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Old 04-27-2018   #41
Bill Clark
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Maggieo, that’s because the camera is in the hands of an artist.

Very nice photographs.

Thanks for showing them here.
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Old 04-27-2018   #42
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I will admit to generally wanting to have as much detail as possible in a landscape, be that fine branches, leaf edges, or detail in the surface of snow. A less than excellent lens will not be able to do meet my requirements here.

Just yesterday I was looking at a print that a friend of mines student was working on. The negative was well exposed and developed, but even at 8x10 there was mush for tree branches. Shot with a cheap zoom on a Nikon N80. I guarantee had that same student shot that same scene with an excellent lens, and printed it with an excellent lens the image shot with the better lens would have much more detail. I suspect even a print of his negative printed in my darkroom would make a print with better detail.

Granted, many to most people wouldn’t fault the image made with the zoom if viewing it. But I can’t believe that they wouldn’t notice in a side by side comparison, and then prefer the image with greater detail.

I quite like the Apple ii screen vs iPad Pro comparison above. The differences are just as clear in what excellent lenses and materials deliver to the print. Is the zoom lens/Beslar lens print acceptable? Sure. Does that mean that viewers could not appreciate a Summilux ASPH/APO Componon print more? I don’t think so.

Granted, I’m a geek when it comes to this stuff, and I set extremely high standards for my prints. But I really do find that non-photographers can see and appreciate the extra detail. And that is as true of ISO 400 films as it is of ISO 25.
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Old 04-27-2018   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
Maggieo, that’s because the camera is in the hands of an artist.

Very nice photographs.

Thanks for showing them here.
Thank you, Bill. That's very kind of you to say.
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Old 04-27-2018   #44
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Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
See how long it takes to find a public viewer who likes / dislikes a photo because of the lens resolution or contrast.
FWIW I have had people note how soft images were taken with my (usually highly regarded) ZM 2/35 on film. When shot wide open even the centre of the image clearly lacked crispness, and this was often a problem when shooting in low light and mixing images at different apertures.

Oddly enough, the lens performed much better on digital. My first guess was a focus problem, but as has been observed the final image quality is the product of all the parts in the imaging chain. The digital images are also often much easier to sharpen than ISO400 film scans, where the sharpening can end up over emphasising the grain.

After much experimentation I ended up with a used 35mm Summilux, and I much prefer the results on film (Delta 400 and HP5). At f1.4 the centre of the image is sharper than the Zeiss at f2, and given that many of my film images are limited by available light the faster lens is currently “better” for me.

But once the lenses are stopped down, there is practically little or no difference in sharpness - and the cheaper Zeiss actually outperforms the Leica thanks to its much flatter plane of focus and zero distortion - both effects being clearly visible on film. If I was shooting a lot of landscape/architecture, I would have kept the Zeiss.

The moral? The “best” lens depends on what and how you are shooting, not just on the medium...
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Old 04-27-2018   #45
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Lenses are the first point of contact your camera has with the image. They are the eyes of the camera. On my 35mm cameras I want a VERY different look from my lenses than I would for my 120. I like a more classic look when photos include people, so I use lower contrast lenses. Contrast can be controlled somewhat in development, but it sure helps to have a lens that starts me off with a longer tonal range. I think that aspect is very visible regardless of what film stock. I personally have a hard time with high contrast lenses on my BW film.

When I want clinical sharpness like landscapes, the hasselblad comes out and I adjust my development.


In summary, get lenses that render in a way that fits your vision.

Might I also recommend "the edge of darkness" by Barry Thornton. I think he explains this sorta thing very well.
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Old 04-27-2018   #46
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To me high end glass is high resolution, less distortion possible, very controlled (hardly noticeable) chromatic aberrations, tonality, high acute details (macro and micro details) and resolving power. Then there is subjective areas that are wanted or not, like high contrast, low contrast, vignetting, astigmatism, barrel distortion, etc.

To me, if the chromatic aberration is there - then it's not high end. Like the Zuiko 50/1.8 MC or the last type. It's very good in many areas, almost as good as Leica - but it shows at certain situations. That can be said about many zooms also.
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Old 04-28-2018   #47
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FWIW, I think most people look at the subject in the photo and not the medium.

I've OOF pictures that annoy me and yet are highly praised and one on photocopy paper as a 4 sheet poster behind glass that no one has commented on when asked and that surprises them when I move it round to show the joins. I've also a pencil drawing that many mistake for a B&W print...

Anyway, that's just my 2d worth.

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Old 04-28-2018   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
FWIW, I think most people look at the subject in the photo and not the medium.

That`s right .... a simple fact which seems unusually resistant to being accepted.
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Old 04-28-2018   #49
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Retinax,

I guess you're victim of some peer group pressure?

I'd say: don't listen to your co-students or co-workers, particularly if they pretend to have the funds for *high-end glass* (whatever that may be). -- Have more self-esteem, that is!

Maggie stated absolutely correctly: a $ 30.00 Jupiter-8 can give excellent results, not distinguishable from a $ 3000.00 lens...
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Old 04-28-2018   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sepiareverb View Post
.................... Is the zoom lens/Beslar lens print acceptable? Sure. Does that mean that viewers could not appreciate a Summilux ASPH/APO Componon print more? I don’t think so. ..............
Bob, I think few could dispute your logic when considered in absolute terms. But one can wonder just how low is the bar before that point of rapidly diminishing returns is reached. No question that point is a function of personal style and subject matter where it makes much less difference in documentary style photography than in say, still life or landscape work.

Economically, one could wonder how much technical print quality is improved from spending a couple of hundred dollars on a YashicaMat and 80mm Beslar lens than a couple of thousand on a Summilux ASPH camera lens and APO Componon enlarging lens.
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Old 04-28-2018   #51
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I thought my iPad was doing a crappy job making photographs until I took my finger off of the lens!

Now, those photographs don’t look much different than when I use a Leica or Canon camera! Are there more important ingredients than tools when making photographs?

I think so. Most miss out learning, understanding the other stuff.
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Old 04-28-2018   #52
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Thank you all, lots of interesting points. Apparently after all, discussing this without bickering about definitions is indeed possible.
I started this thread with a technical question. The discussion is drifting towards the eternal discussion of content vs. technical quality. I think both content and medium matter. It doesn't always have to be high technical quality but the medium is integral to any work of art, so it's natural for artists or those who want to be to care about the medium and the tools. That can also mean that for a certain project, I want a toy camera or a pinhole, while for another, I want good technical quality. Quite true the point that that's easier and, depending on volume, often cheaper to achieve in medium format.
Carry on please!
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Old 04-28-2018   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
Thank you all, lots of interesting points. Apparently after all, discussing this without bickering about definitions is indeed possible.
I started this thread with a technical question. The discussion is drifting towards the eternal discussion of content vs. technical quality. I think both content and medium matter. It doesn't always have to be high technical quality but the medium is integral to any work of art, so it's natural for artists or those who want to be to care about the medium and the tools. That can also mean that for a certain project, I want a toy camera or a pinhole, while for another, I want good technical quality. Quite true the point that that's easier and, depending on volume, often cheaper to achieve in medium format.
Carry on please!
I still don't understand what your troubles are.

Let me compare:
There is a huge difference whether one plays a $$$ Bösendorfer, Bechstein or Steinway grand piano, or some crappy $ 500 synthesizer -- for the pianist (and for the audience, *if* they have some senses).

But there's actually *little* difference between a $$$ Bösendorfer, Bechstein or Steinway grand piano, and a humble $ 7000 upright piano, both for the pianist, *and* the audience.
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Old 04-28-2018   #54
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Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
... But one can wonder just how low is the bar before that point of rapidly diminishing returns is reached. No question that point is a function of personal style and subject matter where it makes much less difference in documentary style photography than in say, still life or landscape work.
Agreed, subject and even style play into this fully. I suspect many among us here above a certain age moved from 35mm to medium format and then to large format for a similar reason - subject matter not suited to the quality of the lenses available to us. I went from a Pentax 35mm set-up which was fine for all the music performance stuff I was shooting in the 80s to a Hasselblad and a Pentax 67 for the landscape work I was finding taking more of my time for my fun work, then to 4x5. I get prints from some of my current Leica lenses printed with much better enlarging lenses than I could afford back then than I got out of the 67 or the Hassy. Granted I’m a much better technician as well, but even returning to old negatives I’m getting prints with less detail due to the lenses I had back then. Again, I admit to being very much a grain gazer with silver prints (I was just asked to step back from the wall at the Whitney at the Zoe Leonard exhibit last week).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
Economically, one could wonder how much technical print quality is improved from spending a couple of hundred dollars on a YashicaMat and 80mm Beslar lens than a couple of thousand on a Summilux ASPH camera lens and APO Componon enlarging lens.
In my case it was a matter of spending less on used Leica and APO lenses than what I did spend on vastly less technically competent pieces years ago.


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Apparently after all, discussing this without bickering about definitions is indeed possible.
I had my doubts too! Quite enjoying this thread tho.
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Old 04-28-2018   #55
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For 35mm and "full frame" digital, speed and durability matter quite a lot; speed, in particular, if you often shoot wide open. "High end" lenses are often better at full aperture than "low end" ones.

Otherwise, at medium apertures, if you've never dropped a lens in your life... Stick with pretty much anything.

Cheers,

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Old 04-28-2018   #56
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I guess another thing to consider would be how one develops their 400 speed film, but that may be getting us into some other weeds.
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Old 04-28-2018   #57
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Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
I still don't understand what your troubles are.

Let me compare:
There is a huge difference whether one plays a $$$ Bösendorfer, Bechstein or Steinway grand piano, or some crappy $ 500 synthesizer -- for the pianist (and for the audience, *if* they have some senses).

But there's actually *little* difference between a $$$ Bösendorfer, Bechstein or Steinway grand piano, and a humble $ 7000 upright piano, both for the pianist, *and* the audience.
My original question in your analogy:
How noticeable is the difference between the $ 7000 piano and the Bösendorfer, Bechstein or Steinway if you record them on a simple tape recorder?
Then there were replies about which Steinway model I might be talking about, which tape recorder I might be using, and saying that the acoustic properties of the room matter a lot. One felt it necessary to emphasize that there indeed is a big difference between the cheap synth and big bucks grand piano. And then some people scandalously reveiled the divine revelation that the music one might want to play could be more important than all that.
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Old 04-28-2018   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
My original question in your analogy:
How noticeable is the difference between the $ 7000 piano and the Bösendorfer, Bechstein or Steinway if you record them on a simple tape recorder?
Then there were replies about which Steinway model I might be talking about, which tape recorder I might be using, and saying that the acoustic properties of the room matter a lot. One felt it necessary to emphasize that there indeed is a big difference between the cheap synth and big bucks grand piano. And then some people scandalously reveiled the divine revelation that the music one might want to play could be more important than all that.
I'm relieved

Yes, you're right: If the question is *How noticeable is the difference between the $ 7000 piano and the Bösendorfer, Bechstein or Steinway if you record them on a simple tape recorder?*, the answer is: zero, nada, garnüscht!
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Old 04-28-2018   #59
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"High end" lenses are often better at full aperture than "low end" ones.
NSS. Still not sure where most camera manufacturers' lenses fall on the high end/low-end (excellent/crap) scale though. No one wants to say. I do remember all those lens tests in Modern and Popular Photography in the 1960s and 1970s. It seemed that all the camera manufacturers' lenses were within a few LP/mm of each other. One manufacturer would have a slightly better 28mm lens, another would have a slightly better 35mm, and yet another would have a slightly better 50mm, so if you wanted the "best" lenses you would need to have a bunch of different bodies. Not surprisingly, no one ever adopted that approach, and yet a few excellent images have been captured over the years nonetheless. Seriously, if you believe that ne plus ultra lens resolution is the key, please explain why you don't see more dentists exhibiting their work in galleries and winning Pulitzer prizes.
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Old 04-28-2018   #60
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High end glass is always worth it, no matter what film you use. Buying really good lenses is a far better investment for you than either the film or the camera.

That and a good tripod.
This!^^^

I would add:

"If you buy quality, you only cry once.", Geoff Burch









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Old 04-28-2018   #61
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"I would add: "If you buy quality, you only cry once.", Geoff Burch"

So what do you do when you drop it?

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Old 04-28-2018   #62
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high end glass isn't just about being technically "better". sometimes it has a special "look" or quality that lower end glass does not exhibit. you hear images described as having "depth" or "beautiful color rendition", etc. these subjective qualities are usually seen in high-end lenses.
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Old 04-28-2018   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sumarongi View Post
I'm relieved

Yes, you're right: If the question is *How noticeable is the difference between the $ 7000 piano and the Bösendorfer, Bechstein or Steinway if you record them on a simple tape recorder?*, the answer is: zero, nada, garnüscht!
Of course the simple tape recorder is an exaggeration, but ISO 400 films in 135 are not the analogous of the very best recording equipment either. It'll show some differences for sure, what interests me is how much.
Some participants, sepiareverb for example, have answered my question, others have had a discussion about adjacent topics, it's all good.
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Old 04-28-2018   #64
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Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
For 35mm and "full frame" digital, speed and durability matter quite a lot; speed, in particular, if you often shoot wide open. "High end" lenses are often better at full aperture than "low end" ones.

Otherwise, at medium apertures, if you've never dropped a lens in your life... Stick with pretty much anything.

Cheers,

R.
Roger, I was hoping you'd chime in. Do you have thoughts to add about the point at which ISO 400 film comes into play as a limitation on the output, especially regarding resolution and sharpness? Is that point indeed beyond the performance of most lenses, in your experience?
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Old 04-28-2018   #65
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My original question in your analogy:
How noticeable is the difference between the $ 7000 piano and the Bösendorfer, Bechstein or Steinway if you record them on a simple tape recorder?
I think you are on a wrong way of understandig film sensibility. It is even not as "simple" as a tape recorder.
And the formula "high end lens" leaves way too much space for speculations and various interpretations.
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Old 04-28-2018   #66
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NSS. Still not sure where most camera manufacturers' lenses fall on the high end/low-end (excellent/crap) scale though. No one wants to say.
I don't want to say indeed. My choice of words might suggest that I think there is such a scale, so that was a bit unfortunate, I don't care really if we have the same underlying definitions here because I hoped that specific lenses would be mentioned in replies. If this were scientific work, we'd be at the stage of a pre-study upon which an actual survey, which is supposed to have results that can be generalized, would be designed. Here it's all anecdotes. So why would I limit the available input by saying "Voigtländer vs. Leica" if there might be people out there who have something to say about Pentax vs. Schneider or Jupiter whatever vs. Zeiss Sonnar?
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Old 04-28-2018   #67
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So why would I limit the available input by saying "Voigtländer vs. Leica" if there might be people out there who have something to say about Pentax vs. Schneider or Jupiter whatever vs. Zeiss Sonnar?
Because if you just say high-end/low-end no one knows what you are talking about. I asked for some objective measures about fifty posts back so we wouldn't get into brand name arguments, but no one wanted to go there either. As it stands, we are just speaking in truisms. Excellent lenses are better than good lenses. Who'd have thunk?
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Old 04-28-2018   #68
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Because if you just say high-end/low-end no one knows what you are talking about. So we are just speaking in truisms.
We don't have to, everyone is free to ground the discussion by talking about specific lenses, which I thought would happen anyway. My choice of words stems from my initial assumption that the point at which high ISO film might begin to obscure differences between lenses is pretty far toward the high end of the quality continuum. It was perhaps not the best way to put the question, considering how for example all 50s are created more equal than other FLs and because I'm really interested in how film might (or might not) equalize between lenses and would like to hear everyone's experience as to where that might happen on the lens quality continuum as well as one the film sensitivity continuum.
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Old 04-28-2018   #69
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I think you are on a wrong way of understandig film sensibility. It is even not as "simple" as a tape recorder.
And the formula "high end lens" leaves way too much space for speculations and various interpretations.
I was exaggerating, ISO 400 films are pretty good. But there must be a reason why people (even in this thread, but generally in the past) suggested copy films for lens testing, no? Or what am I mistaken about? And feel free to talk about any lenses you've tested or seen good tests of, just forget about high end or not if that's an obstacle, I'm sure anything will be interesting.
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Old 04-28-2018   #70
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Roger, I was hoping you'd chime in. Do you have thoughts to add about the point at which ISO 400 film comes into play as a limitation on the output, especially regarding resolution and sharpness? Is that point indeed beyond the performance of most lenses, in your experience?
My overall view is that hand holding matters a lot more than ISO 400 -- and that ISO 400 is much more likely to be hand held.

Purely on the basis what I've seen over the last 50 years or so, the "1/ISO" or "1/ASA" rule is substantially worthless, even with a 50mm lens. Too much depends on focal length, personal health, whether we're tired/ hungry/ out of breath/ frightened... That's before you start on exposure, development or subject matter

There are just too many variables, and they're all cumulative. With any given film, of any speed, on a tripod, of a test target, a "high end" (sharp, contrasty) lens will deliver different results from a "low end" (soft, low-contrast) lens; and by any objective criterion they'll be "better".

How much this matters in any given picture is another matter.

And, as I've already said, "high end" lenses can survive more abuse. My 35/1.4 Summilux survived a 6 foot drop onto cobbles in Prague; the late Geoffrey Crawley's spent six months in the bilges of his boat, though it did require a clean-up afterwards.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 04-28-2018   #71
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"Do you notice a lot of differences in sharpness and resolution when using ISO 400 films........"

That question is too broad. Every lens is different in terms of sharpness and resolution (and a high end lens does not necessarily mean either, as it may mean better IQ, bokeh, anything). The film speed is irrelevant. But, that's the short answer.
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Old 04-28-2018   #72
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"Do you notice a lot of differences in sharpness and resolution when using ISO 400 films........"

That question is too broad. Every lens is different in terms of sharpness and resolution (and a high end lens does not necessarily mean either, as it may mean better IQ, bokeh, anything). The film speed is irrelevant. But, that's the short answer.
"...or do they eliminate the differences between good and excellent lenses?" was how that question goes on, so what I really want to know is if you have have noticed such a phenomenon, or to what degree. I still don't think that's too broad but "The film speed is irrelevant" answers it then.
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Old 04-28-2018   #73
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Let me try another analogy, now including the humble drugstore ISO 400/27° film:

If one has to take notes, explicitly on very cheap scribbling paper, do you honestly recommend them they might use their most luxurious fountain pen, their say $ 1750 Sheaffer, or Cross, or Pelikan, or Montblanc, or Lamy?

Yes, or no?
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Old 04-28-2018   #74
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My overall view is that hand holding matters a lot more than ISO 400 -- and that ISO 400 is much more likely to be hand held.

Purely on the basis what I've seen over the last 50 years or so, the "1/ISO" or "1/ASA" rule is substantially worthless, even with a 50mm lens. Too much depends on focal length, personal health, whether we're tired/ hungry/ out of breath/ frightened... That's before you start on exposure, development or subject matter

There are just too many variables, and they're all cumulative. With any given film, of any speed, on a tripod, of a test target, a "high end" (sharp, contrasty) lens will deliver different results from a "low end" (soft, low-contrast) lens; and by any objective criterion they'll be "better".

How much this matters in any given picture is another matter.

And, as I've already said, "high end" lenses can survive more abuse. My 35/1.4 Summilux survived a 6 foot drop onto cobbles in Prague; the late Geoffrey Crawley's spent six months in the bilges of his boat, though it did require a clean-up afterwards.

Cheers,

R.
I sure agree about hand holding, that's why I asked about ISO 400 film - I suspect ISO 400 in 135 is a sweet spot for general hand held photography. I don't plan to drop my lenses but would feel better dropping something easily replaceable rather than something somewhat more sturdy, but much more expensive, thank you very much .

There seems to be a consensus that differences between lenses will always (well, at wide apertures) show on ISO 400 film.
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Old 04-28-2018   #75
retinax
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Let me try another analogy, now including the humble drugstore ISO 400/27° film:

If one has to take notes, explicitly on very cheap scribbling paper, do you honestly recommend them they might use their most luxurious fountain pen, their say $ 1750 Sheaffer, or Cross, or Pelikan, or Montblanc, or Lamy?

Yes, or no?
Huh Pelikan or Lamy were the brands we were used in 3rd grade, I didn't know they also make luxury pens. Anyway I don't follow this analogy and have no opinion at all on which pen to use
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Old 04-28-2018   #76
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Huh Pelikan or Lamy were the brands we were used in 3rd grade, I didn't know they also make luxury pens.
Yes, they definitely do


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Anyway I don't follow this analogy and have no opinion at all on which pen to use
For the ghastly cheap scribbling paper, even I use just some cheap ink roller, a pencil, or even a ball point (if *nothing* else is at hand).

Better now?
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Old 04-28-2018   #77
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Yes, they definitely do
Oh. Well their cheaper products had their share in making sure I won't become a fountain pen afficinado, ever. Come to think of it, I's suggest using one's favorite pen in any case because I assume the joy of using it is the main reason for owning it. Can you unveil what this means in film and lens terms now?
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Old 04-28-2018   #78
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Oh. Well their cheaper products had their share in making sure I won't become a fountain pen afficinado, ever. Come to think of it, I's suggest using one's favorite pen in any case because I assume the joy of using it is the main reason for owning it. Can you unveil what this means in film and lens terms now?
^^ vide supra, I've edited
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Old 04-28-2018   #79
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I see, so one shouldn't use ones best lens on cheap drugstore film for fear of wearing it out?
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Old 04-28-2018   #80
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Some people enjoy using their favorite pen (lens) irrespective of the paper (film) they are using.
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