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Thread: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

  1. #1

    Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    For the Super Symmar XL 110/5.6 ...... has anyone tested to see what's the optimal aperture for this lens to achieve its highest resolution / "sharpness"?

    Without testing it, I'm assuming the sweet-spot is somewhere around f22 or f32?

    Also, does image quality degrade if you stop it down to its maximum (ie, to f45)?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Re: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    I think you are a bit optimistic. I suspect that maximum resolution from a 110mm SS-XL is going to be around f/11 or so.

    Try a test. Set up on a fairly brightly lit scene that includes some distant trees. Under the dark cloth now, reach around and move the aperture lever. You can see on the ground glass how the image gets softer (due to diffraction) as you make the aperture smaller.

    That said it's important to note that sharpness and resolution are related but aren't the same. You can have a sharp photograph with relatively low resolution. It's a matter of focus -- what's in focus, and what's out of focus, and what's in "acceptable" focus. What it comes down to is that people seem to object (a lot) more to a lack of acceptable focus than to a lack of resolvable detail. So a diffraction limited photograph is often perceived as "better" because more of it is in acceptable focus. It's perceived as being sharper.

    This kind of mind bending exercise is par for the course in LF photography however. There are lots of decisions to be made, tradeoffs to be managed, with each and every photograph. Choice of f/stop is just one decision among many.

    Bruce Watson

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    Re: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Warwick View Post

    Also, does image quality degrade if you stop it down to its maximum (ie, to f45)?

    Thanks.
    Schneider MTF curves shows that the center is best at f11 but then decreases in resolution at f22 and will continued to degrade at f45 (not shown). Diffraction at f45 will be the same as any other 110 at f45.

    Edges are much better at f22 than f11. I would guess the edges would continue to improve at f45.

    So, if I were using just the center of the image for 6x9 I'd use f11 or f16. If I were using the whole image circle I'd probably use f45.

    http://www.schneideroptics.com/pdfs/...l_56_110_2.pdf

  4. #4

    Re: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    The aperture required will depend on your focus spread. Try to minimize focus spread first through tilts/swings and than set the appropriate aperture to cover that zone of focus. I've shot the 110XL at f/32.2 many many times and the RVP-50 chromes are tack sharp under a Schneider 6x7 (3x) loupe and the Tango drum scans are pretty spectacular as well. I would not get too hung up on diffraction.

  5. #5

    Re: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    Quote Originally Posted by JPlomley View Post
    The aperture required will depend on your focus spread. Try to minimize focus spread first through tilts/swings and than set the appropriate aperture to cover that zone of focus. I've shot the 110XL at f/32.2 many many times and the RVP-50 chromes are tack sharp under a Schneider 6x7 (3x) loupe and the Tango drum scans are pretty spectacular as well. I would not get too hung up on diffraction.

    That's my experience exactly, except that I shoot black & white. This lens never disappoints me.

  6. #6

    Re: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    That's all very helpful. Many thanks.

    I'm new to LF. To be honest, part of the reason for me using the lens at f45 is because I haven't really got Front-Tilt (center / axis tilt) figured out 100% yet!

    So, I'm just not using front-tilt at the moment. I've got books on the subject, but just seem to be confused when it comes to various aspects, and when I try to use it, what I see on the GG starts looking more and more like a mess:

    I think the biggest problem to me understanding its use is the concept of "plane of focus".

    ** I think what's also confusing me is what part of the ground glass am I meant to be focusing on, when it comes to the "top" and "bottom"? ie, which of the following 3 things am I meant to be doing??

    1) Do I need to select specific "key objects" on the GG to focus on? A typical image I might take is a bridge in the distance, and I want the river all the way in the foreground to be in sharp focus too. However, that bridge could quite feasibly be on the GG right at the very bottom (ie, top of the photo), or it could be slightly more towards the middle -- or pretty much any other variation of that. So do I first focus exactly on the bridge wherever it is positioned in the background, then apply tilt until the river in the foreground comes sharp?

    2) Or instead, should I firstly focus on the bottom 1/4 of the GG (ie, the background), and then apply tilt until the top 1/4 of the GG comes into focus -- regardless of where the bridge is positioned?

    3) Or -- once I've composed the scene -- do I focus on whatever is on the horizontal line across exactly the middle of the GG? ie, in the situation above, that would probably be part of the river that's in the middle of the GG that's still flowing towards the bridge. And then from there, I apply front-tilt?

    Really confused, I'm afraid. If I do it correctly.... should everything look perfectly in focus on the GG when the aperture is wide open, or do you still need to stop down a lot to get the end image into sharp focus??

    Thanks a lot if there are any secrets to success you can provide!

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    Re: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    Jon,

    Here's a good rule of thumb when tilting: when the view on the ground glass has "become a mess," it's because you've WAY over tilted. Back off, or better yet, zero the standards back out, and start again.

    The general advice to focus on the far and tilt for the near works for me. Start with front and back standards parallel and focus on the furthest object in the scene (which will often fall on the lower part of the ground glass) and then tilt the front standard forward until the nearest thing you want sharply focused (falling generally on the upper part of the ground glass) snaps into place. You might need to do this two or three times, each time re-sharpening the far object using focus and the near object by adjusting the tilt. Once both are as sharp as possible, stop down to whatever is necessary to pull it all together.

    After the first few times that you line up a shot like this, I'd suggest you take a moment to really look at the camera and note how surprisingly little amount of tilt it took to get your focus. Get the idea that it doesn't take more than a few degrees firmly in your head.

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    Re: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    Quote Originally Posted by poco View Post
    Jon,

    Here's a good rule of thumb: when the view on the ground glass has "become a mess" when tilting, it's because you've WAY over tilted. Back off, or better yet, zero the standards back out, and start again.

    The general advice to focus on the far and tilt for the near works for me. Start with front and back standards parallel and focus on the furthest object in the scene (which will often fall on the lower part of the ground glass) and then tilt the front standard forward until the nearest thing you want sharply focused (falling generally on the upper part of the ground glass) snaps into place. You might need to do this two or three times, each time re-sharpening the far object using focus and the near object by adjusting the tilt. Once both are as sharp as possible, stop down to whatever is necessary to pull it all together.

    After the first few times that you line up a shot like this, I'd suggest you take a moment to really look at the camera and how surprisingly little amount of tilt it took to get your focus. Get the idea that it doesn't take more than a few degrees firmly in your head.
    What Poco said.

    Bruce Watson

  9. #9

    Re: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    Great, thanks for that.

    To help me understand a little better on when to apply tilts, please see this link from Wikipedia that has a bridge taken by the photographer at a gentle angle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Albert_Bridge.jpg

    I'm assuming, ideally, that I'd use both front-tilt and swing (given the plane of focus is on both horizontal and vertical lines).

    However, my camera can only use front-tilt (no swing).

    Acknowledging the limitations of movements on my camera, would front-tilt alone be beneficial?? Or does this type of angle of view really just demand swing?

    If you think just using front-tilt would be of some benefit, what would you focus on? ie, would you focus on the end of the bridge in the distance on the far-side of the river, and then apply some minor front-tilt to benefit the part of the bridge in the foreground? Or would you not bother using front-tilt (or even swing) at all in this instance?

    Thanks again.

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    Re: Super Symmar 110 XL -- optimal aperture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Warwick View Post
    Great, thanks for that.

    To help me understand a little better on when to apply tilts, please see this link from Wikipedia that has a bridge taken by the photographer at a gentle angle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Albert_Bridge.jpg

    I'm assuming, ideally, that I'd use both front-tilt and swing (given the plane of focus is on both horizontal and vertical lines).

    However, my camera can only use front-tilt (no swing).

    Acknowledging the limitations of movements on my camera, would front-tilt alone be beneficial?? Or does this type of angle of view really just demand swing?

    If you just using front-tilt would be of some benefit, what would you focus on? ie, would you focus on the end of the bridge in the distance on the far-side of the river, and then apply some minor front-tilt to benefit the part of the bridge in the foreground? Or would you not bother using front-tilt (or even swing) at all in this instance?

    Thanks again.
    For an image like that, I'd use swing only. Since all of the image elements are essentially vertical, you only need to swing the plane of focus to run along the bridge.

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