help with film lens film sweet spots

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by dennis_george_miller, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. Having come back to film photography, mostly for B&W enlargements at 11x14, I have aquired some very nice older nikon lenses. Really liking your 'Favorite' opinions uses for these, I have learned that many lenses were created with sweet spots, where the effects really shined. Just wondering what lenses you enjoy the most and how you used it for that impressive effect you like, perhaps even mention the film/filters you used. Thanks, really enjoy this site! Dennis
  2. SCL


    I've always found that you really need to experiment not only with the lens but also the film. Typically, when I get a new (to me) lens, I run a sacrificial roll of (B&W) film which I think might be appropriate for how I anticipate using the lens, picking 3-4 subjects and running test shots at varying apertures. I also do some research on others' experience with the particular lens, especially one whose style matches mine. In the end, I've found that generally the "sweet spots" were about 2 stops down from wide open, the general exception for me, at least, has been most Leica RF lenses, which seem optimized wide open or closed down 1 stop. About every 5 years I run each camera body thru a testing of shutter speeds just to see if they are reliably within 10% of the stated speeds. Having once had a body where I couldn't reliably determine the sweet spot of the lens because the shutter speeds were way off and it threw exposures out of whack.
  3. Personally, I find the overall image resulting from a certain aperture (very shallow DOF, just recognizable and a little forgiving DOF, or as-much-as-possible DOF) more important than the absolute resolution or contrast at a certain setting.
    I use my 24/2.8 (incl. very old one) at f/2.8 as well as f/22. Where the last setting is certainly useable for me on film/FX-sensor (not on DX). And the 400/3.5 I use regularly on the supposedly sub-optimal (!!) f/5.6 setting, which works well on my sample.
    good luck!
  4. There has been previously published data on the "best at f..." aperture of various lenses. See for further information.
  5. I love shooting with my 105mm f2.5 AI wide open up to f4. I don't think that's the sweet spot of that lens, technically speaking, but I adore it, and I wish I could shoot more things with it than I can. I also love my 35mm f1.8 AF-S at f4 - f5.6 and my Tokina 11-16 at f5.6. I just got a 70-300 VR and have been messing a bit with it and like finally having a real telephoto lens with me.
    I love 'em all for what they're designed for, but I look for excuses to shoot with that 105, and I leave the 35 on almost all the time.
  6. Thanks for ideas. It is valuble hear what others like from their favorite lens. It seems many do consider DOF first, experimenting, and finding what they enjoy. I have a lot of work to do! :)

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