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50's without distortion?
Old 1 Week Ago   #1
Juan Valdenebro
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50's without distortion?

Hi,
I see the times when lens designers worried seriously about making lenses without distortion are kind of gone... After that, the chase for closest focus and highest sharpness wide open changed things... I like old lenses like the Tessar 3.5 and the Elmar 3.5, which IMO produce images with something "natural" in their rendering, as seeing with our own eyes...
Has anybody seen a list with 50's without distortion? I've read most Leicas have some distortion... Apart from RF lenses (main interest), I'd also like to know about mechanical lenses in F (Nikon) mount: I own a 35 for Nikon SLR's which has no distortion, AI-s I believe, a 2.8 produced for a short time, so maybe some members know about any 50 made with that priority too...
Thanks!
(Perhaps this thread should be moved I don't know where...)
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Old 1 Week Ago   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juan Valdenebro View Post
Hi,
I see the times when lens designers worried seriously about making lenses without distortion are kind of gone... After that, the chase for closest focus and highest sharpness wide open changed things... I like old lenses like the Tessar 3.5 and the Elmar 3.5, which IMO produce images with something "natural" in their rendering, as seeing with our own eyes...
Has anybody seen a list with 50's without distortion? I've read most Leicas have some distortion... Apart from RF lenses (main interest), I'd also like to know about mechanical lenses in F (Nikon) mount: I own a 35 for Nikon SLR's which has no distortion, AI-s I believe, a 2.8 produced for a short time, so maybe some members know about any 50 made with that priority too...
Thanks!
(Perhaps this thread should be moved I don't know where...)
The Nikkor AIs 50/1.8 and Nikkor-H 50/2 that I have are quite clean, Juan.

Here is what I've tried on the RF side and found to be mostly rectilinear:

- all Summicrons (I've tried coll, rigid, v3 and v4)
- all Elmars (LTM 3.5 and 2.8, and M-Elmar)
- CV CS 50/2.5
- CV Nokton 1.1 (a surprise as the Nokton 1.5 barrels)
- M-Hex 50/2
- L-Hex 50/2.4
- classic Sonnars (Nikkor and Canon)
- Canon 50/1.8 LTM
- ZM Sonnar

Hope this helps,

Roland.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
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I would add that the Nikkor 50 1.8 has no distortion at infinity, but as you get towards the minimum focus distance, I can definitely see some barrel distortion.

Macro lenses usually have no distortion.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #5
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I'm told the short-lived V.1 50 Lux had little distortion. Can anyone verify?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #6
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Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5
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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
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Roland, I suppose there could be sample variation, but my Voigtlander Color Skopar 2.5/50mm has noticeable pincushion distortion... not really bad but noticeable when the image has straight lines parallel to the frame edges.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #8
Erik van Straten
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I agree with Juan that many 50mm lenses are not totally free from distortion.

The worst I know is the Jupiter 8M, but also some lenses that Roland mentions are not completely distortion free.

This distortion is above all disturbing when viewing the pictures on a monitor, usually the distortion is not so obvious on analogue prints.

The old Leitz 50mm lenses, from the thirties, are usually distortion free, such as the Elmar, the Hektor and the Summar. But the Summitar ... o my!

A lens with huge distortion is also the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 50mm v2. The v1 is practically free from it.

The Color-Skopar 50mm f/2.5 has a very little bit of distortion. The Elmar-M 50mm f/2.8 is distortion free.

Also the Nikkor-H Auto 50mm f/2 suffers from distortion, but the later f/1.8 Nikkor 50mm seems to be free from it.

On fast lenses the designer can choose for distortion or coma. When the coma is corrected, there is distortion. When the distortion is corrected, there is coma. Only on aspherical lenses both faults can be corrected completely.

Example: barrel vault distortion on Summilux 50mm f/1.4 v2.

Leica M3, Summilux 50mm f/1.4 v2, TriX.

Erik.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
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Juan,

I'm learning from the replies that some levels of distortion are OK for me, but not for others. Indeed, if you compare - for example - Puts' data of different Leica lenses (http://www.overgaard.dk/pdf/Leica-M-...Secrets_en.pdf, pages 46-51), you'll see that

distortion(Summilux v2) > distortion(Elmar) > distortion(Elmar-M) > distortion(Summicron),

but in practice, for me, among those 4, only the Summilux is not acceptable (mainly because other, non-Leica lenses are better); the other 3 lenses "feel" similar. So it's subjective, obviously.

Roland.

PS:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daryl J. View Post
I'm told the short-lived V.1 50 Lux had little distortion. Can anyone verify?
Check the data of the first Summilux mentioned in Puts' paper linked to above (page 50).
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Old 1 Week Ago   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Example: barrel vault distortion on Summilux 50mm f/1.4 v2.

Leica M3, Summilux 50mm f/1.4 v2, TriX.

Erik.

Great shot Erik!

Elmar M 50 2.8 is distortion free.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #12
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Quote:
The Elmar-M 50mm f/2.8 is distortion free.
I was wondering why I liked this lens so much..thx for the info!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #13
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I doubt any lens is completely free from rectilinear distortion.

Radial distortions are errors in rectilinear image projection. If we ignore all other optical lens errors we only have to consider barrel and pin cushion and mustache distortion (where both barrel and pin cushion are present).

The issue really is: what level of distortion is acceptable? The answer is subject dependent. Architectural photographs often contain numerous objects with straight lines and rectilinear distortions are more obvious than portraits, sports, wild life, etc., photographs. Different photographers have different opinions on what's good enough.

Some rectilinear distortions such as volume anamorphosis distortion are not cause by lens errors. They are a function lens-to-subject distance and how far the object is from the optical center.

Post-production rectilinear error corrections don't bother me. What I care about is how well the correction model and the model parameters work. I have used a number of F-mount, ultra-wide angle zoom lenses that could not be fully corrected in post-production because higher-order barrel distortions were not included in the correction model. Corrected images from my FUJIFILM 10-24/4 XF lens contain extremely low levels of high-order rectilinear distortions.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
I doubt any lens is completely free from rectilinear distortion.

Radial distortions are errors in rectilinear image projection. If we ignore all other optical lens errors we only have to consider barrel and pin cushion and mustache distortion (where both barrel and pin cushion are present).

The issue really is: what level of distortion is acceptable? The answer is subject dependent. Architectural photographs often contain numerous objects with straight lines and rectilinear distortions are more obvious than portraits, sports, wild life, etc., photographs. Different photographers have different opinions on what's good enough.

Some rectilinear distortions such as volume anamorphosis distortion are not cause by lens errors. They are a function lens-to-subject distance and how far the object is from the optical center. ...
Excellent, well said.

If we limit ourselves to rectilinear distortion (barrel, pincushion, and the various "mustache" mixes of the two - oh, iPhone, thou art evil...) the following are reasonable generalizations:
  • The faster the lens the more likely there will be visible distortion. Other considerations are likely to have outweighted distortion corrections when the designers decided what was important.
  • The more retrofocus or telephoto, as distinct from "long focus", the lens the more likely that there will be distortion.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willie_901 View Post
The issue really is: what level of distortion is acceptable?
Very much agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwig View Post
If we limit ourselves to rectilinear distortion (barrel, pincushion, and the various "mustache" mixes of the two - oh, iPhone, thou art evil...) the following are reasonable generalizations:
  • The faster the lens the more likely there will be visible distortion. Other considerations are likely to have outweighted distortion corrections when the designers decided what was important.
  • The more retrofocus or telephoto, as distinct from "long focus", the lens the more likely that there will be distortion.
Not generally true, the Nokton 1.1 is a good counter example.

These are the 5 Seidel Aberrations:

- Spherical Aberration
- Coma
- Astigmatism
- Curvature of Field
- Distortion

For faster lenses, good distortion correction usually means one or more of the Seidel aberrations suffer. For example, my VM Ultron 35/1.7 is quite rectilinear at the cost of curvature of field. The v2 Summilux is documented to be optimized for Coma, at the cost of distortion. The ZM Sonnar is quite rectilinear, but has noticable Spherical Aberration ("focus shift"). Etc.

And what looks like identical designs can be optimized differently. For example, I have several 50/1.5 classic LTM Sonnars that have flat field, but a very late Contax mount Zeiss Sonnar that has noticeable field curvature.

Roland.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug View Post
Roland, I suppose there could be sample variation, but my Voigtlander Color Skopar 2.5/50mm has noticeable pincushion distortion... not really bad but noticeable when the image has straight lines parallel to the frame edges.

Hi Doug
I Have noticed that as well at near focus. Getting closer to infinity it's difficult to see or maybe even gone (doubt it).
Still my overall favorite RF 50mm for b&w film.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #17
ferider
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Elmar M 50 2.8 is distortion free.
It's all relative.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #18
Juan Valdenebro
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Interesting...
As it's not covered in Roland's link (Puts' PDF), where can I get some information on the Collapsible Summicron? Not just distortion...
It would be fine to read a good while about its design and how its formula "preferred" which aberrations, if it can be said that way...
Anyone having a link or any article/book talking about it with some depth? Was it just Mandler?
This subject of someone -or a team- deciding what to correct and what to allow optically, is totally fascinating to me... (Maybe because I know so little about it! )
Thanks!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #19
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daryl J. View Post
I'm told the short-lived V.1 50 Lux had little distortion. Can anyone verify?
Almost no distortion indeed.

Leica M5, Summilux 50mm f/1.4 v1, 400-2TMY.

Erik.



Leica M5, Summilux 35mm f/1.4v1, 400-2TMY.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
For example, my VM Ultron 35/1.7 is quite rectilinear at the cost of curvature of field. The v2 Summilux is documented to be optimized for Coma, at the cost of distortion.
In general I can accept a little bit of linear distortion on a 50mm lens, but not on a 35mm lens.

A set of the Summilux 35mm f/1.4 v1 and the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 v1, both almost 60 years old, is close to ideal in my opinion.

Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
Very much agree.



Not generally true, the Nokton 1.1 is a good counter example.

...
Seems poor wording. One example doesn't make it "generally" true or false. Perhaps you meant "not universally true", which would be quite correct. I still contend that, as a general rule, faster lenses are more likely to have some rectilinear distortion, but there are some notable exceptions.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwig View Post
Seems poor wording. One example doesn't make it "generally" true or false. Perhaps you meant "not universally true", which would be quite correct.
Yes I did .... lost in translation.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #23
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Hi,

I would worry about distortion if I was shooting entirely with slide film but these days I think that is rare for most of us.

With negative film I wonder how many do old fashioned prints with enlargers and so on. I suspect most scan and then print. So most could easily correct things, if they noticed.

Looking at most of the samples I didn't notice distortion because I looked at the subjects and was not looking for distortion. So I figure you'll only find distortion if you look for it in old fashioned enlargements and slides...

Just my 2d worth.

Regards, David
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Old 1 Week Ago   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hi,

I would worry about distortion if I was shooting entirely with slide film but these days I think that is rare for most of us.

With negative film I wonder how many do old fashioned prints with enlargers and so on. I suspect most scan and then print. So most could easily correct things, if they noticed.

Looking at most of the samples I didn't notice distortion because I looked at the subjects and was not looking for distortion. So I figure you'll only find distortion if you look for it in old fashioned enlargements and slides...

Just my 2d worth.

Regards, David
From my perspective you are absolutely right. Distortion has to be either very obvious in a photo, or actually affects the way I take photos, or is caused by the technique used.

An example of the first type would be most architectural shots make using the SMC Pentax-AF 645 45/2.8. An example of the second type would be the ZM Sonnar 50/1.5 used wide open. Finally, the last type is seen just about anytime you try to capture a tall object (building, tree, etc.) by tilting your camera up (or down.)

Beyond those examples I usually don't notice distortions unless they are pointed out to me. I guess my own eyes have distortion correcting lenses installed.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #25
Erik van Straten
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Not much distortion with the Summicron 50mm f/2 rigid.

Leica M5, Summicron 50mm f/2 rigid, 400-2TMY.

Erik.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #26
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The F-mount Nikkor-H(C) 50/2 is just a wonderful lens overall. Double-Gauss goodness all over. One of my favorite-drawing 50s. Draws similar to the Canon LTM 50/1.4, but with markedly less (not entirely absent) distortion.

A boring picture, but, hey... it's got lines:



Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
The Nikkor AIs 50/1.8 and Nikkor-H 50/2 that I have are quite clean, Juan.

Here is what I've tried on the RF side and found to be mostly rectilinear:

- all Summicrons (I've tried coll, rigid, v3 and v4)
- all Elmars (LTM 3.5 and 2.8, and M-Elmar)
- CV CS 50/2.5
- CV Nokton 1.1 (a surprise as the Nokton 1.5 barrels)
- M-Hex 50/2
- L-Hex 50/2.4
- classic Sonnars (Nikkor and Canon)
- Canon 50/1.8 LTM
- ZM Sonnar

Hope this helps,

Roland.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by De_Corday View Post
The F-mount Nikkor-H(C) 50/2 is just a wonderful lens overall. Double-Gauss goodness all over. One of my favorite-drawing 50s. Draws similar to the Canon LTM 50/1.4, but with markedly less (not entirely absent) distortion.

A boring picture, but, hey... it's got lines:
maybe i'm not fully awake yet, but to my eyes, distortion is quite noticeable here.
not that it disturbs the picture, however.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #28
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I know I'm a smart@$$ for saying it, as the format is off topic, but the 50mm f/4 Mamiya G lens for the Mamiya 6 is completely distortion-free.

Phil Forrest
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Old 1 Week Ago   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Conrad View Post
Micro-Nikkor 55/3.5
Agreed and 105 micro. 28 2.8 AiS with CFC and .7 meter close focus.

Black 3.5 Elmar, not chrome. 50 Elmar 2.8 and elmar m.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
... I usually don't notice distortions unless they are pointed out to me. I guess my own eyes have distortion correcting lenses installed.
I couldn't agree more and this thread is about distortion and so we are all looking for it. I don't think we should be worried about the distortion from the lens so much as the distortion we are sensitive to. It seems to me to be a very personal thing.

For example, I notice when the camera is not quite horizontal; the tilt is very obvious to me but not to others.

Having said that I wonder why, in a discussion about distortion, no one has commented on the camera tilt I can see in two or three samples in this thread...

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Old 1 Week Ago   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
in a discussion about distortion, no one has commented on the camera tilt I can see in two or three samples in this thread...
You shouldn't confuse camera tilt (spirit level) with optical distortion. Those are two completely different things.

Erik.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
...

For example, I notice when the camera is not quite horizontal; the tilt is very obvious to me but not to others.

Having said that I wonder why, in a discussion about distortion, no one has commented on the camera tilt I can see in two or three samples in this thread...

Regards, David
Agreed.

I also wondered why some seemed to be getting confused.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
You shouldn't confuse camera tilt (spirit level) with optical distortion. Those are two completely different things.

Erik.
Hi,

I haven't confused them, I was pointing out that different people notice different things. I notice horizons that are tilted very slightly and correct them. many other ignore them but worry about backgrounds and so on.

More to the point, my eyes see this:-



but the camera records this:-



And many would say it's distorted because there's a difference between what the eye (and brain) see and what the camera/lens took...

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Old 6 Days Ago   #34
David Hughes
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And here's a good example of a picture with lens distortion and slightly tilted over distortion.



But my gut feeling is that most people will see a picture of a bright red aeroplane and nothing else. And this despite the fact that some say it was taken with a notorious lens.

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Old 6 Days Ago   #35
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A little off subject, but to put lens distortion in perspective:

I admit, it takes me typically more time to correct perspective in post, than lens distortion. Because I have to feel myself towards what "looks" normal, in combining "V" type corrections and vertical scaling. These two were particularly painful, I remember





Roland.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
I know I'm a smart@$$ for saying it, as the format is off topic, but the 50mm f/4 Mamiya G lens for the Mamiya 6 is completely distortion-free.

Phil Forrest
As is the 50 Fujinon for the G690BL series.

D
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Old 6 Days Ago   #37
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
And many would say it's distorted because there's a difference between what the eye (and brain) see and what the camera/lens took...
Yes, many people believe that reality and a photograph are identical. But they are wrong.

We don't know what we see, that is the problem.

Erik.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sebastel View Post
maybe i'm not fully awake yet, but to my eyes, distortion is quite noticeable here.
not that it disturbs the picture, however.
Fair. I wasn't fully awake when I posted it. The camera wasn't square with the fence, making this a sub-optimal example.

There's distortion in the HC 50/2 for sure. But, as someone who shoots 35mm without tilt-shift and doesn't mind the converging verticals look, its the lens I reach for when my Nikon 50 /1.4 (or my Canon LTM 50 1.4, or my Voigtlander M-mount 40 /1.4) will just warp the horizontal lines too much. I'm maybe not the target commenter for this thread, as distortion only bothers me when it's extreme...
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Old 6 Days Ago   #39
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Hi,

My guess is that if you go looking for distortion then you will find it.

And this is a thread about distortion so we are all being nudged that way...

Regards, David
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Old 6 Days Ago   #40
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I've been doing a lot of post-processing recently on hundreds of exposures taken on a trip to Cuba, all shot with the 28mm Summicron. This lens has a small amount of barrel distortion which can be corrected by setting the distortion slider in Lightroom to about 4. But I don't see any reason to correct it in that majority of exposures in which it's not noticeable even when I look for it.

I'm much more likely to correct tilted horizons and converging verticals... And an interesting thing with the latter is that it's better IMO to leave some convergence in. Fully correcting the converging line makes a tall building, for instance, look unnatural, ready to fall forward.

And under some circumstances a bit of barrel distortion prevents unnaturally stretched looking objects near the corners, like people's heads. So a little judicious distortion isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's all in what looks better...
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