Go Back   Rangefinderforum.com > Cameras / Gear / Photography > Rangefinder Forum > Rangefinder Photography Discussion

Rangefinder Photography Discussion General discussions about Rangefinder Photography. This is a great place for questions and answers that are not addressed in a specific category. Take note there is also a General Photography forum.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes

Lens character - old or new?
Old 12-09-2005   #1
Steve George
Registered User
 
Steve George is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Sussex, UK
Posts: 59
Lens character - old or new?

Hi all

I'll start this off by saying how friendly this forum seems. Very nice! I've lurked, posted a couple of times, but always liked the way it "feels" here.

I've got the following lenses: 40mm Summicron from a CL, 50mm Summicron (latest), 90mm Summicron (1963 vintage I think). In the past I've also owned various VC lenses (35mm Ultron, 90mm APO Lanthar), old Leica (Summarits) and assorted Jupiters and Industars...

I love the look the Summicrons give over all the others - this is why I've kept hold of them. The 50mm (or was it 5cm?)Summarits also gave a look I liked - less contrasty but still sharp - but the swirlies wide open were less nice and meant they would never be a permanent fixture. Recently though I'm becoming more and more aware that a few times the 50mm Summicron is just a little bit too sharp - a bit unflattering in some cases where flattering would be nice. I don't think I'll ever replace it - but it would be nice to have the option to be kinder to subjects.

So now I'll get to the point of this post! I've just read another post where someone refers to a lens having a character that was too modern for their personal taste. I'm guessing the latest 50mm Summicron comes under that banner too - the 90mm renders light in the same way (to my eyes at least) but is a bit kinder while still being sharp (if that makes any sense at all). So my question is, how do you define "less modern" lens character, and what lenses, around the 50mm mark display it?

If I was to get an earlier, older 50mm Summicron would it have the same "look" and apparent sharpness without being cruelly sharp in the way that the older 90mm exhibits these qualities?

Thanks
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #2
denishr
アナログ侘・寂
 
denishr's Avatar
 
denishr is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Croatia
Posts: 867
Hi and welcome Steve,

I'm not sure I'll answer your question in full, but I have a collapsible Summicron 50/2 (from the sixties, I guess). For one of the first portraits I took with it, the reaction of the person in the photo (when he saw it) was: "Don't ever use that lens on me again - or at least not before you apply some steel wool to the front element"

The guy in the photo was in his early fifties.... EVERY wrinkle and scar on his face vas clearly visible... It had to do a bit with lighting, too, but still...

An option for more "flattering" portraits would be to use a softar of similar filter... Smaller, lighter and easier to use than another lens in the photo bag.

Another option might be to use a Summitar or Summaron. I have a Summitar 50/2, and it's a bit less "clinically" sharp than Summicron.

BTW, my Summicron also has a slight tendency towards "swirly" bokeh.

HTH,

Denis
__________________
アナログ侘・寂
My Gallery
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #3
wilt
Registered User
 
wilt is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Lund, Sweden
Posts: 266
Interesting question, I am also looking for an alternative to my Summicron 50 along the lines you mention for use in portraiture. I kinda like the look of the Jupiter 8 and would like to try further alternatives in that direction. Some people here have mentioned Sonnar (expensive and difficult to find in LTM?) and Sonnar-like designs. There's a Canon 1.5 (and 1.4 ?), Nikkor, the J3.

Brian Sweeney published some great shots taken with the Canon 50/1.5 in this thread. Seems to be difficult to find, though.
__________________
http://www.5063.com/
M3 DS, Summicron 50, Jupiter 3, 8, 9
OM-2 N, Zuiko 50/1.8, 50/1.4
Minox 35GT
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #4
FrankS
Registered User
 
FrankS's Avatar
 
FrankS is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Canada, eh.
Age: 62
Posts: 19,389
This is my "hot topic" at the moment too. I have a collapsible Summicron and a modern black '69 Summicron, and I have recently added a Summitar and a Summarit, in search of lens character. All I need now is some time to use them.
__________________
my little website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

photography makes me happy

Last edited by FrankS : 12-09-2005 at 06:02.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #5
Ben Z
Registered User
 
Ben Z is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,552
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve George
Hi all

I'll start this off by saying how friendly this forum seems. Very nice! I've lurked, posted a couple of times, but always liked the way it "feels" here.
Me too Steve. It seems that trolls, offensive material and boorish responses just don't get posted here, not just that the moderators are more stricter. On the other Leica forum I gave up on, even one of the moderators would post snide, sarcastic "Leica bashing" remarks. My granddaddy used to say "a fish starts to stink from the head".

Quote:
So my question is, how do you define "less modern" lens character, and what lenses, around the 50mm mark display it?

If I was to get an earlier, older 50mm Summicron would it have the same "look" and apparent sharpness without being cruelly sharp in the way that the older 90mm exhibits these qualities?

Thanks
I've got a collapsible 50/3.5 Elmar, collapsible Cron, rigid chrome type-1 50 Cron, 1969-type Cron, pre-ASPH 50 Lux, and used to have the latest Cron. With the undertanding that I've never set my camera on a tripod aimed at a resolution target, bookshelf or some other subject I'd never photograph, and wasted time and film making identical shots with each lens at different apertures to pore over with a loupe at magnifications I'd never enlarge to, I don't find any jarring differences in "character" between any of them. The oldest lenses are more easily affected by flare in backlit situations, and they're a little less saturated and a tad softer in the far corners until stopped down 2-3 stops. The 1969 Cron and latest Cron were indistinguishable, the Lux at comparable apertures is within a gnat's whisker.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #6
merciful
 
Posts: n/a
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve George
I've just read another post where someone refers to a lens having a character that was too modern for their personal taste.
Did someone call for me?

I shoot wide-open (or within a stop or two of wide-open) all the time, and I'm fond of the way my lenses, particularly my uncoated Summitar, show lower contrast and a little less sharpness than the current stuff. I don't mind a bit of tendency toward flare when shooting into the light, either. I'm in the market for an uncoated 90mm Elmar, now, too.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #7
bobofish
Two-fisted Atom Smasher
 
bobofish's Avatar
 
bobofish is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Portland, OR USA
Age: 41
Posts: 349
A gnat's whisker is indeed not too great a distance!

Anybody who wants more 'flattering' portraits should, rather than simply reaching for the pocketbook, try a very cheap trick that many fashion photographers use.

It involves black pantyhose (used or new is up to you) cut into a circle, and attached to the lens via a screw in filter. Simply cover the front element with the hose material, and screw the filter in gently, so as not to bind it. The material should of course be pulled tight before this is done.

Not only does it soften contrast a bit, but gives the picture a certain kind of glow, or luminescence.

Other color pantyhose, such as white, etc. achieve other effects, black is the most multi-purpose one.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #8
GeneW
Registered User
 
GeneW's Avatar
 
GeneW is offline
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Port Credit, Ontario
Age: 74
Posts: 3,223
Playing the devil's advocate here, but ... if you find your lens too sharp, in Photoshop can't you just add a tiny bit of Gaussain blur to the image if you want it softer? Or in the darkroom, beam it through a bit of gauze or nylon?

[edit: sorry, missed your reply Bobofish. that's exactly what I was suggesting]

Gene
__________________
genewilburn.com
Gone digital: Olympus E-P7, Sony RX-100 II
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #9
J. Borger
Registered User
 
J. Borger is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 942
I started with modern summicrons, but along the line bought a 35 & 50 Summilux (both pre-asph) in search for the "old Leica look".

For those interested I put a small gallery together with some pre-asph lux pictures (35&50) along with some pictures from the current 50 cron. Unfortunately i have no people shots woth the 35 asph on-line.



http://www.shutterfreaks.com/gallery...milux-pre-asph



I think the difference in signature goes a bit further than sharpness alone.

I love the 50 Summicron but do not like the 35 summicron ASPH for people shots.

Han
__________________
my website
my RFF gallery

Last edited by J. Borger : 12-09-2005 at 06:49.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #10
FrankS
Registered User
 
FrankS's Avatar
 
FrankS is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Canada, eh.
Age: 62
Posts: 19,389
The problem with adding diffusion in the darkroom is that darkness spreads into the highlight areas, instead of highlights glowing into the darker areas which is what happens when diffusion is added as the picture is being taken. The effect is totally different. Photos take on a sinister look (IMO) when darkroom diffusion is added. This is much different than the glowy results of in-camera diffusion.
__________________
my little website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

photography makes me happy
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #11
bmicklea
RF Newbie
 
bmicklea's Avatar
 
bmicklea is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Toronto, Canada
Age: 45
Posts: 174
Thanks Bobofish, that's a great suggestion. While I like my old Jupiter-8's softer look sometimes I got it for price, not because it's my ideal 50 (can you say 50 'lux ASPH?). I'd rather have a very sharp lens and a bit of pantyhose myself. I'm definitely going to try that!

Edit: Has anyone tried the soft filters vs. the pantyhose? Is there a different effect?
__________________
-Brad


My RFF Gallery

Newest Shots

  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #12
Steve George
Registered User
 
Steve George is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Sussex, UK
Posts: 59
Thanks all for responses - that's great. Does anyone have any examples of the panty-hose effect? Similarly, any examples taken with a softar would be interesting. I just curious as to how subtle the effect is with both variations on a theme.

Thanks again.
  Reply With Quote

Summar
Old 12-09-2005   #13
FPjohn
Registered User
 
FPjohn's Avatar
 
FPjohn is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Posts: 1,655
Summar

Hello:

I would have suggested a 1st generation Summicron. Most of what can be said has been.

One not expensive option, if you are looking for a distinctive lens signature as a solution, is to aquire a good example of a Summar, sharp in the center and lowish contrast near wide open. Or, at the other cost extreme, a 75mmSummilux wide open!*

yours
Frank

*not the most serious of solutions.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #14
raid
Dad Photographer
 
raid's Avatar
 
raid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 31,585
Frank: Do you mean the rigid Summicron first version or the collapsible one that some refer to as first version?
__________________
- Raid
________________

http://raid.smugmug.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #15
hoot
green behind the ears
 
hoot's Avatar
 
hoot is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Vienna, Austria
Age: 39
Posts: 608
Will the pantyhose trick (!) work on an enlarger, too? I like having a sharp photo to begin with and be able to add "special effects" later.
__________________
"Itís marvellous, marvellous. Nothing will ever be as much fun. Iím going to photograph everything, everything!"
Jacques-Henri Lartigue, 1901 (age seven)

my photos on RFF
my website
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #16
FrankS
Registered User
 
FrankS's Avatar
 
FrankS is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Canada, eh.
Age: 62
Posts: 19,389
Hoot: see my earlier post on this.
__________________
my little website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

photography makes me happy
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #17
hoot
green behind the ears
 
hoot's Avatar
 
hoot is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Vienna, Austria
Age: 39
Posts: 608
Thanks, Frank; I missed that one. Very interesting... might try it for a Meatyard/Tress look.
__________________
"Itís marvellous, marvellous. Nothing will ever be as much fun. Iím going to photograph everything, everything!"
Jacques-Henri Lartigue, 1901 (age seven)

my photos on RFF
my website
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #18
MCTuomey
Registered User
 
MCTuomey's Avatar
 
MCTuomey is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: U.S.
Age: 66
Posts: 3,312
Great post - the problem of unforgiving lenses' harshness on aging faces is much on my mind, too.

FWIW, I just got my newly acquired LTM Summarit back from Golden Touch, CLA'd and relacquered. I hope to get more pleasing results with it than my DR 50. I'd be pleased to approach what Frank has obtained in his portrait of his old canine friend and also Merciful's portraits of middle-agers.
__________________
--Mike

My Flickr
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #19
FPjohn
Registered User
 
FPjohn's Avatar
 
FPjohn is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Posts: 1,655
Quote:
Originally Posted by raid amin
Frank: Do you mean the rigid Summicron first version or the collapsible one that some refer to as first version?
Hello: I was referring to the 1st collapsible Summicron-sharp but not as clinical as sucessors.

yours
Frank
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #20
vol72
Registered User
 
vol72 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee USA
Posts: 62
I've got a Zeiss Softar for my Apo 90 Summicron ASPH lens, but rarely use it. I usually shoot the 90 SAA lens wide open. This shot of my youngest daughter is taken wide open at F2, and has been cropped and resized in photoshop at least 50%.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #21
vol72
Registered User
 
vol72 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee USA
Posts: 62
Sorry:
Trying once more: Resized below 2 MB.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #22
vol72
Registered User
 
vol72 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee USA
Posts: 62
Juan Mo Time:
  Reply With Quote

Sorry, Can't Figure it Out
Old 12-09-2005   #23
vol72
Registered User
 
vol72 is offline
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee USA
Posts: 62
Sorry, Can't Figure it Out

Again; I apologize for the repeated attempts to upload.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #24
FrankS
Registered User
 
FrankS's Avatar
 
FrankS is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Canada, eh.
Age: 62
Posts: 19,389
Here's a picture done with my M3 and "new" Summarit lens at 1/30sec and f1.5. Some interesting OOF highlights were cropped out. Cool lens, I think.

It is soft, but in the print, whisker hairs and short hair on his head are individually rendered. This is a flatbed scan of a print I made tonight with my small enlarger.
__________________
my little website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

photography makes me happy

Last edited by FrankS : 12-09-2005 at 18:53.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-09-2005   #25
peter_n
~
 
peter_n's Avatar
 
peter_n is offline
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 8,772
A comment in another forum about the current Summicron was that one received a dermatology lesson with every picture taken with the lens. I've been through two of the current ones and now use the current Elmar-M 50mm which is a little warmer and not quite as sharp as the Summicron, and the pre-ASPH Summilux 50mm which I think is in a class of its own. What a great lens and boy does it get criticised just because its an old design.

I really like the older designs from the 60's & 70's - they have a little less contrast, may not be as good with flare, and manage to produce beautiful transitions yet still be sufficiently sharp to produce hight quality pictures. I have a Jupiter-8 from 1959 I think and that is also a great lens, so it isn't a question of the cost of the lenses.

__________________
_
~Peter

My RFF Gallery
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2005   #26
hoot
green behind the ears
 
hoot's Avatar
 
hoot is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Vienna, Austria
Age: 39
Posts: 608
Excellent DoF, Brian. Did you just focus on the eyes, or did you focus 1/3rd into what you wanted to be sharp?

FrankS - love that portrait!
__________________
"Itís marvellous, marvellous. Nothing will ever be as much fun. Iím going to photograph everything, everything!"
Jacques-Henri Lartigue, 1901 (age seven)

my photos on RFF
my website
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2005   #27
wilt
Registered User
 
wilt is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Lund, Sweden
Posts: 266
This and this was shot with a Jupiter 8 from 1976.
__________________
http://www.5063.com/
M3 DS, Summicron 50, Jupiter 3, 8, 9
OM-2 N, Zuiko 50/1.8, 50/1.4
Minox 35GT
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2005   #28
hoot
green behind the ears
 
hoot's Avatar
 
hoot is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Vienna, Austria
Age: 39
Posts: 608
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney
The DOF at F1.5 at 3ft is ~1". Seems like more!
Perhaps good (read: unintrusive) bokeh factors into what we subjectively perceive as sufficient DoF.

Would be interesting to compare the Summarit's performance with the Jupiter-3. I wonder if a good J-3 can match the Summarit in that regard.
__________________
"Itís marvellous, marvellous. Nothing will ever be as much fun. Iím going to photograph everything, everything!"
Jacques-Henri Lartigue, 1901 (age seven)

my photos on RFF
my website
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2005   #29
FrankS
Registered User
 
FrankS's Avatar
 
FrankS is offline
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Canada, eh.
Age: 62
Posts: 19,389
Wilt, I agree that the J8 is a great lens with an old character. For the money, you just can't go wrong.
__________________
my little website: http://frankfoto.jimdo.com/

photography makes me happy
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-10-2005   #30
raid
Dad Photographer
 
raid's Avatar
 
raid is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Florida
Posts: 31,585
I kept my first version collapsible Summicron and rigid version too for the reason mentioned above. The lenses are sharp but not too sharp. The collapsible is maybe better for people photography than the rigid version, but both are fine.
__________________
- Raid
________________

http://raid.smugmug.com/
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-11-2005   #31
wilt
Registered User
 
wilt is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Lund, Sweden
Posts: 266
Seems that lens character is more than sharpness: the way the lens renders transitions between light and dark, tonality, bokeh, highlights, contrast &c enters the overall feeling of the lens' imagery.
__________________
http://www.5063.com/
M3 DS, Summicron 50, Jupiter 3, 8, 9
OM-2 N, Zuiko 50/1.8, 50/1.4
Minox 35GT
  Reply With Quote

lens character
Old 12-11-2005   #32
x-ray
Registered User
 
x-ray's Avatar
 
x-ray is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Tennessee USA
Age: 71
Posts: 4,624
lens character

I've been going through the same issues with new vs old glass. For some time I've felt the newer lenses have lost the character that lenses once had. Certainly they render images technically superior to older glass but photography isn't about numbers on a chart or lines per MM. Photography is a viaual art with art being the key. I have none of the new leica glass and find it too harsh for my taste. I have glass form the 70's tot he 90's for general shooting. My 50 is a generation prior to the current one and I like it very well but after printing some of my 60's and 70's images shot with my DR and rigid summicron 50 I might just get another 60's version. My favorite 90 is the elmarit I use from the early 70's. I've had the others and really love the 60-70's elmarit. I also have the non asp elamarit 21mm but like the look of my images from my previous 3.4 superangulon and might trade the 21 elmarit for one. My 35mm is a late non asp summicron but favor the old 35 summilux that I used for twenty years. I have even been experimenting with excellent results with vintage lenses. I particularly love the look that was around in the 30's and 40's. Sometimes I shoot with my IIIC and 28mm Hektor, 50mm elmar 3.5 and 90mm elmar. All are uncoated and give stunnign images. I particularly love the flare around light sources and the slightly softer and lower contrast images. I use Bergger 200 which is the old Kodak Super XX film from the 50's and develope it in the 50's standard developer DK-50. The only way that I've found to achieve the vintage look is to use vintage lenses and film / developer combinations. The look is different than can be achieved with diffusion on the lens or in the computer. The grain of the Bergger 200 and the soft flaring quality of the old glass has a genuine period look.

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/phot...y.php?cat=5045

Last edited by x-ray : 12-11-2005 at 20:14.
  Reply With Quote

Old 12-12-2005   #33
peter_n
~
 
peter_n's Avatar
 
peter_n is offline
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 8,772
Nice stuff there x-ray. One of my favorites is the Menonite girl with the kitten.

Love that shot!

__________________
_
~Peter

My RFF Gallery
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Lens Columnation jdos2 Repair / Camera Care 5 11-15-2008 22:45
Screw Mount Lens Question [email protected] Rangefinder Photography Discussion 17 02-12-2006 08:44
Adapter thickness vs. focusing accuracy: probably more than you want to know! jlw Epson R-D1 Leica M mount Digital Rangefinder 6 04-20-2005 10:21
150mm Finder Question. mtokue 120 / 220 film RF's 6 04-16-2005 08:16
Mamiya announces 50mm f/4.5 L Lens for M7 MP Guy Rangefinder Photography Discussion 0 07-31-2003 08:34



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:57.


vBulletin skin developed by: eXtremepixels
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

All content on this site is Copyright Protected and owned by its respective owner. You may link to content on this site but you may not reproduce any of it in whole or part without written consent from its owner.