View Full Version : I'm in a lens quandary and need a push.
Over the past several months I've been trying to put together a RF kit I'm comfortable with. I use color film and like to do street & landscape photography with the RFs.
I now have a Bessa R3a and a Bessa L. I'm happy with both these bodies. My quandary has to do with the lenses: I currently have five CV lenses - 25 and 28 Color-Skopars, 50 and 75 Heliars, and the 40 Nokton MC. I want to add the 15 Heliar, which will reside permanently on the Bessa L. I'll then have way too many lenses; I like to keep things fairly simplified so that I don't spend a lot of time fussing over equipment. And I could use the $$ from lens sales to finance the 15 purchase.
So... I'd like some opinions that could help push me to get rid of two lenses. I'm debating between the 25 & 28, and between the 40 & 50. With regard to the 25 vs. 28, I'm just assuming that wider is better... I can always crop if I need to. But is there some quality difference that I've not seen yet? I haven't made prints from the negs from these two lenses... only seen the Costco scans on the monitor and their quality seems equal.
With regard to the 40 vs. 50, the "wider is better" isn't yet outweighing my difficulty seeing the 40 brightlines in the Bessa R3a ( I wear glasses). I might get used to this over time, but are there any other issues about these two lenses that could push me one way or the other. I also haven't yet found that the 40's extra stop in speed is necessary, but who knows... maybe I'll find myself in a bar one day wishing I had that extra speed.
Thanks in advance for any wisdom you can pass along. :)
Well, not that it means much :D but it's a pretty personal kind of decision. That said you'll get a bunch of us telling you our opinions. So I may as well start...
Just from my tastes in FOV, I'd keep the 28, the 50 & the 75. That, to me, would give the greatest flexability overall. Plus I just find that the world fits the 50 & 28 views better than it does that of the 25 & 40. The 75 is just a nice little tele that is nice to have for the times when the 50 is just a bit too wide - portraits usually but not always ;)
As for speed, well, there isn't much that F2, Tri-X & Diafine can't handle :eek: :D
Just as food for thought,
first question is what do you normally shoot? do you need the speed of the 40?
i prefer a 25 over a 28 but the cv 28 is a great lens and 28 is usually easier to shoot for most people.
i think the cv 50/2.5 is an under rated lens, it's sharp and very solid.
when was the last time you used the 75?
keep the 40 for the speed, cuz it'll be your only fast lens. nix the 50.
with a 40 and 75 i'd say the logical choice is a 28, and the 28 skopar is a fantastic lens.
a lotta people love the L with the 25. i've never used that combo (but i prefer the 25 FL to 28). call me heartless, but i'd say ditch the 50, the L, and the 25, buy the 15 and get a mini 28/35 vf or a 28 metal vf for the R3A. later you can add an R4* and sell the VF.
whatever you do, you're bound to settle into something you really like. can't really go wrong...
Wider isn't always better. Longer lenses get you closer to the action, which often yield better shots without extraneous stuff in the frame. The lenses you are asking about are all pretty close together; and while each FL is unique, more choices means a heavier kit and more choices to make in the thick of the action- which will mean fewer good shots at the end of the day. So shoot enough to figure out what works for you.
Personally, I like the 15mm and 25mm together with a Bessa L as a nice wide angle kit; but with a camera body with an RF, I'd rather have coupled lenses. In the interest of saving weight, I very often carry just a 21mm and a 50mm with one M body. A 21mm can do 85% of anything I might ask of either a 15mm or a 25mm, and if I need to be light weight, this works well. If it's no hardship (I.E. if I don't have to carry it), and if shooting is my primary activity, I'll have more gear- probably two or even three bodies, and 3, 5, maybe 8 lenses. But for light weight, pick a wide, a normal, and maybe a tele, and one body. I like one body with one, maybe two lenses; or two bodies with two, three, or four lenses.
As for normals- I don't wear glasses, and I have a hard time with the 40mm on the R3x finder. But since I use primarily a 50mm, I don't really care. I could easily do without a 40mm altogether- unless it was the only lens I had with me. I might want either a 28 or a 35mm to pair with my 50mm; many other folks like the 28mm and 40mm together as a kit. Either way, you might want to add something wider- or longer. See where I'm going with this? There are lots of kit combinations that work well- there is no perfect kit, no right or wrong. Just try to find what works for you.
Don't buy anything for now- just shoot with what you have. Try to carry only one or two lenses for a given assignment, and see where your preferences lie. Leave the 40mm and home, and use the 50mm- do you want to see a little wider, or does the extra length help you get in close? Carry the 25mm for a while; do you get more in view than you need? Or do you constantly wish for just a bit more room when you have the 28mm mounted? You'll have to find the combinations that work best for you; what views best suit how you see and what compositions you want to capture, and what gaps you can live with most easily. I find that the extreme lengths at both ends of the spectrum come out less and less. When you need them, there's often no substitute- but everything in the middle, well, there are lots of things that work. How few lenses can you whittle your kit down to and still get everything you want to?
Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts. I think you all basically said the same thing... try the lenses out until I find what works for me. I understand that completely. I was just hoping someone would say something like "Dump the 25... its not nearly the quality of the 28!" But I know that's not realistic... I'm finding that all the CV lenses are really good, quality wise.
I'll do some more test rolls of film over the next week or so with some of these "question" lenses. If I had to decide today, I'd definitely keep the 75... I like how using it from time to time as a walk-around lens shakes up my "eye" and gets me thinking about new approaches to composition. The 50 Heliar is my newest lens and I love how it physically feels mounted to the R3, balance-wise; and I like the "coolness" of the collapsing lens. And I grew up with a 50 mounted on my Spotmatic, OM-1, etc.. So why try to dump it now?? I think the 40 will go, especially given how it's brightline is uncomfortable to my bespeckled eye.
Now its just down to the 25 vs. 28. I know that when I'm out on the streets, its hard for me to get close enough to people with the 28, so the 25 would obviously be even harder. And I can use the LTM feature of the 28 to mount it on either the R3 or the L. And, hey... it was good enough for Winogrand! :-) I'll keep the 25 VF to use with the 28... probably be about right considering my glasses.
And regarding the 15 (I don't have it yet) is that I really like a lot of pictures I see on the web taken by it. I know using it will be another learning curve, but... onward! :-)
With regard to the 25 vs. 28, I'm just assuming that wider is better... I can always crop if I need to
With wideangles, it's not just "getting more in" and then cropping if you want later. With a wider lens, people still generally try to fill the frame with their chosen composition, and to do that they'll tend to get in closer, and therefore get a different perspective that is not changed by cropping. Different people prefer different wides, and I suspect you'll find people here pretty much polarised between 25 and 28. If I had to choose only one, I'd go for a 28 (and the CV 28/3.5 is one of the best lenses I've ever used), but then I also often use a 21.
If you really want to trim your collection, I think the two most "balanced" choices to keep would possibly be 25/40/75 or 28/50/75. And if you want a 15, perhaps the former might be a better selection. But then, "balanced" isn't necessarily the best choice.
Thinking of the 15, are you sure that's what you want? Have you used one or handled one? I have one and it's a great lens, but it gets very little use because it's just far too wide for most occasions - it's a lens that can easily lead to "gimicky" shots that say little more than "Look how wide my lens is". If you want something wider than a 25/28, have you considered the 21?
You say you've been putting your RF kit together over only the past several months. I mean no disrespect, but to me that sounds like nowhere near enough time to get to know your lenses, and taken with your comment about wider being better (and just crop), suggests that you really don't know your wideangle lenses well enough to choose between them.
So my suggestion? Keep the kit you have for at least the next six months. Shoot a lot with the 25 and 28 and get to know them, and do the same with the 40 and 50. Only by doing that will you know which in each choice is best for you. And if you possibly can, try to get your hands on a 21 and a 15 before you consider anything wider than your 25.
Thanks for the advice... it sounds like its based on some significant experience. No disrespect taken regarding the lack of time I've spent with this equipment... I agree with your point. As I said in my original post... I was hoping for what I know doesn't really exist: a magic bullet answer that would set me up with the perfect kit to last a lifetime. :-)
I was hoping for what I know doesn't really exist: a magic bullet answer that would set me up with the perfect kit to last a lifetime.
The only magic bullet answer I can think of is "Get one of everything" :). Oh, if only I could afford to follow it up :rolleyes:
I was just hoping someone would say something like "Dump the 25... its not nearly the quality of the 28!"
Now, I know that nobody is going to listen to me (and for good reason, too!). But if you do an assiduous search (I'm sure I'm not the only one with a passion for digging in the archives!), you will find comments from many of the cognscenti that pretty much amount to saying just that. While the 25 is certainly well-regarded, and many people actually prefer that FL, the CV 28/3.5 is often mentioned as the finest iteration of a lens in this FL at that aperture by virtually any manufacturer, past or present. But then, Oscroft pretty much just said that.
I miss the CV 28/3.5!!! (and the 75, but not the 40 nor its framelines on the R3A).
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