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Bernice Loui
6-Dec-2013, 11:05
With all that discussion that appeared in, "Rodenstock stops production of several lenses."

What is it specifically do we expect from a lens. Yes, a very general and broad question indeed much like asking how should tool used.
It would be interesting to hear what the expectations might be and what expectations are common and what are not.


Bernice

blueribbontea
6-Dec-2013, 11:51
Bernice: This is a very thoughtful question. When I think about the lenses I have I have come to expect various things from them. My Protar VII is very old, in a compound shutter and uncoated. I have done both close-up work and cityscapes at infinity in 5X7 and trust it to give good gradation and nice detail, negatives that I can do a lot with. I trust it for that. I don’t expect high contrast with it. On the other hand for 4X5 work I have a 6 in. Ilex Paragon, single coated that never fails me in producing bright, snappy negatives, and some of these have become my favorites. I know that my 90mm Angulon, uncoated, will give me good and contrasty negatives in 4X5 when I need a wider view. Again, some of my favorite negs. I have a 12 in. Red Dot Artar, very early Schneider version that I hardly ever mount on a camera. I can’t quite say why. Somehow when I have used it my images never really please me but I can’t pinpoint why. They are sharp, so that’s not it. For the 5X7 negatives I also have a Schneider Symmar S, 210, and I hardly use it. It is the most modern of my lenses but it doesn’t please me. I tend to think it is some kind of personality thing more than quality. Perhaps a certain kind of way that a lens makes the transition from light to dark, or renders edge sharpness suits me personally. I look forward to the development of this thread to hear how others respond. Thank you for a very thought-provoking question.

Dan Fromm
6-Dec-2013, 11:59
Good question, thanks for asking.

The minimum: passes light, forms an image that's reasonably sharp and contrasty across the field at the apertures I use (typically f/11 - f/22o, in a shutter that's reasonably accurate and consistent and that will stay that way, adequate back focus.

Nice extras: ample coverage (circle of good definition usefully larger than the format I'm using the lens on). Affordable (my most expensive lens with the center filter it needs cost a little over $1k; I paid for it by selling a lens I'd never use that cultists value highly. I have few such unwanted treasures left, don't have thousands for another modern lens).

Not wanted: "swirlies" (I find the effect nauseating, some like it), mechanical vignetting that reduces corner illumination (on w/a lenses, optical vignetting is enough, thank you).

Irrelevant: design type, maker

Andrew
6-Dec-2013, 12:19
I want a lens that'll think for me, take superb images all by itself and look fantastic hanging off the front end of the camera...
isn't that what everyone wants ???
I'm still looking for it

Mark Sawyer
6-Dec-2013, 12:37
I think the conventional answer from most photographers would be that they want the "perfect lens", ie, wide aperture and high resolution and contrast across wide coverage, flat field, no astigmatism, no focus shift, no distortion, no coma, no flare, and no spherical or chromatic aberration. After all, that's what the manufacturers sell us. Stepford lenses.

I like a lens that matches the image, ie, looks good with the process signature (a good lens for tintypes may be the wrong lens for a silver print), and that gives the effect I want. Sometimes the imperfections inherent in this lens or that design can add something small or something important. So, yeah, I end up with a lot of lenses. I could get away with a lot fewer, but I like them all.

And I like a lens with some history behind it, or perhaps an interesting story.

Or something I cobbled together myself, because it's fun to do and creates a little adventure as I try to make an image that matches whatever weird signature the lens has.

Oh, and I like French lenses, because it's fun to mutter with a bad French accent while working, and exclaim "Ooh-la-lah!" when I first see the negative or plate after developing.

Oh, so many possible expectations! :)

E. von Hoegh
6-Dec-2013, 12:42
With all that discussion that appeared in, "Rodenstock stops production of several lenses."

What is it specifically do we expect from a lens. Yes, a very general and broad question indeed much like asking how should tool used.
It would be interesting to hear what the expectations might be and what expectations are common and what are not.


Bernice

That's a large can with many worms! It really depends on the format and the use to which the camera is put, also it's changed over the years.
When I was doing semi professional work with SF, MF, and some LF, I had all the usual requirements of image circle, sufficient resolution, and so on; I liked the somewhat clinical look of the Plasmats and in 35 I liked (still like) the double Gauss for the same reasons - which didn't prevent me from using Dagors/Dagor types when I could. I neither knew nor cared about 'bokeh'

Now, image circle, resolution, contrast are still important but I like to use older uncoated lenses with no more than six - preferably four - air/glass surfaces; the image should be sharp enough to bear enlargement to any sane factor, and contrast with smoothness is usually more important than the clinical type of sharp/contrasty negative. I like modern coated lenses in small format, but do experiment. I still don't care about 'bokeh', though unfortunately I now know about it...

jp
6-Dec-2013, 12:46
It should have a flange to mount it if it doesn't have a shutter. If it has an iris, it should work smoothly and be round as possible. It should be black finished or flocked inside the barrel or lens shade. It should retain it's value if I take care of it.

And if it's for the enlarger, then it should click/detent on each stop or convenient fraction thereof, and have a backlit dial like the componon-s.

Vaughn
6-Dec-2013, 13:13
Once scratched badly, it should be able to function well as a door-stop or book-end.

Leszek Vogt
6-Dec-2013, 13:25
Although I'm not indifferent to lens bokeh, specific contrast, retaining value or a myriad of personal wants within it: its mostly a reflection of my visual stamp on the image. This gets more convoluted as to affordability and availability to make that happen. Indeed, it's a LF can of....

Les

Ian Greenhalgh
6-Dec-2013, 14:17
That it forms an image which I find pleasing.

E. von Hoegh
6-Dec-2013, 14:33
Once scratched badly, it should be able to function well as a door-stop or book-end.

Or paper-weight. :)

Patrick13
6-Dec-2013, 16:17
I expect a lens to be set into a shutter that won't implode :rolleyes:

Beyond that I expect a lens to be well suited to some particular task with proper balancing of features, defects and price and not a generic compromise between all three.

For example, a Petzval design could be expected to do well for portraiture but not landscapes. The Petzval is suited to a task and the design balanced towards that task without dipping into the mediocrity of the generic.

ic-racer
6-Dec-2013, 17:59
All I ask of it is to focus an image on film.

Heroique
6-Dec-2013, 18:49
I ask that the lens see like me.

To return the favor, I try to see like the lens.

Keeps the relationship strong, but tense moments do come and go.

Jody_S
6-Dec-2013, 20:37
I own more than 30 hammers. There are no duplicates, each is different. I do not collect hammers; each one has a specific job, or failing that each one has a set of attributes that makes it worthwhile for me to keep it in my hammer drawer in my roll-away toolbox. Yet, when I'm building something, I do not get up in the morning and think: "I'm going to build something that requires a 22oz Eastwing framing hammer". I build things, and in the process of building whatever, I choose the appropriate hammer from my hammer drawer. Luckily, I have every imaginable hammer (almost*) sitting handily in a drawer to be used at my pleasure.

When I'm composing an image, yes I do think in terms of whatever lens I happen to have in my camera bag that day, but the composition and vision I have in my mind is not dependent on a lens; I visualize what I would like, and from practice I tend to visualize what is possible with the tools at hand. I have on occasion spent mega $$$ on specialty lenses (last big purchase, mid 1990s, was a Canon FD 800L 5.6). I choose not to do this anymore. My requirements for my most expensive lens in the last year were: 'normal' focal length for 8x10, decent shutter. I bought a 'junk' (scratched to h-ll) Fujinon-W 300/5.6 in Copal 3 for 200 Euros. I overpaid a little, it was far more scratched-up than the seller let on. But, as hammers go, it does the job.

* I would like to have a 5-10 ton power hammer, but I think my suburban neighbors would complain if I started building a junkyard hammer (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=junkyard+hammer&sm=3) in my driveway.

Leigh
6-Dec-2013, 21:47
Resolution.

Regardless of your film, processing, etc...

You can't display something that's not on the negative in the first place.

If I take a photo of an old barn 100 meters away, I want to see the grain and knotholes in the wood.

All of my "standard" 4x5 lenses (135mm to 300mm) are Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S.
I don't think any lens made will put more information on the film.

- Leigh

jp
7-Dec-2013, 06:24
I'm not always trying to put actual factual information on film. Often it's just a mood or composition I'm trying to put on film.

Kodachrome25
7-Dec-2013, 08:53
Resolution.

Regardless of your film, processing, etc...

You can't display something that's not on the negative in the first place.

If I take a photo of an old barn 100 meters away, I want to see the grain and knotholes in the wood.

All of my "standard" 4x5 lenses (135mm to 300mm) are Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S.
I don't think any lens made will put more information on the film.

Agreed, if I want a soft focus effect or some other cinematic attribute in a photo, I want that to be employed by me, not a limitation of the lens.

It took awhile to arrive at the 8 lenses I have now, but every one of them is razor sharp to the very corners, it's one less thing for me to think about as I make the decision as to what the photograph is to convey.

Of course adequate coverage, contrast and flare resistance are not far behind...

Bernice Loui
7-Dec-2013, 21:23
Lenses have a personality, part of getting the best of of them is spending enough time with each lens to learn their personality and using them for what they do best and less well.

It is all part of the image making process..


Bernice