View Full Version : A not so new idea?

Clueless Winddancing
22-Dec-2008, 14:17
A sub-forum on specific focal length lenses:
for EXPERIENCED users to identifiy their successes and failures with that focal length only.
To inculde the type of projected attempted with pictures when possible.
So for a 300 MM lens it does do X______ well but doesn't do Y ______ when the circumstances are like X_______. Yet another 300 MM lens did do the job. Or, required that I use X ____ filters; or, a certain film______; or a certain film/developer combination.
My guess is that sometimes we were pleasantly surprised with a certain combination and at other times we had to scamble to find a combination that worked. Telling heroic tales is easy and natural IMO. A sub-form within Lenses and Accessories need not become an "answering serivce" for the masses to learn about their latest find or curiosity -rather let it be a teaching by the experienced.
I don't know how it could be organized for specific focal lengths as opposed to a great stew of different focal length; but, I'd like to learn about the applied elegance of specific focal lengths.

Dan Fromm
22-Dec-2008, 16:25

Clueless, if you haven't noticed it yet, I'm an ignorant barbarian, certified as such by the makers of Alpa medium format cameras. Long story. Part of my ignorance and barbarism is blindness to subtle differences between different lenses' "looks." This has been strengthened by others' inability to tell me which of several lenses I'd used for a shot.

Another aspect of my ignorance and barbarism has been, for a time, a bad case of "see lens, buy lens" syndrome, sometimes called Galli's or Tjugen's syndrome. So I have too many lenses of too many focal lengths. Very handy when I know the framing I want and can't (or don't want to) move the camera to get it with the lens that's on the camera. Think of zoom lenses for smaller formats. But except for differences in maximum aperture that might limit use of selective focus, all of my lenses of about the same focal length that are good enough to use shoot the same. Why do you expect things to be otherwise?

Season's greetings and all that good stuff,


Clueless Winddancing
22-Dec-2008, 17:09
Dan, it sounds to me that I've rubbed your fur the wong way. If you don't see a "difference" that's just the truth and suits me fine as valid resouce (Dan doesn't see what's to fuss about - one 300 MM lens' output is indistinquishible from another). So recorded! I do wonder though what might be the inherent qualities of different lenses of the same focal length say, among an APO Lanthar, APO Skopar, and an Imagon whens used as a color portrait lens, a small 3-D product shot and a glass ware shot, a garden shot and a building shot. I am keeping in mind however, that sterotypic responses are usually less worthwhile that someones experience. I don't read MFT charts all that well. I do think users have had successes that were more than just adequate performance.

22-Dec-2008, 17:27
A f/11 or f12.5 lens, no matter what focal length is an SOB to focus deep within the Redwood forest. My Fuji W 300mm/f5.6 is worth every ounce it weighs!


PS...but I'll still use my Wollie 6.25"/f12.5 and my RD Artar 19"/f11 lenses when the circumstances call for them...it just takes me a little more effort.

Dan Fromm
22-Dec-2008, 17:42
Clueless, not to rub your fur the wrong way, but if you want comparable results for, say, the example you gave someone is going to have to work to produce them. I say someone because, in my limited experience, the only way to get comparability within setup and across situations is to have one setup for each situation and to have one person take all of the shots. Not even Mr. Galli, who enjoys trying lenses out in the interests of science and of commerce does quite what you want.

Y'r example, which clarifies considerably what you have in mind (thanks very much for that) wants three lenses and six shots (at each of how many apertures?). You've asked for a fair number of shots, i.e., for a not-too-small favor.

I've asked myself similar questions but haven't dared ask others to do the work. When I've really wanted to know, I've bought the lenses and had as well-controlled a shootout as I could manage. You might want to consider doing that.

I'm sorry that you thought my answers were stereotypic. They reflect a fair number of, um, lens trials.

Oh, and by the way, y'r example may not be possible. This because the Apo Skopar, although a Heliar type like the Apo Lanthar, has much less coverage. Taking the same shot -- same magnification, same perspective -- with an Apo Skopar and an Apo Lanthar of the same focal length would throw away the Apo Lanthar's strength, relative to the Apo Skopar, of better coverage. So you'll know, I say this from, um, theoretical considerations. The only heliar type lenses I've had that were even vaguely competitive with the Apo Lanthar have been Ektars that I regard, after trial, as not particularly good. I have a number of Apo Skopar equivalents, namely, Apo Saphirs, that I like very much but can't do a fair comparison between them and the Heliar type Ektar I still have. My one clean -- the others have baaad separations -- Apo Skopar is considerably shorter than the otherwise comparable Ektar, is fixed aperture, and its cells won't go into shutter. I'm not about to shell out the cost of an adapter for front-mounting it to satisfy some one else's curisity. If you'd like to borrow it, that might be possible.

One other thought. I don't practice lens abuse. That is, I don't shoot lenses on a larger format than they were made to cover. Some active posters here are enthusiastic lens abusers. I don't doubt that the differences they see outside of their lenses intended formats are real. If that's what you're asking about, please say so.

We ignorant barbarians are direct, at times excessively direct, and we like to find things out for ourselves. Join the club! We admit everyone but native speakers of Greek, who by definition can't be barbarians.



Clueless Winddancing
22-Dec-2008, 21:16
Dan, check the first sentence in the OP. You're being overly generous with your scope of the proposal. No tests, or studies were mentioned; only, successes and failures of a specific focal length. My teeth have worn down to nubbins and my one eye is gone and the other is better at braile, and my dog knows more than I; but zooming to 150% I can read the forum so I'm glade to learn that point about the APO Skopar not being shutter-able in an ordinary way.

22-Dec-2008, 23:36
Clueless, this is an excellent idea! But I'm leaning towards what the barbarian is saying in terms of practicality. The barbarian pointed out, among other things, that he's not a fan of ektars. Now that's all well and good, but it could be because said barbarian is trying to enlarge negatives made by ektars - thereby justifying the "ignorant" descriptor.** The refined purist would contact print, of course, and the results would likely be indistinguishable from any other lens. As the barbarian pointed out, there are way WAY too many variables to make this consistent, not to mention that all the scans could be radically different.

I too enjoy Galli's site and the examples of all the ridiculous amounts of lenses he's mounted. And I think it would be a fun thread too, but probably more fun than informative. Galli could send me his finest Pinkham, and with my level of photography you'd likely guess I took a photo with one of those crumby ektars! :D


**Dan, just havin' some fun with you (and Clueless) with your funny posts. I have no strong opinions about ektars or any other lenses for that matter!

Dan Fromm
23-Dec-2008, 04:07
Alec, there are Ektars and there are Ektars. I'm not wild about either of the 105/3.7s I've had, prefer the 101/4.5 to them, love my 80/4.5 WF Ektar. WF Ektars are well-regarded, so are tessar type Ektars and Commercial Ektars.

Clueless, my little Apo Skopar came from, I think, a photo lab automatic printer. Don't have it ready to hand so I can't tell you focal length, I think its a 73 but could be mistaken. Apo Skopars were also set up to be used in process cameras and I believe these can be put in shutters. By all accounts they're very fine lenses. If you have a chance to get one, get it and try it out.

Also, I've botched shots with every lens I've ever used. And, but not as often as I'd like, got acceptable shots with most of them. I've had a few lenses that I decided were simply unusable, but otherwise the worst I can say is that operator (that's me) error will beat equipment quality.



Alan Davenport
23-Dec-2008, 08:07
I'm afraid I find myself in the same place Dan seems to be. I've blown shots with every lens I own and had the rare-but-gratifying exemplary success. So far I've been able to assign the responsibility for all of the failures to the same source, and it's not the lenses but rather a loose nut behind the groundglass.

Nathan Potter
23-Dec-2008, 08:37
I agree with the notion that virtually all lenses can produce high quality images, especially modern ones and given a near perfect capture of the focal plane the average of them will deliver results on film that will generally be indistinguishable from one another.

The caveat in this notion is their use in practical application. The results we get in every day use is often less than satisfactory and that is what determines image quality much more than the intrinsic quality of the glass.

Considering all of the variables associated with the camera (discussed on numerous threads here) it is generally not possible to achieve the image quality that is intrinsic to the lenses that you mention.

I would cite however some variables not generally thought about by asking questions.

How good is the parallelism between the front and rear standards especially after inserting the film holder?

If one induces swing or tilt how good are you at capturing the desired focal point globally on the film surface?

Is the entire system really rigid?

And have you determined what your approximate DOF is for a chosen circle of confusion so as to maximize resolution and contrast if that is your objective?

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Clueless Winddancing
23-Dec-2008, 11:09
I really should have remembered a childhood incident that scared me silly. A first time visit to a farm that had chickens. Of course I had been imitating their sounds for years. After entering the fenced-in area I entered the large hen house still doing my imatation; but just for a minute, for rushing at me was the biggest rooster I'd ever seen. There was no overhead lighting just dirty windows so I barely was able to see those watering devices scattered about, or the little boxes along the wall as I flew out one door with a a step-over and out the other screen door, glad be alive.

Usually, I'm more careful about imatating, sorry, I'll go back to the darkroom now.

Bjorn Nilsson
23-Dec-2008, 13:19
While your idea seems good as a start, it's very hard to organize. You would need at least a thread for every lens there is. Now, with modern lenses like plasmats and biogon-derivates there is nothing much to add, but all the old ones is where the fun starts.
I think that the forum is quite good the way it is right now. Whenever you are looking for some special info, it's either mentioned or it's not and this is something you will know with a simple search. There are also two other places where to collect info, i.e. apug.org and photo.net and the best thing would of course be to collect all that info into a single article. If someone have the time to do that it would be nice, but until then Google is your best friend.


Bruce Barlow
24-Dec-2008, 06:31
Always somewhat of a contrarian, I'll offer a different approach.

I go out with one lens at a time. I want to learn what that lens sees, and what I can do with it for photographs that I want to make. Mine are mine, yours are yours.

I find that I learn to see "305 with 5x7" and "480 with 8x10," for instance, after some work and practice. It's really fun, and I can pretend that I actually know what I'm doing...

Then, I start to see those pictures in the world, and bring the combination I want to bear. So far, results are pretty good.

So my advice: learn well what you have, and make the pictures that your inventory leads you to make. Those will really be your pictures alone, and how cool is that?