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New Poll - lens types and image quality

Discussion in 'Weekly Poll' started by Damien_Demolder, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    I have the same lens with a Rolleinar badge on it. It does have one big advantage - it is less than half the size and weight of the f2. :(

    In 35mm, besides the f1.4, I have the Rolleinar 2.8 and the German Distagon f2.8, which, using mid-range apertures, can definitely give the 1.4 a run for its money! :)
  2. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Ah, I've got an odder 35mm - the 35mm f2.8 Schneider Angulon. It's really an SL35 lens, along with my 85mm f2.8 Sonnar (and one of my 50mm f1.8 Planars), but I like it a lot.
  3. mjc7uk

    mjc7uk Well-Known Member

    I would say that Prime is better quality than the zoom, but then I am bit old fashion with that train of thought.

    I admit that the best zoom I have use is the Nikon 18-135mm DX which is quite sharp for what it is. (IMHO)
  4. huwevans

    huwevans Not Really Here

    Walked right into that one! :)

    Very, very hard to commit myself on that, because of all the Zeiss and Rodenstock glass I've used I don't think there's ever been an overlap where they could really be directly compared.

    However, if forced to lean on a hunch I'd have to give it to Zeiss as an optical designer/manufacturer, simply because of the sheer magic of the moment I first slapped a negative from the Contax G2 into the enlarger and was absolutely blown away by the quality of the resulting print.

    Okay, I know those lenses weren't actually made by Zeiss, but they were Zeiss designed, specified, and QC'd, and that's good enough for me.

    All in all I tend to put Zeiss up at the top, with Rodenstock and Schneider more or less equal a very short distance behind. OTOH, some of my Mamiya lenses are as good as anything I've ever used, but they're less consistent - a few more dogs in the line up. Ditto for Nikon. That's not something I'd say of any German lens-maker of my experience - they all seem to be wonderfully consistent.
  5. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    Interesting though Huw, the general concensus I would suspect would give the quality edge to European glass over the Japanese. What a damn shame they never had the business acumen to follow it up.
    I am off to Cardiff for a couple of days and am taking the 'Blad and the D2X. I want to wander around the Bay area and look at the new building work there. Herself is at some tedious conference or other so it should allow a decent amount of time to ponder the view.
  6. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    Something nobody has mentioned yet in the zoom versus prime debate is the f-stop/t-stop difference. As I understand it, the Zeiss T* coatings were so named because there was no significant light loss through the lens. I have just checked one of my (albeit older) zooms against a Zeiss prime, using stop-down metering, and there is nearly a full stop difference at f5.6 - f8.

    Is this still considered an issue with modern zooms?
  7. Hotblack

    Hotblack Dead Horse Flogger

    I'm not sure I'm actually qualified to answer this. I've only ever possessed one prime lens, an old Sigma 28mm, which I used on my old Nikon Fe. The other two lenses were zooms, a 75-150mm and a 43-86mm. It was a long time ago and I didn't know any better.

    I'll admit that the lenses I have now knock spots off those earlier zooms but I still don't possess any primes.

    I've heard many people say that primes are much better but I have no experience to check that.
  8. huwevans

    huwevans Not Really Here

    Not a terribly significant one - multi-coating pretty much did away with the need to take account of transmission losses for general purposes.
  9. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Primes for me.....even if the mpe zooms I think it's still classed as prime? Have used my 28-105 twice since getting a 50mm f/1.4....and both times involded salt-water spray.

    The performance from the zoom was bad enough that I'd only really use in the middle on the zoom between f/5.6 and f/10.....if a shot required something else I'd often walk away rather than waste my time trying hard to get a sharp shot. f/22 on that lens was shocking...can hardly believe canon left it on it. Have even seen prints in AP that I can tell without reading the info that it was taken on a canon 28-105@f/22 (not for a while, mind).

    70-200 seems to be pretty good for zooms....I don't have the same problem with zooms there.
  10. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Ah but which one is it? The cheap ones probably are less than magnificent - I suspect they were originally designed for those film based happy snappers who never print above 6x4 (or 7x5 tops). I have the 3.5-4.5 USM which seems to have adequate performance, certainly I've not had comments about softness in club slide competitions.

    Don't forget that at very small apertures lenses can start to suffer from diffraction effects caused by the very small diameter of the stopped down aperture....

    Personally I still feel that all things considered a prime lens should still outdo a zoom for ultimate image quality. That said I was amazed at how good my Sigma 17-70mm is compared to any other zoom I have, for real world use I doubt my Canon 50mm is significantly better. I suspect it may be down to improved calculations and control afforded by CAD/CAM manufacturing technology as it's a brand new lens design and all my other zooms are relatively old types...
  11. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    I think I have the 'good' 28-105...it's the 3.5-4.5 II USM.

    I reckon the f3.5 is a bit generous given it only does that at 28mm IIRC and the drawing is really bad with fuzzy edges there (even stopped down I never found 28mm sharp for what I wanted).

    Most people commented that 6x9's from it were sharp and I must have a good camera (we've all heard that before I sure!) but I was rarely satisfied that it was as sharp as it should be. It took primes to really put a smile on my face :)
  12. Dave_Cox

    Dave_Cox Well-Known Member

    Whilst I use zooms on my DSLR, I get better results on close-up and detailed subjects with the 50mm prime from my ME Super. It's just not so convenient as it's manual focus.

    With MF and 35mm I use primes exclusively as they're smaller, lighter and have better max apertures.
  13. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    Ah, but the Oly is designed to cover a circle much smaller than the Voigtlander (4/3rds vs 35mm), so any vignetting it might suffer is likely to be filtered out simply by dint of that. :)

    Also, the zoom in this case is, IIRC, considerably more expensive than the prime.
  14. Footloose

    Footloose Well-Known Member

    You raise some very valid points there Tim, maybe my 3rd point is a more valid one in this debate ...

    c] I gather that Olly's widest prime, delivers better results than their 7>14, set to the same focal length, and since both these optics are all totally new computations, (4/3rds and telecentric designs) this would seem to indicate that zoom lenses due to the 'compromises' their construction imposes of image quality, unless some really radical development is made in optical design, primes will continue to deliver better results. (Qualification: both used on the same F/stop)

    ... since both optics are totally new computations, maybe these two show just how different the quality between zooms and primes is.
  15. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    I suppose that we have to consider whether 'sharpness' is an absolute issue with a lens. I certainly know that my older 50mm Distagon gives a different (softer) look when compared with its T* coated very modern Sonnar and Planar sisters.
    However, for the use to which it is put, some landscape, some portraiture, it has a quality all of its own
    I remember a recent comment from Tim on the difference (to him at least) between one of his older Leica lenses and the new Asph version. Again, while not as clinically sharp it did produce more pleasing prints.
    This may be one of the 'eye of the beholder' issues but really, is sharpness such a key criterion?
  16. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    Well, sharpness is obviously important (no one wants to use a milk bottle do they? ;)), but for better or worse it does seem to have become the only point of discussion for some - particularly on an "across the whole of the frame" basis.
  17. parisian

    parisian Well-Known Member

    Well the Canon owners don't seem to mind :D :D

    No Tim, I don't think it should be the only criterion but it does seem to catch the attention more than most other things.
    Personally I would be more worried about barrel and pincushion, contast etc.
  18. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Why should we mind what you Nikon owners use? :D

    Distortion doesn't (often) bother me - it's rare that it matters in my pics, and anyway, I've got DxO if it's really an issue.

    But I actually like using some lenses that are far from perfect - there's more character.
  19. AGW

    AGW Well-Known Member

    And the really embaressing thing is... that since the general switch to plastic containers....they dont seem to have noticed!

  20. alanS

    alanS Well-Known Member

    Very interesting comments here about fast primes.

    I'm a fan of large apertures and limited DOF and when I mentioned here that I found a certain Canons maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 sec limiting (my camera has a max speed of 1/8000 sec) I nearly got my head bitten off. 1/4000 sec might seem fast but on a nice bright sunny day and with a large aperture....

    Still each to his own and I'm reasonably happy taking pictures that I like.

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