, if I want that special something (or that random nothing in particular but anything other than wall to wall technical perfection), I have every other lens in my collection to pick from.

I'm sure there are a lot of tasks that older glass is not up to. I'm also quite sure that there are some the older glass does better. The test chart world is great for being able to standardise measurements, but anyone who thinks that's the be-all and end-all of photography has blinkers on IMO.

QuoteOriginally posted by wizofoz Quote
What I was thinking of doing next is developing one of each series, say the F8 pic and see what I can bring out in post. Would that be of any benefit?
While it would be nice to see what each lens was capable of doing close to some arbitrary optimum, it carries the risk that the appearance you find pleasing in post may not be the appearance I find pleasing in post - the essential subjectivity of photography. Speaking of which, I preferred the 43 out of all these lenses, though the MFD is a bit of a disappointment - shades of the DA70 in that regard.

QuoteOriginally posted by Tjompen1968 Quote
Will do some more tests stopped down but I don't know if I dare since I paid a bunch for the 15-30
Calm yourself; do the tests. Remember that the Lydith cannot open up to 2.8, nor can it zoom out to 15mm. The D-FA 15-30 you paid a bunch for can do both those things, and be sharp wall to wall when that is appropriate. To each its own place
07-11-2016, 05:45 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by wizofoz Quote
Interesting. I would have thought close up work would show any flaws more obviously.
It depends. Lateral aberrations are more visible in landscape (tree branches against sky especially) Axial aberrations are visible in out of focus areas which you have more in close ups. It depends on the lens really. I have old lenses with very little axial or lateral aberration, but do flare like a madman so using a hood and avoiding direct sunlight is important. Generally that will be better corrected in modern glass. Older lenses are often a bit soft wide open, but that can actually result in nice photo's. I don't care for chromatic aberrations and sharpness issues much but I think softness due to field curvature and flare can really ad to the character of a lens. In landscape and architecture geometric distortion can become an issue. It's correctable in post but that will limit your field of view, so you have to take that in to account. Especially on full frame moustache shaped distortion will be harder to correct, but it is also possible to correct that with a custom lens profile.
07-11-2016, 06:25 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
I think the big question here is "Which task?"
Wise question Doc. I guess I was just setting out to start a conversation with some images. Maybe something that could be pointed to whenever the statement 'old glass is not usable on the 36mpx sensor' is trotted out. Something semi empirical. Maybe I would find out that the statement was true, maybe not.

I use the amigo's for their rendering, the special something that is housed in the 77 - referred to as pixie dust- which I see sometimes in my use. The transition to oof rendering of the 31, and the beautiful backgrounds it can create; and the illusive magic of the 43, especially with metals and things like fireplace, flames. etc. Now that I have the K-1 to use, I find that they look different to me in the VF (of course, because the apparent FOV has changed) and I wanted to do some work to gain usage with them, re-acquaint myself with them. So I admit bias and wanted to have something I could point they nay sayers to, (if it turns out they are usable)

Actually, the surprise for me was how well the 135 renders.

On the 43, the lowest number on the distance scale is 0.45mts, the 31 says 0.3, and the 77 says 0.7. (a coincidence of MFD and focal length I had not noticed before) So the 31 can focus at a closer distance, and the 77 has the advantage of magnification. It was not my primary purpose to find a shot at MFD, so perhaps I could have got in closer with the 43.

My thought about developing the pics was not just to elicit your approval Doc (as nice a pat on the back as that may be ) My thought was to bring out whatever nuances of detail may be contained in the file, to see if it is possible to satisfy the micro contrast and sharpness requirements some may have. Notwithstanding my poor artistic taste

---------- Post added 12th Jul 2016 at 00:52 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by D1N0 Quote
It depends. Lateral aberrations are more visible in landscape (tree branches against sky especially) Axial aberrations are visible in out of focus areas which you have more in close ups. It depends on the lens really. I have old lenses with very little axial or lateral aberration, but do flare like a madman so using a hood and avoiding direct sunlight is important. Generally that will be better corrected in modern glass. Older lenses are often a bit soft wide open, but that can actually result in nice photo's. I don't care for chromatic aberrations and sharpness issues much but I think softness due to field curvature and flare can really ad to the character of a lens. In landscape and architecture geometric distortion can become an issue. It's correctable in post but that will limit your field of view, so you have to take that in to account. Especially on full frame moustache shaped distortion will be harder to correct, but it is also possible to correct that with a custom lens profile.
So the thrust of the defence of older glass should be one of artistic merit, not technical perfection? (I'm nodding as I type this, so I must agree at some level. ) Of course technical perfection will advance with the years, but will the resultant images look better? I'm not s huge fan of the sigma art series images I've seen, for example. Probably far more technically perfect, but they just look ....errr... sterile? ultramodern? minimalist?

I selected the FA amigo's to begin this test with as they are purported to be some of the best lenses ever designed. I'm hoping we can provide some proof of that. I hope that others will chime in with images and information and a discussion can be had
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