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New Poll - lens types and image quality

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

  1. spikeblue

    spikeblue Well-Known Member

    This seems a pointless poll.
    The relative image quality of lenses is a measurable quantity & even if 100% voted that zooms had better image quality it would not alter the fact that prime lenses will have better resolution less distortion etc.
    Surely it would have made more sense to ask if readers are willing to accept the slight shortcomings in quality of zoom lenses due to the ease of use they offer?
     
  2. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Well-Known Member

    I am not sure you could still say that primes are "much better" than zooms. Zooms have come a long way since the junk we used to get in the 1970s and 80s, but they are still a useful bit better, as well as being generally much faster, and I still tend to use them most of the time. As a very wide angle user, I also find that rangefinder primes tend to be noticeably better than retrofocus SLR primes.
     
  3. Footloose

    Footloose Well-Known Member

    Sharpness is certainly not the only criteria in relation to optical quality. Attaining the optimum balance of contrast and resolution, is another challenge, whilst maintaining these standards with very tight QC standards during production is a hallmark of German optics.

    I think there are also some optical designs which are revered for what would now be defined as imperfections, a prime example being ancient Goertz lenses which produce images that instill 'soul' into portraits. We hear some photographers say they wish they could emulate the kinds of images that Margret Cameron and other photographers of that era produced, on a modern camera. Well, imperfect optics and levels of atmospheric pollution which do not exist today, play a larger part in gaining that 'feel'. Maybe, just maybe, the LensBaby, using one of these pre-1900 designs, might deliver the required effect, or photographers will be seen roaming around junk shops!

    I cannot help wondering if what has happened in the HiFi world is a valid point in relation to photography. Greater recording accuracy and reductions in distortion - due to the use of transistors and CDs, revealed harmonic distortion that otherwise were masked or not heard on valve and record setups. It has been said by some addicts that by removing this first level of distortion has revealed underlying distortions which to the ear, sound a lot less pleasant than what what was removed.

    So, maybe we should watch out for someone with a top of the range MF DSLR, with an ancient Petzval or Dallmeyer 'bolted' on the front of it, hoping to emulate their images!
     
  4. Footloose

    Footloose Well-Known Member

    I'm tempted to suggest that this person, just might be a bewhiskered Roger Hicks, out with his Alpa 12!!! It would be interesting to see the result though!
     
  5. Per

    Per Well-Known Member

    Slightly off topic, but there have been significant findings here that may be of interest - large quantities of even order harmonic distortion do not appear to be of much consequence to the listener and may even be 'pleasant', while some odd-order harmonic distortion, not commonly found in nature, can be detected by the listener at very low levels and have a detrimental effect on the listening experience.

    As with lenses, getting the balance of compromises 'right' is a difficult and expensive job for hifi manufacturers and something of a black art at the expensive end of the market!
     
  6. TimF

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

    Indeed. Its been said many times that the very best zoom lenses are as good, or nearly so, as prime lenses are. There is a penalty to be paid in the vast size and weight however - especially in the 70/80-200mm/2.8 arena - which I personally found an unacceptable trade-off several years ago. Everyone gets the lens they need for what they shoot of course, but as an only intermitent user of anything beyond the "short-tele" range (ie, 85mm/90mm/105mm) I found an old 200mm f/4 Nikkor stuck in the bag to be more than adequate; and the diminutive size and modest weight were icing on the cake.
     
  7. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Grumpy Old Man Point of View

    I find this discussion interesting but ultimately pointless for the following reasons:

    1. The vast majority of so called photographers wouldn't know quality if it jumped out and bit them. See the so called lens tests reported by amateurs on this and other fora.
    2. A great number of photographers don't care. See the comments about unsharp pictures, distorted horizons (not wonky - distorted) on this forum.
    3. In this day and age the vast majority of pictures get displayed on screen and that's not a demanding application. The proverbial milk bottle will do!
    4. I'm guessing (therefore no evidence :)) that most people have never owned a prime lens and therefore have no point of comparison.
    5. Judging by the pictures on this forum and others the subject matter tends not to demand ultimate quality (whatever that is)

    [/grumpy old man]

    Having said the above it's a fun topic and one that's led to some very interesting replies. I like this poll game :):)

    MickLL
     
  8. Footloose

    Footloose Well-Known Member

    Re: Grumpy Old Man Point of View

    It is certainly refreshing to see that this thread hasn't degenerated into the usual 'manufacturer' squabble!!
     
  9. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Re: Grumpy Old Man Point of View

    I couldn't agree more. Some folk spend thousands on expensive screens and calibration for us lot to browse pics on work PCs with uncalibrated cheapo monitors.....even my monitor at home is an uncalibrated cheapo tweaked to look about the same as other LCDs. (the CRT on my old mac was far better for colours and contrast).

    A good print beats any monitor I've ever seen (nothing against slide film other than I don't like projectors or looking at pics with one eye closed).
     
  10. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    I think mine is also a II. Maybe I'm a bit less critical, not impossible, or maybe I got so used to the mediocre results from older zooms that I'm easily pleased now..... :D

    I suppose if I'm critically honest it isn't as good as the up to the minute Sigma 17-70. I was also recently given an an early EF 35-105 f3.5-4.5 (the old trombone type) which on limited usage seems exceptionally good in comparison.
     
  11. vicb981

    vicb981 Well-Known Member

    So that's decided then; prime lenses and er ... film! Pleased to hear that as it's what I've been using all this time!
     
  12. Mugshot

    Mugshot Well-Known Member

    I prefer to use primes,(although I have a couple of zooms that I tend to use as fixed focal length lenses) for several reasons
    (1) Image quality
    (2) speed
    (3) constant aperture if used with flash, or hot lights
     
  13. Bettina

    Bettina Well-Known Member

    I voted "No". But the answer is really "it depends". I think everyone's got a proverbial yoghurt pot-zoom lurking in a desk drawer somewhere that was a bad investment to start out with. Saying that, zooms have come a long way over the decades and the sharpness of a Canon L glass zoom (eg the 70-200mm/F2.8L IS) will put lots of primes to shame. In fact, I have a 200mm/F2.8L that really sucks.

    Basically, you get what you pay for...
     
  14. john_g

    john_g Well-Known Member

    I've just replaced my Canon T90 and Canon prime lenses (24, 35, 50, 100, 200 mm) with a Samsung GX10 twin zoom kit. In the past (i.e. the 1980s when the T90 was new), I tried a Canon 70 - 210 zoom and was appalled by the loss of quality compared to the primes. Now, it seems to me, the Samsung/Pentax zooms are a good equal of my old primes in most regards but what I miss is the wide apertures.

    Another aspect, of course, is that dust and dirt in a digital camera are potentially far more problematic than in a film camera, so zooms score plus points because you don't need to change lenses so often.
     
  15. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Well-Known Member

    That's certainly a point.
     
  16. TimF

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

    Yes, if one is casual about the manner in which you change lenses - even in fairly dust free environments. However, as I've said here many times, the lens throat is exposed for far longer (and with the camera switched on) when the sensor is being cleaned than it ever should be when changing a lens.
     
  17. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Well-Known Member

    I don't get to work in many dust free environments. I tend to get round it with film.
     
  18. Mojo_66

    Mojo_66 Well-Known Member

    Have to say I prefer to use primes and my feet! I have a Canon 28-105 3.5 and it vignettes terribly at the wide end which is where I use it most. By contrast I've just got some slides back from Peak today taken on an old Minolta 28mm MD and they're pin sharp and free of dark corners. Don't get me wrong, the canon's a nice lens, good focal length and reasonably sharp, it's just the Minolta's better, to my eyes anyway.
     
  19. cwilk

    cwilk Well-Known Member

    I've not used a prime, but this discussion has made me curious. I've definitely noticed better quality in lenses which have a limited zoom. I've steared clear of any lenses which try to cover every possible use.
     
  20. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    One on eBay now!

    Less than I paid for mine at £675 ( ), but no bids yet!
     

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