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02-25-2017, 03:15 PM   #1
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300mm f/4 lenses....how do they stack up 'real world'

I popped out this afternoon with a bag full of 300/4's. The idea was to shoot the same subject and see how they fared against each other in real world usage. Zoomed Liveview manual focus was used and everything mounted on a Gitzo tripod with a Wimberley II Gimbal head. The lenses in question were;
Pentax-FA* 645 300/4 ED IF from 2000
Pentax-M 67 300/4 ED (via Pentax 645-67 adapter) from 1989
Carl Zeiss Jena 300/4 Sonnar (adapted Pentacon Six mount) from mid-1980's
Meyer-Pentacon 300/4 Orestegor (adapted Pentacon Six mount)from mid-1980's
Kilfitt Pan-Tele Kilar 300/4 (adapter Pentacon Six mount) from 1960
Canon EF 300 f/4 L IS (tested on a Eos 5DSR).
The shots were imported into LR6 (with Huelight profile), cropped and converted to JPG's.....no enhancements were made and output sharpening was disabled
First up are some centre frame crops of this general scene and I can add other comparisons (extreme corners) if there's any interest....the methodology might be too lax for some people?


FA645 300/4......


67-M 300/4.....


CZJ Sonnar......


Meyer-Pentacon Orestegor.....


Kilfitt Pan-Tele Kilar......


Canon 300/4 L IS.....


02-25-2017, 05:56 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob L Quote
the methodology might be too lax for some people?
It is a good attempt, however I have years of experience reviewing lenses - I rarely do comparison shots outdoors because of the amount of uncontrollable variables. Telephoto lenses are particularly difficult to test as their optical performance can vary with the focus distance, the closer to MFD you get optical performance degrades in many instances* - it is easier to test a long lens at infinity** But the problem with testing at infinity is mitigating the effects of heat shimmer and atmospheric haze from affecting IQ - which can become almost impossible. Testing lenses under shade with a distant subject, illuminated by flash, that is at a reasonable distance would be my way of doing such a comparison.

Also: with telephoto lenses, using mirror lock up is essential. Using flash can eliminate the need for it though.

* Modern Internal Focus lenses are more consistent across the focus range than older designs.
** lenses 200mm and longer often can focus past infinity, so this requires precision focusing.
02-25-2017, 10:46 PM   #3
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The difference in out of focus fringing is really striking, as seen to the left of the flowers. Low dispersion glass lenses will do better in this regard when compared with lenses using conventional glass.
02-25-2017, 10:47 PM   #4
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Interesting test anyway. Seems like in practice the Canon and FA* are the best wide open. I would have liked to see the FA* 300 f/4.5 in there as well, though I think all those 300s are enough for you!

02-26-2017, 07:27 AM   #5
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The 67 is indeed a bit soft @f4 but it is already very good @f5.6 and outstanding @f11.
This a center crop with the P67 M* 300/4 and 645z, @f11 and 25 sec (ND filter to avoid 1/3 sec exposure vibration)

Name:  IMGP5130-Fl÷zlingen-Baum-und-67-300f4-Stativreihe25s-f11-M.jpg
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Here is a real world example with P67 M* 300/f4 @ f11

Name:  IMGP5101-Fl÷zlingen Baum und 67 300f4 Stativreihe-swres.jpg
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Size:  485.2 KB

and a crop

Name:  IMGP5101-Fl÷zlingen-Baum-und-67-300f4-crop.jpg
Views: 292
Size:  415.4 KB


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Last edited by Carsten_R; 02-26-2017 at 11:04 AM.
02-26-2017, 03:59 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
It is a good attempt, however I have years of experience reviewing lenses - I rarely do comparison shots outdoors because of the amount of uncontrollable variables. Telephoto lenses are particularly difficult to test as their optical performance can vary with the focus distance, the closer to MFD you get optical performance degrades in many instances* - it is easier to test a long lens at infinity** But the problem with testing at infinity is mitigating the effects of heat shimmer and atmospheric haze from affecting <acronym title="Image Quality"><acronym title="Image Quality"><acronym title="Image Quality">IQ</acronym></acronym></acronym> - which can become almost impossible. Testing lenses under shade with a distant subject, illuminated by flash, that is at a reasonable distance would be my way of doing such a comparison.
I took a second series of shots across a small valley (405m) that might be a reasonable representation of infinty but any vibration would then have a greater perceived effect on the final image.
I'm limited to about 30m indoors but could shoot from building to building (about 70m) and that would only leave the atmospheric considerations between the two and it's a distance at which I can still trigger my flashes.
QuoteOriginally posted by desertscape Quote
The difference in out of focus fringing is really striking, as seen to the left of the flowers. Low dispersion glass lenses will do better in this regard when compared with lenses using conventional glass.
I was surprised to see how the Kilfit had more colour saturation in the blur region
QuoteOriginally posted by automorphism Quote
Interesting test anyway. Seems like in practice the Canon and FA* are the best wide open. I would have liked to see the FA* 300 f/4.5 in there as well, though I think all those 300s are enough for you!
Based on the tests, the lenses stacked up pretty much in order of their ages. I also have a Canon 300/2.8 but thought it would be unfair to add it to the mix
QuoteOriginally posted by Carsten_R Quote
The 67 is indeed a bit soft @f4 but it is already very good @f5.6 and outstanding @f11.


---------- Post added 02-26-17 at 04:01 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by automorphism Quote
I would have liked to see the FA* 300 f/4.5 in there as well, though I think all those 300s are enough for you!
You should send an invoice to my wife for that post.
02-27-2017, 11:34 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob L Quote
You should send an invoice to my wife for that post.
Hahaha
02-27-2017, 11:36 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Carsten_R Quote
Here is a real world example with P67 M* 300/f4 @ f11
Which film? Tri-X?

02-28-2017, 12:59 AM   #9
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Great post. I find those real-life tests so much more telling.

I am especially impressed with your Kilfitt. I have two of them, but I only systematically tested one of them, and it did not stack up against the Pentacon. I guess I should give it another chance.

All of these tests, especially those of medium format telephoto lenses, are so sensitive to focusing error. It seems to me that the picture that you showed as the one taken with the 300mm/4 P67 ED lens appears to be front focused. You will notice that especially if you compare the marble wall under the flower vase. That would explain the surprisingly low performance of the P67. Too me the flowers appear out of focus and not less sharp as a result of a weaker lens. I have been wrong before though. Narrow focus bracketing would tell.

My P645 300mm/4 IF ED and the P67 counterpart are exceptional lenses and I'd be hard pressed to tell any difference. They both win by closing the diaphragm to F5.6.

Just my perception. Great test nevertheless.
02-28-2017, 04:57 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
Which film? Tri-X?
Silver Efex Pro 2 , 645z

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