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example pics with 50/1.4 Nikkor S.C.
Old 10-04-2006   #1
venchka
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example pics with 50/1.4 Nikkor S.C.

1956 Nikkor-SC 5.0cm f:1.4 Japan LTM, Kodak BW400CN. Please, photos only.

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Old 10-04-2006   #2
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Nikkor 5cm 1.4 (sorry, not LTM, original Nikon-S mount, but the same glass).

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Any mount
Old 10-04-2006   #3
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Any mount

My bad. I typed LTM out of habit. All examples of the Nikkor 50/1.4 should be included.
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Old 10-05-2006   #4
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It seems a bit soft to me, to be honest. I hope this doesn't violate the 'photos only' request.

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Old 10-05-2006   #5
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I don`t like samples, sorry... I think af 50mm f/1.8 (%99) could have done better, sharper with better bokeh
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Old 10-05-2006   #6
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I really need to try my Nikkor 50/1.4 with B&W. My version is LTM. Here are some test shots, in the first, aperture is probably around 2.8 or 4, and in the second it is at 1.4:
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File Type: jpg 060930-1rff.jpg (192.8 KB, 211 views)
File Type: jpg 060930-2rff.jpg (179.5 KB, 272 views)
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Old 10-05-2006   #7
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/furcafe/231427243/



http://www.flickr.com/photos/furcafe/77341274/



http://www.flickr.com/photos/furcafe/41001211/
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Old 10-05-2006   #8
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I could never figure out how Nippon Kogaku thought their Sonnar type 1.4 was an improvement over the 1.5, whether made by NK, Zeiss, Canon or the FSU J-3 lens makers.
the Canon Sonnar type 50/1.5 and the J-3 are IMHO always more pleasing at full aperture esp. for portraits, than the Nikkor 50/1.4 Sonnar type.
I do not own an original Zeiss 50/1.5 Sonnar, but the example photos I have seen , that are taken by it, are in the Canon 50/1.5 category , if not even better.
Does anyone else feel that the Classic 1950s Nikkor 50/1.4 is not so pleasing at f1.4?
I know personal tastes are subjective.
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Old 10-05-2006   #9
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>>I could never figure out how Nippon Kogaku thought their Sonnar type 1.4 was an improvement over the 1.5, whether made by NK, Zeiss, Canon or the FSU J-3 lens makers.
the Canon Sonnar type 50/1.5 and the J-3 are IMHO always more pleasing at full aperture esp. for portraits, than the Nikkor 50/1.4 Sonnar type.<<


First of all, the Nikkor 1.4 came our two years before the Canon Serenar 1.5, autumn 1950 versus November 1952. The J-3 was not widely available and had quality-control problems. The Nikkor was intentionally faster than the Zeiss lens, using generally excellent coatings that have stood up well over time, resulting in better flare control than the 1.5 Sonnar. Zeiss also had quality-control problems connected to its postwar breakup -- lenses were being built on both sides of the iron curtain -- and in any event didn't sell lenses in the LTM mount. The Nikkor has click stops. Life magazine photographers, the discriminating 35mm photographers of their era, considered the Nikkor to be sharper than Zeiss or Leitz lenses. The Nikkor 50/1.4 set the bar for modern lenses. It certainly has "bokeh" problems and was reformulated about 12 years later to address those, but by then the SLR era was in full swing.
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Old 10-05-2006   #10
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The Nikkor is also really solid and well made, and extremely compact for its speed. Even though it has a 43mm filter thread, my Nikkor is more compact than my 50/2 Summicron (latest, w/ built-in hood).

I have just sent the Nikkor off to DAG for a routine CLA b/c I want to see how it compares to the Summicron w/ both lenses at the top of their form.
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Old 10-05-2006   #11
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>> can you tell us more about the Nikkor 50/1.5...?<<

My knowledge isn't authoritative. I'm simply an interested user. My understanding is that the experimental Canons of the 1930s used Nikkor lenses in the f/3.5 and f/2 range. An apparent f/1.5 Nikkor was also drawn up for the Canon line and may have been made in very limited numbers during World War II.

Japanese optical conglomerates were broken up after World War II, and Canon and Nikon went their separate ways. Nikon introduced a camera with an f/2 lens in the late 1940s, probably derivative of the f/2 Sonnar lens. Nikon (actually Nippon Kogaku ... Japanese Optical) also produced accessory lenses in the late 1940s: a 35/3.5, an 85/2 and a 135/4. These were also sold in the LTM mount.

The Nikkor 50mm f/1.5 was, I believe introduced very early in the year 1950 and was only produced for six or eight months before the improved f/1.4 lens was introduced. It was definitely produced by Nippon Kogaku, not by Canon, which was by then a competitor. It had no click stops and had a minimum aperture of f/11 instead of f/16. Filter threads for 40.5mm instead of the later 43mm.

David Douglas Duncan, one of the Life photographers who adopted Nikon lenses, shot the first months of the Korean War with the 50/1.5. By November/December 1950, he had switched to the f/1.4 version, as soon as it was introduced. His most famous work, of GIs retreating through frozen landscapes, was done with the f/1.4 lens. However, the earlier f/1.5 apparently also had similar optical properties. When Duncan shipping his first rolls back to Life magazine for printing, the darkroom workers (then among the best photo printers in the business) were very enthusiastic about the quality of the new lens. Most of this work was shot in sunlight at f/11, so the sharpness, not out-of-focus characteristics, was what they found compelling.

Only a few hundred of the f/1.5 lenses were made. So it is extremely rare and collectible. Duncan's work is the only group of photos I've seen taken by the 1.5 (the first two part of "This is War!" were shot with the 1.5, the third part with the 1.4). The book shows very little if any quality difference, though my copy is not all that well printed.
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Last edited by VinceC : 10-07-2006 at 07:14.
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Old 10-05-2006   #12
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Color examples
Old 10-05-2006   #13
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Color examples

Examples of color not content. Middle f-stop, 5.6 or 8.0. Kodak HD 200.

It is a solid chunk of lens to be sure. 10-12 blades in the iris as I recall. Mine was built late in the run. It's growing on me. Think I'll have to keep it.

Thanks for sharing, everyone. That's enough words for now.
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File Type: jpg Nikkor-3.jpg (277.6 KB, 119 views)
File Type: jpg Nikkor-2.jpg (253.5 KB, 90 views)
File Type: jpg Nikkor-1.jpg (226.4 KB, 78 views)
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Old 10-05-2006   #14
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Wayne or Vince, a quick serial number question: What is the range for this lens? Mine has a 7-digit serial number, and most of the ones I've seen have 6.
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Old 10-05-2006   #15
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12 blades. (I have mine in my camera bag here at work) Mine has a 6 digit serial number.

I've found the bokeh varies greatly based on aperture, focus distance and lighting. Here are three color examples I have handy. The first image is wide open and close. The others are stopped down a bit.





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Old 10-05-2006   #16
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Nikkor 50/1.4 LTM is soft wide open, has kind of veil flare problem for sure. f2.0 is usable.
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Old 10-05-2006   #17
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>>soft wide open ... veiling flare...<<

Depends a lot on the light, actually. Two more wide-open examples.



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Old 10-05-2006   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jja
Wayne or Vince, a quick serial number question: What is the range for this lens? Mine has a 7-digit serial number, and most of the ones I've seen have 6.
The main batch started from 316000 all the way to 41xxxx. Early ones in chrome and later ones in black/chrome
If you have one with 7 digit serial number then you must have the real early example, those started with 5005xxxx
most have 8 digit numbers and some have 7 digit numbers:
Here is an example:

what number is yours?
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File Type: jpg 5005 1.4.jpg (38.8 KB, 92 views)

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Old 10-05-2006   #19
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Mine is 5005xxx, 7 digits. Is the optical quality the same throughout the range?
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Old 10-05-2006   #20
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Optical quality should be nearly identical throughout the range.
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Old 10-05-2006   #21
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and another, probably around f/5.6 or f/8.

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Soviet lenses: Orion 28/6; Jupiter-12 35/2.8; Helios-103 50/1.8; Jupiter-8 50/2

Last edited by VinceC : 10-05-2006 at 12:12.
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Old 10-05-2006   #22
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Mine is # 375161, black & chrome.

Nice shots everyone!
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Old 10-05-2006   #23
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Thanks Kiu and Vince, here's one in b&w:
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I knew it was here somewhere...
Old 10-05-2006   #24
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I knew it was here somewhere...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jja
Wayne or Vince, a quick serial number question: What is the range for this lens? Mine has a 7-digit serial number, and most of the ones I've seen have 6.
I asked about mine in the Spring...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NIKON KIU
Nikkor-S.C 1 : 1.4 f = 5cm No. 3958xx
the Nikkor-S was produced in great numbers, probably around 80,000 to 90,000 lenses were produced including many in the screw-mount.
Last serial number recorded seems to be in the 417xxx range so makes yours pretty late production...The last ones didn't have the C after Nikkor-S
Kiu
When folks talk about the late "black & chrome" version: the only thing black is the narrow ring near the front with the aperture numbers on it. It isn't black and chrome like the Nikkor teles or the late Canon lenses.
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Old 10-05-2006   #25
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Hey Vince, a slight circular pattern to the background is the pattern I occasionally see with certain backgrounds on my 35mm at 1.8. I've also seen it in posted photos from a 50mm Noctilux. Points of light and sometimes leaves are stretched slightly into ovals, and they seem to be oriented in a circular pattern around the center. If it's fuzzy enough, depending on distance or focal length like on the Noctilux, it can look fine. Occasionally on my 35mm it looks a bit trippy.
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Old 10-05-2006   #26
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IMHO, while the Life photographers were correct that the Nikkor is a fine lens, equal to the contemporary Western products, IMHO they were laying it on a little thick stating that the Nikkors were superior to the Zeiss Sonnars, except perhaps in build quality. True, build quality is not a trivial factor considering that sample variation between lenses was often greater back then--it's also my understanding that the Life guys got to choose the "best of the litter" from the Nippon Kogaku factory (something they couldn't easily do w/the German lenses @ the time)--but it doesn't mean that the Nikkor was categorically a superior lens, particularly when compared to the W. German Sonnars once they got Oberkochen up to speed around '51 or so (but those were never made in LTM) or even a good example of the E. German Sonnars (wide-open example: http://static.flickr.com/7/6935549_99ec6d03f6_o.jpg ). As to the Leitz products, let's just say even Leicaphiles will acknowledge that none of their f/1.5 lenses performed up to Zeiss or Nikkor standards @ the time.

IME, which includes shooting good examples of both lenses in all of their various mounts, I haven't found the Nikkor to be superior to the post-WWII Sonnar, E. or W. German, in either flare control or sharpness, whatever the aperture, & f/1.4 on the Nikkor is only a teeny bit brighter than f/1.5 on the Sonnars (judging from TTL metering): I've found them to be pretty much equal in all respects, except for a bit more veiling flare & boke "swirliness" in the Nikkor wide-open, which I think is a direct result of the Nikkor's design (in my non-technical opinion, a "stretched" Sonnar). I've reached a similar conclusion re: the 85/2 Sonnars v. Nikkor-Ps. It was certainly a major achievement by Nippon Kogaku, indeed a major achievement for post-WWII Japanese industry, just to make a lens that was among the best in the world, & it helped cement the Nikon brand's well-deserved reputation for quality, but I think there was some hindsight mythologizing going on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VinceC
The Nikkor was intentionally faster than the Zeiss lens, using generally excellent coatings that have stood up well over time, resulting in better flare control than the 1.5 Sonnar. Zeiss also had quality-control problems connected to its postwar breakup -- lenses were being built on both sides of the iron curtain -- and in any event didn't sell lenses in the LTM mount. The Nikkor has click stops. Life magazine photographers, the discriminating 35mm photographers of their era, considered the Nikkor to be sharper than Zeiss or Leitz lenses. The Nikkor 50/1.4 set the bar for modern lenses. It certainly has "bokeh" problems and was reformulated about 12 years later to address those, but by then the SLR era was in full swing.
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Old 10-05-2006   #27
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That's the "swirly" boke I mentioned in my last post. My guess is that it's caused by coma &/or astigmatism that couldn't be corrected for given the Sonnar design & optical technology that was available @ the time, per Vince's post. I presume the Noctilux, though much more modern (computers v. abaci), suffers from a similar problem on account of the limits imposed by its f/1 max. aperture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeL
Hey Vince, a slight circular pattern to the background is the pattern I occasionally see with certain backgrounds on my 35mm at 1.8. I've also seen it in posted photos from a 50mm Noctilux. Points of light and sometimes leaves are stretched slightly into ovals, and they seem to be oriented in a circular pattern around the center. If it's fuzzy enough, depending on distance or focal length like on the Noctilux, it can look fine. Occasionally on my 35mm it looks a bit trippy.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 10-06-2006   #28
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>>...but it doesn't mean that the Nikkor was categorically a superior lens, particularly when compared to the W. German Sonnars once they got Oberkochen up to speed around '51 or so...<<

I use the notes in Duncan's 1951 book as my primary source in the Nikon/Zeiss/Leica discussion. Quality control was the thing that impressed the Life photographers most. There was no sample variation (and I've never encountered it in the various Nikkors I've owned ... after I cracked the front element of a 50/1.4 while on assignment, I swapped in a new front element from a lens a couple of years older, and the lens -- used in my examples -- continues to perform very well. I've done a similar front-element swap with an 85/2 that I also cracked on assignment). When one of their Japanese photo assistants used a lens that stunned them (the Nikkor 85/2), they went to the factory to see if it was a fluke and were allowed to randomly pick lenses out of the inventory, which gives you an idea of the clout of Life photographers back then. They found no sample variation. All the lenses were of equal quality.

It's significant that Duncan and others were mainly using Leicas at a time when Zeiss had the reputation for better optics. Leitz's pursuit of the finest possible optics was largely a response to Japanese LTM lenses.

Also, history and dates are important, because they show cause and effect. Duncan (and many others who didn't write technical notes in the back of their books) discovered Nikon lenses in spring/summer of 1950, and the Korean War broke out in the summer. They didn't have time to wait for Oberkockhen to get its act together in 1951. Zeiss fixing its quality control was a direct response to Nikkors having outscored Zeiss on a lens test by a U.S. magazine, highlighted by a New York Times photo reviewer. Zeiss blamed sample variation due to an Eastern German manufacture and got a retest in which both lenses (the Sonnar and Nikkor) peformed equally.

In my opinion, the dispute over whose was marginally better quickly became secondary. The real story is that Japanese companies were matching German quality while also constantly innovating and tweaking. Within two and three years, Nikon and Canon were introducing lenses that were significantly wider and/or faster than their German competitors, and putting them in mounts that could be used by German cameras. Soviet designs remained static and were largely unavailable outside of the Soviet trading bloc.
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Soviet lenses: Orion 28/6; Jupiter-12 35/2.8; Helios-103 50/1.8; Jupiter-8 50/2

Last edited by VinceC : 10-06-2006 at 03:45.
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Old 10-06-2006   #29
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This has become a very interesting thread. I'd say that most lenses, particularly as you get to f2 and faster, put their own distinctive signature on the image. Sometimes simply lower contrast or flare and sometimes more complex signatures such as swirl bokeh. Love it, hate it or somewhere in-between, as long as you know what to expect, I don't see a problem with any of them.
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Old 10-06-2006   #30
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MikeL,
I see your point about the circular background in my "bad bokeh" shot. This is partly due to composition. The whole shot is framed by branches receding from the camera, which lends to the circular pattern. I've never noticed the effect in my 35/1.8, but I nearly always use that lens for interiors. In my use, I've never run into "bad bokeh" problems with it.

For what it's worth, there are a few scenes in "The Wizard of Oz" that display this kind of bokeh. That was shot in 1938-39 using, I suppose, German lenses. Early Technicolor was a very slow emulsion, probably on par with early Kodachrome, so they were probably using a combination of extremely bright lights and fast lenses (shutter speed isn't a variable in movie photography).
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Old 10-06-2006   #31
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I agree. Of course, the Zeiss Foundation in W. Germany had a bit of a problem getting started up as they had lost their main lens works & many personnel @ Jena to the Eastern Bloc & the Contax factory to the USSR, & had to start from scratch in building both the lenses & the new IIa/IIIa cameras (most of their factories in W. Germany had been devoted to making medium & large format cameras). So Zeiss wasn't necessarily spurred to improve quality control by the Japanese challenge per se (though they should have been in hindsight), they were just trying to get back to what they had before WWII. I think Nippon Kogaku's factories weren't in quite as bad shape & they had more help from SCAP in rebuilding than the Allied forces in W. Germany were giving Zeiss (if any).

Also, although many Life photographers used Leicas, it is my understanding that their "house" camera system in the 1930s & 40s was the Contax (II & III). When Time-Life switched to the new IIa/IIIa models in the early '50s, they donated some of their old II's & III's to Edmund Hilary's Mt. Everest expedition (though he personally took a Retina to the summit).

Quote:
Originally Posted by VinceC

Also, history and dates are important, because they show cause and effect. Duncan (and many others who didn't write technical notes in the back of their books) discovered Nikon lenses in spring/summer of 1950, and the Korean War broke out in the summer. They didn't have time to wait for Oberkockhen to get its act together in 1951. Zeiss fixing its quality control was a direct response to Nikkors having outscored Zeiss on a lens test by a U.S. magazine, highlighted by a New York Times photo reviewer. Zeiss blamed sample variation due to an Eastern German manufacture and got a retest in which both lenses (the Sonnar and Nikkor) peformed equally.

In my opinion, the dispute over whose was marginally better quickly became secondary. The real story is that Japanese companies were matching German quality while also constantly innovating and tweaking. Within two and three years, Nikon and Canon were introducing lenses that were significantly wider and/or faster than their German competitors, and putting them in mounts that could be used by German cameras. Soviet designs remained static and were largely unavailable outside of the Soviet trading bloc.
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Last edited by furcafe : 10-06-2006 at 07:35.
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Old 10-06-2006   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider
Like Mike I have seen that circular pattern with other lenses as well.
because the individual OOF points are ellipsoidal, rather than circular, their orientation in relation to the image center becomes very apparent, lending the circular effect to the bokeh.

What makes them ellipsoidal in the first place tho, I have no idea.
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Old 10-06-2006   #33
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I've seen old pictures of Life photographers using both Contax and Leica. Usual kit seemed to be a 35mm plus a Rolliflex TLR.

I think the Japanese benefited from creating new camera systems from scratch, whereas the Germans were trying to rebuild pre-war camera systems.

Germany's immediate postwar history is more complicated than that of Japan because of the Russian/French/UK/US occupation. But German companies in the U.S. sector, and later bizonal economic unit, did receive considerable assistance from the Allies. The occupation powers were primarily involved in economic matters and reconstruction and making the German economy self-sustaining (U.S. and U.K. taxpayers didn't want to be supporting Germans any longer than necessary). Lucius Clay, the U.S. proconsul, was emphatic on rebuidling and assisting German industry and laid the groundwork for the Marshall Plan, in which Germany participated. I have a 1950 guide to the first FotoKina in Koeln, which says Allied contracts, including U.S. military exchange contracts, were extremely important in getting the German photo industry back on its feet.

Finally, the Leica M seems to have been a direct response to the new competition from the Japanese products.

Zeiss's postwar problems are only clear in retrospect. At the time, it wasn't clear that Germany -- and hence the Zeiss corporation -- would be split into two distinct countries.
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Last edited by VinceC : 10-06-2006 at 07:08.
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A final word before more photos....
Old 10-07-2006   #34
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A final word before more photos....

We must be doing something right. This thread was linked in the Leica Users Group.

Quote:
------------------------------

Message: 25
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2006 22:45:28 -0400
From: "Dan Chang" <[email protected]>
Subject: [Leica] FS: Nikon LTM 50/1.4 $300
To: [email protected]
Message-ID: <[email protected]>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed

SN# 32xxxx, KEH EX grade, with back and fron cap. the lens was CLAed about 3
year ago, so focus is smooth, aperture is clean and dry, lens is clean with
out fogging, no clean marks. I find this lens has veil flare when used at
f1.4 which I do not like very much and the bokeh some time kind of ugly. you
can see post here about pictures at 1.4

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...750#post389750

See picture here
http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-...id=00IL92&tag=




------------------------------
Back to the photos.
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Old 12-28-2006   #35
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Wonderful photgraphs Wayne and Roland-thanks for sharing. I also use the 5 cm f1.4 rangefinder Nikkor on my R2S with wonderful results. I was going to get a C/V 5cm f1.5 Nokton for the R2S, but I saw no need since I had the older Nikkor already. Makes a great outfit for me, along with the C/V 85 f3.5 APO-Lanthar (tremendous lens) and the C/V 21 f4.
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Nature With the 50/1.4 Nikkor S.C.
Old 01-07-2007   #36
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Nature With the 50/1.4 Nikkor S.C.

I reciently decided to take my 50/1.4 Nikkor and Hexar RF on a hike around dusk. As the light faded, I opened up the lens more, and the results were beautiful. I had not really used this lens much with natural light and color film before, and the results supprised me. I was truely impressed at how it performed, and thought I would share it with you.







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Old 01-07-2007   #37
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Wonderful! Can you please move these to the Nikkor 50/1.4 Samples only thread in the Nikon Forum?

joe? administrator? somebody?
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Old 01-07-2007   #38
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sorry about that! I didn't know this thread existed
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Old 01-07-2007   #39
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Matt, those are really good, esp. the third photo of the mossy rocks.
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More samples!
Old 01-07-2007   #40
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Cool More samples!

Quote:
Originally Posted by trittium
sorry about that! I didn't know this thread existed
No worries. There are two threads actually. You may use either one.
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