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Optics Theory - This forum is aimed towards the TECHNICAL side of photographic OPTICS THEORY. There will be some overlap by camera/manufacturer, but this forum is for the heavy duty tech discussions. This is NOT the place to discuss a specific lens or lens line, do that in the appropriate forum. This is the forum to discuss optics or lenses in general, to learn about the tech behind the lenses and images. IF you have a question about a specific lens, post it in the forum about that type of camera, NOT HERE.

View Poll Results: Vignetting: Is it a dirty word?
I hate vignetting 20 7.14%
I don't mind some vignetting but not all the time 172 61.43%
I like a lens that vignettes 73 26.07%
Doesn't bother me, I'll just fix it in post 12 4.29%
It sounds too painful to think about 3 1.07%
Voters: 280. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-28-2014   #41
defconfunk
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When I print in the darkroom I tend to vignette. For most of my photos is works nicely. I usually don't add it in my digital photos, but for many of them I proably should start doing it.

My main digital zoom vignettes a full stop right in the corners when I'm wide open, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I prefer my lenses to not vignette much. I prefer doing my own vignetting, but it isn't something I lose any sleep over.
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Old 03-28-2014   #42
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I guess for me the answer is: it depends. As a musician, I feel vignetting is much like reverb on vocals. When tastefully added, it adds a lot of color and isn't distracting. It's only bothersome when it's overly noticeable and/or is used to hide flaws. Then it becomes annoying.

I personally like vignetting the best when it is organic. My 21mm vignettes a bit sometimes, and I think for the most part it adds character.

Anyway, no, definitely not a dirty word.
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Old 03-28-2014   #43
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I'm finding a subtle post-production vignetting to be a useful effect with certain subject matter, just like selective focus can help in certain images by focusing the attention of the viewer onto the principal subject matter. Being a post-production effect, I'd rather have the choice of applying it when I need it, rather than the lens dictating to me.

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Old 03-28-2014   #44
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I look at it this way: I try not to shoot at f2.0 or f2.8 where most of the lenses vignette. When I am shooting at those stops I am generally in a dark lit area and the corners are black. When I photograph people I am at f4.0 or f5.6 if vignetting occurs it does not matter in portraits but actually may enhance the photo. With landscapes one should be at f. ll or f.16 where vignetting does not occur. Consider the photograph also. There is a sweet spot that the eyes go to which more often than not is towards the center. Fall off in the corners is seldom seen even if present.
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Old 03-31-2014   #45
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I do the same things Steve.
I am a lens scholar, so I like studying and using the native differences of lens types. I've not seen any post production effects that try to replicate lens aberrations look right to me. Spherical aberration in a soft focus lens has a soft flare, but underlying sharpness. Petzval swirl only happens at a certain depth of field, try doing that with software. Coma, curved field, and more are part of the fun of using different lenses. If we wanted everything to have identical flatness, resolution, contrast, and color rendering we might as well all shoot cell phone cameras. Then we could apply "Old Timey Kodak" filters through instagram and call it done.
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Old 04-02-2014   #46
David Hughes
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Hi,

Are there any lenses that don't vignette when wide open?

Equally are there any lenses that don't improve as the aperture shuts down then start to deteriorate as it continues to shut down?

I ask as I try to avoid the extremes of aperture on all lenses.

And if this paragon exists, can I afford it?

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Old 04-05-2014   #47
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I used to like the images produced by my, long gone, Pentax Espio Mini, despite the vignette
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Old 04-06-2014   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,

Are there any lenses that don't vignette when wide open?

Equally are there any lenses that don't improve as the aperture shuts down then start to deteriorate as it continues to shut down?

I ask as I try to avoid the extremes of aperture on all lenses.

And if this paragon exists, can I afford it?

Regards, David
Plenty. Vignetting is caused by using too short a focal length lens for the needed coverage. 35mm to 50mm is just starting to be the focal length needed to cover a 35mm frame, with some designs. Some designs have more angle of view, and edge aberrations start later, than others. But I'd wager any lens longer than 50mm won't vignette. By 85mm you are using the center part of the coverage, and the "edges" are way off the frame.

Your question about lenses improving as they are stopped down is related to optical theory. They almost all do. It's just the way it works. But some designs are very sharp wide open, and the most noticeable change as you stop is depth of field. A Petzval for example, but there aren't any for 35mm (Sorry, the new Lomo is not a Petzval from the diagrams they advertise). But a Petzval has a very narrow angle of view. In the 1800s, a photographer would buy one that was much longer than you'd think you need, just so he could use the center section of the coverage. That way they avoided the edge aberrations. Today with LF people want the edge aberrations such as swirl. So they use shorter Petzvals than they would have in the 1800s. Opposite with small format. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want short "wide angle" lenses that have no vignetting or edge aberration. That's been very hard for a lens designer to make.
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Old 04-06-2014   #49
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I don't like vignetting if it's too obvious, or not specifically right for the picture. Just darkening the extreme corners indiscriminately doesn't really work for me, but using it in a controlled way as a device to subdue a whole background a bit to draw one's attention to the subject without becoming an obvious distraction on it own does work. And just because you can do it, it doesn't mean you should always do it.

In my opinion, it's best when you don't notice it at all because it's flowing naturally out of what's already there.
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Old 04-08-2014   #50
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I like it when it is a character element of the lens. I don't like it when I've misaligned the lens hood.

For example I like it enough to have set the new firmware update for the GR to default to emulate the lens character of the original GR film cam ;-)

And if Ricoh has built that in as an "upgrade" that tells me there are enough nostalgic folks out there to warrant it.
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Old 04-09-2014   #51
David Hughes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goamules View Post
Plenty. Vignetting is caused by using too short a focal length lens for the needed coverage. 35mm to 50mm is just starting to be the focal length needed to cover a 35mm frame, with some designs. Some designs have more angle of view, and edge aberrations start later, than others. But I'd wager any lens longer than 50mm won't vignette. By 85mm you are using the center part of the coverage, and the "edges" are way off the frame.

Your question about lenses improving as they are stopped down is related to optical theory. They almost all do. It's just the way it works. But some designs are very sharp wide open, and the most noticeable change as you stop is depth of field. A Petzval for example, but there aren't any for 35mm (Sorry, the new Lomo is not a Petzval from the diagrams they advertise). But a Petzval has a very narrow angle of view. In the 1800s, a photographer would buy one that was much longer than you'd think you need, just so he could use the center section of the coverage. That way they avoided the edge aberrations. Today with LF people want the edge aberrations such as swirl. So they use shorter Petzvals than they would have in the 1800s. Opposite with small format. We want to have our cake and eat it too. We want short "wide angle" lenses that have no vignetting or edge aberration. That's been very hard for a lens designer to make.
Exactly my point. I don't worry about it because it seldom happens. And when it does it's a small price to pay to get the shot wide open etc. But most of the time I'm not shooting wide open.

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Old 04-14-2014   #52
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It depends on what I'm shooting.

The subjects where low vignetting is important tend to be the same shots where I'm stopping down so that vignetting is not a big problem. And it can look fantastic in some pictures.
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Old 04-15-2014   #53
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sometimes i like it because it can guide/limit the viewer's eye.
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Old 04-15-2014   #54
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One does not get into the Museum of Modern Art and other of the world's top museums unless one is a great photographer. Atget was one of the best ever.

Like all pictorial effects, vignette can be an asset or a liability, depending on what one has in mind w/ the photo. I think it's only an issue if it looks like this :]

Note to self....always ck a new hood w/ a ground glass and a loupe before shooting film in the camera.
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Old 05-13-2014   #55
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When I don't notice it, or if it looks natural, I tend to like it. But I know plenty of photographers who use it as a crutch--you see it in nearly all their images. Then it just looks lazy, as if you are trying to add drama that isn't there.

Am I guilty of vignetting? Yes. But I try to avoid it or use it sparingly. I have a couple lenses that do it on their own when wide open, which I like.
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Old 05-19-2014   #56
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I like vignetting on some types of photos and I do use at least some on a lot of my photos, but it really depends on the photo. I generally don't like it with color images. - jim
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Old 05-21-2014   #57
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As always in photography, it depends and there are always exceptions on any side. But often I love it, I find it helps the eye to focus on the important details of the image, create a perspective for the image. While on the "perfect" frame picture the contrasty corners can often mislead and steal some of the information.


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Old 10-11-2014   #58
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Is it there for a reason and to help the visual statement? If so, then it needs to be there. A lot of techniques I see today are applied for no other reason than the photographer thinks it looks cool. Many have no idea if it is hurting or helping their photograph. They just do it because they saw others do it...
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Judging competitions and vignetting
Old 10-11-2014   #59
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Judging competitions and vignetting

I was once told by a close friend who is now dead and cannot document this next statement... please don't ask for proof.

He was a career Art History Professor in Higher Ed in the SW, and a right fine large format fine art photographer.... that in judging fine art competition which he did for years, that sometimes increased score points are awarded in cases where the vignette stifles the wandering of the eye out of the corners of an image.

Looking at images with this in mind and playing around with vignetting at different levels, I find this to be a reasonable and acceptable practice.

Another perspective on the Vignette. WHAT IF an image in a competition gets a higher point score do to a well managed vignette over the image next to it, where the eye just races off the corners of the print? Or perhaps even both eyes!

Oh, and by the way, this is a serious post, and I do miss Mike.
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Old 10-17-2014   #60
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Vignette, even (especially) strong, can make an image. With many images an important vignette is almost imperceptible. Here the near road, and the house to the right are dark already, but a subtle vignette in Lightroom lifts those gorgeous sunlit facades even more. I am finding a subtle vignette is valuable in many different images.


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Old 10-17-2014   #61
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In the darkroom, I routinely do some edge burning on my prints, or more accurately center-dodging. The key is to keep it subtle. Nudge the attention of the viewer gently.

I think the example in #61 in this thread works well for me. I think #58 is too much, I am distracted by the dark corners in that one.
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Old 10-17-2014   #62
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Old 01-23-2015   #63
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I like the slight lens characteristic vignetting, I don't like adding any with post production processes. I loved the slight vignetting of my little Oly XA2. It has been really hard for me to give it away. I just could not stand its light meter that could easily ruin moments.
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Old 04-17-2015   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikos72 View Post
I like the slight lens characteristic vignetting, I don't like adding any with post production processes. I loved the slight vignetting of my little Oly XA2. It has been really hard for me to give it away. I just could not stand its light meter that could easily ruin moments.
I have an Olympus Stylus Infinity that also give slight vignetting, maybe the same lens. I'm like you I just like it.

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Old 04-17-2015   #65
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I think sometimes a vignette can be really striking. My brother's LCA-120 vignettes strongly, and I must say, I like it.
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Old 04-17-2015   #66
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One of my favorite shots... my infant daughters first look at an airplane! Shot with an M3 and 50/1.4 lux v1 with factory hood, wide open.

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Old 04-17-2015   #67
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Angry

Jeez, vignetting comes natural for me. Every morning I awake I have the coolest vignette view of the world as it takes me awhile to really get going these days.

What's not to like about vignetting now and then?
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Old 04-26-2015   #68
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table and chairs by berangberang, on Flickr

4.5/40 Tessar produces a soft vignetting that I find very pleasant (somtimes). It seems to give a suggestion of illumination that can make a flat background more three dimensional.

tower by berangberang, on Flickr

Extreme vignetting from a toy camera. Kind of cool (sometimes).
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Old 04-26-2015   #69
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Vignetting can be quite effective, though as with others, my preference is when a lens produces it naturally rather than adding it later on. A few shots (all from my Olympus XA4 Macro) where I was pleased with the effect (none of the vignetting was altered).





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Old 04-29-2015   #70
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I can deal with it. A lot of the time.

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Old 05-04-2015   #71
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The five options in this poll do not capture my opinion of vignetting.

To me, vignetting is a merely a word. It is not necessarily a dirty word.

I tend to view vignetting as a character flaw or a minor optical flaw that usually has little effect on the overall performance of the lens.

However, just as a rose is a weed in a dandelion garden, there are times when I find vignetting undesirable. Vignetting in my macro shots in one such time.

The top image, shot with a high-quality lens but not a macro lens, displays vignetting and barreling optical defects. The bottom image, shot with a high-quality macro lens, does not display those "character flaws."


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Old 06-10-2015   #72
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On cheap lenses, it can be very distracting, but on well made lenses, it has enough. When I crop a photo, I have to add vignetting because the image looks cropped rather than being a full picture with the lens having the right coverage for the camera it was intended to be used on.
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Old 06-13-2016   #73
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Don't really like it and by far prefer it not to be there. Sometimes it isn't that bad or the photo itself masks it. But certainly with architecture I can find it very distracting and not pleasing at all.
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Old 06-13-2016   #74
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Vignetting, just like discussions regarding sharpness, is generally overemphasized. I've always felt these quantitative things are so prominently discussed, simply because they are quantitative. It's very easy to see and measure the value a lens vignettes and graph it as a function of f-stop, but try to do that with a more qualitative characteristic like rendering or what mood the lens might add to your shots and the discussion breaks down quickly.

Certainly, to have a lens that vignettes heavily, so as to look like a circular fisheye, isnt generally desired, but to have a lens that vingettes a stop or two in the corners, like one would expect from a fast prime or fast wide angle, isnt a big deal, nor even "a deal", imo. Of course there are always limits and exceptions to generalities.

For the majority of my shots, some vignette is added in post, either done locally with a brush or globally with the vignette tool.

Had it been an option in the poll, I'd have voted something like;
"I usually dont mind vignetting / I usually add some vignetting in post"


having said all of this, it is my opinion that vignetting, just like any other effect or style applied to an image should be used with some restraint and shouldnt immediately be obvious unless that is the intention. Rather, it should work harmoniously (or at least attempt to) with the image when taken as a whole and singular object.
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Old 06-13-2016   #75
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Vignetting and corner fall-off (these are two different things) are lens characteristics that good lens designers try to minimize.
  • Vignetting is physical shading of the projected image by some obstruction in the light path. Generally speaking, this is always considered a bad thing. You can almost always see a semi-hard edge to it.
  • Corner fall-off is the more typical case of what modern lenses do where the corner illumination is down by some measure compared to the center illumination.
True vignetting as in the first bullet is nearly always a problem that is hard to use, although creatively applied vignettes (like the round, heart shaped, etc, masks you sometimes see in various post cards) can be appealing once in a while. Soft vignetting or corner fall-off is often an aesthetic plus, it can lend some dimensionality to a photograph if it is done subtly and not over-worked.
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Old 01-06-2017   #77
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I like how my XA3 vignettes...has nice corner fall-off, or whatever.
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