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Andrew Reid

Lenses

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9 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

For me, the only one that I probably wouldn't use on full frame would be the Helios as the edges are a bit too funky for me even at f8.

I like the funkiness of it. Looking at the close focus sample, it seemed that the Helios had more color tonality while looking at the color of the Statesman. The Leica was a very close second in that regard.

12 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

The Contax Zeiss probably offers the most though as the compromise pick as its very consistent and that little bit faster as well.

I agree, the Zeiss was a good middle ground lens. If you don’t need an extreme wide angle, the Planar and the 35-70mm zoom would make for a nice two lens set.

14 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

Like previous tests though, its all very close again and it could well come down to how easily/cheaply you can build out a set.

From that point of view, its probably Nikon.

I’ve come to the same conclusion, Nikon lenses offer too much value to IQ ratio to be ignored. I am learning that I’m much more of a one lens shooter, so a “set” for me is as simple as a 24mm and a 50mm... or a just a fast 35mm. Right now I have too many mint copies of Nikon lenses to ignore collecting a decent set and it will cost less than a lot of single lenses I’ve owned.

17 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

Although we should probably just accept the trend of the last tests and just buy a complete set of Samyangs and forget about it !

 

If I was a more decisive person, the Samyang 50mm 1.4 would be a no-brainer lens to keep. It has an interesting mixture of character and sharpness, like a modern vintage lens, that a lot of other lenses lack but it’s also a little boring as well.

Due to my lack of 50mm primes, but love of the focal length on FF, I just bought a S-M-C Takumar 50mm 1.4 I want to test against some of my other 50mm lenses... so I may have an upcoming test as well to share. 

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17 minutes ago, mercer said:

I agree, the Zeiss was a good middle ground lens. If you don’t need an extreme wide angle, the Planar and the 35-70mm zoom would make for a nice two lens set.

I got the 28-85mm and probably made a mistake not getting the 35-70mm instead.

I'm intrigued by the 40-80mm f3.5 which I must confess I didn't even know they made until quite recently.

Most of them on eBay seem to be sold from Japan so that is on the list for the next time I go.

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49 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

Although we should probably just accept the trend of the last tests and just buy a complete set of Samyangs and forget about it !

 

This be true. For video work they can't be beat overall for the money they cost. They are what most people really need. That and a few Pro Mist filters and you are set.

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32 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

I got the 28-85mm and probably made a mistake not getting the 35-70mm instead.

I'm intrigued by the 40-80mm f3.5 which I must confess I didn't even know they made until quite recently.

Most of them on eBay seem to be sold from Japan so that is on the list for the next time I go.

Same, I saw one listed the other week, and never heard of the lens... strange focal lengths for a zoom though. 

I still have a saved search for a newer copy of the 50mm 1.7. I’ve had two of the earlier serial numbers and neither wowed me but I had a newer one years ago and I REALLY liked the lens but it was on M4/3, so that was probably the reason.

For me, I have my wife’s (EDIT: HAHAHAHA, I have no idea why my autocorrect chose that nugget but luckily I also have my lenses and wife sorted out) I just need to decide on a 50mm or two and I could probably use a zoom.

In the running for the zooms are the sharp and boring Sigma 24-105mm f/4, another Canon 24-70mm f/4 for my modern lenses and maybe a Tokina 28-70mm 2.6-2.8 or the Nikon Bourne lens.

Choices, choices... I suppose you’ll say to get them all... hahaha.

28 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

This be true. For video work they can't be beat overall for the money they cost. They are what most people really need. That and a few Pro Mist filters and you are set.

My biggest issue with the Samyangs, and the Sigma for that matter, is their size. The 35mm 1.4 is considerably larger than the Canon L 35mm 1.4 and obscenely larger than the Nikkor 35mm 1.4... of course that lens is so small, it’s a miracle of FF, mirrored, lens design.

But yes, based on IQ, the Samyang lenses are a steal... especially if you get the photo version.

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I think 

5 minutes ago, webrunner5 said:

Oh I am talking about the MF Cine lenses. For FF buy the 4 T1.5 lenses. Add a really wide one later one.

So was I but I think the Cine lenses are even larger and I’ve read that there can be aperture issues.

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On ‎8‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 2:43 AM, mercer said:

 

So, what is the best vintage 50mm lens? I am kinda obsessed with the focal length on FF, and there are so many great 50mm lenses out there. So far, my two favorites are the Canon FD 50mm 1.2 L and the Nikkor 50mm f/2... two diametrically opposed lenses. I also really enjoy the Rollei Zeiss 50mm 1.8 and although not a vintage lens, the Zeiss “Classic” 50mm 1.4 ZF is an interesting lens with a buttload of character wide open with great micro contrast stopped down a little.

What does everybody else like?

The Sony Zeiss 55 1.8 has spoilt it for me so not looking for 50ish lenses anymore.

I agree that age and condition of an individual copy of a lens means you can not really compare two lenses and have that representing ALL copies of those.

That said, I have had a LOT of them and from memory would rank them for my liking something like-

1) Canon FD 50 1.2 L best legacy lens by far (though a long way behind the Sony Zeiss).

2) Sony 50 1.8 APSC stabilized AF lens if it was full frame it would be 1

3) Pentax 50 1.2 K second best legacy lens by far (I used it for around 20 years and it fell to bits from overwork and being tossed around my bag a lot even though it was extremely well built)

4) Nikon 50 1.8 AF (non D made in Japan)   A lot better than its price.

5) Canon AF nifty fifty (I just never really got to like that much though it was ok).

Below that all the rest (and there are a few) are pretty much about the same .

Not rating a ancient Biotar 58 f2 I had (tiny, lots of blades, only a single coating and no click stops).    Very sharp but very low contrast.    I liked it a lot but would not use it for many situations.

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10 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

Yeah, I agree.

Lenses and approximate average eBay prices  :

A - Nikkor 50mm f1.8 (£100)

B - Contax Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f1.7 (£130)

C - Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8 (£30)

D - Leica Summicron R 50mm f2 (£350)

E - Helios 44M 58mm f2 (£50)

One obvious candidate for the "Punching Above Its Weight" victory there.

Although it's too late to reply without knowing the lenses, I did look at them blind and my observations were:

  • B and D were obviously more modern looking glass (the contrast on the whiskey screen left was telling)
  • A and E were obviously more vintage looking with sharpness falling off towards the edges of the frame
  • C was interesting because it wasn't modern, but still had quite strong contrast on the colour chart with bright whites

I'm not surprised that @mercer liked the softer rendering of A and E, and TBH I'm not sure what I would prefer.  If I had to choose (blind) then I'd have picked B or D because I can always soften them in post if I wanted to.

I have two samples of the Helios and even on MFT where the corners are cropped, they're both still Jekyll/Hyde performers being sharp in the centre and soft on edges, and then sharp as hell when stopped down sufficiently.  

Cool test - thanks :)

9 hours ago, mercer said:

I like the funkiness of it. Looking at the close focus sample, it seemed that the Helios had more color tonality while looking at the color of the Statesman. The Leica was a very close second in that regard.

I agree, the Zeiss was a good middle ground lens. If you don’t need an extreme wide angle, the Planar and the 35-70mm zoom would make for a nice two lens set.

I’ve come to the same conclusion, Nikon lenses offer too much value to IQ ratio to be ignored. I am learning that I’m much more of a one lens shooter, so a “set” for me is as simple as a 24mm and a 50mm... or a just a fast 35mm. Right now I have too many mint copies of Nikon lenses to ignore collecting a decent set and it will cost less than a lot of single lenses I’ve owned.

If I was a more decisive person, the Samyang 50mm 1.4 would be a no-brainer lens to keep. It has an interesting mixture of character and sharpness, like a modern vintage lens, that a lot of other lenses lack but it’s also a little boring as well.

Due to my lack of 50mm primes, but love of the focal length on FF, I just bought a S-M-C Takumar 50mm 1.4 I want to test against some of my other 50mm lenses... so I may have an upcoming test as well to share. 

I was going to say that in reflecting about all the vintage lenses I bought, I think the Takumars are the best IQ for the money if you're into a softer rendering lens.  I shot my "this is not an official entry" film I posted in the $200 film challenge with the 55/1.8 on a SB on my GF3 and I really liked the rendering and the flares.  The problem for me is they focus the wrong way for my muscle memory.

9 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

Although we should probably just accept the trend of the last tests and just buy a complete set of Samyangs and forget about it !

If I was on FF I think I'd be tossing up between a set of Samyangs and a set of Takumars.  The Samyangs suit my "get a neutral image in camera then process it heavily in post" philosophy and the Takumars suit my observation that "you can't simulate everything in post" !!

8 hours ago, mercer said:

Choices, choices... I suppose you’ll say to get them all... hahaha.

If you want to buy a job-lot from some sucker who bought a bunch of vintage lenses and is too lazy to sell the ones he doesn't want then just let me know.  Asking for a friend.

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3 hours ago, kye said:

Although it's too late to reply without knowing the lenses, I did look at them blind and my observations were:

  • B and D were obviously more modern looking glass (the contrast on the whiskey screen left was telling)
  • A and E were obviously more vintage looking with sharpness falling off towards the edges of the frame
  • C was interesting because it wasn't modern, but still had quite strong contrast on the colour chart with bright whites

 

Sorry, for the early reveal !

Anyway, for a bit of sport, here are the dates of manufacture for those particular ones :

A - Nikkor 50mm f1.8  - 1990

B - Contax Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f1.7 - 1984

C - Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8 - 1980

D - Leica Summicron R 50mm f2 - 1966

E - Helios 44M 58mm f2 - 1985

 

 

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27 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

Sorry, for the early reveal !

Anyway, for a bit of sport, here are the dates of manufacture for those particular ones :

A - Nikkor 50mm f1.8  - 1990

B - Contax Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f1.7 - 1984

C - Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f2.8 - 1980

D - Leica Summicron R 50mm f2 - 1966

E - Helios 44M 58mm f2 - 1985

Yeah, that's why I said "modern looking" and "vintage looking" :)

They sure knew how to make a great lens, even back in the day..

It's interesting reading the lens threads on reduser and the language they use when talking about CP.2 or CZ or Takumar or Russian lenses.  In a sense they're even more sensitive than we are here and I imagine it might be because they're shooting in RAW (and possibly in a higher average resolution and with higher average DR than us too) so the character of a lens in terms of sharpness and micro-contrast would be more apparent.

If we take @mercer shooting RAW but only in 1080, or we take many others here shooting 4K h264 with cameras that don't allow disabling of sharpening then we require a lens with more softness in order to get the same aesthetic because the lens either has to be softer across larger pixels (1080) or first has to overcome the sharpening (h264).  Lenses are part of an image pipeline and need to be matched to the other elements at play to get the desired final image.

I still haven't worked out if I like the 4k h264 or 5k h265 mode in my GH5 yet, and I'm also yet to use some of the lenses I've settled on in the field on a real project (for example, the Konica Hexanon 40mm/1.8 which is rumoured to be one of the sharpest lenses ever made, although who knows if that's true) so footage of that is still basically theoretical.  I am still learning to grade, and also still trying to figure out what I like in a final image (although I seem to pick the highest bitrate / most expensive cameras in blind tests so there is that) so in a sense my entire image pipeline is still in flux.

I go back and forth around wanting a lens that is neutral and gets out of the way because it's sharp and has excellent performance in the corners and wide open vs a lens that lends focus by being softer and duller in the corners and has flattering of micro-contrast by being softer overall, especially when wide-open.  In this perspective I'm kind of lucky because I bought what I bought and don't really have the budget to justify going in a different direction with my choices!

I've ended up with a variety of lenses and so in a sense I've just given myself problems in post to match them, but in a way that's also a good thing because playing on a harder level of difficulty is what sharpens the mind and the senses :) 

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Yeah but like it has been said, it is not desirable to add sharpening in Post. So I want the sharpest camera output and the sharpest lens hanging off the thing. If I Need soft that day put a filter on it, rub your greasy fingers all over it, or correct it in Post. But you can't get back what you never had. And then there is no consistency to using all these odd ball lenses if you need to change focal length.

True Cine lens sets have the same T stop and the same look through the whole lens line other than extremes at each end. Some sets are all exactly the same diameter for ease of focus pulling rigs. There is good, valid reasons Pros use them. Rental Houses don't have a bunch of odd ball lenses in their inventory.

Sure for Photo you can use nearly anything. You can spend 4 days in Photoshop fiddling with that one shot if you desire to. Video is a different beast. What good is having 50 odd ball lenses when you really only need 3 or 4 damn good Cine lenses. The total cost in this day and age is probably about the same.

Even for Anamorphic I think the  Leica Summicron R 50mm f2 is a Way better lens to use than the Helios 44M 58mm f2. The Leica is in a whole different league.

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3 hours ago, webrunner5 said:

What good is having 50 odd ball lenses when you really only need 3 or 4 damn good Cine lenses. The total cost in this day and age is probably about the same.

Even for Anamorphic I think the  Leica Summicron R 50mm f2 is a Way better lens to use than the Helios 44M 58mm f2. The Leica is in a whole different league.

I think there’s a middle ground. There’s a reason why the Sigma 18-35mm is the most widely used lens by members of this site. If you go to the Red User forums or to the Cinematography dot com forums, you’ll find a different discussion. So, sometimes, at my level and skill set, you have to balance priorities.

Would I like to use a set of Cooke Panchros or Zeiss Super Speeds? Of course I would, but it’s just not realistic.

Is the Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 a better lens than the Helios? Yes, without a doubt. But at $400+ is it that much better than the $150 Zeiss Planar 1.7 or that much better than the $85 Nikkor 50mm 1.8?

A lot of the most respected films of all time were shot with one lens. In FF terms, they were mostly shot with focal lengths between 28mm and 50mm. So there is something to be said for finding your favorite focal length and spending some money on it. 

But also, at my level, the likelihood of my work even being seen is a long shot and if it is, it will most likely be viewed on a phone. And the biggest takeaway, for me, from that test... is that phones are a big equalizer.

With that being said, I think most shooters would benefit from finding what they like in an image and buying the best lens they can afford that offers those qualities.

In the end, story is king and most audience members will never notice, nor care about the attributes or flaws of the lens used.

But filmmaking is a visual art, so if the swirly bokeh of the Helios can evoke an emotion or have an effect on your story, then there’s no reason not to use it.

Or if that’s all you can afford, go make the best movie you can make with it.

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7 hours ago, kye said:

They sure knew how to make a great lens, even back in the day..

Yeah, it’s pretty crazy how many great vintage lenses there are out there that are older than I am and holding up a lot better.

My Canon FD 50mm 1.2 L is a gorgeous lens and has been touted as the most advanced manual focus 50mm lens ever made but if you pit that lens against a modem L lens, the modern lens has a distinct and obvious advantage... mostly with sharpness. 

What blows my mind is when I watch older movies and see how sharp and organic 50 year old cinema lenses are. I assume the upres process helps with that a little though. As much as a phone can be an equalizer, I think higher resolutions can be as well. 

With all of that being said, I think @webrunner5 makes a valid point about owning too many lenses. Now I am just a hobbyist narrative filmmaker that enjoys testing out different lenses. But if you look at some of the really good cinematographers that show their work online, they often only own a few lenses.

I am a big fan of Matteo Bertoli’s work and I believe he mostly uses two lenses... a Takumar 50mm 1.4 and a Canon FD 24mm 2.8. I’m sure he’s used great lenses but for a lot of his personal work, he posts online, those two lenses are very prevalent.

So again, for me, my goal is to whittle down my collection so I have a couple lenses in my 3 favorite focal lengths. My end goal is 10 lenses or less, but hopefully closer to 5.

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1 minute ago, mercer said:

What blows my mind is when I watch older movies and see how sharp and organic 50 year old cinema lenses are. I assume the upres process helps with that a little though. As much as a phone can be an equalizer, I think higher resolutions can be as well. 

Couldn't agree more.

Right now I'm browsing through a ton of free (or public domain) stock footage and almost all the shots I like come from ~WW II or 1960s.

They are more detailed, more flexible, more good loking than anything shot at the beginning of 21th century.

 

Really recommend taking a look at pond5's The Public Domain Project (https://www.pond5.com/free)

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5 minutes ago, heart0less said:

Couldn't agree more.

Right now I'm browsing through a ton of free (or public domain) stock footage and almost all the shots I like come from ~WW II or 1960s.

They are more detailed, more flexible, more good loking than anything shot at the beginning of 21th century.

 

Really recommend taking a look at pond5's The Public Domain Project (https://www.pond5.com/free)

Thanks for the link, I’ll check that out. I love anything from the 50s through mid 80s. The image doesn’t feel like real life but it’s still detailed and vibrant and breathes.

Another aspect of still lenses that I find very interesting is that a lot of lens manufacturers used the same glass and coatings on their still lenses that were used with the cinema lenses.

For instance, for Taxi Driver, Scorsese used Zeiss Super Speeds to shoot that film. The triangular bokeh in the night scenes where Deniro drove his taxi cab is a pretty famous visual. Well, Rollei Zeiss lenses share the same glass, with the same coatings, and the 35mm and 85mm 1.4 lenses even share the triangular iris as the super speeds. With modern Zeiss lenses the ZF Zeiss Classics share the same glass and coatings as the much more expensive Zeiss CP.2 lenses. 

Canon K-35 cinema lenses, which Canon won a technical achievement Oscar for, are believed to be cinema versions of their FD aspherical lenses.

I think it’s pretty damn cool that some of the lenses that the Gods that came before us used are attainable to us mere mortals in their still versions on the used market. 

There’s a historical pedigree we get to be a part of... a visual appreciation to the Masters that came before us. 

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8 hours ago, kye said:

It's interesting reading the lens threads on reduser and the language they use when talking about CP.2 or CZ or Takumar or Russian lenses.  In a sense they're even more sensitive than we are here and I imagine it might be because they're shooting in RAW (and possibly in a higher average resolution and with higher average DR than us too) so the character of a lens in terms of sharpness and micro-contrast would be more apparent.

I think there is an interesting aspect involved in those discussions there, particularly with something like the original Contax Zeiss Survival Guide thread, that originates from when the RED ONE was released.

The camera was obviously attracting a lot of people that were "buying up" to it from a very indie background that up until that point were getting their cinema look from adapted camcorders with spinning ground glass 35mm adapters. I know because I was one of them ;) 

To say there was some sticker shock at suddenly having to look at buying PL lenses would be something of an understatement so obviously everyone was looking to do what they had done before and use stills lenses on it.

Because of that, it was probably the first time that there was a platform, in terms of both camera and forum, for meaningful comparisons between stills and cine lenses.

To me, at least, there is an emotional element to some of the language used there around lenses that is related to and biased from whichever side of the line people were coming to that camera from and its just become the lingua franca for lens discussions on there and beyond since.

So I don't necessarily think they are more sensitive to it just that they have been using the language for longer.

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13 hours ago, kye said:

I was going to say that in reflecting about all the vintage lenses I bought, I think the Takumars are the best IQ for the money if you're into a softer rendering lens.  I shot my "this is not an official entry" film I posted in the $200 film challenge with the 55/1.8 on a SB on my GF3 and I really liked the rendering and the flares.  The problem for me is they focus the wrong way for my muscle memory.

I don’t think I’m as picky as the more seasoned shooters around here. I can show you an image from a lens I like but I may not be able to put into words why I like it. Filmmaking is a visual, visceral art form, I don’t need to know why I like it, it just needs to evoke some kind of emotional response.

As far as the Takumars being soft, I think that’s only the case if you’re shooting wide open. And although I am a fan of shallow depth of field, in narrative filmmaking there aren’t many shots where you really need a 1.4 and most Takumars are tack sharp when stopped down a notch or two... that’s one of the benefits of those lenses... it’s like you’re getting two lenses in one. The opposite focus direction can take a little to get used to, but you do get used to it and fairly quickly in my experience. 

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25 minutes ago, mercer said:

Thanks for the link, I’ll check that out. I love anything from the 50s through mid 80s. The image doesn’t feel like real life but it’s still detailed and vibrant and breathes.

Another aspect of still lenses that I find very interesting is that a lot of lens manufacturers used the same glass and coatings on their still lenses that were used with the cinema lenses.

For instance, for Taxi Driver, Scorsese used Zeiss Super Speeds to shoot that film. The triangular bokeh in the night scenes where Deniro drove his taxi cab is a pretty famous visual. Well, Rollei Zeiss lenses share the same glass, with the same coatings, and the 35mm and 85mm 1.4 lenses even share the triangular iris as the super speeds. With modern Zeiss lenses the ZF Zeiss Classics share the same glass and coatings as the much more expensive Zeiss CP.2 lenses. 

Canon K-35 cinema lenses, which Canon won a technical achievement Oscar for, are believed to be cinema versions of their FD aspherical lenses.

I think it’s pretty damn cool that some of the lenses that the Gods that came before us used are attainable to us mere mortals in their still versions on the used market. 

There’s a historical pedigree we get to be a part of... a visual appreciation to the Masters that came before us. 

That would be a great website wouldn't it?

Put in a film you like and it tells you what lenses were used and the nearest suspected stills equivalent.

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