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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .


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Old 04-25-2012   #51
Paul Jenkin
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When I first started out taking photographs (1974), I wanted to shoot motor sports - specifically motorcycle speedway at Belle Vue in my native Manchester.

My first "long" lens was a "Prinzflex" 300mm with a maximum aperture of about f5.6 or f6.3. This was all I could afford at the time. The split screen went black when trying to focus in low light and the lens barrell / focusing mechanism wasn't fastened together properly.

Consequently, despite up-rating 400 ISO film to 1600, I never managed to get a sharp image of any sort. I think I eventually gave the lens away when I managed to afford an upgrade to an OM system. I haven't had what I would call a "bad" lens since as most lenses have at least some redeeming or interesting features.

Last edited by Paul Jenkin : 04-25-2012 at 04:44. Reason: typo
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Old 04-25-2012   #52
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What is a bad lens?
Is the lensbabys a bad lens?
To my opinion the photographer makes a choice for a certain picture. If the picture does not work out well then it's easy to blame the equipment.
If you know your equipment well enough then you know what the result will be.
From the other hand if the lens falls apart then you probably got a bad copy.
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Old 04-25-2012   #53
Roger Hicks
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I might suggest that he who maintains a Version III lens (or an M9 in the M8 vs M9 discussion) will enhance his photography significantly must believe (whether there's any truth to it or evidence to support it) that his photographic skill exceeds the capabilities of his gear and is therefore constrained by it.

At one time I drank a pitcher of that Kool-Aid and ended up buying a stable of ASPH lenses (21, 35 (f/2 and f/1.4), 90 and 135-APO). I no longer own any of them, and my only regret in not keeping them involves my lack of clairvoyance in re how much they are now worth in resale. Some would say I must lack photographic skill and discernment not to have appreciated the optical enhancements, but I'm willing to take that insult lying down.
To quote the old Southern Baptist preachers, "YA GOTTA HAVE FAITH, Dearly Beloved."

If it can move mountains, it should make for better pictures too...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 04-26-2012   #54
wolves3012
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Surely the only bad lens is the one that introduces some defect in your photo that you did not intend? Putting aside damaged or faulty lenses (and even they might be put to good effect if the defect is known) then a lens forms an image. If that image agrees with your intentions, it's not a bad lens.

If you want sharp and get blurred or the lens has flare, aberrations etc that you didn't expect or intend, yes it's a bad lens in the sense that it spoiled the photo you intended to take. That still might make it a bad choice on your part rather than bad lens. After all, the perfect lens does not exist; it behoves the user to know the faults.
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Old 04-26-2012   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
To quote the old Southern Baptist preachers, "YA GOTTA HAVE FAITH, Dearly Beloved."

If it can move mountains, it should make for better pictures too...

Cheers,

R.
That's one I'd love to see the evidence of on camera!
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Last edited by wolves3012 : 04-26-2012 at 10:54. Reason: grammar
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Old 04-26-2012   #56
Roger Hicks
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That still might make it a bad choice on your part rather than bad lens.
Brilliant! Thanks!

Cheers,

R.
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Old 04-26-2012   #57
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One of my favorite photos was taken with my least favorite lens, primarily because it was on my camera as the scene presented itself. To be at the right place in the right time with good enough gear is much more important than browsing reviews when you should be out shooting.
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Old 04-26-2012   #58
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One of my favorite photos was taken with my least favorite lens, primarily because it was on my camera as the scene presented itself. To be at the right place in the right time with good enough gear is much more important than browsing reviews when you should be out shooting.
Absolutely! Especially the point about 'good enough'.

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R.
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Old 04-26-2012   #59
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That's one I'd love to see the evidence of on camera!
But surely, if you are told by the photographer that a particular shot was taken with Version 2 instead of Version 3, you can IMMEDIATELY SEE that it is a better shot...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 04-26-2012   #60
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But surely, if you are told by the photographer that a particular shot was taken with Version 2 instead of Version 3, you can IMMEDIATELY SEE that it is a better shot...

Cheers,

R.
Crossed wires? I mean I want to see the photograph of the mountain moving, by means of faith
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Old 04-26-2012   #61
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I find the fetish for Leica lenses a complete hoot. Guys taking pictures of flowers, cats and "street photography" i.e. anonymous people walking down the street, seem to be the usual suspects expounding upon the necessity of having the best "glass".

PT Barnam was right. There IS a sucker born every minute.
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Old 04-26-2012   #62
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I like having a few 'bad' lenses laying around. Take one shot with the state of the art lens and then another with the vignetting, soft focusing in the corner, poorly corrected for color lens and then pick the one you like. I liked this the best of two lenses (not a Holga):


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Old 04-26-2012   #63
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as someone else commented also, first zooms from -70/80's are usually pretty bad, both build (first use of plastics) and IQ, as CAD was still doing its baby steps, and human limits for manual calculations. guess lack of AF-motors too, zooms benefit this more than primes IMO.

other group that has plenty of dogs are FSU-lenses. am "aware" that with luck J3 can be equal or better than Leica ASPH, according to some
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Old 04-26-2012   #64
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other group that has plenty of dogs are FSU-lenses.
Not really, except by sample. In later USSR and early Russian years production quality often was a severe issue, to the point that the majority of lenses was broken right out of factory, but they are generally sane designs - which is more than can be said about much of the lenses sold by Hanimex and similar bottom feeders...
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Old 04-27-2012   #65
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other group that has plenty of dogs are FSU-lenses. am "aware" that with luck J3 can be equal or better than Leica ASPH, according to some
I have to disagree. Certainly the later lenses had very poor QC but that relates more to poor fit and finish than optical defects. I have 28 (I think) FSU lenses, from which there is one that requires re-shimming. Assuming mine to be a random sample, that's not a bad rate! Furthermore, in mitigation the one that needs shimming is a pre-war FED lens that seems not to be matched to its original body any longer.

The biggest problem with FSU lenses is the kitchen-table bodging that many have suffered in their lives. Certainly, there appear to be some that may have come from the factory with defects but they are not that common. It's a little bit harsh to judge lenses that have somewhere around half a century of unknown provenance, FSU or not.
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Old 04-27-2012   #66
Roger Hicks
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Crossed wires? I mean I want to see the photograph of the mountain moving, by means of faith
You have enough faith, you'll see it move! (Whether it does or not.)

Cheers,

R.
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Old 04-30-2012   #67
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I don't know about least favourite lens but I've 3 favourites photos of my son on the wall at home, that I printed myself in the darkroom on FB paper. All taken on a 50 1.8 AIS Nikkor that cost me £59 used. 'Nuf said.
(I've not had a darkroom since Nov'09 (house move - work in progress) so we'll see what the Summicron ones print up like - eventually)

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Old 04-30-2012   #68
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For a given value of 'lens'...

Then again, I'd have said the same about my long-gone 90-190/5.8 (no mis-typing) Yashinon. But I'd love to try it now as a soft focus portrait lens...

Cheers,

R.
I believe I had the same lens, SM? I found the case, the lens is lost somewhere in the house, as I recall, if you shot something white in sunlight, you would get incredible glow around the subjects?

Preset?

I had the same thought about trying it today, maybe the next owner of the house will find it, or perhaps I gave it away.

Late 60's? I think I was using a Spotmatic.

Regards, John
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Old 04-30-2012   #69
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Probably More 'Bad' Photographers than 'Bad' Lenses...
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Old 04-30-2012   #70
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Probably More 'Bad' Photographers than 'Bad' Lenses...
Very true, but don't discount bad lenses. Micheal Kenna uses a Holga at times and his Monecito series is great. Someone posted a Mr Fawlty talk about creativity recently, the message was OPEN YOUR MIND.
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Old 05-08-2012   #71
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To me "bad" lens imply "zoom" lens. I can see character in any kind of optical flaws, except for the somewhat dull, lower contrast average consumer zoom.

That said, there are plenty of superlative zoom lenses, so it's not about prime v. zoom, but rather that the defects of these lenses are the only one I don't find interesting.
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Old 05-08-2012   #72
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Bad lenses don't make bad photos, photographers do.
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Old 06-05-2012   #73
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I don't move in the circles of the normally touted great lenses by Leica, Zeiss, or others, except for a Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 T*, and some might argue if it is a Zeiss or not. But in SLR primes, I have and use Yashinons and Fujinons. Are they as good as your Leica lenses? I don't know, but they are pretty good, and certainly good enough for me. And I haven't seen Other people using lenses that are better than my Fujinons.

Granted, I don't get out much.
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