View Full Version : Sharp up close and wide open?

Henry Ambrose
28-Mar-2004, 19:05
Today I wanted to make a picture of a subject at about ten feet from the camera sharply in focus against an out of focus distant background. So I shot it at f8 with my 150mm APO Symmar and a good bit of rise, about all the lens covers but no fall off showed on film. Two negatives, both equally crappy. The subject sharpness was not impressive at all. I've done this kind of shot before with a 135 Xenar on my Crown Graphic using the rangefinder handheld and got a better negative. Crispy sharp subject and nice mushy background. This 150mm is razor sharp when stopped down and I guess I expected it to retain some of that at f8 but I was wrong. Can anyone enlighten me on this?

Mark Nowaczynski
28-Mar-2004, 20:52
I have shot razor sharp portraits with my 135mm Apo Sironar S at f8 with my Technika using only the rangefinder to focus. When using the rangefinder one does not use any movements, so one is using the best part of the image circle of the lens.

As Weegee said: "f8 and be there..."

Michael S. Briggs
28-Mar-2004, 22:42
If you want a big image circle ("a good bit of rise"), you are going to have to stop down more -- probably to f16 or f22 to be close to the sharpness that the lens is capable of. There is a reason that manufacturers typically cite the image circle for f22. The center of the image will probably be quite sharp at approx f11. If you want to know for sure for your particular lens, you will have to experiment. I suggest photographing a brick wall straight-on, with either large rise or shift, at various apertures.

Darin Cozine
28-Mar-2004, 23:11
depth of field: You might want to focus in front of your subject a bit, since the depth of field may be a bit much for that lens at f8. Try using this online calculator to help:


viginetting: It wasnt clear in your post, but it sounded like you were trying to get the lens to viginette using rise. Modern type lenses have a very big image circle, so you would be better off using a viginetter.

Michael S. Briggs
28-Mar-2004, 23:37
Since H. Ambrose was disappointed with the sharpness of the subject, focusing in front of the subject will only make things worse. I didn't sound to me like he wanted vignetting, since he commented that he saw no evidence of fall off and didn't complain about that.

Henry Ambrose
29-Mar-2004, 04:43
I think Michael is on the right track. I think I did use too much movement for the aperture. That explanation makes sense to me. Thanks.

jarrod connerty
30-Mar-2004, 16:07
I find most modern multicoated lenses essentially similar in sharpness(even have a 110 Schneider which I don't think is much different than my 20-year-old 210 W Nikkor), and owned at least one from all of the big four.

Not much for resolution charts and tests either, as it seems to me that the 'underlying background noise' of technique, tripod, conditions, etc. would be far more important.

But I must profess that the one exception to this is the Sironar-S series, when used at large apertures. At f/22 & smaller I cannot distinguish it from others, but I would stake my life to the belief that I could distinguish which amongst four identically composed and exposed sheets of the same film came from the Sironar S versus a Nikkor W, Sironar N & Fujinon. Obviously what's been said about being off-axis is more relevant, but all things being equal, the Sironar S series performs incredibly at f/11.

Armin Seeholzer
1-Apr-2004, 03:41
And also at f 11 is the APO Symmar 210 a killer lens sharp as a lens can be! Good light Jarrod!

Robert A. Zeichner
1-Apr-2004, 05:19
Have you tested the alignment of your ground glass? It's very possible that if it is not coincident with the film plane, your negatives will be soft when shooting wide open (and less than perfect at small apertures as well). I just did some modifications to my Deardorff this last weekend and ran a gg alignment test as I always do after changing anything on my cameras and the results were dead nuts on. I used a 150mm Nikkor-W at f5.6 at a sugject distance of roughly 30". What camera are you using for this project?