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Test of various lenses (Vintage vs Voigtlander)


kye
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I'm contemplating investing in a vintage lens set, maybe FDs, maybe Rokkors, maybe something else, but figured I'd take stock of what I have and see what I can see.

First I'll post the images in case they're of interest to anyone, then digest them in future posts.

Test was GH5 in 400Mbps 4K ALL-I mode, Cine-D, Daylight WB, put onto a 1080p timeline.  I tested all lenses wide open (typically around F2) and at F5.6 (all lenses were closed down some by then).  I also did a 2X punch-in for each lens, because I like to use the 2X digital zoom function to grab quick shots, which also functions as a proxy for shooting 4K (although that doesn't matter so much unless you're doing VFX).

Test setup had some depth, some glare, some sharp detail in the background, but nothing too outrageous..

IMG_0089.thumb.jpeg.25f95898b29e3ed5b8b4bb416a56fe6b.jpeg

Lenses..

IMG_0087.thumb.jpeg.5d38989b1450f640be475a5d0730190f.jpeg

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EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

The Takumars for the money I think are pretty hard to beat. If you win the Lotto the Voigtlanders are probably top of the pile, not counting the best at low light. Most other older stuff tops out at f2.8.

Don't rule out the old Olympus film Zuiko's. Their size is hard to beat. Poor mans Leica lenses.

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I'm still digesting the images but thought I'd share some background to this test, and my lenses in general.

I shoot a few different scenarios, short outings with family (eg, a walk on the beach), events with friends and family (eg, state fair or other kind of event), holidays with family (domestic and international), and the kids playing sports.

The aesthetic of what I shoot is quite specific as it's about what happens, which means:

  • The camera represents me and my POV most of the time, so how I hand-hold it and compose images, what I focus on and how fast I do so (manual focus), is part of the videos I make.
  • I have one aesthetic - sentimental.
    I don't film when my wife is tired, we get lost, the kids are grumpy, someone is getting yelled at for misbehaving, etc.  These are the videos of memory, the people who we are, where we went, what we did, the experiences we had.  It doesn't have to be rosy, but it's either near the neutral point or on the positive side of the spectrum.
  • I have one subject - family and friends interacting with each other and the situation.  Environmental portraits really.
  • I have four fields of view.  These correspond to (FF equivalents):
    • 35mm which gives environmental portraits from the distance I normally find myself when travelling with friends/family, which lines up nicely with the subject/location interaction.  This is most of my shots.
    • 16mm which gives those WOW shots for architecture and large vistas.
    • 85mm which is the perspective of seeing little moments that other people are sharing that I'm not part of (eg, my wife interacting with the kids while they don't know I'm watching / filming).
    • telephoto (150mm+) which is the experience of looking at animals at zoos or safaris, people playing sports, or detail shots of large panoramas (eg, lookouts over cities etc).
  • I shoot what happens, I don't direct, I get no second chances.  We experience life first, shooting comes second, always. This also means I want to attract the least attention, because being surrounded by people who are looking at the camera isn't my idea of a great holiday.
  • I am moving from representing what happened to how the experience felt.  This is a fundamental shift and pushes me in the direction of softer renderings, playing with time, elements of non-linear editing, more creative colour grades, and essentially going the exact opposite of the video look.  A pretty good compass is that if someone with a P4K or P6K and Sigma 18-35mm says I should do something, I should do the opposite!

I don't yet know what lenses will best give this aesthetic, but I do know that I don't want to shoot RAW as my shooting ratio is high and file sizes become ridiculous, and due to compressed files always being sharpened I don't want overly sharp lenses.

I find myself in so many different scenarios that trying to separate things out in this way doesn't quite work, so I'll start with the equipment and work backwards.
I have three main cameras, and these naturally pair with certain lenses, and suggest suitability for different things:

  • GF3, which has good colour but poor 1080p codec, so really needs to be paired with super-sharp lenses.  It also lacks IBIS and any control in video mode at all, but has pretty good AF.
    • GF3 + 15mm F8 'lenscap' lens - truly pocketable, fixed focus, has the 30mm FOV, but rubbish low-light so it's day only
    • GF3 + 14mm F2.5 - still pocketable (just), but can do low(ish) light
    • GF3 + 12-35mm f2.8 - not pocketable, has OIS, flexible zoom range
  • GX85, which has good colour, good codec, IBIS, but is quite sharp (even on a 1080p timeline).  Best paired with vintage lenses to avoid the video look.
    • GX85 + 12.5mm F1.9 - ~35mm FOV, sensor coverage isn't 100% even with EIS enabled, so composition trips me up sometimes.
    • GX85 + 28mm F2.8 + SB - 44mm FOV (not too far away from 35mm) and shallower DoF than the 12.5mm (even at F4)
    • GX85 + 28-70mm + SB - 44-110mm FOV, potentially a great walk-around combo
    • GX85 + Helios + SB - 90mm FOV, lovely images
  • GH5, which is great at almost everything, but is large and doesn't have great low-light.  This is almost always paired with primes.

I currently shoot MFT, obviously, but may eventually go FF.  This lead me down a line of thinking where I realised that a FF F1.4 lens is only one stop slower than my F0.95 Voigtlanders, and if I put them on a SB then I can get the same exposure into the GH5 (which doesn't have great low-light).  
Also, because the DoF is so much shallower on FF lenses, if I matched the DoF to get the same amount of background defocus as I have now (which is useful for subject separation in the very busy environments I shoot in), then I'd only need to sacrifice one stop of light, which would be fine in most situations.

This leads to the following:

image.thumb.png.c4d8bfa064a40b6d65a4f1cf213a47b0.png

So, I would need:

  • 15mm F8 (or faster)
  • 24mm F2 (or faster)*
  • 35mm F4 (or faster)
  • 60mm F2 (or faster)*
  • 85mm F4 (or faster)

* = lenses to be used with SB on MFT prior to moving to FF.

One massive con to the whole thing is that I'd be throwing away the huge advantage that MFT has had over FF until very recently, which is the ability to gather a huge amount of light but not pair it with unusably shallow DoF.  MFT has a two-stop exposure advantage over FF for the same FoV/DoF, which I really need with the poor ISO performance of the GH5.

I suspect that this advantage will become nullified in future due to Dual-ISO, and there's no way I would buy a FF camera without that - trying to focus an 85mm at F1.4 when that exposure-level is required would be ridiculous and not show enough subject and environment so is basically a non-starter for me.

I realise that I have significant demands on my equipment that many others don't have, but I compensate for it by working really hard (as these forums give a taste of - I shoot lots of stuff no-one here sees, except maybe @mercer) and I temper my expectations too.  

Also, and this is a big one, I don't expect 4K.  Many many things become easier when you're publishing in 1080p rather than 4K.  Resolution hurts in ways that people are't willing to discuss because those that have bought into the idea don't want to hear the alternative views, despite the fact they don't jump on anyone who wants to buy a 2K Alexa...  All testing I do is "what is visible on a 1080p timeline?".  If the Alexa looks great on a 1080p timeline then why would I want more?  It's ridiculous to even contemplate, but people do.  Anyway.

Some thoughts....  @Emanuel even asked for them!

To provide some context for people that haven't seen these images already, here are some samples of the kinds of things I'm shooting.  Most of these are basically ungraded, so don't judge my colour grading 🙂 

Japan1_1.24.1.jpg

Japan2_1.58.1.jpg

Japan3_1.69.1.jpg

Japan5_1.32.1.jpg

Japan6_1.86.1.jpg

Japan7_1.10.1.jpg

Japan8_1.88.1.jpg

Japan10_1.171.1.jpg

Japan12_1.52.1.jpg

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thanks kye, seeing those flowers make me think of a project i been meaning to try with some split screen photography. Because of a short attention span, i keep forgetting to google it. However i have fixed that now. 

Lens wise and in no particular order,   i liked the voights, the taks, the rmc tokina the hexanon. That cosmicar is a bit of a dark horse isnt it i wouldn't have thought it would do so well.

For a long time now i have been thinking any well made lens made back then will perform admirably on todays cameras and it seems i'm not wrong. They also do ok against modern lenses as well not that it should be a competition. Some situations they will all exhibit some type of character, however as users, i think its up to us to either enhance or minimize that effect according to ones preferences.

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@kye Thank you again for your camera- lenses combinations and insights. I find the GX85 perfect with sharpness dialed down all the way. It is a dogma for my Panny 4K acquisition. On my G6 it was -2 for sharpness.One thing about dof and angle of view is different in my opinion. The pairing for a 7.5 f2 on mft would be a 15 f4 on ff afaik. So 17.5 0.95 would have a FF equivalent of 35 f2 and so on. I also enjoyed your perspective on using focal lengths and its purposes and intentions! The 12.5mm 1.4 Fujinon covers the GX85 in 4K with just the normal IBIS, no need for the electronic one. With abrupt and fast pans the vignetting shows for the seconds of impact though.

@webrunner5 I have an Olympus dream lens. Once acquired I will let ya know. Supposely the best in its class and hard to find for my desired price. Now isnt that a nice riddle:)

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@leslie Prices are way too high for me at the moment to get one and sofore no confession yet.:) But instead I confess of having bought the Konica 35-100mm f2.8 some time ago. Still looking for an opportunity to make it shine.

5 hours ago, mercer said:

Cosmicar lenses were made by Asahi Pentax, so it's not that much of a surprise. These were probably made in the 70s, so right after the move from Takumar m42 to Pentax K. I have a full set of Cosmicar c-mount lenses I need to test on my BMMCC.

Aweseome! You really would put many smiles on the faces of C-mount, BMMCC and BMPCC lovers. So practically on a lot of our faces.:) Interesting about the Pentax thing. I read that there are some gems under lesser know brand names. F.i. Miranda 25mm f2.8 is supposed to have the same glass like its Zeiss counterpart. Same with Minolta and Leica 2.8, though I wouldnt call Minolta to be unknown of course.

I have a full set of Tevidons and some doubles, just missing the 100mm F2.8. Mounting and adapting these is a sucker though. Have mounted a C-mount version of the 35mm on my S1, using some gaffer tape to adjust the flange. It works perfect in S35! Mounting it with my mft adapter on my GX85 does not work. None of the others mount adequately on neither my S1 or GX85. The doubles are all in Tevidon mount, so even more variables with the Tevidon to C-mount adapter, which you subsitute for the Tevidon bayonet and screw directly on the lens. I mean this thread is about vintage lenses, so hopefully you won´t mind this little excourse @kye🙂

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24 minutes ago, PannySVHS said:

@leslie Prices are way too high for me at the moment to get one and sofore no confession yet.:) But instead I confess of having bought the Konica 35-100mm f2.8 some time ago. Still looking for an opportunity to make it shine.

Aweseome! You really would put many smiles on the faces of C-mount, BMMCC and BMPCC lovers. So practically on a lot of our faces.:) Interesting about the Pentax thing. I read that there are some gems under lesser know brand names. F.i. Miranda 25mm f2.8 is supposed to have the same glass like its Zeiss counterpart. Same with Minolta and Leica 2.8, though I wouldnt call Minolta to be unknown of course.

I have a full set of Tevidons and some doubles, just missing the 100mm F2.8. Mounting and adapting these is a sucker though. Have mounted a C-mount version of the 35mm on my S1, using some gaffer tape to adjust the flange. It works perfect in S35! Mounting it with my mft adapter on my GX85 does not work. None of the others mount adequately on neither my S1 or GX85. The doubles are all in Tevidon mount, so even more variables with the Tevidon to C-mount adapter, which you subsitute for the Tevidon bayonet and screw directly on the lens. I mean this thread is about vintage lenses, so hopefully you won´t mind this little excourse @kye🙂

I hadn't heard that about the Miranda. Interesting. I know that some of the Yashica ML lenses were made in the same factory as the Zeiss Contax and supposedly Yashica used some of the Zeiss glass. I have the 50mm f/2 and the 28mm 2.8, but the 50mm 1.7 and the 24mm 2.8 are supposed to be the real jewels.

The Cosmicars are nice lenses... I have the 12.5, 25mm, 50mm and the 75mm. I was thinking about getting an FP and hoping that the 50mm would just cover the FF sensor.

I also have the 10mm Zeiss Tevidon in the bayonet mount. I bought the c-mount for it but haven't gotten around to installing it yet.

My new favorite lens is the older Sigma 50mm 1.4... the EX DG. I've never used the Art version but I hear it's even better. My only issue with it is that the focus ring is horrible. It makes you want to buy the cine version of the lens. Here's a couple test shots from it...

2C2A11CC-8717-4AF6-A252-BB094A06EC00.thumb.jpeg.b11cdba7260dbf4968aba7189e1b0961.jpeg

B06538FE-B54A-42E8-AADA-376518EF59D0.thumb.jpeg.7fb4e0d263801b23fb51360c893b547d.jpeg

 

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On 12/30/2021 at 3:28 AM, PannySVHS said:

The Takumar and Cosmicar look the most impressive to me. The Pentax for its overall quality, the Cosmicar in regard that it´s just a TV lens for 16mm or super 15 image circle. Colors and contrast and resolution just look right. Thanks for the test, put the Takumar on my radar.

I've been digesting these images for a while now, and in previous tests it's always been the Cosmicar (Pentax) and the Helios that stood out the most, but I must admit that the Meyer 50/1.8 has really attracted my eye.  It's very new (to me!)  and this is the first test I've included it in and I must say it really holds its own..

I also like the Tokina RMC zoom.  Of course, it has a couple of stops of advantage over the F2 lenses, but I bought it as a walk-around lens for the GX85 (44-100mm equivalent) and I'm really happy with it for this purpose.  I'm yet to use it for real, but the images from it are great.

The Takumar 55/1.8 is a funny lens.  I've owned it a long time and tested it before and it has a particular rendering..  I wouldn't call it "painterly" but it's definitely *something*...   but it's 2D as hell.  Despite the fast aperture and blurring the backgrounds well, the images just lack depth.  I found that in previous tests with all my Takumars.

On 12/30/2021 at 11:24 AM, webrunner5 said:

The Takumars for the money I think are pretty hard to beat. If you win the Lotto the Voigtlanders are probably top of the pile, not counting the best at low light. Most other older stuff tops out at f2.8.

Don't rule out the old Olympus film Zuiko's. Their size is hard to beat. Poor mans Leica lenses.

Great to see you back! 🙂 

I must say that I thought the Voigts were too soft wide open for me, but I've since developed and explored my tastes, and found that this isn't really the case any more.  What I haven't shown here is that you can sharpen them up a bit and adjust the magenta hue and the wide-open images fit much better with those stopped down.  

22 hours ago, leslie said:

thanks kye, seeing those flowers make me think of a project i been meaning to try with some split screen photography. Because of a short attention span, i keep forgetting to google it. However i have fixed that now. 

Lens wise and in no particular order,   i liked the voights, the taks, the rmc tokina the hexanon. That cosmicar is a bit of a dark horse isnt it i wouldn't have thought it would do so well.

For a long time now i have been thinking any well made lens made back then will perform admirably on todays cameras and it seems i'm not wrong. They also do ok against modern lenses as well not that it should be a competition. Some situations they will all exhibit some type of character, however as users, i think its up to us to either enhance or minimize that effect according to ones preferences.

Lenses are a funny thing, and I definitely agree that it's up to us to enhance or minimise their character as we choose.  That's definitely how cinematographers think of them - as spices to compliment the specifics of a project.

What is interesting to me is that some of the things that cinematographers rely on lenses to do can easily be done in post, some other things can be done in post but require extreme effort, and other things are impossible in post.  I once caused a borderline-argument between a guy from ILM and a senior colourist over this very topic - I asked what could be done in post to emulate a vintage lens look (just a generic one - nothing accurate) and the colourists were saying "nothing" and the ILM guy said that they do it all the time with compositing.  I think the point of friction was the colourists (quite rightly) not wanting every client to read that and then expect miracles for free on every job.

Fincher even shot Mindhunter on modern-looking lenses and added in the vintage effects in post:
https://thefincheranalyst.com/2018/08/29/color-grading-netflixs-mindhunter/

There's a video somewhere of the colourist Eric Weidt stepping through his node trees in Baselight that was fascinating.

21 hours ago, PannySVHS said:

@kye Thank you again for your camera- lenses combinations and insights. I find the GX85 perfect with sharpness dialed down all the way. It is a dogma for my Panny 4K acquisition. On my G6 it was -2 for sharpness.One thing about dof and angle of view is different in my opinion. The pairing for a 7.5 f2 on mft would be a 15 f4 on ff afaik. So 17.5 0.95 would have a FF equivalent of 35 f2 and so on. I also enjoyed your perspective on using focal lengths and its purposes and intentions! The 12.5mm 1.4 Fujinon covers the GX85 in 4K with just the normal IBIS, no need for the electronic one. With abrupt and fast pans the vignetting shows for the seconds of impact though.

@webrunner5 I have an Olympus dream lens. Once acquired I will let ya know. Supposely the best in its class and hard to find for my desired price. Now isnt that a nice riddle:)

You're right about the Aperture DoF equivalents...  I forgot that the DoF emulations take into account the camera you select and I'd omitted that in my comparisons.  I had seen that discrepancy some time ago in other setting but hadn't explored further until now.

The table should be:

image.thumb.png.9f739fc5526b32041908f3e2bdd388ff.png

The red indicates that there isn't an 11mm FF rectilinear lens (or one that I could afford anyway!) so I'd keep the Laowa 7.5mm F2 lens on MFT until I went to FF.

2 hours ago, Grimor said:

The konica hexanon 40mm is really really sharp.

I used to use it as an anamorphic taking lens but the "dracula's coffin" bokeh is very distracting.

Wish it had more blades!

I actually stopped using it because it wasn't sharp - wide-open at least.  I have two copies and neither is good wide open.

Here are the 2X crops - you'll see that it doesn't compare well with other lenses.  Maybe stopped down it's sharp, but what's the point of buying a fast lens if you can't use the first few stops?

GH5 Vintage vs Voigt test_1.26.1.jpg

Not as sharp as......

GH5 Vintage vs Voigt test_1.30.1.jpg

GH5 Vintage vs Voigt test_1.22.1.jpg

GH5 Vintage vs Voigt test_1.18.1.jpg

GH5 Vintage vs Voigt test_1.60.1.jpg

The Konica has a reputation online as being one of the sharpest lenses ever made.  I'm not sure where that comes from really.

1 hour ago, 1Ale82 said:

The Takumars look impressive! By the way, are these the SMC version?

Nope..  both are "Super-Takumar".  I haven't compared the various coatings of different Takumars, but I suspect that it's like all things on the internet where there will be a few percent difference between them and the best ones sell for 5x the price, despite only being 4% better...

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One thing that I alluded to above, but is worth elaborating on, is the match of cameras to lenses.  In particular, codecs vs lenses.

My GF3 has a 14Mbps 1080p codec, and zero controls in movie mode.  However, it's small and I don't mind losing it so it's the perfect form-factor for shooting with abandon.  If I lost it I'd probably replace it.

My GX85, however, has a 100Mbps 4K codec, and is larger and more expensive.  

So the question of optimum sharpness needs to be tested, which I did*.....

(* because hard work makes the dream work)

 

1 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GF3 12-35mm + BPM at 12mm unknown aperture.jpg

2 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GF3 12-35mm + BPM at 35mm unknown aperture.jpg

3 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GF3 Yashica 28mm + SB at F2.8.jpg

4 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GF3 Yashica 28mm + SB at F4.jpg

5 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GF3 Mir 37mm + SB at F2.8.jpg

6 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GF3 Mir 37mm + SB at F4.jpg

7 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GF3 Helios 58mm + SB at F2.jpg

8 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GF3 Helios 58mm + SB at F2.8.jpg

10 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 12-35mm + BPM at 12mm at F2.8.jpg

11 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 12-35mm + BPM at 35mm at F2.8.jpg

12 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 (EIS) Cosmicar 12.5mm at F1.9.jpg

13 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 (EIS) Cosmicar 12.5mm at F2.8.jpg

14 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 (EIS) Cosmicar 12.5mm at F4.jpg

15 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 Miranda 28mm + SB at F2.8.jpg

16 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 Miranda 28mm + SB at F4.jpg

17 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 Miranda 28mm + SB at F5.6.jpg

18 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 Yashica 28mm + SB at F2.8.jpg

19 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 Yashica 28mm + SB at F4.jpg

20 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 MIR 37mm + SB at F2.8.jpg

21 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness GX85 MIR 37mm + SB at F4.jpg

22 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness Helios 58mm + SB at F2.jpg

23 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness Helios 58mm + SB at F2.8.jpg

24 GF3 vs GX85 lens sharpness Helios 58mm + SB at F4.jpg

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Ignore the colours and exposures, these were likely set to auto.

This is the test where I established that:

  • with sharp lenses (like the 12-35mm) that the GF3 is still usable, for my purposes anyway
  • the Mir 37mm isn't sharp enough for me, regardless of codec (it's also slow and has a terrible minimum focus distance!)
  • I prefer the softer lenses on the GX85, but that with a bit of processing (not shown) that I could soften them up in post sufficiently if required
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