Sharpest 50mm lens at any aperture under f/2.0

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

  1. Save your money, you ‘ain’t gonna see no difference.
  2. OMG! I am impressed now. - You shoot hybrid to get away from your computer screen?!?
    I used to shoot film to project or darkroom print it, or to have no hassle with the results, when I let a lab handle color. - Scanning felt like a major PITA to me. Digital seemed comparably faster than darkroom work and was also the preferred pre-press medium. - Shooting film I'd only scan what I absolutely have to scan.
    I refuse to see the film vs. digital environmental issues. - Yes, my film cameras existed longer, but most of my digitals are 2nd hand too...

    Manufacturers claiming weather protection leave me cold, as long as they don't declare their stuff made for snorkeling. - Who'll pay if the protection efforts weren't enough? - Us! - I doubt you'll get a soaked EOS 1 refurbished for less money than an inexpensive replacement beater-Rebel.

    I would not worry too much about an ultrafast lens' optical quality. For low ISO by daylight you could still use your or a better 50/2 and enjoy it's merits. You'll need a 2nd camera to be not forced to finish your roll before dusk anyhow.
    My own choices?
    The only extremely fast glass I own are Sigma 24/1.8 & Pentax 50/1.4, both disappointing, but good enough for desperate low light, high ISO work with pixel binning & busy IBIS.
    I noticed that higher ISO gets me nowhere on it's own. - The old Monochrom kind of works at ISO 5K, but combined with f2 glass I still face a lot of too dark situations, where sharpness suffers from not really handholdable shutter speeds. I might end trying Canon's 85/1.4 & 35/2 IS lenses for even higher ISO, more lens speed and IS at once. - Just replacing either a lens, for just one f-stop (or maybe 1.5 stops) or getting maybe 2 stops out of a more recent (digital) camera is usually not enough; at least it doesn't really justify huge investments, by being a real game changer.
  3. Thank you for your comments. In regards to scanning...I hate scanning negatives. I want to start scanning just the final darkroom prints I make on a flatbed (black and white obviously), but I'm not good enough in the darkroom yet. Right now I just develop and eyeball the negatives that I think look good and scan 5-7 per 36 frames roll, save a few. But in general, scanning negatives is ++annoying and I don't want to to be part of my film workup, at least for black and white.

    Most of my shares are on insta anyway, so even a photo of a 4x6 with my old dslr is fine for color photos haha. For this reason, I am selling my coolscan.

    If I ever need anything better, will just send away.
  4. I have had a lot of experience with the Zeiss Milvus 50mm F1.4 lens. It is chipped and also has an aperture ring so it functions with both new and old bodies. It is manual focus that does not bother me. The image quality from wide open and up is outstanding.
    ruslan likes this.
  5. I expect that digital photography impacts the environment more negatively than film photography.
    Simply run the numbers Joe.
    Based upon your assertion of ecological responsibility......
    Well you can deduce the conclusions that little nugget of extremism suggests.
  6. Some of the sharpest lenses I own are Voigländers and now that I'm shooting film again, trying not to forget the heroic times, the sharpest I have are a Nikkor AI-S 50/1.4 which I use on a Nikon FM2n from 1992 and a Voigländer Nokton 50/1,5 that goes on a Leica M2. I'm no longer printing wet, although I'm set up for B&W and color in any format up to 4x5". For starters, I could never get the purity of color scanning and photoshop give me and my film scanner resolves Tri-X grain perfectly. OTOH, I've been putting my M2 with Summicron 50/2 and Tri-X vs my Fuji X-Pro2 with a Leica Summicron 35/2 (equivalent to the former) shooting JPG in Acros film emulation and fixed ISO 400 and there's simply no contest. Film is exciting, romantic, retro, sharpens your dulled skills, but "D" takes the edge, not only in quality but in convenience. After developing the roll, drying it in sanitized closet in my darkroom, sleeving, proof-scanning, and then spotting, I end investing more time per frame in the computer than I did in the darkroom. Emotionally rewarding but not as a regular hobby.
  7. Leica ASPH series, rare 58/1.2 Noct, Milvus series, Otus 55. They are all very expensive. Sigma ART are optically good but no one knows how it will perform in the dark on a retro AF body. With manual lens/mode in the dark with lighting objects and moving cars you will have hard times really. :oops:
    Just don't bother finding ideal. :)
  8. I choose not to spend vast amounts of money on the absolute best I can afford, because I don’t feel that I will benefit from any significant difference in quality, at least that would be noticeable for the kind of photography I do. I did a ‘shoot out’ once, with the M42 50’s that I own, Yashica DS-M f1.7, Yashica DS 50mm f1.9, Super Tak. 55 f1.8 and 55mm SMC f2.0, Super Tak. 50mm f1.8, and a beat up f2.8 zeiss tessar. I couldn’t see any significant difference in any of them, on wet prints or scans, that would bother me. That’s not to say of course, that I wouldn’t notice a difference comparing these to the best of modern designs when pixel peeping, but would I notice on a standard 8 x 10 print, which is my usual output? Maybe, I expect it would be subtle at best, and would it be worth the difference in cost from £30 to £1500? Not for me.

    Sure, there is a big difference between your average hobbyist’s requirements to the pro requiring exceptional quality output for larger images, and for those guys, no doubt the financial cost is worth it. For the rest of us, I suspect we mostly spend our money on these expensive toys because it makes us feel good, and why not? Just like beer really.
  9. I like the experience of using a different camera that is in fact, very different. Even if the results are the same. The initial gratification in film photography is the process of taking the picture, that has to be great. The photos come a few weeks later.

    I would love it if there was this delay in digital photography. And yes I know, I can turn off the screen or just not look. I knew this before, prefaced my entire post with it even haha. Not having a screen would be very different than just not looking. A camera without as screen would need to be a completely different design philosophy
    stuart_pratt likes this.
  10. I think the suggestions of a stabilized lens are just weird. Virtually all I do in 35mm is shoot available darkeness, and the problem has never been my ability to hold the camera still--it's that the subjects insist on not being stabilized, themselves. A stabilizing lens won't do a thing to cure that and with a slower stabilized lens you'll be locked into those shutter speeds that don't freeze subject movement that you are trying to get away from.
  11. Even people who can handhold well still lose sharpness when shooting at slow speeds. Some kinds of shooting (landscapes for instance) suffer a lot from that. Others not so much. Also most people start to lose the ability to take even a "pretty sharp" picture once the speeds start coming down below 1/60 or 1/30 for a 50mm full frame camera. Granted it varies a lot with person and technique. So image stabilization can give you an extra stop (or way more depending on the system) of "acceptable" sharpness.

    Unfortunately for me I have rarely had stabilization systems, but as I get older, it becomes more attractive. What I DID do was to buy a camera that could shoot at ISO 6400 with great results. Kind of a different way to get to the same deal. Turn on stabilization, turn up the ISO, or buy a really heavy expensive lens I guess (or a combination of those).

    And yes sometimes the subject is moving (even for me with landscape photography given that there is wind), but even then, image stabilization (or higher ISOs) means you can turn up the shutter speed.
  12. Yes, but of course, there is the matter of taste as well. Especially with beer. For instance, I've grown weary of all the IPAs out there these days. I really don't care that much for IPAs. I much rather like the darker ales -- even the stouts and porters. So to each his own. And in many ways the same can be said about lens preferences.

    I thought it somewhat interesting your choice of lenses for a shoot out. A few years ago, I found a Yashica DS 50/1.7 and a Helios 44-2 (58mm f/2) at a pawn shop. I think I paid $10 for the pair. Both are in very clean condition with unmarked glass. And I decided to do a shoot-out with these two lenses. My results were that the Yashica was the clear winner. In fact, I would have to conclude that the Yashica is probably one of the sharpest normal lenses I own. I own several f/1.8s and f/1.7s in various brands and several f/1.4s in various brands -- Canon SSC, Nikon (pre-AI, AI and AIs), Pentax (M42 Super Tak and SMCT, and K-mount), and Minolta MD. All are great lenses, but I must admit that my favorite is my Canon 50/1.4 SSC. I also own a Canon FL 55mm f/1.2 and an FD 55mm f/1.2 SSC. They are the same optical formula, the coatings being the primary difference. I've found that these lenses actually are capable of very good resolution even when shooting with them wide open. But I also found that a fair amount of discipline must be employed when shooting with these lenses at f/1.2. When shooting at closer subjects, where depth of field is more critical, I discovered I had to be cogniscent of my body movement. The slightest movement fore and aft, for example, would be enough to throw the subject out of focus. I found that this sort of movement affected shots with these fast lenses more than any blur caused by slow shutter speeds.
  13. Nikon F90S would be a good choice. I have no experience with an F100

    You are in risky for mold in older lenses Check your shutter speed carefully. As good camera stores die it may be harder to get good used gear. I had a Nikon 1V1 for almost 2 years. I regret selling it. If you're looking for a digital alternative, consider a used Nikon 1 V series, I'm Canadian; the situation may be different in the US.
  14. Many(not all, but many) of the lenses under discussion here are G-type lenses.

    While G type lenses are usable on the N90(s), they only work in P and S modes. There is no possible way to set the aperture from the body, so A and M are not possible.

    Also, someone mentioned a lens with Tamron's equivalent of VR. I seem to recall that the N90s won't activate Nikon's VR, and if Nikon's doesn't work I doubt Tamron's does either. I don't remember whether or not this applies to the N90s, but on some other mid-90s bodies VR doesn't work but it will drain the batteries if left on.

    My N90s mostly sits on the shelf(I need to shoot the roll of Plus-X loaded in it) but I use my two F4 bodies a lot and they share a lot of the same lens compatibility "quirks" of the N90s(although I know VR is completely dead on them and I don't have to worry about turning it off). G and AF-S are both fine, but G lenses have the same limitations. I still use them, but they certainly aren't as convenient(esp. since I prefer aperture priority).

    The F100 is a different story. It's a modern "two dial" camera that gives exposure in all modes with G lenses. It will also activate VR-at least on Nikon lenses. Your only modern limitations-at least for now-are that it can't activate the aperture on "E" lenses and can't focus at all(manual or auto) with AF-P lenses. These limitations aren't unique to the F100, but are shared by all film cameras. Of course, it will also meter with AI and AI-S lenses, but only in A and M modes and without matrix.

    Aside from price, I can't think of any reason to prefer the N90(s) over the F100. To answer succinctly, the F100 just gives you a broader range of lens compatibility. Also, this is purely opinion, but although they are great cameras the N90, N90s, and the N80008 all feel somewhat "clunky" to me. They have a late 80s/early 90s UI that seems to me to try to do too much with too few buttons(although the N6006, N70, and the data back for the F4 are all worse). Also, the mirror is decidedly jarring on them. Aside from the messy custom functions, most of which you only have to set once(if ever) and if you want to change others regularly you will probably remember them or can consult a cheater card, the F100 is very straight forward to use and anyone who has used a mid range to high end Nikon DSLR will be right at home on it. The AF is quieter, faster, and more decisive than what's on the N90(s), and both the mirror and the film advance are quiet and refined sounding.
    2mnycars likes this.
  15. I get that stabilized lens has issues for some things, but for hand held low light using a film camera and trying to minimize grain, I think it is something I would like to try. I know the old canons eos and nikon f5 onwards can use newer stabilized lenses. With the tamron 45mm vc I can shoot 2.5 stops wider without the focus problems and still somewhat sharp compared to an f/1.2. And an f/1.2 that is sharp wide open is just too much money. Finding a stabilized close to normal perspective lens (prime or zoom) for a canon or nikon film camera is easy. The more I think about the f100, the more I realize its in the sweet spot between awesomeness vs. not too expensive.

    But what about Pentax MZ-S or PZ-1P? Will a sigma OS or Tamrom VC designed for k mount work with stabilization on these cameras?

    What about the Contax N1? Is there any way to get a stabilized lens on the N mount?

    What about the sigma sa9? Will sigmas SA mount OS lenses work with stabilization on this camera?
  16. Reminds me of what my high school geometry teacher said about our proofs:
    "Why do it the easy way when there is a hard way".

    If someone does want the look of film, including grain, are there programs that will convert
    digital images? Say, for example, one wanted one that would be difficult to detect
    the difference from film? Not that I know why one would want that.

    Sometimes there is just the challenge of doing something different.

    As others have noted, VR works for camera motion, but not subject motion.
    Sometimes one is the problem, sometimes the other. Someone with unsteady hands
    would find a big advantage in VR.
  17. - Which f/1.2 lens would that be?

    Sharp wide open + f/1.2 = oxymoron.
  18. "Sharp wide open + f/1.2 = oxymoron"

    I don't really have a dog in this hunt, and I am not in the market for either this lens or the associated camera system, but for about $2,500, Canon may have produced a 50mm f1.2 lens thats sharp wide open: Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 USM L - Review / Test Report
    stephen_morris|3 and ruslan like this.
  19. Canon R 50/1.2

    And there will be new generation of such lenses, Nikon and Panasonic with Leica (new full frame mount) will make such beasts but for a lot of money.
  20. There's still noticeable LoCa wide open.

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