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Thread: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

  1. #51

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    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    I prefer gelatin silver prints to digital prints for some of my work, but I've come to accept whatever prints for what they are. For some work, the look of a digital print may be more appropriate. It's a somewhat different medium, and to argue over someone else's choices would be like arguing "my platinum prints are better than your carbon prints", etc.

    The problem comes when someone writes a reference article for the LF home page and pronounces his way of working as "breath-taking", and "far superior to crummy digital prints" made by other photographers.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  2. #52

    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    The problem with assessing dagors is that they, like tessars, were made for the better part
    of a century, so have quite an internal evolution and variety of their own which can't be given a simple sterotype. I've simply used the later ones, and mostly for 8x10, which were
    exquistely color-corrected; and yes, I did sometimes use them for landscape. But it is
    really for portraiture that these lenses sing. The internal contrast of midtones and highlights is fabulous, and the nature of the edges is different from either the old-style
    official portrait lenses and modern plastmats etc. A very important lens category in this
    discussion.
    Sounds good, seems that I'll have to save up some money and buy one! Or should I sample from several decades?

  3. #53
    funkadelic
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    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sawyer View Post
    I prefer gelatin silver prints to digital prints for some of my work, but I've come to accept whatever prints for what they are. For some work, the look of a digital print may be more appropriate. It's a somewhat different medium, and to argue over someone else's choices would be like arguing "my platinum prints are better than your carbon prints", etc.

    The problem comes when someone writes a reference article for the LF home page and pronounces his way of working as "breath-taking", and "far superior to crummy digital prints" made by other photographers.
    Agreed.
    A "reference article" should be more fact, with little or no opinion. Let the reader form their own opinions based on the facts presented, or found in their own work with the suggested material (lenses, film, papers, etc).

  4. #54
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    If I was you I'd try to borrow some dagors or dagor clones. The problem with later ones
    like the Gold Dot Goerz and even newer Kern versions is that they've attained cult status
    and tend to be absurdly overpriced from time to time. But like everything else, it's a matter
    of supply and demand, and eventually certain ones come up reasonable. For portrait use
    I'd stick strictly with moderately long focal lengths per format, i.e., 210 for 4X5 or 360 for
    8x10 (or 4X5 closeups). These are not fast lenses like some tessars, so are used in a different manner. But with only four air to glass interfaces, the internal contrast can be
    something special.

  5. #55

    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    The problem with later ones
    like the Gold Dot Goerz and even newer Kern versions is that they've attained cult status
    and tend to be absurdly overpriced from time to time.
    After reading in another thread that many putative gold rim Dagors offered for sale have fake gold rims, and noticing that gold dots cost more than a small helicopter, I bought a gold-less 210mm Dagor. To be tested next month...

  6. #56

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    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by jeroenbruggeman View Post
    Because of the superior quality of baryte contact prints, many photographers and their clients are drawn to large format, so I keep that at the top.
    I agree contact prints are superior to enlargements - both digital and analog. But, it's quite clear there are people who do not like the statement. It is also clear that this statement does not have anything to do with portrait lenses, their contrast, bokeh, etc. So IMHO the article would probably be more wholesome and more to the point without messing this very different and distracting topic into it.


    Another (and much more impotant) point:

    Please clarify the lenses' names! While it is true that there were no non-Apo Ronars, the same is NOT true for Sironar-N's and some other lenses. So it's often really useful to mention not only the EXACT names but also the serial numbers and years of production.

    Personally, I still have to see any tessar- or dialite-type lens that would come close to the old Convertible Symmar, bokeh-vise. On the other hand, I find the Symmar-S bokeh quite ugly. I also like the old Convertible Sironar bokeh as well as the Apo-Sironar-S bokeh but I think the Apo-Sironar-N bokeh is not up to the same level.

    The above preferences are of course quite subjective, but the very fact that the difference does exist, is surely not.

    So I would prefer to avoid generalizations such as "German plasmats" (or even "modern German plasmats").

    P.S.: I also think no Fujinon nor Nikkor plasmat's bokeh ever comes close to the above mentioned Convertible Symmar and Convertible Sironar nor to the Apo-Sironar-S one.

  7. #57

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    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    My question: do you really think lenses make that much difference? I ended up with a number of Fuji-W's and a SA 90mm. They are all in decent shape, shutters sound good. Have some dust in them, coatings generally are in good shape. I have what would probably be a pretty adequate lineup for 4x5. For my old 5x7, I'm planning on just leaving a Fuji 210mm on it all the time.

    I'm not really inclined to go searching for more lenses at this point. But all this talk of designs has me wondering, how much difference would it make? Would anyone here be able to tell one modern lens from another, if they were side by side, same composition, same focal length?

    I hate to sound like a total rube, but I like the Fujis because I think they are really pretty lenses.

  8. #58

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    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    I could get in trouble on this one...

    If you compare traditional portrait and pictorial lenses to modern general-use lenses, the differences are pretty significant across quite a few areas: those listed below, plus soft focus-inducing aberrations, coma, field curvature, softening of skin texture, corner vs. center sharpness, contrast, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting...

    If comparing modern general-use lenses against each other, the only significant differences are speed/dof, angle of coverage, and how the lens defines the edges of out-of-focus highlights.

    The Fuji's have a great reputation. (Have you seen Kerry Thalmann's page, http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/fujinon.htm ?) I only have one, a 300mm Fuji L (Tessar), which I like a lot as a sharp 8x10 lens. But I like Cooke's better, because they're reeeeally pretty lenses!
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  9. #59
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by sully75 View Post
    I'm not really inclined to go searching for more lenses at this point. But all this talk of designs has me wondering, how much difference would it make? Would anyone here be able to tell one modern lens from another, if they were side by side, same composition, same focal length?

    I hate to sound like a total rube, but I like the Fujis because I think they are really pretty lenses.
    Somebody did that a while back with a couple of lenses. One scene was some trees and woods, and the other scene was overlooking a parking lot. Since the poster wrote that one was brand X and the other was brand Y, they got matched up pretty quick. If the poster had put up the two pics and not mentioned the lenses, I'm sure that few members would guess the exact lens. But side-by-side, it was evident.

    As for liking a lens for its physical looks, fine. It's a valid reason as any to select one manufacturer over another. My lenses are motley lot, and it's happenstance that my Toyo has mostly Nikkor lenses. I honestly consider all of them "valid," and the whole point of testing is to know how they shape light.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  10. #60

    Re: New article: Large format lenses for portraits

    For a second edition of the portrait lenses test, I'll review a 210mm Dagor, which is now on its way from Japan, and perhaps my Littman with an Ysarex 127mm, if anyone is interested. I will also add a couple of different examples, a.o. show more clearly the difference in bokeh between a Dialyte and a Plasmat, and correct mistakes, if any: so far, the only error pointed out was that I had called the 300 Fujinon-C a Tessar (it's a Dialyte), but that I have already corrected. Some people know their stuff and contributed to improvements, but them set apart, a majority of commenters in this thread produced more heat than light, and I'll ignore them from now on.

    I thought that mentioning serial numbers in the running text would distract most readers, but since they were asked specifically for the Sironars, here they are for them: 150mm Sironar-S: 11468401. 150mm Sironar-N: 10990614. Tell me if you want more.

    With Ridax I agree that Fujinon and Nikkor Plasmats' bokeh is not a pleasant sight, to the extent that I did not even take them seriously as portrait lenses (although very seriously and excellent for multiple other purposes). Therefore I refrained from reviewing them, with the exception of the 240mm Fujinon-A, which is not that bad: it's bokeh causes only mild head aches, in contrast to Fujinon-W Plasmats that cause serious brain damage. But how about his other claim that the Convertible Symmar has better bokeh than any Tessar or Dialyte? I did not test a Convertible Symmar myself, but does anyone have convincing examples in favor of, or refuting this claim? I did study thousands of photo's and tested dozens of lenses, though, and until someone proves me wrong I tend to believe that the Ysarex (a Tessar), among others, has substantially better bokeh than any type of Symmar.

    Some people don't want me to say the apparently uncomfortable truth about the difference between analogue and digital prints. I would suggest them to start making analogue prints themselves, and to become happy about the results, or to get over it. But perhaps Ridax is right in saying that this topic should be discussed separately from portrait lenses proper, and should not be mentioned in my lens test article. I have not made up my mind yet.

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