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Mark Kononczuk
18-Jul-2012, 04:13
what is the sharpest 4x5 lense ever? or one that produces the best quality colour images in terms of saturation, tonal value etc? I'm asking in terms of personal subjective experience.

Lachlan 717
18-Jul-2012, 04:47
Strange topic; however, I'll bite:

Schneider 110mm SSXL.

Leigh
18-Jul-2012, 04:53
Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S 150/5.6

- Leigh

Dan Fromm
18-Jul-2012, 05:45
what is the sharpest 4x5 lense ever? or one that produces the best quality colour images in terms of saturation, tonal value etc? I'm asking in terms of personal subjective experience.

Eh? Wot?

What does color rendition have to do with resolution?

And what does "personal subjective experience" have to do with anything that can be measured objectively? What do hallucinations have to do with reality?

EOTS
18-Jul-2012, 05:52
What Lachlan and Leigh said, plus: Fuji 240A

Best,

genotypewriter
18-Jul-2012, 05:55
what is the sharpest 4x5 lense ever? or one that produces the best quality colour images in terms of saturation, tonal value etc? I'm asking in terms of personal subjective experience.

One of the sharpest lenses I have is the 150mm f/2.8 Xenotar... it's extremely sharp in the center at f/2.8 as demonstrated below:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/genotypewriter/6806479707/

I also have some 150mm f/2.8 aerial lenses that are consistently sharp across the frame but not as sharp as the Xenotar in the absolute sense.




Eh? Wot?

What does color rendition have to do with resolution?

And what does "personal subjective experience" have to do with anything that can be measured objectively? What do hallucinations have to do with reality?

The guy wants to know about optically good lenses. I'm failing to see the crime he committed here.

E. von Hoegh
18-Jul-2012, 06:40
what is the sharpest 4x5 lense ever? or one that produces the best quality colour images in terms of saturation, tonal value etc? I'm asking in terms of personal subjective experience.

Oh sweet Jesus. One of these questions.

8 1/4" late Red Dot Apo-Artar. Diffraction limited. It didn't make my pictures one teensy bit better.

E. von Hoegh
18-Jul-2012, 06:41
What do hallucinations have to do with reality?

They're sometimes a lot more fun.

BrianShaw
18-Jul-2012, 06:43
They're sometimes a lot more fun.

But let's not fantasize...

Back to reality...

At some point both physics (physical measurement) and psychophysics are important. I know Dan hates the "airy-fairy" stuff, but not all that can be measured matters in terms of human perception.

Unfortunately the question is imperfectly formed and could be intended to address one, either, or both aspects of "sharpness".

E. von Hoegh
18-Jul-2012, 06:45
But let's not fantasize...

Back to reality...

At some point both physics (physical measurement) and psychophysics are important. I know Dan hates the "airy-fairy" stuff, but not all that can be measured matters in terms of human perception.

Yes.

BrianShaw
18-Jul-2012, 06:46
... but to answer the question...

There is ALWAYS a sharper lens than the one in use. Often that sharper lens is owned by someone else... a "someone else" who has a more stable tripod.

E. von Hoegh
18-Jul-2012, 06:53
... but to answer the question...

There is ALWAYS a sharper lens than the one in use. Often that sharper lens is owned by someone else... a "someone else" who has a more stable tripod.

"Someone else" also often has a properly placed GG, a real lens shade, consistent filmholders, a pneumatic shutter release, and some Rodinal.

Dan Fromm
18-Jul-2012, 07:03
At some point both physics (physical measurement) and psychophysics are important.

Yeah, sure. Have you ever read what EKCo's very bright people meant when they talked about, and even found ways to measure, subjective image quality? SQI turns out to be another way of saying MTF.

As for color rendition, it can be measured objectively. Some lens makers now publish transmission vs. wavelength curves. For lenses intended for general photographic use, they're usually pretty flat. This isn't always the case for lenses intended for aerial cameras, and is one of the reasons that they're often used with heavy filtration.

More seriously, opinions aren't easily compared. And we don't all have the same preferences.

Some of us don't even have the same preferences all the time. When I was working I rotated a set of prints through my office. Some of the images were quite fuzzy, but I liked 'em. Mr. Galli recently saw one such that I'd taken at Mono Lake. I think he agreed with my take on it. Sharpness in the final print isn't all that matters.

"The best I'm acquainted with" is pretty useless coming from most of us, because most of us aren't acquainted with that many lenses.

I see the OP as a person who posts provocations in the hope of getting strangers to quarrel. Such types often live under bridges and subsist on goat.

EOTS
18-Jul-2012, 07:05
Hehe, perhaps this table is what the OP looks for: http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html

Best,

Vick Ko
18-Jul-2012, 07:12
It is questions like this that kill my bank account.

My candidate: 135mm f3.5 Planar with T* coating. It was made for the Japanese government for an aerial survey project, and some released to the public.

I'm glad to see a nod for the 150mm f2.8 Xenotar.

How about the 150mm APO-Lanthar f4.5?

Vick

BrianShaw
18-Jul-2012, 07:22
I see the OP as a person who posts provocations in the hope of getting strangers to quarrel. Such types often live under bridges and subsist on goat.

I'm not sure that is a fair statement, Dan. I see the OP as asking naive questions that are poorly stated. I think it is innocent.

Re: SQI = MTF... yes, that is often the case. I totally agree with you. I'm just saying that at some point the "physical measures" may be angels-on-a-pinhead but the change in perception is nil. And, yes, I am quite aware of the literature and practices for measurement of subjective image (and audio) quality... I have an advanced degree and practical professional experience in that area. Also, as a statistician I well know (and, perhaps, exemplify) the oft-quoted statement about numbers, lies, and statisticians. One you are in the realm of "pyscho-anything" and statistics there is always variability and differing opinions! :)

Bill_1856
18-Jul-2012, 07:37
f:3.5/135mm Xenotar or Planar.
In the "real world" of Large Format, lenses are used at small apertures, and once you get to f:22 there's little to choose between any post-WW2 lens by a reputable maker.

Dan Fromm
18-Jul-2012, 07:39
Brian, you may be right about the OP. With n = 2 (this thread and the one he started on problems with a 135 Optar), we can't make any objective decisions. Subjective, yes.

I wish posters would stop asking "what's best?" when their real question is "what will perform well enough and fit my budget?" The two questions are very different.

sinhof
18-Jul-2012, 07:55
Have never tried Red Dot Artars or Planars, but CZ Biogon 4,5/75 and CZ S-Planar 5,6/120 are not bad. I like Topogon 11/60 too. Have heard, that they reach up to 150 lp/mm and more. Normally the film is the limit, not the lens.

Ken Lee
18-Jul-2012, 08:02
This question arises on a regular basis, and the regular answer is that among the "big four" Large Format lens makers (Rodenstock, Nikon, Fuji, Schneider), equivalent lenses in popular focal lengths make images that are indistinguishable except under extreme conditions, laboratory-like conditions.

When purchasing lenses, other factors come into consideration: coverage, max aperture, weight, size, filter size, availability, and of course... price.

People have their favorites: and given enough responses to this thread, the list will grow without end.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
18-Jul-2012, 08:31
Lenses are, for the most part, designed to do specific things. No lens will perform "the best" in all situations. Photographing something flat and don't want distortion? Use a dialyte (Artar, Ronar) or plasmat (G-Claron, Fujinon-A) designed for reproduction work. Want something with a fast aperture? Use a planar (Xenotar, Planar). Landscapes? Try a general-purpose plasmat (Sironar, Symmar, Fujinon-W) or maybe a tessar (Xenar, Nikon-M). Anyhow, as mentioned before nearly all modern lenses will be diffraction-limited by or before f22.

There are no silver bullets here, so don't listen to anyone who offers to sell you one.

sinhof
18-Jul-2012, 08:41
I read, that there was question about sharpest lences. My 3 CZ:s are such ones. My best lences for general purpose are Super Symmar HM:s, for close up-working they are G-Clarons and Apo-Ronars. For portraits with orthofilms they are Bistigmats and Hermagis. Because, there is not one "the best", I have ten or more "best lences" for their own purposes.

E. von Hoegh
18-Jul-2012, 08:47
Brian, you may be right about the OP. With n = 2 (this thread and the one he started on problems with a 135 Optar), we can't make any objective decisions. Subjective, yes.

I wish posters would stop asking "what's best?" when their real question is "what will perform well enough and fit my budget?" The two questions are very different.

The best is the enemy of the good. Voltaire?

Dan Fromm
18-Jul-2012, 09:34
The better is the enemy of the good. E., I see that your French is going too. Yes, Voltaire.

The good enough is the enemy of the better.

sinhof, your information about lens quality is out of date. I adore my little 38/4.5 Biogons and see no reason to replace the one I shoot or the spare, but there are now better lenses in that focal length. So is your information about who made what. f/4.5 Biogons were made by Carl Zeiss (BRD), not by CZJ (DDR).

John Kasaian
18-Jul-2012, 09:43
Get a dozen lenses of the same make & model and send them off to a lab for testing. Keep the sharpest and send the rest back.
OK, thats not what you wanted to hear.
There are plenty of lenses that are justly famous for being sharp. If you do your part none of them should dissapoint you.

Mark Stahlke
18-Jul-2012, 10:49
Getting back to the original question, the Apo-Grandagon 55mm, SSXL 110mm, and Fujinon-C 300mm are, in my opinion, the best lenses in my 4x5 kit.

Brian C. Miller
18-Jul-2012, 11:09
The sharpest lens is the one that just broke and glass shards are all over the floor.
The best color rendition is your blood after you've cut yourself picking up the pieces.

Jim Galli
18-Jul-2012, 11:23
Oh sweet Jesus. One of these questions.

8 1/4" late Red Dot Apo-Artar. Diffraction limited. It didn't make my pictures one teensy bit better.

Petzval. I'll sell you a 210 RD Artar. Major Silver Bullet Lens!! You can perform black magic with one of these. Zoom in from outer space and count hairs on a persons head.

Armin Seeholzer
18-Jul-2012, 11:38
Hi my favs are 240mm APO Sironar S, APO Skopar 450mm
My favs in Bokeh are 1. APO Skopar 2. Xenar 480mm 3. Universal Heliar
My favs in 3D look is Universal Heliar!

The sharpness is maybe the less important of the 3, because all lenses are at around f22 very sharp if they are in good working order and never where dropped.

Cheers Armin

E. von Hoegh
18-Jul-2012, 11:45
Petzval. I'll sell you a 210 RD Artar. Major Silver Bullet Lens!! You can perform black magic with one of these. Zoom in from outer space and count hairs on a persons head.

Actually, the central zone of a good Rapid-Rectilinear or an Aplanat is pretty damn sharp. And I have a 16 1/2 inch Artar which covers 8x10 and is therefore four times as good as the 8 1/4" (winking smiley)

Peter Gomena
18-Jul-2012, 11:55
All of my lenses are just sharp enough. The sharpest of the bunch is my 305mm G-Claron, but the image quality it produces is somewhat different than the Symmars and Super-Angulons that make up my kit. I'm sure there are sharper lenses out there, and all of my lenses are now at least two generations old. So what? I find that error on my part is more detrimental to the sharpness of my images than anything that has to do with the lenses.

Peter Gomena

E. von Hoegh
18-Jul-2012, 12:06
And since this thread is bound to go off the rails anyway -

Nikkor 105/2.5, the Sonnar version. Just gorgeously sharp,some views I took on the Rhine clearly show the weathervane on the Marksburg castle at a distance of a mile or a bit more.

Zeiss 75/3.5 Tessar, the one used on the Rolleiflex 3.5T. Another wonderfully sharp lens, I've read that these had a lanthanum glass element to inprove definition.

210~/6.8 Dagor type, unknown manufacturer ca. 1905. This one has all the character of a Dagor, smooth tones, wonderful contrast, soft wide open, focus shift, and so on. However the cells are a bit thicker than the Goerz lenses and the coverage is less. Stopped down to f16 or so it gives eerily sharp, almost 3D images. I wish I could find out who made it and get some more examples in different focal lengths.

Steve Barber
18-Jul-2012, 18:28
Based on a limited selection and my admittedly subjective evaluation, you will have to look hard to find a lens sharper than an APO-Ronar stopped down to f22.

However, my nominee for the title "Sharpest Lens Ever" has to go to the 80mm f4 for the Mamiya 7 and 7II cameras. Yes, I know, this is the LF forum, but I can't help myself, they are that good and that camera is now the one I use if I do not need movements.

Heroique
18-Jul-2012, 19:01
My sharpest lens is excellent technique (field and darkroom).

I’ve passed over several links connecting the two for brevity.

But it’s my sharpest lens ever.

genotypewriter
18-Jul-2012, 20:17
f:3.5/135mm Xenotar or Planar.
In the "real world" of Large Format, lenses are used at small apertures, and once you get to f:22 there's little to choose between any post-WW2 lens by a reputable maker.

There are more "real" worlds than there are people out there...



The sharpest lens is the one that just broke and glass shards are all over the floor.
The best color rendition is your blood after you've cut yourself picking up the pieces.

lol I might quote you on that...



My favs in Bokeh are 1. APO Skopar 2. Xenar 480mm 3. Universal Heliar

Nice to hear that you have a 480 Xenar... they don't come up easily. I've been having mine for a while but have put all my adaptation efforts in to a lens that's more challenging lens to use and have been stuck with it. Back to the Xenar... Are you sure the bokeh is smooth on it? It's a Tessar after all, right?

Jody_S
18-Jul-2012, 20:25
I count 3 questions in OP's post (and I'm not qualified to answer any of them), plus an invitation to throw facts out the window and just name our favorite lens. Since facts don't matter, I will say this: do a search of e**y's completed sales for LF lenses, sorted by 'highest price', and the one with the highest realized sale value is your sharpest (by your definition) lens. Seems as good a measurement as any others, for the criteria you've specified (none).

Venturing into fields I'm not too familiar with, I've seen specs for JML process lenses giving better than 200 lp/mm across the field. I have a Canadian-made 3.5mm fisheye, in a box somewhere, that purports to give 350 lp/mm in the center (with a signed certificate and everything!). I don't know what to do with it, I use it as a paperweight. The sharpest purpose-made LF lens I've ever owned was a Schneider Angulon 90/6.8, which was considerably better than my current SA 90/8, not to mention a fraction of the weight. Then again, I have 3 new Dagors to play with, so who knows. I do have modern process lenses that blow all of those out of the water.

Noah A
19-Jul-2012, 00:05
I think there are few and subtle differences between lenses of the same vintage. I've compared a few different lenses lately.

First, I started with a 115 Grandagon which is my main lens. It's quite a sharp lens and by far my most-used focal length. I wanted a backup since I use it for so much of my work, so I picked up a 120/8 Super Angulon. I got screwed on the sale and the lens had some coating marks and schneideritis. I later got a deal on a 120 Super-Symmar HM. I did a test of all three in a real-world shooting situation and saw very little difference in resolution, either in the center or at the corners with some front rise, which I almost always use. The differences were tiny, though for the record I thought the SSHM was the sharpest, followed by the 120SA and then the 115 Grandagon. But the differences were minute, especially between the Grandagon and the SA.

I also compared 210mm lenses and found that there was basically no difference between my 210 Apo-Sironar-S and 210 Apo-Symmar (non-L). They were both really tack sharp, I couldn't imagine needing more sharpness.

I think in real-world shooting you'll be more limited by diffraction, camera alignment, groundglass calibration/placement, film flatness, wind, atmospheric conditions, tripod/head sturdiness, etc.

You will find subtle differences in contrast and color between lenses. Also, of course, you can find vastly different specifications when it comes to size, weight, image circle, etc. I think these things are better criteria for choosing lenses.

Having said that, if I could have only two lenses they would be the 120 Super-Symmar HM and the 210 Apo-Symmar. They're both really sharp, have good coverage for 4x5 and I just love the way the Schneiders seemed to have a tad less contrast but just as much sharpness.

By the way, when I was doing my tests I made drum scans of Portra 160 and Provia at 4000dpi and I printed small sections equal to about a 4x5 foot print. So that's a pretty demanding test.

Mark Kononczuk
19-Jul-2012, 03:50
Ok, thanks everybody. A wealth of information to ponder over. With reference to my original question, we are so far from fully understanding the psychophysiology of seeing that intuition and artistic sensitivity seem to provide the most reliable key. Hence the ambiguous question.

E. von Hoegh
19-Jul-2012, 07:13
Ok, thanks everybody. A wealth of information to ponder over. With reference to my original question, we are so far from fully understanding the psychophysiology of seeing that intuition and artistic sensitivity seem to provide the most reliable key. Hence the ambiguous question.

My criterion for judging the sharpness of a lens is to make one negative, focussed at infinity on someting with a good deal of fine detail. It could be tree limbs, bicycle wheels, signs, almost anything. Then I look at the negative with a dissecting microscope. If it renders the fine detail, it's sharp for my purposes, since few hang photos of test charts on their walls.

timparkin
19-Jul-2012, 07:57
Ok, thanks everybody. A wealth of information to ponder over. With reference to my original question, we are so far from fully understanding the psychophysiology of seeing that intuition and artistic sensitivity seem to provide the most reliable key. Hence the ambiguous question.

When I started LF I did some work for a colleague and quoted "three large format lenses" as the price. He must have liked the work I did because I ended up with a Schneider 110XL, Rodenstock 150 Sironar S and Fujinon 240A (very nice man!). I've since bought a Nikkor M 200 and 300. However the only lens that seems to "look" sharper than the others is the Sironar S - that isn't based on measuring resolution.

Quite recently I've been shooting large groups for the army and I needed a backup lens for the 150 Sironar S. I bought a 90 APO Symmar and use it on my travel kit, a Chamonix 45N-1. When I got the first job back and drum scanned them at 4000dpi I had to double check my notes to find out which was which (taken at f/16). This quite surprised me!

Tim

E. von Hoegh
19-Jul-2012, 08:05
The better is the enemy of the good. E., I see that your French is going too. Yes, Voltaire.

Hey, at my age I'm just happy I can haul my geriatric butt to the desk and remember how to turn this thing on.

Drew Wiley
19-Jul-2012, 08:54
Given the fact that almost no one owns a filmholder which actually holds the film truly flat,
and that people rarely use the optimum f-stop with a view lens, but stop down per plane
of focus considerations, this is a pretty nonsensical discussion. Sharp where - closeup?
Infinity? True apo per color work? What is the subjective definition of subjective??? But
given the lenses I personlly use (Fuji A's, C's, G-Clarons, Nikkor M's, etc), I doubt I'll discover anything "sharper" for field use.

genotypewriter
19-Jul-2012, 20:21
Given the fact that almost no one owns a filmholder which actually holds the film truly flat,
and that people rarely use the optimum f-stop with a view lens, but stop down per plane
of focus considerations, this is a pretty nonsensical discussion.

For all we know the OP maybe using a digital sensor. And I love the irony of talking about film flatness as the more "real" concern. Film flatness is as much an issue as field curvature is. Sure... if there's a lot if it, it's bad but most of the time it doesn't make a difference. And even if you solve the film flatness issue, you can't solve the field curvature issues entirely... does that mean one has to give up photography? Can't we shoot anything other than an in-focus wall? :)



Sharp where - closeup?
Infinity? True apo per color work? What is the subjective definition of subjective???

Perhaps these are points that you should use to enlighten the OP with instead using them to shoot him down. OP's specifically asking for subjective opinions... you are basically saying he can't ask such questions. Don't you think you're doing the wrong thing here by not informing the moderators then? ;)

Steve Hamley
20-Jul-2012, 08:22
The best lens is the one you've tried and know produces the best images for the type of photography you do, with the film (or sensor) you use, and under the conditions you use it.

Cheers, Steve

E. von Hoegh
20-Jul-2012, 08:39
The best lens is the one you've tried and know produces the best images for the type of photography you do, with the film (or sensor) you use, and under the conditions you use it.

Cheers, Steve

Precisely.

BrianShaw
20-Jul-2012, 09:18
Precisely.

... and accurately.

E. von Hoegh
20-Jul-2012, 11:59
And so we are doubly blessed and this thread can be closed without the mention of Hitler. (Grinning smiley)

Ooops! Oh, crap!

evan clarke
20-Jul-2012, 15:00
Is sharp good? Is sharp eminently important? Do it in Photoshop and you can sharpen it until it's unrecognizable!!!

paulr
20-Jul-2012, 15:41
I also compared 210mm lenses and found that there was basically no difference between my 210 Apo-Sironar-S and 210 Apo-Symmar (non-L). They were both really tack sharp, I couldn't imagine needing more sharpness.

I sweated over which of these to get back when doing my first shopping. I could barely tell the MTF curves of the two lenses apart, so it makes sense that the real world differences would be unimportant. I'd like to get some of that sweat back. Maybe it could be applied to more important things ...

paulr
20-Jul-2012, 15:44
Is sharp good? Is sharp eminently important? Do it in Photoshop and you can sharpen it until it's unrecognizable!!!

Depends on the work you're doing, how you want it to look. For different projects of mine, sharp has been very important, not very important, or somewhere in between.

Sharpening after the fact is helpful but has limits (I'd call unrecognizeability a serious limit ...)

Drew Wiley
20-Jul-2012, 16:18
There's really no such thing as sharpening after the fact. You're merely faking it with an
illusion of acutance - adding something not there on the film in the first place. An obviously popular trick in Fauxtoshop etc, but also easy to do with unsharp masking in
traditional analog workflow, basically enhancing the perceived edge contrast. So here again, depends how you define the terms, i.e., "sharpness" versus "acutance". I generally
find the real thing more dependent on the specific film and developer, and the degree of
print magnification, than on the absolute MTF of the lens per se. I get more MTF fussy
when I start using small formats like 6X9.

Ron Marshall
20-Jul-2012, 16:25
Less subjective:

http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html

Armin Seeholzer
21-Jul-2012, 03:34
Back to the Xenar... Are you sure the bokeh is smooth on it? It's a Tessar after all, right?

Its so for me but it will maybe not be for you, bokeh is very subjectiv, some will like it some not. At least in studio distances it is, outside I did not test it jet.

Cheers Armin

E. von Hoegh
21-Jul-2012, 07:06
Is sharp good? Is sharp eminently important? Do it in Photoshop and you can sharpen it until it's unrecognizable!!!

If you want to reproduce fine detail, sharp is good. Photoshop will not replace detail that was missed in the original image (be it a negative or a digital file), the illusion of detail is not detail.

Trius
22-Jul-2012, 09:15
Some of the images were quite fuzzy, but I liked 'em.

Not LF, but if it had been LF I would have shot it the same way. Sharpness isn't always everything, or even important.

http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1210/1392151123_20f9bc6b50_o.jpg

Noah A
22-Jul-2012, 13:37
I'm not sure what the above photo adds to the discussion since the OP was inquiring about sharp lenses. I can't figure out why so many people offer their negative opinions about sharpness or resolution whenever anyone makes such an inquiry.

I hope the point has been made that many, if not most, modern lenses are sharp and that fussing over minute differences may be futile.

I can't speak for the OP here but I understand why a photographer would want sharp lenses. I do very large color prints from my 4x5 negs and I do want the sharpness to hold up. As I said in my first post, given a relatively modern lens, sharpness will likely have more to do with technique and other factors besides lens sharpness. But the question of lens sharpness is a valid one if you're trying to do a certain kind of work.

That doesn't mean that sharpness is the MOST important thing about a photo. It just means that some photographers are looking for a level of technical precision that (hopefully) complements the aesthetic and conceptual goals of their photographs.

Maybe someone can explain to me why whenever someone asks about a sharp lens, a handful of other people feel the need to say sharpness isn't important and they talk about soft-focus or post out-of-focus photos. Soft focus is fine and every bit as valid as a technique as sharp-focus.

Personally the only thing I like less than a soft petzval photo is a tilted aero-ektar photo with only one random thing in focus and the rest blurred to oblivion. But while I'm sure I'm not the only one here who doesn't care for that style personally, I don't feel the need to post my sharp photographs in the threads about soft-focus lenses. Just sayin'.

Trius
22-Jul-2012, 16:15
That wasn't a negative opinion about sharpness. My response was not to the OP, but to the post I quoted. I like my lenses sharp as anyone. The OP provided no context to his question(s) so it seemed a variety of perspectives and contributions was fair game. I apologize for not understanding the expected behaviour here. I'd be happy to remove my post if it helps.

And BTW, the photo was NOT out of focus, nor soft focus. Look at it again.

rdenney
22-Jul-2012, 17:27
Back to the Xenar... Are you sure the bokeh is smooth on it? It's a Tessar after all, right?

When it comes to bokeh, or anything else, there are tessars and there are tessars. I have an old B&L Tessar that has rotten bokeh and an Ilex Paragon that is very nice. The Ilex-Calumet Caltar (a replacement for the Commercial Ektar) is my sharpest Tessar, but the Caltar Y (an Ysarex) is contrastier in ways that count.

Rick "no such thing as 'best'; 'most appropriate' is the most that can be hoped for" Denney

Heroique
22-Jul-2012, 17:56
This thread brought to mind the very famous quote below, which will add a dose of salt to our claims and may help us ruminate further about specific lenses:


“I don’t know what it is about the [150mm APO Sironar-S],” forum member Kerry Thalmann says in his Future Classics article, “but images made with it just scream ‘SHARP!’ and have an incredible sense of “depth.” I’ve used a lot 4x5 “normal” lenses, both modern and classic, and this one beats them all IMHO. Out of all the lenses I own, this is the last one I would ever part with (you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands).” (He later says the same holds true for the 110mm XL & 135mm APO Sironar-S.)

When Kerry says “screams SHARP!” and “beats them all,” one naturally asks whether he’s talking about the results of carefully controlled laboratory tests (for he has conducted them), or real-world use (for he’s been known as a busy practitioner, too).

Because he mentions “depth,” I suspect he’s talking about real-world use…

Noah A
22-Jul-2012, 18:48
That wasn't a negative opinion about sharpness. My response was not to the OP, but to the post I quoted. I like my lenses sharp as anyone. The OP provided no context to his question(s) so it seemed a variety of perspectives and contributions was fair game. I apologize for not understanding the expected behaviour here. I'd be happy to remove my post if it helps.

And BTW, the photo was NOT out of focus, nor soft focus. Look at it again.

I didn't mean to single you out, lots of folks replied with comments about sharpness not being everything, etc. Sorry about the rant, but it just seems like whenever someone asks about sharpness or resolution, he/she gets jumped on and/or dismissed.

Dan Fromm
22-Jul-2012, 19:31
Noah, sharpness is important to me. Or, more exactly, image quality is important to me. There've been times when I did more lens testing than serious shooting. Shame on me.

But the lens is just one element that contributes to image quality. Every time I start to get hung up on the lens as key, I recall that when I was setting up to be a 35 mm snapshotter (that's where I started) one of my chamber music partners pressed me hard to go Leica because of their lenses outstanding sharpness. I've never known whether he pressed me because he'd measured (or had access to measurements) or because he'd drunk the Leica koolaid. After I'd shot a bit I really wondered about him. He shot handheld so tremor had to have eliminated most of the image quality his lenses could deliver to film. "My best lens is a tripod" sounds odd but its true.

What I've learned from my testing is that for my purposes -- yours may be different -- there's no practical difference among lenses that are good enough. If there are any, they're hard to see and may be imaginary. The difference between good enough and not good enough can be striking. So I see the question "which lense is the best ever?" as dumb, perhaps trolling. The spelling error doesn't help, either. Good enough is good enough, end of discussion. Time and money spent chasing silver bullets are better given to improving technique.

I've also learned that although image quality is good and worth working to improve, images that aren't as sharp as possible can look very good on the desk or hung on the wall. When I was working I had several such that spent time on my desk. They're strong images, they pleased passersby, and I'm not ashamed of them. In the end, its the final print, not the gear used in producing it, that matters.

IMO, the OP was jumped on because he posed the simple question "What's an OK normal lens for 4x5 that will fit my budget?" very badly. That's a legitimate beginner's question.

Cheers,

Dan

Mark Kononczuk
23-Jul-2012, 04:48
Noah, sharpness is important to me. Or, more exactly, image quality is important to me. There've been times when I did more lens testing than serious shooting. Shame on me.

But the lens is just one element that contributes to image quality. Every time I start to get hung up on the lens as key, I recall that when I was setting up to be a 35 mm snapshotter (that's where I started) one of my chamber music partners pressed me hard to go Leica because of their lenses outstanding sharpness. I've never known whether he pressed me because he'd measured (or had access to measurements) or because he'd drunk the Leica koolaid. After I'd shot a bit I really wondered about him. He shot handheld so tremor had to have eliminated most of the image quality his lenses could deliver to film. "My best lens is a tripod" sounds odd but its true.

What I've learned from my testing is that for my purposes -- yours may be different -- there's no practical difference among lenses that are good enough. If there are any, they're hard to see and may be imaginary. The difference between good enough and not good enough can be striking. So I see the question "which lense is the best ever?" as dumb, perhaps trolling. The spelling error doesn't help, either. Good enough is good enough, end of discussion. Time and money spent chasing silver bullets are better given to improving technique.

I've also learned that although image quality is good and worth working to improve, images that aren't as sharp as possible can look very good on the desk or hung on the wall. When I was working I had several such that spent time on my desk. They're strong images, they pleased passersby, and I'm not ashamed of them. In the end, its the final print, not the gear used in producing it, that matters.

IMO, the OP was jumped on because he posed the simple question "What's an OK normal lens for 4x5 that will fit my budget?" very badly. That's a legitimate beginner's question.

Cheers,

Dan

I am a dumb troll. I bow down in humility before the majesty of your wisdom. Some more spelling mistakes : colour, lense, centre, fortnight, mate, blimey, car-park, chips, tap, lorry, trainers, biscuits.

jnantz
23-Jul-2012, 04:57
i don't know if it is the sharpest lens ever, but the center of my old vitax, stopped down was sharp as nails.
even though it was a 14" i only used it on 5x7, and eventually 4x5 once in a while. some say pretzel lens designs
were the sharpest ever ... maybe there are sharper

BrianShaw
23-Jul-2012, 06:21
I am a dumb troll. I bow down in humility before the majesty of your wisdom. Some more spelling mistakes : colour, lense, centre, fortnight, mate, blimey, car-park, chips, tap, lorry, trainers, biscuits.

LMFAO... but you may want to take Dan more seriously... he really knows his stuff!

BrianShaw
23-Jul-2012, 06:22
p.s. I thought you were Polish, not British. Didn't know Poles used words like "mate" or "blimey"

Mark Kononczuk
24-Jul-2012, 06:14
p.s. I thought you were Polish, not British. Didn't know Poles used words like "mate" or "blimey"

I was born and brought up in the UK, but moved to Poland a few years after finishing University.

E. von Hoegh
24-Jul-2012, 06:45
LMFAO... but you may want to take Dan more seriously... he really knows his stuff!

Indeed he does. And, "lense" is indeed incorrect. Oddly enough, none of the other "misspellings" are really misspellings, but perfectly correct British spellings.

TheDeardorffGuy
24-Jul-2012, 12:25
I used to do a lot of Table Top product shooting. I used an old Wollansak Raptar 190mm 4.5. It had great color, Great Sharpness and provided the customer photos that are now 20 years old and still in use. So thats my pic. I tested it with my Nikon digial on the back of my Deardorff V8 and it resolves nicely. Of course this is the center of the lens. My test are the power lines half a mile away and if there are birds on them even better. Cheep way of testing but it works.

BrianShaw
24-Jul-2012, 12:36
My test are the power lines half a mile away and if there are birds on them even better. Cheep way of testing but it works.

Ha ha ha.

E. von Hoegh
24-Jul-2012, 13:18
Ha ha ha.

That's the same sort of test I use. 1/2 mile isn't that far, I've shot targets at 1000 yds. with iron sights. (1 mile = 1,760 yds)

Alan Gales
24-Jul-2012, 22:47
Wow! Seven pages of "What's the sharpest lens ever?".

I wonder how many pages I could get out of "What's the best large fomat camera ever?". :D

TheDeardorffGuy
24-Jul-2012, 22:48
Wow! Seven pages of "What's the sharpest lens ever?".

I wonder how many pages I could get out of "What's the best large fomat camera ever?". :D

Do not go there. It has been covered.....

Alan Gales
24-Jul-2012, 23:08
Do not go there. It has been covered.....

Ken, Sorry, I thought I was making a sick joke. It's been covered, huh? I never cease to be amazed!

Mark Kononczuk
25-Jul-2012, 01:28
Indeed he does. And, "lense" is indeed incorrect. Oddly enough, none of the other "misspellings" are really misspellings, but perfectly correct British spellings.

Lense is the variant spelling of lens. While it is listed as an alternative spelling in some dictionaries, most mainstream dictionaries do not list it. And I thought I was doing chuffingly well with my 'American English'. Darn.varmint.

E. von Hoegh
25-Jul-2012, 06:41
Lense is the variant spelling of lens. While it is listed as an alternative spelling in some dictionaries, most mainstream dictionaries do not list it. And I thought I was doing chuffingly well with my 'American English'. Darn.varmint.
I'll have to check, but I believe my Collins spells it "lens". (winking smiley) I know my Webster's third unabridged prefers "lens".

E. von Hoegh
25-Jul-2012, 06:43
Do not go there. It has been covered.....

EVERYONE knows it's Deardorff. With two effs. And the best technical cameras are the Linhof (one eff) ST series. Sheesh.

BrianShaw
25-Jul-2012, 07:49
Lense is the variant spelling of lens.

That's been covered several times before too! :D

BrianShaw
25-Jul-2012, 07:52
p.s. Mark, you really are improving with your "American"!


:)

Mark Kononczuk
26-Jul-2012, 04:43
p.s. Mark, you really are improving with your "American"!


:)

I shall use the mainstream 'lens' from today onwards. y'all.

Dan Fromm
26-Jul-2012, 07:00
Mark, since you've calmed down enough to make fun back, read this: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/chasing-magic-bullet.html

genotypewriter
26-Jul-2012, 08:16
Noah, sharpness is important to me. Or, more exactly, image quality is important to me. There've been times when I did more lens testing than serious shooting. Shame on me.

But the lens is just one element that contributes to image quality. Every time I start to get hung up on the lens as key, I recall that when I was setting up to be a 35 mm snapshotter (that's where I started) one of my chamber music partners pressed me hard to go Leica because of their lenses outstanding sharpness. I've never known whether he pressed me because he'd measured (or had access to measurements) or because he'd drunk the Leica koolaid. After I'd shot a bit I really wondered about him. He shot handheld so tremor had to have eliminated most of the image quality his lenses could deliver to film. "My best lens is a tripod" sounds odd but its true.

What I've learned from my testing is that for my purposes -- yours may be different -- there's no practical difference among lenses that are good enough. If there are any, they're hard to see and may be imaginary. The difference between good enough and not good enough can be striking. So I see the question "which lense is the best ever?" as dumb, perhaps trolling. The spelling error doesn't help, either. Good enough is good enough, end of discussion. Time and money spent chasing silver bullets are better given to improving technique.

I've also learned that although image quality is good and worth working to improve, images that aren't as sharp as possible can look very good on the desk or hung on the wall. When I was working I had several such that spent time on my desk. They're strong images, they pleased passersby, and I'm not ashamed of them. In the end, its the final print, not the gear used in producing it, that matters.

IMO, the OP was jumped on because he posed the simple question "What's an OK normal lens for 4x5 that will fit my budget?" very badly. That's a legitimate beginner's question.

Cheers,

Dan

Should we take notes? lol

Dan Fromm
26-Jul-2012, 08:37
Of course you should take notes. Students take notes, so do principal investigators.

Status as a sinus has been asserted by Genotypewriter. That assertion has been ignored as irrelevant if true but should have been remembered. Our posts here should have been written in sinific publication style. Occurrences of the first person singular are rare in sinific publications. Henceforth, second person plural will be used in our posts here and short words will be replaced by polysyllabic words with latin roots.

E. von Hoegh
26-Jul-2012, 08:56
Of course you should take notes. Students take notes, so do principal investigators.

Status as a sinus has been asserted by Genotypewriter. That assertion has been ignored as irrelevant if true but should have been remembered. Our posts here should have been written in sinific publication style. Occurrences of the first person singular are rare in sinific publications. Henceforth, second person plural will be used in our posts here and short words will be replaced by polysyllabic words with latin roots.

E. von Hoegh shall type every post in the third person ablative.

Mark Kononczuk
29-Jul-2012, 14:24
Hmm. More an essay about life, methinks. I chased the magic skiing bullet for 15 years until my knees gave in. I had my end of year exams recently and explained to one of my lecturers my sheer frustration with the technical side of photography. He thought for a while and said : "It's impossible to get to a level of technical mastery where you can say: 'I've got to a world class level and now I'm sticking to this system', because everything is changing all the time - new processes emerge every year, old products are discontinued, etc." Then he looked at me and said: " The best stage in photography is probably behind you and you missed it." That was a bit of a downer.

Mark Kononczuk
29-Jul-2012, 14:26
Sorry, forgot to say I was replying to this:
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/chasing-magic-bullet.html

Jody_S
29-Jul-2012, 20:02
Hmm. More an essay about life, methinks. I chased the magic skiing bullet for 15 years until my knees gave in. I had my end of year exams recently and explained to one of my lecturers my sheer frustration with the technical side of photography. He thought for a while and said : "It's impossible to get to a level of technical mastery where you can say: 'I've got to a world class level and now I'm sticking to this system', because everything is changing all the time - new processes emerge every year, old products are discontinued, etc." Then he looked at me and said: " The best stage in photography is probably behind you and you missed it." That was a bit of a downer.

In the end, photography is about the images, not the process. Well, for me. I'm not a gearhead or whatever they're called. Technical mastery and equipment serves the purpose of making real the images you see in your mind; if you use equipment to create what images it will, as a substitute for having that vision, you're not an artist (IMHO). That's fine, many excellent photographers are not artists. And they make a lot more money than I ever will.

photobymike
29-Jul-2012, 20:35
Its like blondes or brunettes make a choice ... personally i like em both... There are some questions that are like mental masturbation ... fun to think about but not productive

Mark Kononczuk
30-Jul-2012, 03:23
In the end, photography is about the images, not the process. Well, for me. I'm not a gearhead or whatever they're called. Technical mastery and equipment serves the purpose of making real the images you see in your mind; if you use equipment to create what images it will, as a substitute for having that vision, you're not an artist (IMHO). That's fine, many excellent photographers are not artists. And they make a lot more money than I ever will.
Yeah, ok, but the most inspired and original images in contemporary art will not amount to much if they turn into crap when enlarged to a gallery-sized print. Unless that's what you want - then you should be using a mobile phone to take pictures.

jnantz
30-Jul-2012, 05:14
Yeah, ok, but the most inspired and original images in contemporary art will not amount to much if they turn into crap when enlarged to a gallery-sized print. Unless that's what you want - then you should be using a mobile phone to take pictures.

a gallery sized print can be just about anything ... a smaller than 4x5 print or something huge ...
why is it always a race to hoard equipment or get the sharpest or the most expensive or ?? ...
i've seen some pretty amazing photography that was made on a box probably cobbled together for less than $20, as well as stuff taken from mobile phones ....
the people did something interesting rather than endless equipment and materials tests --- they weren't in a race.
whats the point ?

Jody_S
30-Jul-2012, 06:53
Yeah, ok, but the most inspired and original images in contemporary art will not amount to much if they turn into crap when enlarged to a gallery-sized print. Unless that's what you want - then you should be using a mobile phone to take pictures.

If your vision is for gallery-sized razor-sharp images, then you need technical mastery sufficient to create gallery-sized images, which of course includes knowledge of sharp lenses and their proper use to get sharp images. I would certainly agree that someone like Mapplethorpe would not have had the success he did if his images were fuzzy around the edges. But I don't think he cared about his Hasselblad (?) other than as the tool that could do what he wanted, and I've never heard about him running around chasing a better lens that might possibly make an even sharper image. The Hassy wasn't a 'magic bullet', it was simply the camera of choice for what he was doing.

FWIW, in LF, I think technique and other hardware such as tripods, film holders, developing, etc all have a greater effect on image quality than lenses- if you're comparing modern lens to modern lens. This is true across all formats, of course, but very pronounced in LF. If I personally were thinking of investing another $500-$1000 into large format, my 1st purchase would be a better tripod; 2nd a better developing system (a Jobo or equivalent, now that I have room); 3rd a better shutter for my 8x10, whether or not a lens came attached to it (ie, a Packard or Luc large enough for my process lenses, or a used Fujinon/Nikkor/whatever in shutter).

I should add that I've been to galleries to see famous images, and occasionally been quite disappointed with the technical side, or lack thereof, when standing in front of said image. The one that comes immediately to mind is Maggie Taylor's The Woman Who Loves Fish (http://www.flickr.com/photos/nomighost/5056025994/).

E. von Hoegh
30-Jul-2012, 07:32
Mastering the technical side is a means to an end, the end being a finished photograph. Some photos will require a more complete mastery than others.

BrianShaw
30-Jul-2012, 07:42
Written like a zen master!

Dan Fromm
30-Jul-2012, 08:13
Hmm. More an essay about life, methinks. I chased the magic skiing bullet for 15 years until my knees gave in. I had my end of year exams recently and explained to one of my lecturers my sheer frustration with the technical side of photography. He thought for a while and said : "It's impossible to get to a level of technical mastery where you can say: 'I've got to a world class level and now I'm sticking to this system', because everything is changing all the time - new processes emerge every year, old products are discontinued, etc." Then he looked at me and said: " The best stage in photography is probably behind you and you missed it." That was a bit of a downer.

My, what a polite way, and without expletives too, of telling you not to be such an idiot. My teachers were rather more direct, my friends still are.

When you say technique you seem to be thinking more of which gear to get than how to use it effectively. Technique as most of us understand it has little to do with equipment, much to do with procedure and understanding the processes.

Your instructor probably wasn't thinking of LF photography, where the technology is very mature. In lenses, with which you seem to be obsessed, development efforts are focused on small formats.

E. von Hoegh
30-Jul-2012, 12:19
Written like a zen master!

But hopefully not a koan.

Mark Kononczuk
31-Jul-2012, 16:31
[QUOTE=Dan Fromm;915661]My, what a polite way, and without expletives too, of telling you not to be such an idiot. My teachers were rather more direct, my friends still are.

When you say technique you seem to be thinking more of which gear to get than how to use it effectively. Technique as most of us understand it has little to do with equipment, much to do with procedure and understanding the processes.

I don't really care about gear of any kind. In fact, I am so uninterested in it that I thought I could just ask somebody who knows what to get, and just concentrate on the pictures. I just keep getting feed-back from some of my lecurers that my pictures aren't sharp enough when blown up to, say, 100x80cm.

Jody_S
31-Jul-2012, 16:47
[QUOTE=Dan Fromm;915661]

I don't really care about gear of any kind. In fact, I am so uninterested in it that I thought I could just ask somebody who knows what to get, and just concentrate on the pictures. I just keep getting feed-back from some of my lecurers that my pictures aren't sharp enough when blown up to, say, 100x80cm.

That implies a problem with technique, something like camera shake. It might help if you posted examples, and details of how the shot was taken.

Dan Fromm
31-Jul-2012, 17:42
[QUOTE=Dan Fromm;915661]I just keep getting feed-back from some of my lecurers that my pictures aren't sharp enough when blown up to, say, 100x80cm.

Thanks for the clarification. You're enlarging roughly 8x from 4x5. Opinions about what's possible differ. IMO, 8x is pushing the limits so getting good prints with that much enlargement requires meticulous technique.

For curiosity, are your classmates making sharper prints at that size than you are? If so, ask them how they do it.

Darin Boville
31-Jul-2012, 18:24
I would certainly agree that someone like Mapplethorpe would not have had the success he did if his images were fuzzy around the edges.

Just a somewhat pedantic correction: Many of Mapplethorpe's images, especially his portraits, used "black diffusion" and certainly don't look razor sharp...

--Darin

Jody_S
31-Jul-2012, 19:10
Just a somewhat pedantic correction: Many of Mapplethorpe's images, especially his portraits, used "black diffusion" and certainly don't look razor sharp...

--Darin

Thanks for the clarification. I used Mapplethorpe as an example because I just happened to have found a book, recently, of many of his razor-sharp images, and the intro mentions the Hasselblad. I make no claim to being an expert on Mapplethorpe, I'm just somewhat of a fan. Did he go through a phase with this 'black diffusion'? Which of his gallery exhibits would best demonstrate this?

E. von Hoegh
1-Aug-2012, 06:34
[QUOTE=Mark Kononczuk;916157]

That implies a problem with technique, something like camera shake. It might help if you posted examples, and details of how the shot was taken.

Camera shake, focussing of the camera, loading of film, alignment of enlarger, enlarger lens, focussing of enlarger, how the paper is placed under the enlarger....

georgl
2-Aug-2012, 11:25
I can totally relate to the wish of ultimative sharpness and clear rendition. In fact, it's one of the things I like most about shooting 8x10" - neither the handling, nor the dust...

It's true that at a certain point (past f22) diffraction kicks in and negates much of the differences inherent to "modern" lenses (1970s->), but with 4x5" you can regulary shoot f11 and with 8x10" you can shoot f16 or f22 most of the time (although depends on style, magnification...). And getting a sharp image by technique is one of the first things I would assure when buying into large format were every shot easily costs >>5$...
Stable camera, stable tripod and head, decent cable release and careful focusing and in 98% of the cases the images (architecture/landscape) are sharp and just limited by the lens used. I even have an adhesive film holder, but so far had no problems regarding film flatness with the normal fidelity holders as well?

My lenses are quite good, I think (150XL/Symmar-S 240/Sironar-N 300) but sometimes I would like some clearer rendition and abscence of chromatic aberration especially when you compare Velvia-slides on your lighttable 1:1 from smaller formats (like a Hasselblad).

Back on-topic: I would try a Schneider Digitar 120 for 4x5" @ f11 - looking forward to the results. Normally, the Sironar-S should represent the upper end of performance.

Dan Fromm
2-Aug-2012, 12:36
Back on-topic: I would try a Schneider Digitar 120 for 4x5" @ f11 - looking forward to the results. Normally, the Sironar-S should represent the upper end of performance.

According to Schneider it doesn't even cover 2x3.

E. von Hoegh
2-Aug-2012, 13:20
Some folks don't realise that aberrations scale with focal length, either.

"... abscence of chromatic aberration especially when you compare Velvia-slides on your lighttable 1:1 from smaller formats (like a Hasselblad)...."

Mark Kononczuk
2-Aug-2012, 17:37
[QUOTE=Mark Kononczuk;916157]

Thanks for the clarification. You're enlarging roughly 8x from 4x5. Opinions about what's possible differ. IMO, 8x is pushing the limits so getting good prints with that much enlargement requires meticulous technique.

For curiosity, are your classmates making sharper prints at that size than you are? If so, ask them how they do it.

Thanks for the feedback. I think I will build a rock-solid stand or tripod for my camera. My classmates use pinholes, 35mm analog cameras, or they do solarography, fotograms etc - so not really comparable.

jnantz
2-Aug-2012, 18:12
Thanks for the feedback. I think I will build a rock-solid stand or tripod for my camera. My classmates use pinholes, 35mm analog cameras, or they do solarography, fotograms etc - so not really comparable.

30x40" solargraphs ?
i am having trouble seeing how one could present a solargraph ...
they can't be fixed, and if left in a darkened room they turn black.

Jody_S
2-Aug-2012, 18:47
[QUOTE=Dan Fromm;916181]
My classmates use pinholes, 35mm analog cameras, or they do solarography, fotograms etc - so not really comparable.

And you're shooting LF? Presumably your classmates aren't attempting to enlarge to 30x40 or whatever you're doing. Well, congrats on having the courage to use at once the best, and yet least forgiving equipment possible. If and when you do master LF and get the sharp prints you're after, you will have mastered photography on a technical plane that none of your classmates will have achieved. Yes, it's difficult. Yes, it's expensive. But it's completely worth it in the long run.

BTW, I wouldn't dream of enlarging any of my LF photos to 30x40. I simply don't have the ability to do so. I might be able to pull it off if I got a drum scan done of one of my better prints, and paid someone to run one off on a large printer, but I wouldn't be happy with the results.

Dan Fromm
2-Aug-2012, 19:11
[QUOTE=Dan Fromm;916181]

Thanks for the feedback. I think I will build a rock-solid stand or tripod for my camera. My classmates use pinholes, 35mm analog cameras, or they do solarography, fotograms etc - so not really comparable.

You're welcome. You might want to buy a copy of John Williams' book Image Clarity. There's no reason to reinvent high-resolution photography.

Good luck, have fun,

Dan

Frank Petronio
2-Aug-2012, 20:26
Get a dozen lenses of the same make & model and send them off to a lab for testing. Keep the sharpest and send the rest back.
OK, thats not what you wanted to hear.
There are plenty of lenses that are justly famous for being sharp. If you do your part none of them should dissapoint you.

That is the best answer, sample variation and quality control make a bigger difference when you are going closer to absolutes.

Bill_1856
2-Aug-2012, 20:46
There's more to good photography that razor sharpness.
My 16x20 print of Adam's Moonrise (4x from 8x10) isn't really razor sharp, but it is "sharp enough."

rdenney
3-Aug-2012, 03:43
There's more to good photography that razor sharpness.
My 16x20 print of Adam's Moonrise (4x from 8x10) isn't really razor sharp, but it is "sharp enough."

16x20 from 8x10 is a 2x enlargement--magnification is reported in the linear dimension. Which reinforces your point.

Even my Special Edition print of Dogwoods and Tenaya Creek is less"sharp" than the reproduction in Yosemite and the Range of Light. in the reproduction, the screening process creates more apparent sharpness by clarifying the edges of highlights. But the enlarger print shows more detail, and a greater sense of endless detail.

That's part of what large format does, and it does it even with the ancient tessars and dagors that Adams used early on.

Rick "who has seen plenty of very large Adams museum prints that didn't lose their detail" Denney

georgl
3-Aug-2012, 07:38
"According to Schneider it doesn't even cover 2x3"

According to a 4x5"-photographer it has an IC of over 200mm - although I never was able to verify these claims

@E-von-Hoegh
The Superachromats from the Hasselblad-system are free from any visible aberration, IMHO. The so-called "Apo"-lenses with similar focal length for LF are not.

E. von Hoegh
3-Aug-2012, 07:43
"According to Schneider it doesn't even cover 2x3"

According to a 4x5"-photographer it has an IC of over 200mm - although I never was able to verify these claims

@E-von-Hoegh
The Superachromats from the Hasselblad-system are free from any visible aberration, IMHO. The so-called "Apo"-lenses with similar focal length for LF are not.

An apochromatic (process)lens for large format will have virtually no secondary spectrum. Try out a Goerz Artar, or any of the Nikon process lenses, or the Rodenstock equivalents. You are correct, the so-called "Apo" lenses do not have a true apochromatic correction.

As for image circle, some think the image circle is the circle of light a lens projects. It is not; image circle is the circle of sharp definition which is smaller than the circle of illumination.

Dan Fromm
3-Aug-2012, 08:05
"According to Schneider it doesn't even cover 2x3"

According to a 4x5"-photographer it has an IC of over 200mm - although I never was able to verify these claims.

Until proven otherwise, that 4x5" photographer was having you on. Go here http://www.schneideroptics.com/ and see for yourself.

georgl
4-Aug-2012, 00:22
When you put three slides (lets say Leica Apo as a reference on 35mm/newer Zeiss on 6x6/Sironar-S or Symmar-L faster than f16) next to each other on a lighttable and look at them with a decent 10x loupe, you can clearly see the crisper and clearer rendition of the smaller formats due to higher lens-quality. I don't want to say the LF-slides don't look fantastic on the final print due to the small magnification but at easily >10$ per slide and all the effort invested into one LF-shot, I would like to have better lenses, IMHO.

I was refering to this post regarding the Digitar 120:
http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=005br8

I was not able to verify it, but at 45mm image height the contrast at 20lp/mm is still 75% - more than nearly all LF- lenses in the center.

Dan Fromm
4-Aug-2012, 06:36
georgl, look here: https://www.schneideroptics.com/pdfs/photo/datasheets/ApoSymmarL/ApoSymmarL_56_120_2.pdf By your criterion, the Apo-Symmar L does better at f/11 at infinity. Why don't you get one and shoot it only at its best aperture?

Thanks for the link. Note the date.

As for resolution on film, well, I've shot decent process lenses against MicroNikkors (55/2.8, 105/2.8, 200/4, all AIS) under controlled conditions. On E100G, the color reversal film I use with my 2x3 cameras, at the same apertures and magnifications the 210/9 Konica Hexanon GRII handily beat the 200/4 MicroNikkor AIS (so did the 55/2.8 and 105/2.8) and tied the shorter ones. My dialyte type Apo-Nikkors are as good as the GRII, my Apo-Saphirs match them from f/16 down.

desertrat
4-Aug-2012, 08:41
...As for image circle, some think the image circle is the circle of light a lens projects. It is not; image circle is the circle of sharp definition which is smaller than the circle of illumination.
I just wanted to add there are a few obsolete designs that mechanically vignette before image quality degrades significantly. I have a late 12" T-R triple that does this.

E. von Hoegh
4-Aug-2012, 08:43
I just wanted to add there are a few obsolete designs that mechanically vignette before image quality degrades significantly. I have a late 12" T-R triple that does this.

I have a 1905-ish Dagor type (not a Goerz), 210mm, that gives contact printable details right into the dark corners on 8x10. It's not the rule, though.

premortho
4-Aug-2012, 11:50
I'm glad you said that...if only I had been smart enough to come up with it. Under this criteria, I nominate my 6 1/2 inch Wollensak Raptar....
The best lens is the one you've tried and know produces the best images for the type of photography you do, with the film (or sensor) you use, and under the conditions you use it.

Cheers, Steve

georgl
4-Aug-2012, 12:55
@Dan-Fromm
These MTF-graphs indeed look similar near image centre, I wonder if the fall-of with the digitar is as steep as with the Symmar (considering we are talking about an IC beyond specification with the Digitar). I myself shoot 8x10" and my Symmar-L (even Linhof selected)240mm @f16-f22 offers good performance but certainly not on the level of modern lens designs. I don't know the MicroNikkors very well, but here is a 100% crop comparison of 2750ppi (downsampled) scans made under similar, ideal (image center, perfect focus) conditions. On the left hand-side a 8x10" Velvia made with the Linhof-selected Symmar-l 240mm @f22 vs. a CB Planar 2,8/80 Velvia-slide with the same level of magnification:
78280

By no means a true scientific comparison and f16 on the 8x10"-slide would propably have increased sharpness, but the difference is obvious, IMHO.

Dan Fromm
4-Aug-2012, 13:53
georgl, which modern lens designs are you talking about, and which have you tried? Also, have you tried a good process lens that will cover 8x10? I have in mind 420 or 480 Apo-Nikkors, 480 Apo-Ronar.

I'm sorry, but I get no information from the images you posted, can't tell what to compare in them.

Adamphotoman
4-Aug-2012, 17:49
I have to agree with Leigh's post #3
The Apo Sironar S series is excellent. I have several focal lengths 135 / 210 / 300 and they are all outstanding, however;
the longer ones are heavy and require bellows extensions which act as sails in the wind...
So your skill level and care will come into effect.

I now use several 4X5 size scan backs. Proper Zig Alignment of the standards and the copy board takes most of the human error out of the equation. Now direct comparison is possible...with a light hungry flat CCD...

Film is different and so I ask what is your application?

My dollar is best spent on the Apo Sironar S series.

G

georgl
5-Aug-2012, 00:53
Sorry on my tablet I cannot tell if the forum uploaded the pic correctly - when I was uploading it yesterday, the left-hand side felt "mushy" with no clear rendition along edges (the device holding the glass). - film and scanning-technique is exactly the same.

I have switched in smaller formats from "classic" designs from the 1960s-1980s to modern lenses (new element setups, exotic glass, aspherical surfaces, barrel coating against internal reflections...) or at least got the chance to compare them.
I also got a Symmar XL 150 - one of the most advanced LF-designs (just compare it to it's predecessor...) which I really like. I recently got a Ronar 360, but just shot a Tmax with it - couldn't see anything special but it's small...
The performace increase of the newer designs was of course especially noticeable wide open, in retrofocus designs... things that simply don't matter in LF-photography. But even stopped down, they offer a gain in "crispness", lack of chromatic aberration, better flare control...
One example: My old Leitz 2.8/135 was a fine lens, a simple design but nice and sharp. Until I tried the Apo-Elmarit 180, it felt like pulling a curtain away, of course you could see the lack of chromatic aberrations (antennas/branches against the sky...) or the high contrast in very fine detail on high-res scans but the overall "fingerprint" in normal situations (not shooting test-charts all day...) is much better - I would prefer getting the "new look" on a 10€-slide which took me hours to make...

I certainly think that with a modern design approach we could get truly apochromatic, truly (f11-f16) diffraction-limited (maybe even handy tele-designs?) lenses for large format, or a modular approach resembling the old triplet idea (for example what Leica did with it's Modul-System).

Sometimes I like the "look" of older designs as well and certainly don't want to force anyone to buy one of these hypothetical >>3k€ "modern" lenses but it would be nice having the choice. We are talking about a small market for enthusiasts, but when looking at the used prices for 3.5/135 T* Planars alone...

JBAphoto
5-Aug-2012, 17:35
what is the sharpest 4x5 lense ever? or one that produces the best quality colour images in terms of saturation, tonal value etc? I'm asking in terms of personal subjective experience.

This has to be one of the most moronic threads on this forum - Image QUALITY is dependent on lots of factors - In my not very humble opinion tripod choice is one of the most crucial at the neg making stage

The most important lenses, the only ones you should spend sleepless nights over, are your enlarging lenses - Enlarging lenses are the bottleneck through which all your images are filtered - In the case of anyone making digital scans, don't worry about camera lens quality as you will ruin your images in Photoshop whatever their original quality

PS, there is no "e" at the end of lens, that told me a lot to start with

John
Quinninup

jnantz
5-Aug-2012, 20:49
SNIP



or they do solarography, fotograms etc - so not really comparable.

are your classmates making small images and just scanning/magnifying them,
or are they making large chemical free and cameraless images?
huge solargraphs/retina images and photograms can be something to behold,
and in many of ways, much more difficult than any camera made photograph ..

Mark Kononczuk
6-Aug-2012, 02:01
SNIP



are your classmates making small images and just scanning/magnifying them,
or are they making large chemical free and cameraless images?
huge solargraphs/retina images and photograms can be something to behold,
and in many of ways, much more difficult than any camera made photograph ..

Generally, there are as many techniques as talented students, I don't know how all of these images are produced. A few years ago I went to the BOWNIK - 'Gamers' exhibition in Warsaw and was really impressed with the portraits of gamers that were life-size (1:1) And I thought WOW! I can't do that. You can see every hair, pore, etc.I was convinced it was done with some hi-end digital equipment. I later read an interview in which Bownik said he used an LF camera. So, I thought maybe someone on this site might know how to produce images at this level.

Mark Kononczuk
6-Aug-2012, 02:27
This has to be one of the most moronic threads on this forum - Image QUALITY is dependent on lots of factors - In my not very humble opinion tripod choice is one of the most crucial at the neg making stage

The most important lenses, the only ones you should spend sleepless nights over, are your enlarging lenses - Enlarging lenses are the bottleneck through which all your images are filtered - In the case of anyone making digital scans, don't worry about camera lens quality as you will ruin your images in Photoshop whatever their original quality

I have often asked friends : what are the top 5 places you've been to in the world, or what are the 5 most amazing dishes you have ever eaten. People have always been keen to share their experiences and I have learned a lot from this, I have been to places that I would not have dreamed of going to (eg. Varanasi, Transylvania or Ulaan-Bataar.) Not being a LF buff, I was just interested in how to produce a more-or-less sharp image that is say, 2 metres by 1.5 metres without resorting to digitally stitching images together. I have gained a wealth of information from this post. I find it comical that certain people might be offended by spelling mistakes or by simple questions. I apologise in advance for any lack of 'e's or 're's instead of 'er's.
.
PS, there is no "e" at the end of lens, that told me a lot to start with

John
Quinninup

Mark Kononczuk
6-Aug-2012, 02:30
I have often asked friends : what are the top 5 places you've been to in the world, or what are the 5 most amazing dishes you have ever eaten. People have always been keen to share their experiences and I have learned a lot from this, I have been to places that I would not have dreamed of going to (eg. Varanasi, Transylvania or Ulaan-Bataar.) Not being a LF buff, I was just interested in how to produce a more-or-less sharp image that is say, 2 metres by 1.5 metres without resorting to digitally stitching images together. I have gained a wealth of information from this post. I find it comical that certain people might be offended by spelling mistakes or by simple questions. I apologise in advance for any lack of 'e's or 're's instead of 'er's.
.

Mark Kononczuk
6-Aug-2012, 03:11
[QUOTE=Mark Kononczuk;916797]

You're welcome. You might want to buy a copy of John Williams' book Image Clarity. There's no reason to reinvent high-resolution photography.

Good luck, have fun,

Dan

Ok, thanks. I will.

jnantz
6-Aug-2012, 05:09
Generally, there are as many techniques as talented students, I don't know how all of these images are produced. A few years ago I went to the BOWNIK - 'Gamers' exhibition in Warsaw and was really impressed with the portraits of gamers that were life-size (1:1) And I thought WOW! I can't do that. You can see every hair, pore, etc.I was convinced it was done with some hi-end digital equipment. I later read an interview in which Bownik said he used an LF camera. So, I thought maybe someone on this site might know how to produce images at this level.

i know exactly what you mean ....

the reason i asked about the solargraphs
is because they are highly unstable images.
typically they are done using a pinhole camera that is left in a perch / tree
for 6 or 7 months, and they are a small scrap of paper that was put into a 35mm film canister.
the light stains an image on the paper ...
they can't be fixed because there isn't really a chemical reaction, the image turns white in fixer ...
even extremely dilute hypo/sodium thiosulfate fixer buffered with sodium carbonate...
and if left a pitchblack room/storage the image will turn completely grey. the usual way of capturing
the image is by scanning or xeroxing it ( xeroxes are archival ) and then enlarging it
like one would any digital negative ... and the process of scanning or xeroxing the image ruins it.

it isn't that i can't imagine a large camera obscura being made, like a shed, and photo paper left in it for 6months ...
kind of like a very long abe morell photograph without a camera ....
and then the stained unstable image displayed as an installation piece and the image, as well as its deterioration/greying
is the "art"... but i have a feeling your fellow students just enlarged small images instead.

is there any way to view you and your fellow students' work ?

thanks !
john

E. von Hoegh
6-Aug-2012, 06:38
I have often asked friends : what are the top 5 places you've been to in the world, or what are the 5 most amazing dishes you have ever eaten. People have always been keen to share their experiences and I have learned a lot from this, I have been to places that I would not have dreamed of going to (eg. Varanasi, Transylvania or Ulaan-Bataar.) Not being a LF buff, I was just interested in how to produce a more-or-less sharp image that is say, 2 metres by 1.5 metres without resorting to digitally stitching images together. I have gained a wealth of information from this post. I find it comical that certain people might be offended by spelling mistakes or by simple questions. I apologise in advance for any lack of 'e's or 're's instead of 'er's.
.

That's a huge print. You need an 8x10 negative for that.

Armin Seeholzer
7-Aug-2012, 06:04
That's a huge print. You need an 8x10 negative for that.

1+

Mark Kononczuk
7-Aug-2012, 16:14
i know exactly what you mean ....

the reason i asked about the solargraphs
is because they are highly unstable images.
typically they are done using a pinhole camera that is left in a perch / tree
for 6 or 7 months, and they are a small scrap of paper that was put into a 35mm film canister.
the light stains an image on the paper ...
they can't be fixed because there isn't really a chemical reaction, the image turns white in fixer ...
even extremely dilute hypo/sodium thiosulfate fixer buffered with sodium carbonate...
and if left a pitchblack room/storage the image will turn completely grey. the usual way of capturing
the image is by scanning or xeroxing it ( xeroxes are archival ) and then enlarging it
like one would any digital negative ... and the process of scanning or xeroxing the image ruins it.

it isn't that i can't imagine a large camera obscura being made, like a shed, and photo paper left in it for 6months ...
kind of like a very long abe morell photograph without a camera ....
and then the stained unstable image displayed as an installation piece and the image, as well as its deterioration/greying
is the "art"... but i have a feeling your fellow students just enlarged small images instead.

is there any way to view you and your fellow students' work ?

thanks !
john

http://www.galeriaff.infocentrum.com/2005/decyk/decyk_a.htm

http://galeriaego.pl/artysci/76-katarzyna-majak#

http://www.stepinski.com/index.php?zone=phot

http://www.wspolczesnafotografia.pl/site/143/rafal-milach.html

jnantz
7-Aug-2012, 16:24
http://www.galeriaff.infocentrum.com/2005/decyk/decyk_a.htm

http://galeriaego.pl/artysci/76-katarzyna-majak#

http://www.stepinski.com/index.php?zone=phot

http://www.wspolczesnafotografia.pl/site/143/rafal-milach.html

thanks mark

- john

Atul Mohidekar
7-Aug-2012, 19:52
About Digitar 120mm lens...

The Schneider literature is very conservative and is probably appropriate for the usage of the lens on digital back. For the record, the Digitar does cover 4x5 but allows very small amount of movements. I have the 120mm Digitar lens and I bought it after communicating directly with the Schneider engineer. At that time I was trying to decide between two stellar Schneider lenses - Digitar 120mm and Super-Symmar XL 110mm. Also, I was concerned about the diffraction effects at f/22. When I specifically asked the Schneider engineer to compare these two lenses at f/22. His reply was that the Digitar would be far superior to Symmar at f/22 "in terms of resolution". He did point out that the IC for the Digitar is much smaller. I bought the lens and have since compared its results with many other great modern lenses including Sironar-S 135mm, Nikkor-M 300mm, Nikkor-M 200mm and Nikkor Macro 120mm. Digitar is the sharpest LF lens I have owned. As it has been correctly pointed out in this thread, its main problem is its smaller IC. I don't use the lens much on my 4x5 as I don't use any lens in that focal length in 4x5. For 6x9, Digitar is my most used lens.

// Atul

genotypewriter
15-Aug-2012, 05:20
This has to be one of the most moronic threads on this forum - Image QUALITY is dependent on lots of factors - In my not very humble opinion tripod choice is one of the most crucial at the neg making stage

It is moronic to assume that the OP meant that quality depends exclusively on the lens' sharpness when they never said that in the first place.



The most important lenses, the only ones you should spend sleepless nights over, are your enlarging lenses - Enlarging lenses are the bottleneck through which all your images are filtered - In the case of anyone making digital scans, don't worry about camera lens quality as you will ruin your images in Photoshop whatever their original quality

Wrong. (1) Smaller lenses, such as ones in scanners, can be made sharper... would you rock up with your favourite enlarging lens to a medical lab to inspect blood slides or would you use a microscope? (2) "photoshop" and scanning doesn't ruin the "original quality" any more than your enlarging lens and photo paper. Putting things back in to context, because most people miss that, all I'm saying is one is not a replacement for the other.



PS, there is no "e" at the end of lens, that told me a lot to start with

So you're associating English language skills to intelligence? There are people who are literate in far more difficult languages than English but according to you, are they "moronic" too?

SergeiR
15-Aug-2012, 06:12
Umm.. Kinda offtopic, but "lense" is not entirely incorrect spelling. Some old photography books (english ones, no less) do use it.

Mark Kononczuk
16-Aug-2012, 12:04
Umm.. Kinda offtopic, but "lense" is not entirely incorrect spelling. Some old photography books (english ones, no less) do use it.

thank you. some people see beyond wikipedia I see.

Mark Kononczuk
16-Aug-2012, 12:09
Anyway, returning to the original thread.... has anyone out there made a large print, eg. 1.5 x 1 metres from a single 4x5 film and been satisfied with the results?

E. von Hoegh
16-Aug-2012, 12:43
Anyway, returning to the original thread.... has anyone out there made a large print, eg. 1.5 x 1 metres from a single 4x5 film and been satisfied with the results?

I've never made a print that big, from any size negative. I'd use an 8 x10 negative myself. I've enlarged 35mm negatives and 2 1/4" x 2 3/4" negatives by a similar factor, though, and can say that it requires care with every single step from start to finish - it will certainly test your technique.

rdenney
16-Aug-2012, 13:14
Anyway, returning to the original thread.... has anyone out there made a large print, eg. 1.5 x 1 metres from a single 4x5 film and been satisfied with the results?

4x5 enlarges to a print 1x1.2 meters with a 10x enlargement.

I have a 10x enlargement on display in my home, but from 6x12, not 4x5 (the print is 22x40 inches). It was, however, made in a 4x5 camera using 4x5 lenses. The lens was a Super Angulon f/5.6, as I recall from the photographer (I don't recall the focal length). The film was scanned and printed on a large Epson.

It looks good to me. I can view it as closely as my eyes can focus and I do not feel as though the sense of endless detail breaks down.

With proper drum scanning, 10x is not out of reach at all, even without using the sharpest lens ever.

Rick "not saying it would look good to everyone here" Denney

Bob Salomon
16-Aug-2012, 14:02
About Digitar 120mm lens...

........ I bought the lens and have since compared its results with many other great modern lenses including Sironar-S 135mm, Nikkor-M 300mm, Nikkor-M 200mm and Nikkor Macro 120mm. Digitar is the sharpest LF lens I have owned. As it has been correctly pointed out in this thread, its main problem is its smaller IC. I don't use the lens much on my 4x5 as I don't use any lens in that focal length in 4x5. For 6x9, Digitar is my most used lens.

// Atul

But it more properly should be compared to a 135mm Apo Sironar Digital or similar.

Richard Wasserman
16-Aug-2012, 14:29
I went today to see one of my prints just that size that was hung in the reception area of an office. It was shot on 4x5 FP-4+ and looks very nice.



Anyway, returning to the original thread.... has anyone out there made a large print, eg. 1.5 x 1 metres from a single 4x5 film and been satisfied with the results?

SergeiR
16-Aug-2012, 14:54
Anyway, returning to the original thread.... has anyone out there made a large print, eg. 1.5 x 1 metres from a single 4x5 film and been satisfied with the results?

Just like Rick - i did prints from MF of that size (and bigger too) - no issues at all (645, 6x7, 6x9, 6x12 - shot with MF optics and LF optics). I am pretty sure i dont have "sharpest lens ever". But then i am not sitting over any of prints with wee lens and spotting stuff. Never did, never will. I dont see 4x5 or 8x10 being any worse. To my eye they do look grrrreat, when i am not goofing sharpness b/c of focus, wobbly tripod, accidental finger in the lens, sneezing or forgetting that i triggered shutter once already).

Jim Andrada
16-Aug-2012, 22:49
I remember a story from rather long ago when the folks in a semiconductor fab facility were having sharpness issues with the cameras used to make the masks. They looked at everything - vibrations from the nearby interstate highway, aircraft, etc etc. Turned out they were having a problem caused by trucks backing up to the loading dock at the other end of the half mile long building and hitting the stops. When they put stoppers a few feet from the building the sharpness improved.

Moral of the story - the lens is only one link in a chain and often not the most significant link at that.

Mark Kononczuk
17-Aug-2012, 03:34
I went today to see one of my prints just that size that was hung in the reception area of an office. It was shot on 4x5 FP-4+ and looks very nice.

Do you remember what lens you used? Or do you think that this is not relevant when looking at this print?

E. von Hoegh
17-Aug-2012, 06:49
Do you remember what lens you used? Or do you think that this is not relevant when looking at this print?

The lens is relevant, but the lens is just a link in the chain. The best lens available, combined with sloppy technique is just one other area, will not give good results. A sharp lens is the least of your concerns, because virtually any good LF lens made in the past 50 years (and many made in the last 100 years) will be suitable for the task.

Richard Wasserman
17-Aug-2012, 07:02
I think it was a plain vanilla 210mm Caltar II-N. As Mr. von Hoegh wrote below, the lens is only one link in the chain. I also agree with him that just about any fairly recent—I have no experience with older—lens is up to the task of making large prints. The solution is not in hardware, but in knowing the entire process, from film exposure and development all the way to the print.



Do you remember what lens you used? Or do you think that this is not relevant when looking at this print?

E. von Hoegh
17-Aug-2012, 07:13
I think it was a plain vanilla 210mm Caltar II-N. As Mr. von Hoegh wrote below, the lens is only one link in the chain. I also agree with him that just about any fairly recent—I have no experience with older—lens is up to the task of making large prints. The solution is not in hardware, but in knowing the entire process, from film exposure and development all the way to the print.

To go further, I own a Goerz Dagor lens made about 1908. A 6" in a tiny Compound shutter. If used properly, this lens is closely comparable to a 1960 - 1970 Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar in resolution and contrast, in fact I use it on 4x5 more often than my Symmar due to the Dagor's unique tonality - an area where it exceeds the Symmar by a good margin. BUT - it's the second 6" I bought, the first one wasn't so good. Again, though, just a link in the chain. Print a negative from this lens with a crappy enlarger lens, and you'll get nothing special.

nonuniform
28-Nov-2012, 14:50
How did you focus that image? It's pretty d**m sharp!


One of the sharpest lenses I have is the 150mm f/2.8 Xenotar... it's extremely sharp in the center at f/2.8 as demonstrated below:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/genotypewriter/6806479707/

I also have some 150mm f/2.8 aerial lenses that are consistently sharp across the frame but not as sharp as the Xenotar in the absolute sense.





The guy wants to know about optically good lenses. I'm failing to see the crime he committed here.

Drew Wiley
28-Nov-2012, 14:59
The typical sheet film holder simply doesn't hold film flat enough to make critical lens comparisons at optimum f-stops, that is, below the perceptible amt of diffraction necessary for a reasonable margin of error. This single miscalculation essentially voids a
helluva lot of the BS one routinely encounters on this very subject. Lenses do matter,
but they're rarely the weak link in the chain.

hiend61
29-Nov-2012, 05:42
Some years ago a friend wanted to know which were the best lens possible among the big four, so we collected among our friends a sample of 90/5,6 and 4,5, and 210/5,6 lenses from the big four. We had a lot more lenses, but only 90 and 210 from the big four. I was selected as the judge to shot all the lenses in optimal conditions with the same camera (Sinar P2 4x5), tripod (Gitzo 1500), head (Gitzo 1500+Sinar Vapo clamp) and film (Velvia 50), developed in the same batch. I was the only who knew the marks to distinguish each shot. I was the first to see the results and I must recognize that the results were so similar that I was unable to distinguish them, just very very small diferences in tone and contrast. I allowed myself a little joke. I changed the brand of the lenses The Nikon guy had my Rodenstock slides I kept the fujinons, the Schneider boys had the Nikon and the fuji boy had the Schneiders. Well, everybody was very proud of their lenses, even two of the guys defended strongly their results!.
As said here by many of you, once you have a decent lens, only the best possible workflow and care, good tripod+head+clamp, proper camera and ground glass alignment, absence of vibrations and wind...etc can make a lens perfect. By the way, have a look to this, it really works!
http://www.isarfoto.com/index.php/isar_en/fotozubehor/naturfotografie/tarnzelte-und-zubehor/tarnzelt-wildlife-universal-2-0-eklusive-by-isarfoto.html

evan clarke
29-Nov-2012, 08:33
I have 31 modern lenses and am happy with all of them.

premortho
29-Nov-2012, 12:09
Sheet film holders were originally plate holders, and plates were used until surprisingly late for critical work. Back in the day, (say 1960) glass plates were used for rel critical work, sheet film for a little less critical stuff, and film packs for the least critical.
The typical sheet film holder simply doesn't hold film flat enough to make critical lens comparisons at optimum f-stops, that is, below the perceptible amt of diffraction necessary for a reasonable margin of error. This single miscalculation essentially voids a
helluva lot of the BS one routinely encounters on this very subject. Lenses do matter,
but they're rarely the weak link in the chain.

Lenny Eiger
29-Nov-2012, 13:05
The typical sheet film holder simply doesn't hold film flat enough to make critical lens comparisons at optimum f-stops, that is, below the perceptible amt of diffraction necessary for a reasonable margin of error. This single miscalculation essentially voids a
helluva lot of the BS one routinely encounters on this very subject. Lenses do matter,
but they're rarely the weak link in the chain.

I agree.

We often talk about technical issues, and compare lenses like crazy. I think it is academic, perhaps interesting, but not particularly important. Unless you are including the junkiest of lenses (made a long time ago) in the comparison you will see little difference. All modern lenses I have seen have been quite crisp, certainly Nikon, Rodenstock and Schneider. I did a careful comparison between the Sironar S 12 inch and a Nikon 12 inch and there was no difference at all, they were equally sharp, equally sensitive, etc. I am sure there is some difference I couldn't see, spectral response based on the different coating, etc. But if I can't see it, why worry....

Much of my earlier work was done with a 12 inch Dagor and the images are plenty sharp. I have tested my Sironar S'es, both the 12 inch and the 6 inch, and the difference that diffraction makes between 22 and 45 is literally imperceptible. I can see a little falloff at f64, tho' not much. I happen to be a big fan of depth of field whenever possible, so I don't ever shoot at f22. I think this is not a good rule of thumb at all.

I am scanning things vs enlarging these days and when I bring it into the computer there are all sorts of options that can overcome any diffraction that a top-level lens can produce. I am also not comparing condensation drops on a coke can with high power strobes. Things may be different in those arenas, maybe not, I don't know. For shooting landscape almost all of the lenses are good, and you don't have to open up very wide, either (unless you want to).

Lenny

Lachlan 717
29-Nov-2012, 14:54
I am amazed that shutter calibration seldom, if ever, is referred to in these comparisons.

Unless each lens is firing at very close to the same speed (unlikely over multiple used lenses), your final images could be significantly differently exposed. I think that this often accounts for varying contrast in the results.

I only have 24 hours in each day. IMO, my photos improved significantly when I stopped using the spare hour I have worrying about lens sharpness and put them into trying to improve my composition/lighting/angles et al.

Drew Wiley
29-Nov-2012, 16:44
Given a proven flat roll film holder, lens selection becomes pretty important due to the
degree of magnification and fussiness of focus. With 4x5 I generally want to stop down
to f/22 or f/32 just to cover the potential margin of error in the filmholder. With 8x10
depth of field comes highly into play, and it's more common to stop down to f/45 or f/64,
at which point diffraction equalizes a lot of differences, though certainly not all, since
coverage, contrast, and close focus characteristics vary. I'd honestly state that all the
lenses I currently use from Fuji, Nikkor, Kern are sharper than my first LF lens, a Symmar
210 S, but it takes a fair amt of enlargement to tell the difference. The general public
probably couldn't discern which 30x40 print was made from a 4x5 original, and which from
8x10, much less the subtle distinctions between various lenses. It matters to me, but overall I think the whole subject is overblown.

Lenny Eiger
29-Nov-2012, 16:55
Unless each lens is firing at very close to the same speed (unlikely over multiple used lenses), your final images could be significantly differently exposed. I think that this often accounts for varying contrast in the results.


I solve this problem by shooting stopped down. The only thing that is accurate or inaccurate is me looking at the second hand on my watch....

;-)

Lenny

Drew Wiley
29-Nov-2012, 17:01
You've got a watch Lenny? Oh yeah, you're into techie gadgets. I just count and hope a
horsefly doesn't land on me and mess up my timing. It's happened.

Brian C. Miller
29-Nov-2012, 17:20
The typical sheet film holder simply doesn't hold film flat enough to make critical lens comparisons at optimum f-stops...

The film sheets can always be glued down.

And +1 on the holder is more critical than the lens. When I shimmed my back into adjustment for my film holders, I've since found out that my Kodak Readyload holder seems to be outside of the critical tolerance range. I've used it for a couple of boxes of Readyload and Quickload, but I get better results with my Polaroid holder. If someone isn't going to go through the long hassle of measuring and shimming, then I'm in the "don't worry, be happy" camp. It is important to be aware of what your equipment can or can't do, but a good picture is far more important.

richardman
29-Nov-2012, 19:06
You've got a watch Lenny? Oh yeah, you're into techie gadgets. I just count and hope a
horsefly doesn't land on me and mess up my timing. It's happened.

I use a stopwatch app on the Droid :-) useful for those 4 mins exposure....

Drew Wiley
30-Nov-2012, 13:14
Brian - the Readyload and Quickload holders were the worst - bent the film badly near the
insertion side. I heavily modified a 545 holder, but it will only get about two more trips out
of it due to my film sleeves running low. For color 8x10 I use adhesive holders, since I'm
more likely to make a big color enlargement than black-and-white, which I print only up to
20x24. Most black and white film is stiffer than color anyway, though the Kodak estar base
is pretty good. For ordinary 4x5 work I just use regular Lisco or Fidelity holders - the smaller size buckles less than 8x10. But I check my camera film plane with a special depth
micrometer. Once found a few air bubbles in the varnish that might affect focus, and sanded these out. Never had a warped back or holder yet, but then, I've never bought used holders.

Ari
30-Nov-2012, 14:18
Sharpest lens ever? That's easy, a Fujinon W-210, old version.
Asked and answered :)

gevalia
30-Nov-2012, 15:05
This is a keeping up with the jones' question (in other words, a digital yahoo question). Stay thirsty my friend.

genotypewriter
30-May-2013, 20:33
How did you focus that image? It's pretty d**m sharp!Sorry I just saw your question. If you follow the first link below you'll be taken to a bigger version of the crop that's better than the original one I posted earlier in this thread. The description also explains the shooting a bit too :)

2600x2450 pixel crop: http://www.flickr.com/photos/genotypewriter/8803512574/
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8265/8803512574_0c66bdaf34_d.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/genotypewriter/8803512574/)

Smaller full image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/genotypewriter/6806479707/
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7015/6806479707_eb5ff66bf8_d.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/genotypewriter/6806479707/)

Jim Cole
31-May-2013, 14:01
Strange topic; however, I'll bite:

Schneider 110mm SSXL.

I agree with this choice and refer to mine as "scary sharp".

Ian Greenhalgh
31-May-2013, 14:22
I only divide lenses into two categories 'sharp enough' and 'not sharp enough'.

I have found the former tend to outweight the latter by a large margin.

Also, there are so many other factors to consider that can affect sharpness.

Nathan Potter
31-May-2013, 15:42
I'll agree with Jim Cole and Lachlan that for common lenses IME the Schneider SSXL 110 mm is the sharpest I've used but I suspect that is only by a bit over a few other legend type lenses.

If you're doing macro type LF work at some magnification then the rare Nikkor macros can't be beat. These include the Ultra Micro Nikkors and other limited edition lenses for 35 mm. Under real and significant magnification they can cover 4X5 format. An arcane list at the site shown below gives a non technical view of some of these lenses. Occasionally they show up on ebay. Generally the high degree of resolution requires monochromatic light, with the early versions (500 nm or so). Later they quickly moved into the UV for use with mercury lines. But the older versions can be phenomenal for B&W if the film is sensitized for the wavelength.

I had once tried to convince my employer to obtain the early 105 f/2.8 version designed in the 1960s but to no avail. IIRC (it's been a long time) I think that lens was designed around the 540 nm monochromatic line and covered 2 X 2 inches at 105 mm. I think it was rated at about 400 lp/mm. Of course on 4X5 film under real magnification the resolution is reduced on the film by roughly the magnification factor.

akiyama nhs2004

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Drew Wiley
31-May-2013, 15:46
The sharpest lens is the one you dropped and then cut your hand on picking up the glass.

paulr
31-May-2013, 16:15
Schneider makes many lenses sharper than the 110 ssxl. Just look at their MTF curves. A quick look at the data from both Schneider and Rodenstock will tell you this mystical lens won't be found among wide angle or telephoto designs. Stick to the latest generations of normal lenses for this hunt.

My bet is that the sharpest, by a large margin, will be the Rodenstock Apo Sironar digital. The longer focal lengths will cover 4x5 at infinity, although not with more than a few mm of movements, and Rodenstock probably won't admit the lenses cover this much. The lenses won't be in speck out near the edges of the image circle. But they will be in another league from any of the lenses we're used to.

Atul Mohidekar
1-Jun-2013, 14:52
Schneider makes many lenses sharper than the 110 ssxl. Just look at their MTF curves. A quick look at the data from both Schneider and Rodenstock will tell you this mystical lens won't be found among wide angle or telephoto designs. Stick to the latest generations of normal lenses for this hunt.

My bet is that the sharpest, by a large margin, will be the Rodenstock Apo Sironar digital. The longer focal lengths will cover 4x5 at infinity, although not with more than a few mm of movements, and Rodenstock probably won't admit the lenses cover this much. The lenses won't be in speck out near the edges of the image circle. But they will be in another league from any of the lenses we're used to.

The digital lenses from Schneider and Rodenstock have amazing MTF curves, but limited ICs. Many years ago when I was doing 6x9 photography, I looked at the Schneider MTF data and found Digitar 120mm had much better MTF charts than 110mm XL. I had also heard that the digital lenses are "optimized" for larger apertures (e.g. f/11). I communicated with a Schneider engineer and was told that the 120mm Digitar at f/22 would be much sharper at the edge of the IC than 110mm XL at the same point in the IC, except the IC of the Digitar is much smaller. I bought the Digitar at that time for 6x9 and have since used it for 4x5. Yes, it does cover 4x5 with small room for movements. It is the sharpest LF lens I have. I have also compared it to Rodenstock Sironar-S 135mm, another very sharp lens. In my subjective, non-scientific tests, the Digitar is sharper than the Sironar. But that is comparing a digital lens with limited IC to an analog lens with much larger IC - the Rodenstock digital lenses should be comparable to the Schneider Digitar lenses.

// Atul

Carsten Wolff
1-Jun-2013, 15:22
most lenses are sharper than the person using them :)

massimodec
3-Jun-2013, 09:34
According to many, one of the sharpest ever is the Schneider Super Symmar HM 120mm; a pretty odd asymmetrical and very interesting lens (that fortunately I have).
I have a Nikkor Macro 105mm f 1:4 too, that is super sharp for 35mm. I like very much the Xenotar 150mm f2.8 - that I don't have :( -
Most of the process lenses are very sharp, but of course you cannot shot landscapes, unless you are at least 2,000 ft apart.

But the principal problem, if you don't look at the curves, is the FILM: those lenses coudl be appreciated only with films of 25 ISO down... maybe 12, and developed in a way that will mantain some acutance.

Now we are all condemned to color about 100, or 165 ISO, and I've seen "lens tests" on Portra 400 !

paulr
3-Jun-2013, 09:58
The digital lenses from Schneider and Rodenstock have amazing MTF curves, but limited ICs. Many years ago when I was doing 6x9 photography, I looked at the Schneider MTF data and found Digitar 120mm had much better MTF charts than 110mm XL. I had also heard that the digital lenses are "optimized" for larger apertures (e.g. f/11). I communicated with a Schneider engineer and was told that the 120mm Digitar at f/22 would be much sharper at the edge of the IC than 110mm XL at the same point in the IC, except the IC of the Digitar is much smaller. I bought the Digitar at that time for 6x9 and have since used it for 4x5. Yes, it does cover 4x5 with small room for movements. It is the sharpest LF lens I have. I have also compared it to Rodenstock Sironar-S 135mm, another very sharp lens. In my subjective, non-scientific tests, the Digitar is sharper than the Sironar. But that is comparing a digital lens with limited IC to an analog lens with much larger IC - the Rodenstock digital lenses should be comparable to the Schneider Digitar lenses.

Cool, I'm glad to hear from someone who's actually tried this. Understandably the digital lenses won't be useful to most LF photographers. But since the question was "what's the sharpest?" and not "what makes the most sense?" ....

Some peole on the getdpi.com forum have posted full resolution images and crops from the latest generation schneider and rodenstock digital lenses. Absolutely, eye-poppingly stunning. It only makes sense when you look closely at the MTF charts and see that the line that looks like the 20 p/mm line on the large format lens charts is actually for 80 lp/mm

paulr
3-Jun-2013, 10:08
But the principal problem, if you don't look at the curves, is the FILM: those lenses coudl be appreciated only with films of 25 ISO down... maybe 12, and developed in a way that will mantain some acutance.

You'll be able to see a difference under the right circumstances. The film won't be a limiting factor. Any ISO 100 film will produce enough MTF to record relevant information at any frequencies that these lenses can record.

The trouble is that in the real world, we rarely use lenses at their potential. We usually have to stop down farther what's ideal, which introduced diffraction; we rarely have more than a small portion of the frame in perfect focus, even with movements; and we are usually photographing on a planet that is home to wind and vibrations.

Those MTF charts are made with computer modeling, or else they're made under laboratory conditions. My sharpest real world results are much, much sharper than my typical results. Which tells me that the lenses I'm using are plenty good! A film upgrade wouldn't be the answer either. At least for the work that I do, which is out in the messy world.

Drew Wiley
3-Jun-2013, 11:08
I start paying attention to the sharpness business when shooting 6x9 roll film. But even then, my Nikkor M's and Fuji A's are PLENTY sharp, even when I hazard a
10X enlargement. And once I get into more typical 4x5 and 8x10 work, lens sharpness if basically a non-issue as long as I don't use extremely small f-stops. The
difference is, that with roll film I'll be a little more conscious of using something closer to optimum openings. So given this practice plus the availability of VC plane of
focus controls, I still get much better detail than is possible in comparable perspectives with an ordinary MF camera. Yeah, I like a rich print with a lot of detail ....
but at this point in history, lenses aren't the weak link. So in the real world I'm more concerned about things like image circle, portability, tonal rendering ... the whole MTF thing is way overblown in my opinion. In 35mm it might make more sense, but even there I prefer a lens with a pleasing rendering over a "sharp" one.