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Lenses with Character
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:28 pm    Post subject: Lenses with Character Reply with quote

One thing I've been finding out is that every lens brand seems to have a certain character to it. In other words, it has a certain way it renders colors or a certain way it produces bokeh or a certain way it treats lens flares. When people talk about lens character, the leader always seems to be the Carl Zeiss lenses. They have a look and feel all their own but there are several others both known and obscure. This is a thread to discuss that most elusive of qualities regarding lenses.

For me, my favorite lenses in terms of character are my two Mamiyas (55mm 1.4 and 35mm 2.Cool. Light passes through them and leaves a look that is very unique. What are some of your favorites when it comes to achieving a certain unique look?

Chris W


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of the lenses I own or have owned I would say the yashicas ML are my favorites, altough they give you a more modern-lens like results; the jupiter-9, either you love it or hate it; tamron sp 90 2.5 macro, lovely bokeh but has a weird blue spot thing defect with digitals when using small apertures; Porst 55 1.4, fantastic lens in my opinion; the helios 44M, any model, has something beautiful; the pentacon 30mm Lydith, very sharp on APS-C
Most of this lenses are on the cheap side but they give a very good quallity/cost ratio
Some of the lenses I own I have not tried yet beacause I am waiting for them
Regards


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is many..

Carl Zeiss Distagon 35mm f1.4
Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 75mm f1.5
Pentacon 135mm f2.8 Pre-set
Konica 35mm f2
Voigtlander Bessa RF Heliar
Nikon 20mm f2.8 AIS
Nikon 85mm f1.8 Pre-Ai
Helios-40 8,5cm f1.5
Hanimex 200mm
etc, etc


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

almost all Meyer alu lenses, so...

Primagon 35/4.5
Helioplan 40/4.5
Trioplan 50/2.9
Primoplan 58/1.9
Primoplan 75/1.9
Primoplan 80/1.9
Trioplan 100/2.8 (this one is Shocked )

other lenses...

Auto Takumar 35/2.3
Volna-9 50/2.8
Tair-11A 135/2.8

CZJ Biotar 58/2 / Helios-44 / 44-2 has also it's own character
...and many Sonnar-formula lenses, too (CZj Sonnars and soviet Jupiters)


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the fixed rokkor 45/2.8 on my minolta a5 has character.
the elderly industar 50 for my bessa has character.
so does my canon 50/1.8 for the bessa.
my super takumar 55/2 has character, at least in black and white, which only started showing up when mounted on my old/new fujica st605.

sometimes, though, i think it is the character behind the lens matters most ... Shocked Very Happy


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does my Canon EF 2.8/100 L IS USM have character?
It is a question of definition.

If one of my lenses is lacking state of the art optics I am looking for its character.

So: all my older lenses have character Laughing

Serious: Trioplan 2.8/100; Enna Super-Lithagon 2.5/35


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As we can see all old lenses have a character Wink they not made for MTF charts ..


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are a lot of members that take a lens (any of them) and with his talent he makes seem to almost any lens like the one of more character or the one of greater resolution, like Luisalegria does (among others guys).

I will mention an old and forgotten lens, the chrome summilux M 1,4/50 - model 1966.

It's a manual focus lens too, for RF, yes, but manual focus at the end.

Rino.


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Russian lenses have the most obvious character for me, even if not always the best IQ. They are characterised by extreme sharpness stopped down, usually good contrast, dense and warm colours, creamy wide open and sometimes weird bokehs. My faves are MIR-24M, Helios 44-2, Jupiter-9 and even the little Indy 3.5/50.


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85/1.4 ZF I am loving more and more. It was not an easy lens to get familiar with but the colors, bokeh and fingerprint is quite distinct. 6 elements in 5 groups for the ZF design, differs slightly from other versions.

The Nikkor 28/1.4D AF is one that I constantly am reminded of in client feedback how unique and lovely look it gives. The combination of wide angle used with shallow depth of field is great, and stopped down I find the 3D is almost like I can walk into the frame.


PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many mentionned above.

I would add the Steinheil Quinar 2.8/135mm Very Happy


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

no-x: I don't know the Meyers that well; how do the Orestegor and Orestor compare to the others? How are they different?


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me i would add

A.Schacht Ulm Travenar 2.8/90mm..
Angenieux 2.5-3.3/35-70mm
Angenieux 3.5/70-210mm
...

Cheers
Henry


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey there Chris! Good to see you again. Welcome to the only forum you will ever need about manual focus lenses. You should feel right at home.


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zeiss Biotar 75/1.5 and Helios-40-2 85/1.5 - two quite well-known 'character' lenses with similar properties. Extremely swirly bokeh and a very special rendering.

Nikon 85/1.8 (Pre-AI) - a bit similar to above two lenses, albeit a much better corrected lens. Not as much swirling as well.

Helios-44 (all versions) 58/2 - quite special 'normal' lenses. Yashica ML 50/2 and 50/1.9 come close; they are much sharper and more contrasty overall, but have similar swirly background.

Tair-11A 135/2.8 - a 135mm with super-smooth bokeh. Quite unique in its rendering among all lenses, not just 135mm.

Nikkor 105/2.5 (late) - one of the best lenses for portraiture. They just give a 'pop' like some Zeiss glass; a really fine design from Nikon. 'K' and Ai versions are my favorite for their rounded aperture blades.

Contax Zeiss Planar 85/1.4 - a class in itself. This lens balances high sharpness and contrast with portrait 'glow' wide open, a result I couldn't reproduce with any other fast 85mm.

Contax Zeiss Sonnar 85/2.8 - for its uber-contrast and perfect color reproduction. It's THE lens to shoot in difficult lighting conditions or in dull weather.

Kaleinar-5N 100/2.8 - amazes in how close it is to the Sonnar above. Very nice rendering, too. (I do love the results produced by Sonnar type lenses; so Voigtlander/Rolleinar 85/2.8 and Sonnar-type Nikkor 105/2.5 and even Nikon Series E 100/2.8 are also appreciated; note the 'also' designation Smile )

Tele-Tokina 135/3.5 (OK, these are widely avaliable under other brands; mine is called Prinz Galaxy 135/3.5, but I've seen these under many names; you're looking for one that takes 46mm filters). It's a rare bird: a technically BAD slow 135mm lens. However, this technically bad lens produces images that look vintage by rendering almost Gaussian bokeh that is full of color aberrations. Apparently, it was never designed to shoot color film Smile

Other than that, I was truly impressed by Yashica ML 28/2.8 and 35/2.8; these tiny, inexpensive lenses produce rich colors and offer quite a sharpness.


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodrim wrote:
no-x: I don't know the Meyers that well; how do the Orestegor and Orestor compare to the others? How are they different?

Orestor 100/2.8 and 135/2.8?

Well, these are newer. The old (war-time or early post-war) designs were really specific. The most surprising thing is they have extremely low CA. I have no idea why Meyer engineers focused on extreme correction of chromatic aberrations in black and white era, but it's really good. Trioplan 100/2.8 is the least CA-ing non APO tele-lens I have ever found. It also has quite sharp focus with nice soft glow around. This effect with combination of low CA makes exactly what photographers expect from o soft focus lens. On the other hand, stopped down is quite sharp without glows (not as sharp as Sonnars etc., but sharp enough to take good image):

http://img10.abload.de/img/sdim7426hrweh8.jpg
http://img10.abload.de/img/sdim7425hrug91.jpg

Trioplan 100/2.8 also has very interesting bokeh. Wide-opened bokeh is full of crazy circles (if there are any OOF lights or busy background), but at f/4 it's really smooth...
http://www.abload.de/img/sdim7849hb5jvi.jpg

this one is f/2.8 or f/3.2:
http://img10.abload.de/img/sdim7825hwelz.jpg

try to search post made by member Maxim Smile

Orestors: sharper, no glow, smoother bokeh at f/2.8, and more CA (at least the 135/2.8, I didn't compare Trioplan to the Orestor 100/2.8 ).

As for other lenses - Primoplans 75/1.9 and 80/1.9 also has lower CA than other portrait lenses like Biotar, Pancolar, Takumar, Jupiter, Helios... They are of course less sharp, too. Low CA + unique bokeh creates really nice character. Member Spotmatic posted a low of nice photos taken by Primoplans Smile


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For character its hard to beat the Mir 1B. Even the focal length of 37mm is different!


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised nobody has het mentioned the 55 or 50mm Takumars?

One lens for me that is unique is the E.Ludwig Meritar 2.9/50.


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I concur with Jiri. The chrome Meyers are FTW! Cool


Source

A sample picture with the Meyer pre-war Primoplan 7,5cm 1:1.9: click


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i mentioned the 55/2 takumar ... Very Happy


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fish4570 wrote:
i mentioned the 55/2 takumar ... Very Happy


... which is the same lens as the 55/1.8 Takumar, but with an internal light baffle to make it "cheaper". In fact the 55/2 Takumar was more expensive to produce!


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fish4570 wrote:
i mentioned the 55/2 takumar ... Very Happy

I love all the Takumars I have so far, but I don't think I'd say they have a particularly strong character all their own which distinguishes them from other good lenses (except maybe a yellowed 1.4/50). I can't look at a picture and say for certain, "Ah, that was taken with a Takumar 2/55". That's how i would judge a lens with character. In that sense, my cr*ppy Domiplan has more character than the 2/55. Just my 2p. Smile


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

it could be that its "character" is that it does not intrude. i could find no difference between it and my former helios 44-2 in black and white except for bokeh. so the takumar with auto aperture stayed.
the 55/2 lives on my st605 now. it seems quite happy ... Very Happy


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peterqd wrote:
fish4570 wrote:
i mentioned the 55/2 takumar ... Very Happy

I love all the Takumars I have so far, but I don't think I'd say they have a particularly strong character all their own which distinguishes them from other good lenses (except maybe a yellowed 1.4/50). I can't look at a picture and say for certain, "Ah, that was taken with a Takumar 2/55". That's how i would judge a lens with character. In that sense, my cr*ppy Domiplan has more character than the 2/55. Just my 2p. Smile


You put the finger in one interesant question. The character is. . . .What?

I have to understan, for example, that the particular backgrounds of the helios 44-2/3 constitute the character of the lens ? The same about the J-9 at F/2-2,8?
Perhaps, the character is what difference one lens rendering of other lenses
The character is that only if I can distinguishe the lens used at first? Do I need a comparision between some lenses to recognice the character of one or more lenses ? Both circumstances ?

Peter, you did complicate the things !! Laughing

Rino.


PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beachboy2 wrote:
For character its hard to beat the Mir 1B. Even the focal length of 37mm is different!

I would tend to agree. It was my most recent purchase and the one I use more than any other at the moment. I love it! Very Happy