Sharpest 50mm lens at any aperture under f/2.0

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by richard_golonka, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. SCL


    Forget Sonnar designs and look at Planar designs...they are sharpest across the plane of the image...but they are also much more expensive than other designs. If you decide on a Contax body, go with Zeiss glass...recognized for its edge microcontrast. My experience with a Zeiss 50/1.7 Planar on film was that the images were crisper than many other similar aperture lenses on film...but that sharpness and microcontrast were less evident at 1.7 than from 2.0 onward. This was true for both near objects such as portraits as well as objects near infinity. The new Planar-50 for certain digital bodies is said to be spectacular, but heavy and expensive. I'd suggest a lot of research on your part, given your particular specs, before parting with your money. You probably know by now, that although your specific requirements aren't mutually exclusive, they may be difficult to achieve in your price range, and flexibility on your part may well result in a satisifying compromise.
  2. Leica R8 with a Summicron-R 50mm. Will do 1/8000th, and the lens doesn't leave much to be desired. Well, maybe except AF, but in low light, the older AF systems of film cameras aren't too great anyway.

    As much as I'd love to have the 58mm f/1.4G Nikon lens, I find it hard to recommend. Apart from being very pricey, it is also a lens that's all about rendering, and not really designed for straight-out sharpness.
    A lens that is surprisingly sharp at f/2, but not below, is the Nikon AiS 50mm f/1.2. If it wasn't for the 1/8000th requirement, I'd recommend a FM2 though.

    And that is actually true.... Delta 3200 isn't going to come close to showing what any of these lenses do better over a 50mm f/1.8 from any brand.
  3. I think this is what I am really wanting to know.

    If the meter says 1/60 and I shoot the Tamron with VC on...would I get better results than vs. swapping out to an f/1.4 or f/1.2 and use a higher shutter because it lets in more light? I think an f/1.2 would be difficult here because it just gets too hard to focus. Some f/1.4 may be ok, but I think that the Tamron turning that 1/60
    Honestly, the last thing I want is to shoot at ISO 54000 and make it look like night is day.

    Digital is easy yes, which is why I don't do it. I just end up spending all my time looking at a screen either on my camera or on my computer at home....I have this hobby to get away from my computer screen.

    So my goal is not to get good photos, my goal is to get reasonably good photos considering I am shooting film, while also stepping out of the electronic world for a while.

    Honestly, I have 30 rolls of film I have not even developed and worked up yet. I actually dont like that part (scanning, post-editing etc), so I do that all in one go once every few months, or even a year.

    My next step is a darkoom, rather than a digital camera. Although I think I want the new sigma full frame as an alternative to my scanner, but that's a whole other thread!
  4. Lots of luck to you.o_O
  5. As long as f/1.2 or 1.4 is not worse than my pentax at f/2.0, Id be happy. But I think that means $$

    In a situation where, now, my meter at f/2 with iso1600 film would say 1/30 (I encounter this frequently, sometimes I can do it)....what can I swap in, in that situation, which will be significantly better. What is better? 1) shoot at that same ISO and light but instead no camera shake visible at all even on close inspection or 2) use lower ISO film with same or less camera shake and deal with it. Both of those require more light than what I currently have. A f/1.2 aperture will do it by allowing me to use a faster shutter here but will be soft, and also hard to focus unless I spend all the money...

    I can't actually see any option better than the f/1.8 Tamron VC, to be honest, at anywhere close to that price. Used, its 299 USD from KEH (EX+). I don't get the depth of field of a 1.2, but I could get a shot that does not look blurry and is also reasonably sharp using 1/10th shutter likely + VC, vs needing to spend $2000 for a sharp f/1.2 at 1/125.

    I dont know if my math is right here, but my gut says the Tamron wins here for what I need. I will give up depth of feild, I know, but really, f/1.8 on full frame is more than plenty.

    If this is true, I don't know why anyone else makes a stabilized 50mm?? What am I missing here? The Tamron is a unicorn for film shooters who like the normal perspective.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
  6. we both know that you cherrypicked that comment. And we both know what I meant. If my only goal for taking photos was to get the sharpest images without any hassle, I would buy a new digital crank the ISO and be done with it.

    I dont care if my pictures are not technically perfect, I care that it was fun to take them and they convey a feeling.
  7. There are, at least, stabilized zooms that have a 50mm setting and stabilization might get you more sharpness than buying a better lens, unless you put the camera on a good stable tripod and leave it there. That fixes your light problem too because you can shoot at shutter speeds you can't hand hold.

    And come on, saying your goal was not to get good photos was going to generate a jibe. What you probably meant is that you're willing to sacrifice some quality in order to shoot film. Even then, yes Digital has some great benefits for photography, but people were using film for a LONG time and getting GREAT photos. They just had to work under film's limitations (or their particular film's limitations). And even film today has a lot of benefits they didn't have at first (like higher speed).

    So when you shoot film today, you SHOULD be going for GREAT pictures, and learning how film limits you and how to get around those limits. Sure it would be easier with a modern digital with high ISO abilities, stabilization, great latitude, in-camera shooting modes, and so on. But if you want to embrace film and its limits, more power to you, but you shouldn't decide that great results aren't possible just because you have a few more problems to solve, right? Luckily, you're a creative, thinking human being that can overcome those limits.
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  8. - Why? It makes absolutely no sense to make things more difficult than they need be.

    Not to mention impacting the environment by using polluting chemicals and depleting natural resources unnecessarily.

    There are no merit stars awarded by a viewer for how difficult you technically made getting the image.

    I've posted this before quite a lot, but here's a same area crop from an old D700 (left), and a Nikon F2 using Delta 3200 (right). Lens used was the same, and the same aperture and shutter speed was used. Although I could have put a bottle-bottom on the F2 for all the detail it captured on Delta3200.
    glen_h and Ken Katz like this.
  9. It's the focusing screen, not the viewfinder. Most "normal" focusing screens are optimized for f/1.8-f/2, but will still work OK with f/1.4. So a focusing screen that's been optimized for the slower apertures won't respond to the faster apertures simply because of its design.

    I have a Canon AE-1 Program with a plain matte screen that is a real struggle when trying to focus using my Canon 55mm f/1.2 SSC. Objects are no brighter and it's very difficult to tell when an item is precisely in focus. My Canon F-1's plain matte screen was obviously designed to handle f/1.2 speeds, since I can focus without issues with it when using one of my fast Canon lenses.

    I realize that doesn't specifically address the brightness issue, but I thought I'd just point out that the focusing screen used can have an effect on photography, depending on the screen being used.
  10. hmmm...This is the first time I can remember being given a little jab in the last 5 years for my film shooting hurting the environment. I mean I get it. That is the reason film might die eventually, not because people don't want to shoot it but because the chemicals used become illegal to produce.

    But please also consider the environmental cost of assembling a new digital camera. Extracting all the raw materials to make the components with underpaid labor and then flying these components a few times around the world before assembling it in a few centralized locations and then being flown around the world again to be sold. Seems like that would be high as well. There is the added benefit of creating employment along the way, yes. But the point is, if you are going to blame film for the chemicals we should also have an idea of the impact of manufacturing a new digital. This is an important conversation though, yes, and it could go either way. If film ever gets shut down because of this I hope it is only done after this comparison concludes that using film on an old camera at a rate that most people shoot film is most definitely worse, without a doubt, than buying a new digital at the rate most people do that.

    And for that image comparison, I am not at all surprised. I would never shoot delta 3200 in the day unless I wanted to specifically shoot simple geometric lines, shapes, patterns, shadows etc and explode the grain. This is something I want to try more of in fact. But in doing so I would fully expect the quality you have presented here. I also recently read a book by Andrew Sanderson on the paper negative, which I found fascinating.

    The only star that my images get that matters to me is the one I assign myself when I decide I like this one enough to put it in the 'to print one day' folder. If other people like these as well, this is a bonus. If I don't love it, I actually delete the scan and throw out the negative strip after I make a mental note of what I did wrong; rather not know it ever existed. Seriously haha. I am odd I know, but there is no fixing that now. o_O
  11. Thank you. I have looked through the viewfinder of many cameras and am occasionally disappointed in how dark it looks vs what I am used to on my el-cheapo pentax. I will keep this in mind going forward
  12. IN GENERAL, the brighter the screen looks, the finer the "grind" it has and consequently the less it will show focus(and brightness) differences at larger apertures.

    Canon made a big deal in the late 70s about their "Laser Matte" screens for the F-1(original), and if the marketing material is to be believed they basically kept the same grind but "smoothed" the jagged edges off it with a laser. I have piles of F-1 screens(and currently only one body) and rarely even use it anymore, but I do have both standard and "L" versions of both the "C"(matte) and "E"(split/microprism) screen and the laser version does seem to achieve the impossible of being both brighter while having as much "pop" as the old screens. I'll use a C screen on a T90 or F-1(new or original) with an f/1.4 lens, but don't trust an f/1.2 lens-I want a focus aide.

    BTW, I also don't see a brightness difference using an f/1.2 lens vs. an f/1.4 on the screen on any of these cameras. The only camera I've used where it DID make a difference was on the Pellix, but that's also because only 1/3 of the light coming in goes to the viewfinder(and my mirror is in bad shape). I've found that it's quite common for a Pellix to be paired with an FL 55mm f/1.2 or 58mm f/1.2-I suspect because of the light loss both in the viewfinder and at the film.

    I've found the otherwise miserable "D" screen for the Nikon F/F2 to be surprisingly useful for focusing my f/1.2 Nikkor-S. Otherwise, though, that's a lens that I trust to a split prism on a K screen at a minimum, and often the electronic rangefinder on digitals.

    Also, using a 3200 speed film, or even 1600(the last I was familiar with was the Fujifilm Superia 1600) I suspect I'd be hard-pressed to see the deficiencies even in Nikon's worse f/1.4 lens-the original 5.8cm. Of course, I'll mention that the last roll of 3200 speed film I shot-Kodak TMZ when it was re-released earlier this year(I have four more rolls that haven't had any attention) I was using an F2 indoors with a 45mm f/2.8 GN-Nikkor at around f/8. Even THAT crummy lens looks great at that aperture.
  13. - Nothing compared to the ongoing wastage that film use would promote.

    Some statistics:
    3.2 billion pictures are uploaded to the internet daily.
    If shot on 35mm film, that would require 125 million linear metres of film, or 6.125 million square metres of plastic and emulsion every day.
    The silver used would be approximately 5.8 metric tonnes (over 8% of daily world production), and we haven't even touched on the chemicals and hardware needed for processing, nor the hardware necessary to throughput that number of scans.

    That's just to satisfy the number of images uploaded to the net, not the total number taken, and the world's thirst for images is not going to go backwards.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
  14. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire

    But you're assuming people would use as much film as they currently use digital media, which is an obvious false premise. On film, I take far less replicates of any picture.

    a proper life-cycle analysis of cameras and their media would be interesting. Chemical (and water) use are certainly issues, but what about batteries in modern cameras? A lot of my recent film photography has been in cameras like my Zenit 3, that don't use a battery. They're also largely metal-bodied, so they'll make scrap in the end, not refuse.

    I bet fuel I use going to places to photograph is a significant component of my impact, too. Time for a series of landscapes in the cupboard under the stairs...
  15. - I'm not assuming anything. Just throwing out some figures for consideration.

    Like, why would anyone even consider drinking inferior-tasting encapsulated coffee in the full knowledge that the packaging was difficult to recycle and becoming an increasing environmental problem?

    Is it really a case of 'My one little cup of NesLorocrap won't do any harm'?

    And I think new, hipster users of film just because it's cool, should be made fully aware of the downside of its use.
  16. Richard, you probably don't need to worry; you're not hurting anything if you use mainstream materials and discharge to a proper sewage treatment plant, such as the POTWs found in the US.

    Anytime someone suggests that you are "hurting the environment" just ask for evidence - any sort of study or technical evaluation. Don't hold your breath waiting, cuz they won't find any. (Instructions from school photo labs, such as "don't pour your fixer down the drain because it's toxic" aren't evidence.)

    The main issues with (common) photoprocessing waste are "oxygen demand" and silver. The first means that oxygen is taken out of the water as the chemicals decompose; this is also what the "sanitary waste" from your house does, and this is something easily handled by sewage treatment plants. The photographic silver (silver thiosulfate, mostly) is not shown to be especially harmfull to micro-organisms or aquatic life - studies show it to be somewhere around 10,000 to 30,000 times less toxic than ionic silver, such as you'd get if you dissolved silver nitrate. At any rate, the sewage treatment will remove essentially all silver.

    I'm not saying that it's ok to dump silver down your drain - you should follow the local laws. And if you have any significant amount, I think you ought to try to recover as much as you reasonably can. I could go on and on, but this really doesn't belong in a thread about lenses. If there's enough interest, someone could start a new thread.
  17. - Don't be silly Bill. Any needless use of natural resources, when there's a less polluting (and cheaper) way to do things, is ecologically irresponsible.
  18. So, Joe is once again frustrated that people still want to shoot film, so now he jumps on a soapbox about the environmental angle of it!

    Making ultra-pure silicon wafers that will yield defect free 24x36mm sensors is not exactly the most environmentally friendly process either...and it's usually done in countries where industrial pollution isn't controlled like it is in the three major countries that produce film(USA, England, and Japan).
  19. hmm, I still don't exactly know what a hipster is to be honest.

    From what I cant tell though, it's essentially a person under the age of 35 that you don't understand.
    jorge likes this.

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