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05-21-2014, 05:05 PM   #1
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Medium Format Glass better quality optics?

G'day all, Im new to pentax coming from Canon DSLR's and moving toward MF, I have read that Medium format Lenses are generally better quality than most lenses for the 35mm market, is this correct?

I would expect the optics to be better, for the higher resolution prints/files. Can any one confirm that a Pentax 645 lens is better buit than say a Canon L series lens, in terms of glass and construction.

Thanks , Tom

05-21-2014, 06:54 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Thomasbrowphoto Quote
Can any one confirm that a Pentax 645 lens is better buit than say a Canon L series lens, in terms of glass and construction.
All Pentax medium format lenses are "pro" lenses, since that's the target audience for the medium format market. Optically, they are all quite good, though some are of course better than others (see the reviews). In terms of build quality, the current DA lenses are up there with L lenses, but some of Pentax's older FA and A lenses aren't built as nicely (to keep prices down). You really get what you pay for when it comes to build quality- that's why the newer lenses are so expensive.

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05-22-2014, 11:23 AM   #3
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Thirty years ago there was a noticeable difference between formats (35mm, MF and LF) in optical quality and detail capture. A medium format lens corrected equally to a 35mm format lens would not perform as well as the 35mm counterpart. The reason had to do with scaling up of the 35mm design to MF. Aberrations increased as you scale up. However, in the past 20 or so years, there has been increased effort by designers of both MF and LF lenses to match 35mm performance. They have succeeded. The use of aspheric surfaces and newly invented optical glass have made a difference. The more recent Pentax 645 and 67 lenses are really well corrected. The 75mm AL f/2.8 for the 67 is an example.
05-22-2014, 03:11 PM   #4
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I had a Canon 5D mark II with the 16-35L f/2.8 II and the 24-105mmL, both "L" lenses before getting my 645D and lenses. The Pentax 645 lenses BLOW THE CANON GLASS OUT OF THE WATER. In terms of overall sharpness, ease of use, less chromatic aberrations...Pentax glass is way better. Corner sharpness is better too.


The only thing better about the Canon glass was the ability to have fewer lenses and less weight, yet cover more focal lengths...but that's the same with all 35mm cameras vs. MF.


Hope this helps!

05-22-2014, 03:44 PM   #5
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I think it's a bit of a tall order to consider MF glass to be better than Canon's L-series lenses (the technology of which I am very familiar with) which have been designed and optimised for a format that on average is 400% smaller than e.g. a 6x7 negative. A film that size needs all the help it can get in bringing even a half-decent image into crisp relief (and there is no doubt Canon's lenses do just that, among other manufacturers too). MF lenses have never been heavy on the Cindarella syndrome of heaps of fancy glass and electronics technology being packed into a lens barrel just to make an image. What works well for 35mm would not work well with MF because the image quality that has been for so long recognised as the benchmark in weddings and the like is inherent in the larger format. Only a smattering of medium format lenses feature "old" optical technology such as aspherical elements (generally around the 45 to 75mm range this is seen). No MF lenses at all have anything like Canon's flash proprietary calcium-fluorite glass technology that puts the dollar whack into its high end telephoto lenses. In a nutshell I wouldn't be concerned at all about the image quality of medium format lenses over 35mm. It's a world apart and a great one to explore.
05-22-2014, 04:37 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by desertscape Quote
Thirty years ago there was a noticeable difference between formats (35mm, MF and LF) in optical quality and detail capture. A medium format lens corrected equally to a 35mm format lens would not perform as well as the 35mm counterpart. The reason had to do with scaling up of the 35mm design to MF. Aberrations increased as you scale up. However, in the past 20 or so years, there has been increased effort by designers of both MF and LF lenses to match 35mm performance. They have succeeded. The use of aspheric surfaces and newly invented optical glass have made a difference. The more recent Pentax 645 and 67 lenses are really well corrected. The 75mm AL f/2.8 for the 67 is an example.
Well, that is really quite interesting and would tend to align with what I was reading in a magazine article that I sort of translated and posted here last night. It was new info to me but essentially claimed the same thing and said the Pentax 645 series was really the first medium format lens series that was created at the quality level of 35mm lenses.
05-22-2014, 07:13 PM   #7
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Very Interesting indeed, As I'm buying a lot of second hand glass for the Pentax 645 system (whack I plan on using with the 645D & Z), a lot of which seems to be from the 80s/90s I was unsure of the optical quality compared to todays new line of lenses/coating etc etc

Thanks for your input all!
05-23-2014, 08:20 PM   #8
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The larger-the-format-the-worse-the-optics is a bit of a myth. Sure, you can get lenses from larger formats that don't work well on smaller ones, but you can also get ones that can. The Pentax 67 105mm f/2.4 will make very sharp images on a Pentax 645D and yet that design comes from 1969. One advantage you should get with lenses designed for a larger format on a smaller format are more consistent resolution from center to edge and less vignetting. And there are plenty of 35mm lenses that are dogs, so holding up 35mm lens design as some sort of high target for quality is strange.

05-23-2014, 11:11 PM   #9
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I think the assumption behind the comments I referenced on this topic was that this whole discussion is based solely on a comparison of the very best 35mm lenses with top of the line medium format lenses.
05-24-2014, 08:43 AM   #10
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Well, if that is the case that we are comparing the best to the best, then there is no difference except for vignetting, which would be better in a larger format lens on a smaller format.
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