PDA

View Full Version : Which lens to buy next?


Roger Hicks
04-15-2009, 13:19
This is a perennial question, and it seems to me that there are two answers. Either you already know, or it's pure chance. Unfortunately the two overlap.

If you are missing pictures, you almost certainly KNOW that you need a faster or wider or longer or sharper lens -- in which case there are relatively few choices.

The question is, which lens in a given category? To choose an obvious example, and modern choices only, 21/1.4, 21/2.8, 21/4, 21/4.5? For that matter, how about 18/3.8, 18/4, 24/1.4, 24/2.8, 25/2.8?

That's where chance comes in to it, along with personal preference. It's what you happen to run into, and like. At 21, I'm happy with my old f/2.8 Kobalux. Bulky, ugly, rotten finder (I use ZI instead) but sharp, contrasty, low distortion and fast enough for me.

Frances doesn't care about speed and finds 18mm a much more congenial focal length. That's on film. I'm as happy with a 15/4.5 on film, but the 24/1.4 is THE lens for the M8 (I think -- I'm still agonizing over 28 too).

Likewise, at 50mm, I use almost exclusively the C-Sonnar 1,5/50 and she uses almost exclusively the Summarit 2,5/50. If I can't tell you what my own wife is going to prefer -- we met on May 14 1981 and were married in June 1982 -- then how can I tell you what you are going to prefer?

And then there is PURE chance. I expected to dismiss both the Noctilux and the Thambar as 'those who quite like this sort of thing will find that this is the sort of thing they quite like.' Then I tried them and found that for me, at least, there are good reasons for their legendary status.

This is not to deny the usefulness of a forum such as this. All I want to say is, (a) beware of people who sing the praises of the one or two lenses with which they are acquainted and (b) be wary of those who have tried almost everything, because what they like is not necessarily what will suit you.

To those who say 'put up or shut up' (of pictures), I'll just point to www.rogerandfrances.com and invite a simple question. Look at the site. Does any lens stand out for you? Because if it does, all that means is that we get good pictures with that lens. Not that you will. And if none stands out: well, that speaks for itself too.

Finally, I've actually been on the forum more while Frances was ill, because there are an awful lot of really nice people here, and it's a comfortable refuge from visiting the hospital. Now she's back you may see less of me...

Tashi delek,

R.

Brian Sweeney
04-15-2009, 13:31
You can check the forum when Frances is resting...

You are right about the forum being a stress relief. Nikki spent weeks at a time in the hospital as a toddler, we practically lived there, and in "free time" - checked in on the forum. Escape into the internet.

Next lens for me? Probably another lens for a project. Carl Zeiss Opton 50/1.5 in LTM and Elmar in S-Mount.

ferider
04-15-2009, 14:35
Good that Frances is back and getting better, Roger.

WRT to the next lens choice ? You are right in a way, looking at it from two extreme perspectives. On the other hand, some lens characteristics can be rationalized and separated from obvious emotional attachment, and what specifically works for a given photographer. Much like other things in life, like cooking recipes, what to drive, what music to listen to, etc. Heck, some people even make money with qualitative or quantitative equipment testing :)

In addition, I feel there is value in browsing opinions and example photos of many photographers using the same equipment. Which is why I value RFF, among others, and the flickr M-mount forum (today, we have a little more than 25k example photos taken with different M/LTM lenses :) ).

My personal next lens ? I just bought an LTM 80/1.8 Komura lens and cann't wait to receive it and to try it out (I have a weak side for short teles :) ). BTW, if you have any more info on that lens, I would love to know.

All the best to your family. Cheers,

Roland.

back alley
04-15-2009, 14:41
it's more about being human than about lenses.

most of us have the need to personalize things, if not we would all be dring the same car, same colour, same engine size etc. with gear, we need to somehow make the experience ours and so we ask the same questions that have been asked so many times before.

wasn't it a famous photographer who said 'i photograph to see what things look like photographed by me.'

joe

andrewteee
04-15-2009, 14:44
Sage words. I asked my own lens question (and you replied, thanks) because A) this is one of the best photography forums out there, people are friendly and knowledgeable, and the quality of the experience is high (these are photographers first, gearheads second), and B) I'm new to rangefinders and I'm learning as I go, and without the ability to easily try out different lenses I asked for some opinion from experience. Any "what lens next" can sound silly, but every perspective helps the inquisitive.

The idea to look at photos from various lenses and see what you like is a good one. I do that here and on Flickr. That's what originally drew me to the lenses I already own and one in particular I'm looking for.

Also, thanks for your great site. I joined back in Feb and appreciate the wealth of information there.

And BTW I'm glad to hear your family is all home again and recovering well : )

Brian Sweeney
04-15-2009, 15:18
> most of us have the need to personalize things,

agree completely.......

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3518/3310198688_93fa64fce3.jpg

Bob Ross
04-15-2009, 17:04
This is not to deny the usefulness of a forum such as this. All I want to say is, (a) beware of people who sing the praises of the one or two lenses with which they are acquainted and (b) be wary of those who have tried almost everything, because what they like is not necessarily what will suit you.


Tashi delek,

R.

When it come to rangefinder lenses I am a slow learner. As such I am wary of your "b" group, thinking how could someone know a lens from using it 30 days or less. My latest lens is the 28 Elmarit-Asph, a neat lens, but I couldn't give a review, because I haven't really "learned" it in the 2 years that I have had it.
Bob

Roger Hicks
04-15-2009, 23:31
When it come to rangefinder lenses I am a slow learner. As such I am wary of your "b" group, thinking how could someone know a lens from using it 30 days or less. My latest lens is the 28 Elmarit-Asph, a neat lens, but I couldn't give a review, because I haven't really "learned" it in the 2 years that I have had it.
Bob

Dear Bob,

Exactly!

One advantage of living the way we do is that Frances and I can give a lens more of a work-out in a couple of months than many could in a year -- but we still know, all too clearly, that there are things which reveal themselves in the long run.

You also need to know a reviewer's biases, and the kind of pictures he/she takes, and his/her experience -- which is why a 'review' by Raid or Frances and me is often more useful than one by someone who has only used one or two lenses and is trying to persuade himself/herself it was a wise investment...

Cheers,

R.

TJV
04-17-2009, 03:57
My latest lens is the 28 Elmarit-Asph, a neat lens, but I couldn't give a review, because I haven't really "learned" it in the 2 years that I have had it.
Bob

I've had my Elmarit-ASPH for three years and it's only now I'm starting to use it at all! Seems appropriate to mention in this thread that practicing zone focusing with it and using an external finder makes me long for a 21mm lens. Now I've got the wide bug and am enjoying the depth of field and creative possibilities it offers I don't know if I'll be able to go back. I used to be a militant 50mm man but since selling my M3 I don't seem to bond with the old Summicron anymore. I've found a new muse! At the end of the day though, I reckon 28mm is just right for me. I'd just like to give 21mm a go. Pity I've got no one to borrow one from near home.

john neal
04-17-2009, 04:39
Roger,

Thought provoking as ever - BTW, do you have a "c" group for extremely slow learners (i.e. me)?

In my youth, I was somewhat blinkered and chased ultimate sharpness with maximum contrast and was one of the "soot & whitewash" brigade (OK, I still like Bill Brandt). Over time, I have come to recognise that lenses are like people - some you love, others you like, some you can tolerate and one or two you cannot stand. But also that this can, and (possibly) should change depending on a whole hostof factors.

These days, I can see good in many lenses and have become something of a dilletante - a Summar here, Nikkor there and the odd CV for good measure. A lot depends on the subject, what I'm trying to convey and my mood at the time I make the exposure.

I just learned the Sonnar to LTM conversion trick from Brian, and I'm looking for a nice f1.5 example to try. I also rediscovered the Summitar too, and have two very nice examples (with & without coating). Having spent years at 35mm and wider, it looks like I'm having a resurgence at 50mm :)

Regards to you both.

Roger Hicks
04-17-2009, 06:16
I've had my Elmarit-ASPH for three years and it's only now I'm starting to use it at all! Seems appropriate to mention in this thread that practicing zone focusing with it and using an external finder makes me long for a 21mm lens. Now I've got the wide bug and am enjoying the depth of field and creative possibilities it offers I don't know if I'll be able to go back. I used to be a militant 50mm man but since selling my M3 I don't seem to bond with the old Summicron anymore. I've found a new muse! At the end of the day though, I reckon 28mm is just right for me. I'd just like to give 21mm a go. Pity I've got no one to borrow one from near home.

Come on folks! Is there no RFF member on either Cloud 8 or Cloud 10 that can help?

Tashi delek,

R.

Bob Ross
04-17-2009, 07:39
I've had my Elmarit-ASPH for three years and it's only now I'm starting to use it at all! Seems appropriate to mention in this thread that practicing zone focusing with it and using an external finder makes me long for a 21mm lens. Now I've got the wide bug and am enjoying the depth of field and creative possibilities it offers I don't know if I'll be able to go back. I used to be a militant 50mm man but since selling my M3 I don't seem to bond with the old Summicron anymore. I've found a new muse! At the end of the day though, I reckon 28mm is just right for me. I'd just like to give 21mm a go. Pity I've got no one to borrow one from near home.

I got the 28 Elmarit-Asph with my M8, because the widest I had was a 35cron-v4. I liked the size and thought the "asph" would help when I needed detail with scenics. It is wicked sharp, but renders sort of clinically.
I started RF life with auxilary finder on a Contax II and I learned to dislike them, so I stay with the M finder for lens range. Roger's leaning toward the 24/1.4, for the M8, make sense, as the FOV and f/stop are the closest to his 35/1.4. I think we go for two qualities in RF lenses, the FOV and the rendering. This gets to be fun when the format changes, because while the FOV can almost be matched, the rendering drifts. We get the picture from where we usually shoot, but it doesn't look the same at wider apertures. If we go for lots of DOF, it doesn't matter as much and that is one of my reasons for the 28 Elmait-Asph over the 28 Cron.
Bob