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Thread: old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

  1. #1

    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

    The topic of old lens coatings vs new ones came up recently in another thread. I'm curious--has anyone done an actual side by side comparison? You know, same camera pointing in the same direction, same time, same film type? Maybe an early convertible Symmar vs a modern multi-coated Symmar-L? Or something like a 203mm F7.7 Ektar compared to a Nikon 210mm M lens? I imagine that a comparison like this would be very enlightening....

  2. #2

    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

    Mark

    I haven't done a "very old vs. new" comparison, but I did a side by side shot with a 210mm Symmar-S MC and an APO Symmar 210mm - about 15 years different in vintage. I studied a 4X5 chrome long and hard with a 22X loupe and could detect absolutely no difference in the two. It was a shot of a house from about 100 feet - not dead center on the image circle (a bit of rise). I kept the APO Symmar and sold the Symmar-S for about half what the APO Symmar was worth and a couple of years on, I still wonder why...

  3. #3
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

    by the time the symmar s was being made, lenses were really, really good. I doubt that even the best lens being made right now, tested near the axis, near the middle of the aperture range, and near the magnification ratio that the lens is optomized for, would be noticeably better.

    they have made many improvements, though, in coverage, in performance off axis, at wider apertures, and at a wider range of magnifications. i think you would have seen a difference between those two lenses if you tested closer to the edge of the image circle. how much $$$, if any, the difference is worth is something only you can decide.

    i think schneider has some older mtf charts on their website. you can compare and see this. i have that same apo symmar, and wanted to see how it compared to the latest apo symmar L. acording to the charts, there's essentially no difference near the center. but the new one is a bit better at the edges (and has a bit more coverage). i believe it's a bit better wide open, too. for me, none of this would make any difference, but someone it might.

  4. #4

    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

    Some of the lens test data available on the web indicates that older designs (like the 203mm F7.7 Ektar, which is a dyalite design that predates lens coatings) are really sharp within their coverage ranges. I'm more curious about issues surrounding color rendition of older lenses. Some folks have very strong opinions about how only the latest multicoated lenses are worthwhile for color work. Others seem to feel that, as long as one doesn't shoot in particularly flare-prone situations, Ektars and other 60's-vintage lenses are just fine.

    I do have one roll of color film ready to develop that has images made with a c.1993 150mm Xenar and a c.1971 100mm Symmar (both single coated). I'll let you know what I find out....

  5. #5
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

    Have you found any MTF (or similar data) for those old ektars? I'm curious, because I had one that was a lot of things, but it sure wasn't sharp. Old fashioned resolution numbers don't tell you anything about sharpness.

  6. #6
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

    I have done a side-by-side comparison of 5 lenses in the 135-150mm range. Unfortunately all were old, and two were uncoated.

    Apart from flare in the uncoated lenses, the only significant difference I found was in coverage and "bokeh". So I kept my (uncoated) Heliar, coated Planar and APO-Lanthar, sold the Symmar and replaced the Eurynar with a coated one without the crack in the front element. That was the only lens which performed poorly; but even there the sharpness was very good although somewhat masked by flare.

  7. #7

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    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

    Chris Jordan says there's a noticeable quality difference between the Rodenstock Sironar-S lenses and his other presumably modern multicoated optics.
    http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/501943.html

    As for me, I'm going to do a comparison between a 19" Goerz Red Dot Artar and a 450mm Nikkor M. I'll shoot Velvia for color and Efke PL100 or Polaroid type 55 P/N for B&W and post the results when (if) I do it.

  8. #8
    not an junior member Janko Belaj's Avatar
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    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?



    here is my comparison: http://belaj.com/unsorted/135/ (made few years ago)



    left one is 135mm Rodenstock Sironar N f=1:5.6, right one 135mm Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar (convertible) f=1:5.6. Both pictures have been taken, developed and scanned under same conditions. Exposure was 1/500 1:16. Scanner Linotype Hell Topaz, 100% at 1000 dpi, L*a*b. I'm not able to put whole scan on my server, so I have reduced size to 33.3% (bicubic in Photoshop without additional sharpening), converted to RGB (sRGB IEC61966-2.1) and saved as JPEG baseline maximum quality - test_33perc.jpg.zip (3.6 MB). However, I have created test_details.tif.zip (8.8 MB) still in original resolution and L*a*b color space.
    What can be seen is slightly warmer picture of old lens, and just a little bit more details in shadow with new lens. Few hundred dollars difference. My choice was symmar for 135 symmar for, as I can remember, similar amount of USD...





  9. #9

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    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

    Mark, thanks for posing the question so clearly.

    I've actually done some comparisons, but not, unfortunately, between modern multi-coated and old uncoated lenses. Instead, between middle-aged single-coated lenses. That's what I have. Almost always using the same shutter, same shutter speed, same aperture, same emulsion, same lighting as best as I could arrange it, and never a lens hood. A couple of lenses stood out.

    210/9 Konica Hexanon GRII vs. 210/7.7 Boyer at ~ 300 meters. The GRII, which I like enough to carry around with me, is marginally sharper at f/16 but has more veiling flare. The Boyer, thanks to less flare -- it has an integral hood -- shoots a little cooler.

    14"/9 Wray Apo Process Lustrar Ser. II vs. 360/10 Boyer Apo Saphir, also at ~ 300 meters. The Wray is much flarier, the Boyer is noticeably cooler. FWIW, on the French LF forum Henri Gaud has reported that his 600/10 Apo Saphir shoots a little warmer than his 600(?) Fuji C.

    250/5.6 TeleOptar vs. 10.16"/9 Taylor Hobson Copying Lens. The TO is in Graphex, and I believe that its aperture scale is a tad off or the shutter runs slightly fast at the speeds I used. The TO always produced denser transparencies, and a little cooler too. The TH shot much yellower until I bleached its rear cell with UVB, after than I produces the same colors as most of my other lenses.

    180/10 Apo Saphir vs. 7"/4.5 Cooke Aviar Ser. II. Both single-coated. No difference in colors, but the Aviar is discernably softer, aperture for aperture.

    6"/9 Cooke Copying Lens vs. 150/9 Konica Hexanon GRII. Same story as the 210/9 GRII, the 150 GRII has a higher level of veiling flare than the Cooke, appears to shoot a little warmer.

    Uncoated 101/4.5 Ektar vs. single-coated 105/3.7 Ektar. No difference in color, if anything the 101 is sharper. There may have been a problem with the 105, which I've since sold; its back focus was much shorter than the 101's. Unlike the others, these lenses were shot in shutter, not front-mounted.

    38/4.5 Biogon vs. itself. When I underexpose -- and not much -- EPP with this lens, I get bluer skies and cooler shadows. When I overexpose -- and not much -- EPP with this lens, I get yellower everything. This is one of the reasons that I carry on about the effect of exposure errors on perceived color rendition.

    Now, I may be mistaken, but I tend to see flare reducing saturation, and I tend to see lower saturation as warmer rendition. This may be a consequence of the subjects I've shot for test.

    As I've written elsewhere, it isn't easy to control exposure well enough to eliminate slight variations in exposure as a source of perceived differences in color rendition. I'm not sure what the best approach to finding differences in rendition, but suspect that measuring the lenses' transmission by wavelength seems more appropriate than shooting film.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  10. #10

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    old lens vs new--actual side by side comparisons?

    I have an old Symmar 180 convertible that was made, I think, in the 1950s. Compared to photos made with my modern Nikkor 90mm, the Symmar is noticeably less contrasty. But I still like the quality of the images made with it. I call it my "automatic N-1" lens, because I can point it at a sunny, contrasty scene and it refuses to blow out the highlights, even with full development. It's a neat lens for long-scale subjects.

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