Film era lenses vs the modern ones.

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by RaymondC, May 30, 2020.

  1. Hi,

    I was just playing around with my RB67 in particular. Perhaps I am used to my dSLR with the modern lenses and took it for granted. I've been checking the focus of my RB67 with a thin piece of ground glass at the back of the camera on the film plane and verify that my viewfinder is in sync. Long story short nothing wrong with my camera.

    1. Are the film era lenses especially wide open not quite as sharp as modern lenses today with the aperture wide open?
    2. Is it a tough ask to shoot 6x7 medium format at a rather close distance by extending the bellows out and shoot the aperture wide open and expect eg ..the eyes to be in focus and not the eye lashes ....?

    So maybe I've been expecting the camera to meet my expectations rather than adapting myself to the camera ..... Even with modern digital cameras they use live-view or teethered to a computer screen right ....

    Keen to hear your thoughts.

  2. The issue is more with the focussing systems of film cameras than their lenses. I've yet to find an SLR viewfinder that gives accurate focus every time. Not without using an auxillary magnifying device.

    Split-image screens only work if you've got a fine, dead-straight line or edge in the right place and in the right orientation on the subject - in short, pretty useless 99% of the time. Microprisms don't work well unless you have fine detail or texture in the subject. The only thing that works reliably is a plain, fine-ground spot plus magnifier, but that's slow and needs good light on the subject.
    No they're not, but....

    The last thing you usually need to worry about is the lens quality. Most of the top name-brand optics were more than good enough for film use. You have to remember that film, and especially colour film, has an emulsion depth. This means that it's technically impossible to get a zero point-spread image and perfect focus, even if the lens used was absolutely aberration free.
    peter_fowler likes this.
  3. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    Checking accuracy of focus is done through collimation, involving the check at 3 places on the surface of the focusing screen, and any adjustments made according to the camera, for example, the Pentax 6x7 (1969 version onward), this involves slight adjustment of the shims beneath the focusing screen. Later Pentax 67 (1989 onward) are spring loaded and usually do not require physical collimation. The reference to the Pentax cameras is just one example of many applying to MF cameras with their own specifics for achieving precise focus.

    Analogue lenses usually can be used on digital camera bodies (e.g. Canon's L-series lenses), but the reverse is not usually true due to digital communication pathways being non-existent between the lens and the camera body. Not to say that people have tried this with a converter (with varying levels of success, often only getting an in-focus confirmation light). Again taking Canon's L-series lenses as an example (but also Nikon's) there are all manner of lenses in the stable that perform beautifully wide open on film and digital, chiefly due to combinations of CaF2 (synthetic calcium fluorite), LD or ULD glass. The best quality of focus is achieved with a true macro lens and absolute stillness, which applies equally to the subject being photographed and the camera, which must be stabilised and controlled with supplementary effort such as mirror lock-up and self-timer to separate mirror slap and drive inertia. A supplementary variable magnifier that attaches to the viewfinder during macro work is also very useful if your eyes are compromised in any way, particularly with glasses.
  4. "Film era"? Check photo shops regarding sales of film. Sales are picking up, in fact some film manufacturers are increasing production and adding many younger people are getting into film, possibly found mom's or dad's old camera and tried it or just tired of their digital or phone cameras. I believe that your RB-67 will give you more satisfaction than your digital camera, plus you will always have negatives from which to print after your digital files have been accidentally erased never to be retrieved. The RB-67 will be useful long after your digital camera has become a non functioning paperweight.
  5. Don't start. Show us the industry numbers, please(crickets chirping). Otherwise, this is just the tired old magical thinking about a film "revival."
  6. Google a bit yourself. We'll wait (crickets chirping)

    Film sales (and presumably use) had dropped from about 1 billion roles per annum worldwide to a meagre 20 million. 2%.
    However, since hitting that low, film sales have steadily increased. Not by much, as far as approaching those 1 billion of yesteryears is concerned. But 5% increase per year, speeding up to 10%, 20% or more (Kodak, for instance, reported their sales have doubled in the last 4 years) in the last years... still not bad.

    But you do not have to worry about film replacing digital again. Or what is it you're worried about?
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
    peter_fowler likes this.
  7. On a whim, I bought a simple adapter which lets me attach Hasselblad V lenses to a high resolution digital camera, a Somy A7Riii. The focal length, aperture and focusing behave exactly the same as when used in a Hasselblad body, but with a cropped field of view. Of course you must do two things, place the aperture in DOF preview mode, and make sure the shutter is open (cocked).

    The performance is comparable to lenses made specifically for the Sony. There is little distortion or chromatic aberration, and no noticeable vignetting, which is hardly surprising since you're using only the center of the image circle. Focusing is easy and very accurate on the Sony. Just click on the focus magnification for 5x or 12x. Image stabilization (IBIS) is fully functional, if you dial in the focal length. Because the back focus distance is so large, there is no noticeable distortion due to the cover glass thickness in the corners.

    The question is whether it is practical to use lenses which weigh as much as the body, no wider than 40 mm or longer (in my case) than 250 mm. I give a qualified "Yes" if you make use of the huge field of view with a shift/tilt adapter. Such an adapter exists, in the vicinity of $200. I don't see it as practical for architecture, because the shortest focal length is too long. Using tilt for landscapes is a possibility.

    For best results, you should use a macro lens with a bellows for magnification greater than about 1:4 down to 1:1 or greater.
  8. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    Excuse me, but I do not consider you to be knowledgeable or in touch with the industry or practice (consumer or professional) in relation to analogue. You can pretend to be, but some things are obvious to me that suggest otherwise.
  9. What you think of me is irrelevant. But do show us the "obvious" data that I've missed--not percentages but hard, times series data of production and sales. To me the surest index of collapse remains the graveyards full of labs that the "resurgence" failed to re-animate. Sure, film is still sold, shot and processed but it's not gone beyond a residual market. Anecdotes aren't data.
  10. You understand the logic, C, of a decline down to 2%, turned round into an increase by on average maybe 8% per year for, say, ten years not being enough for all labs that were at one time processing 1 billion rolls to survive? And that, though small, we see a resurgence, not a decline? (Going by those 8% per year, sales will have about doubled in ten years. So still only about 4% of those 1 billion. But growth in percentages is steady, increasing even, so this speeds up quite nicely.)
    You appear to be able to predict where that resurgence will end. Based on what? Want to share?
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  11. Sorry but you haven't got the numbers those % increases are based on. Show me those and we can talk. Otherwise...

    Recall that Kodak went broke in early 2012 and resurfaced in 2013 as a very different company.

    Probably best to return to the OP's topic if you're that innumerate.
  12. What measure of sales, volume or revenue? Prices for film are up, which could more than compensate for a loss of sales volume.

    Industry statistics can be misleading, often deliberately so. I read that sales of vinyl records now exceeds that of CDs. The reason is that CD sales have nearly tanked. People listen to digital tracks, not physical discs. I record professionally, and I haven't delivered more than a handful of CDs or DVDs in the last two years.
    Jochen likes this.
  13. Ideally you should check focus with an autocollimator, not a ground glass at the film plane. That's because the ground glass is too perfect and the film is likely not quite in that plane. Or, shoot an inclined target like a ruler. That's not the best way with AF digital, but it should be fine for manually focused film.
  14. You want numbers instead of numbers?
    Use Google, as suggested before.

    How is Kodak's history as former and present maker of photographic film relevant? Numbers, please!
  15. The inclined ruler is a very good tool.
  16. Hilarious. Resurgence? You seem to have forgotten you need to document that, not me. Show us financial statements, say for the last decade or longer, for both Fujifilm and Kodak Alaris, to illustrate the "trend." Otherwise, you're just outgassing about uncomfortable realities.
  17. As I said ask at your photo dealer. Film is enjoying a slow resurgence and is said by many that it will
  18. My, my I seem to have opened up a PANDORA'S BOX for nasty replies. I merely stated a fact, film is enjoying a resurgence, admittedly small however steady. It is interesting to find so many angry self righteous people on a photo forum..
  19. c_watson appears to have not only an inflated ego but also an anger management problem.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  20. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    A brief search online will support, via many sources, a modest increase in the use of film. It will never develop to anything like the scale it enjoyed in the past, but is likely to remain alive to support enthusiasts.
    Returning to the original subject, my film era Nikon lenses work very well on my digital cameras, Nikon as well as Mirrorless. Surprisingly well, in fact. That said, I would rather test lenses by use and outcome than metric.

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