Rating Lenses: JDM’s Rule(s) of Thumb

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. A query in another thread led me to contemplate the rating of lenses.

    In subjective terms, on a scale from 0 (worst) to 10 (best), any lens with “Zeiss” engraved on it will rate 2 points higher than a lens without that word. “Planar” or “Biotar” is worth another +1.

    On the other hand, any Zeiss lens made between 1946 and 1989 that has the word “Jena” on it will have its total rating reduced by 1.

    The subjective rating of any lens with Cyrillic inscriptions or the word “Industar” will be rated -2, unless it was made on a Monday or Friday, in which case it will be rated -3.

    These ratings corrections apply only to ratings compiled on the "you can see the difference" basis.
    As an unrelated, odd, but objective fact, it has been widely noted by management that 40% of all workplace absences occur on Friday and Monday
  2. If it cost less than 50, add 2. Between 50 and 500, no change. More than 500, add 2.
    If it's got a weird name like Batis or Art, add 3.
  3. On the other hand, any Zeiss lens made between 1946 and 1989 that has the word “Jena” on it will have its total rating reduced by 1.​
    Only -1? I would rate -1 up to 1960 and -3 after that. Nice and arbitrary.
    Leica or Leitz +3
    Canon "L" +2
    Any old Canon EF -2
    Canon FD +1
    Pentax Super Multicoated Takumar +1 (vs Super Takumar)
    Any Cyrillic -5
    Any other Germanic connotation +2 (Schneider, Rodenstock, Alpa)
    This is fun...
  4. This is one of the funniest photography threads I've seen in a good while. Good one, JDM!

    I'm trying to figure out exactly where Spiratone lenses should be placed -- minus 3 for quality or +3 for humor & historic
    value, eg their right angle mirror lens.

    Tom M
  5. Leica or Leitz +3​
    Only? Any Leica or Leitz will be off ANY scale! Or at least +1 or +2 above Zeiss. Except those Leitz lenses developed by Minolta or Panasonic, of course. Even though they do as well - it's all about appearances.
  6. SCL


    The Spiratone 400/6.3 "girlwatcher" preset gets a +1/2 automatically, but you need to boost contrast and sharpness in post processing (no kidding...stopped down to about f/11 it is a terrific lens).
  7. Thanks JDM!
    This thread will run for a while. Good topic and lead-in.
    All of the lenses I own and use regularly were made on a Wednesday.
  8. Love it. :) Angenieux gets +5 because they're not that common and very desirable. In the context of movies, cinema lenses get +10 because a) you're making life easier for your focus puller and b) the crew has confidence that you obviously know what you're doing. For Cooke, add another +1.
    One objection to Robin's scale: L can be +1 but FD ought to be +2.
  9. Do FD and L add up?
  10. Angenieux gets +5
    L can be +1 but FD ought to be +2.​
    Can't disagree.
    Sigma/Minolta/Leica/Panasonic collaborations are only +1 (if that), except for the 40mm and 90mm Rokkors for the Leica CL which are +2. Perhaps as Dieter says Leica should automatically be +10 to put them at the top.
  11. Kodak is off the chart.
  12. On a more modern note, third party SLR lenses would generally get a small minus out of the box, except for Quantaray, whose starting deduction is -5, and which should have included a hammer in the box.
    Pre AI Nikon lenses get a +3 as long as disassembly has not allowed the pixies to get out.
  13. Among older large format lenses, Goerz Dagor lenses were always considered premium, at least +1, and the Gold Dot Dagor was at least +3.
    Among Canon FD lenses, the ones containing radioactive thorium rate from +3, if displayed or used cautiously, to -3 if carried in your pocket close to your potential gene pool.
  14. For any lens available in both black and chrome, black is automatically +1 unless you own the chrome version, which reverses the rule.
  15. ...and any lens with an exotic features like tilt/shift, macro or defocus control is automatically +2 even when (or especially when) that feature is not being used. Any lens with a built-in hood is +1, but only when the hood is extended. Any Nikon 105mm lens of any design is +4, because Steve McCurry used one that time. Taken together, these rules mean that the Nikon 105 DC scores a remarkable +7.
  16. Do FD and L add up?​
    Totally dude. If only there had FD+L+thorium lenses: they would have been almost up to Zeiss or Leica (although of course this is clearly not really possible as they are Japanese, so cannot match them simply on principle).
  17. For any third party lens available in multiple mounts, the Nikon version is +1, because everyone knows that Nikon cameras are cooler. All other mounts are neutral, except Leica, which is -5 because the heretics who would use non-Leica glass on a Leica body must be punished without mercy.
  18. For any third party lens available in multiple mounts, the Nikon version is +1, because​
    ... they're adaptable to almost any SLR system, not just mirrorless systems. :)
  19. I was browsing Ebay the other day and came across a listing in which a lens was described as Viviparous.
  20. A viviparous lens would be useful: working baby lenses from two parent lenses.
  21. Don't foget the superwide fetishists.
    Anything <24mm gets +1. Anything <12mm gets +2.
    Distance scale gives an automatic +1
    Any Landscape lens slower than f/2.8 gets -1, despite no-one using f/2.8 for landscape!
    And equiv. focal length: 85mm = 0; 82.5mm = -1 despite zero difference.
    More than 7 "science letters" in the name = +1
    Addition of elements/groups irrespective of image quality +1 per 2 additional.
  22. Bronica P lenses. Plus 2. I used Bronica 50, 75, and 90mm PE lenses for weddings. They were rated very highly
    against Leica and Leitz at the time.

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