Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?  (Read 3683 times)

kj

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3
Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« on: March 31, 2017, 10:24:06 pm »

I'm curious about the interest in adapting older lenses for use with new MF sensors, such as the GFX. There's a lot of dialog here (and elsewhere) about that; including the various options and test results, and it seems like even in the past some frustration that Hasselblad and Phase are closed systems that don't allow such combinations. When test results are provided, it's most often about the obvious issues of vignetting, CA, or other characteristics, with no commentary on image quality degradation due to limited resolution of older glass.

My understanding (which might be wrong, so please educate me) is that resolution (lp/mm) of larger format lenses was not as crucial as for small lenses, given the surface area of film available, to still yield a great print when enlarged. Since smaller formats expose over a smaller area, they as a result require higher resolution to deliver a quality print. Is that right? With that understanding, I thought LF lenses usually had lower resolution than MF lenses, which similarly required less resolution than 35mm lenses.

If in fact modern lenses made for digital sensors with smaller and smaller pixel sizes have demanded improved optics for full-frame cameras--and most legacy MF or LF lenses were great, but on much larger areas of film, why work so hard to adapt them rather than use modern MF lenses designed and optimized for current generation MF sensors? It seems to potentially be putting inadequate resolution optics in front of ultra-high resolution sensors.

I recognize that cost might play a factor if one already had film-era lenses with large enough image circles. On the other hand, if I were to consider shelling out the cash for even the lower-priced MF sensors (645Z, X1D, GFX), why would I risk compromising on image quality with less-than-optimized lenses? I can see in the case of Otus, Sigma Art, and Canikon T/S that are modern (and therefore have high lp/mm resolution) why they might be attractive if the image circles would cover the sensor properly, but otherwise don't understand the flurry of activity to adapt old glass.

Thanks in advance for helping me understand resolution and it's effect on digital MF image quality.

Ken
Logged

dchew

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1019
    • Dave Chew Photography
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2017, 11:07:45 pm »

In general, you are probably correct that newer glass can deliver higher resolution than older glass. But I think what you find is, the old lenses people are grabbing up are stellar lenses that are the exception to that generalization. Often they are not cheaper but they can be smaller and lighter than their modern counterparts because they don't have autofocus. Hasselblad's 250/350 super achromat's are examples. Also the Leica R180 f/2.8 apo.

I don't know of many wide angles that fit the category. There are some older symmetrical designs that may be great in the resolution category, but have exit pupils too close to the sensor. That induces color cast issues and corner "smearing" so they are not good options.

Dave
Logged

jng

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 150
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2017, 11:49:54 pm »

While it may seem penny-wise and pound-foolish to use old legacy lenses on a camera/back that cost five figures, as Dave notes some of these can deliver excellent results in a compact package. Also the reality for some of us who pursue photography as an avocation, spending $5-6K+ for each lens in 4-5 lens kit is, well, just not realistic.

Re: wide angle lenses - the Hassy V system 40mm IF CFE (retrofocus design) renders beautifully on a full frame MFDB but is also somewhat pricey. I'm still searching for a 250mm Superachromat in good condition...

John
Logged

ErikKaffehr

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11296
    • Echophoto
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2017, 12:17:34 am »

Hi,

Good question and some good answers posted. But it may be that many users are looking for specific characteristics, like large apertures. Just as an example, there is a market for f/0.95 lenses for 24x35 mm. That is not about sharpness, lack of vignetting and low flare but about traits different from that.

In many cases it may also be that folks have a cache of lenses and look for a camera to put them on.

Just as an example, when I got my A7rII I planned to use my Hasselblad and Pentax lenses for tilt and shift work, but soon enough I sort of realised that I didn't want to carry 2-3 extra lenses with focal lengths that didn't match my needs. On the other hand I needed manual aperture for the stuff I am doing. So, I ended up with a Contax/Yashica Zeiss Zoom, works really well on the A7rII.

Best regards
Erik

I'm curious about the interest in adapting older lenses for use with new MF sensors, such as the GFX. There's a lot of dialog here (and elsewhere) about that; including the various options and test results, and it seems like even in the past some frustration that Hasselblad and Phase are closed systems that don't allow such combinations. When test results are provided, it's most often about the obvious issues of vignetting, CA, or other characteristics, with no commentary on image quality degradation due to limited resolution of older glass.

My understanding (which might be wrong, so please educate me) is that resolution (lp/mm) of larger format lenses was not as crucial as for small lenses, given the surface area of film available, to still yield a great print when enlarged. Since smaller formats expose over a smaller area, they as a result require higher resolution to deliver a quality print. Is that right? With that understanding, I thought LF lenses usually had lower resolution than MF lenses, which similarly required less resolution than 35mm lenses.

If in fact modern lenses made for digital sensors with smaller and smaller pixel sizes have demanded improved optics for full-frame cameras--and most legacy MF or LF lenses were great, but on much larger areas of film, why work so hard to adapt them rather than use modern MF lenses designed and optimized for current generation MF sensors? It seems to potentially be putting inadequate resolution optics in front of ultra-high resolution sensors.

I recognize that cost might play a factor if one already had film-era lenses with large enough image circles. On the other hand, if I were to consider shelling out the cash for even the lower-priced MF sensors (645Z, X1D, GFX), why would I risk compromising on image quality with less-than-optimized lenses? I can see in the case of Otus, Sigma Art, and Canikon T/S that are modern (and therefore have high lp/mm resolution) why they might be attractive if the image circles would cover the sensor properly, but otherwise don't understand the flurry of activity to adapt old glass.

Thanks in advance for helping me understand resolution and it's effect on digital MF image quality.

Ken
Logged
Erik Kaffehr
 

beano_z

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 15
    • f/13 photography
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2017, 12:24:43 am »

Not sure whether I've posted this before, but another aim is to obtain the characteristics of some of this old legacy lenses, like in the case of the Zeiss Distagon 50/2.8 or the Planar 110/2.0, not even speaking about some people adapting old cine lenses to get a particular look.

And yes, some of the older lenses can be stellar performers too, like the CFE 40 and the SA 250.  Below two samples were shot on the CFE 40, just to test the lens.


Dalian Zhongshan Area - 15-Dec-2016
by BB, on Flickr


Beijing Landmark Hotel - 14-Dec-2016
by BB, on Flickr

And some mandatory camera porn.....


Phase One XF And Hasselblad Lenses SMALL - 05-Feb-2017
by BB, on Flickr
Logged

beano_z

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 15
    • f/13 photography
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2017, 12:26:15 am »

Hi,

Good question and some good answers posted. But it may be that many users are looking for specific characteristics, like large apertures. Just as an example, there is a market for f/0.95 lenses for 24x35 mm. That is not about sharpness, lack of vignetting and low flare but about traits different from that.

In many cases it may also be that folks have a cache of lenses and look for a camera to put them on.

Just as an example, when I got my A7rII I planned to use my Hasselblad and Pentax lenses for tilt and shift work, but soon enough I sort of realised that I didn't want to carry 2-3 extra lenses with focal lengths that didn't match my needs. On the other hand I needed manual aperture for the stuff I am doing. So, I ended up with a Contax/Yashica Zeiss Zoom, works really well on the A7rII.

Best regards
Erik

You beat me to it..... ;D
Logged

BobShaw

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1888
    • Aspiration Images
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2017, 01:39:07 am »

I don't really think that the older lenses are working any harder than they did with the film they were made for. A 35mm film is generally regarded to be about the quality of of a 35mm 20MP digital camera these days. So if 20MP relates to 24 x 36mm then a medium format sensor of 48 x 36mm with 40MP should be no higher resolution than film. Unless you go much above 40MP then you probably don't need better lenses. Conversely if you have an APS sensor of 20MP then you need a better lens, just because it is resolving twice as much.

I think that buying old lenses is just a bit nostalgic. HC series lenses have been around for over a decade now and are reasonable priced second hand. Just buy the lens made for the camera. If you are going to go to the trouble of medium format then why bother with converters and trying to make stuff do things it wasn't designed to do. Just my opinion.
Logged
Website - http://AspirationImages.com
Fine Art Photography

Chris Livsey

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 807
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2017, 05:59:52 am »

http://www.dslrbodies.com/lenses/lens-articles/choosing-lenses/new-or-old-for-the-exotic.html

Whilst not about adapting nor medium format this recent article does discuss the only incremental improvements made in 35mm super telephotos over time with the rather larger increases in the cost of acquisition. A good lens remains a good lens.
Logged

BAB

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 414
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2017, 05:49:11 pm »

Its unfortunate that even the exact same lens could differ as much as they do, if one could shoot 50 lenses and pick the best of the bunch then I would consider that to be a great lens.
Logged
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kic

algrove

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 262
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2017, 11:45:06 am »

Even with the XF and IQ3100 some of us utilize older Mamiya 645 lenses such as the 300/2.8 or 300/4.5 and even the 500/5.6. The 300/4.5 will Af on the XF and exhibits excellent sharpness and nice contrast.

A friend borrowed by 500/5.6 for use on his S007 and found it sharp with good contrast.
Logged

MattBurt

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2827
  • Looking for that other shot
    • Matt Burt Photography
Re: Why use old glass with state of the art MF sensors?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2017, 01:56:34 pm »

For me it's mostly a cost issue but I also like using old lenses designed to be used manually if I'm working slowly (and if shooting MF that is probably how I plan to shoot).
There are also traits (flaws?) of old lenses that can add a nice retro feel to an image that new lenses do not have or do not have in the same way. Stuff like flare, vignetting, and "nervous" or swirly bokeh can add something desirable to the right photo. Flare and vignetting can of course be added in post but bokeh characteristics seem harder to synthesize.
Logged
-MattB
Pages: [1]   Go Up