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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

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Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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More money for groceries....
Old 04-24-2019   #1
Bill Pierce
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More money for groceries....

In the digital age, with the possibility of decent image quality at high ISO, I wonder if we need high speed lenses? I think the answer is yes and no. With the elevated “film speeds” that digital offers, you can shoot almost anything with an f/2 prime. Even a slower zoom, especially if it is equipped with image stabilization, can take on what was referred to in the predigital days as available darkness.

Then why would someone want a faster lens? Is f/1.4 going to open up a wealth of opportunities that can’t also be handled by f/2 or are you just indulging in conspicuous consumption and saying “My lens is bigger and more expensive than yours.” The truth is that SOME, not all, high speed lenses are going to deliver better image quality at wider apertures than the slower lenses at the same aperture. But will it make a difference in your photography? If that high-speed lens is really better, will your sensor show that difference. Do you present your images in a form that benefits from the improvement (printed images, cropped or in large sizes)? Does your shooting technique preserve the subtle differences? And, of course, we have to accept the fact that f/5.6 or 8 are the great equalizer among all but the worst lenses.

I think that once upon a time high-speed lenses were necessary for the available darkness shots. I think in the digital world those days are gone. Sometimes that expensive lens is a little better at the big apertures, but are we good enough to take advantage of it? Sometimes the slower, smaller lens is just more convenient to shoot with and there’s no real difference in the image quality in the final presentation and there’s more money left for groceries. All this being said by a photographer who owns a lot of high speed lenses and sometimes wonders why.

As always, your thoughts……..
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Old 04-24-2019   #2
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I think wider apertures let you play with the relationship of near elements and far ones, with depth-of-focus and so on. Also, I find it easier to add noise in post than to take it away. I have a f:3.5 Heliar and an f:1.4 Summilux. They both make sharp pictures at f:3.5. But the Summilux offers soooo many more choices in terms of how to present a scene. Just my opinion of course . . .

To be fair, the trend you identified Bill is surely why so many DSLR's are packaged with moderate speed zoom lenses these days. Not for me though. I own one zoom lens, and I don't use it enough to be certain why I keep it around.
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Old 04-24-2019   #3
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This has been discussed not too long ago in this thread https://www.rangefinderforum.com/for...postid=2855919 (with a focus on wides). DSLRs still benefit from brighter finder image with fast lenses, but with mirrorless I think it comes down to this: Some people want thin depth of field (I think the bokeh craze on its way out and more interesting ways to deal with the third dimension are beginning to be more appreciated by the masses as all the phones can now make fake "bokeh" and are getting better at it), some nerds (not a bad word, but these are people who make decision for technical quality rather than artistic reasons) will accept thin depth of field for better signal-to-noise ratio, and the third group wants large depth of field. Of course most of us might find ourselves in different groups at different times and we just want to be prepared for the once in a lifetime opportunity to take that breathtaking portrait of a mermaid at midnight... plus prestige...

Or one could break it down this way: landscapers have always known that they are often better served with slow lenses, fashion and portrait photographers will continue to use fast lenses as long is the look is in demand, which will probably not completely go away, but documentary photographers who used to need fast lenses for lack of light now only need them on special occasions, but many of them will continue to buy fast lenses because they want to be prepared for these special occasions, to take pictures in darker conditions than previously considered possible.
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Old 04-24-2019   #4
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I use almost exclusively a 35mm f2.0 on my FF DSLR. But then again I'm not doing the kind of shooting that would take advantage of high speed lenses. I save in that way for groceries and also the cost for dust cleaning of the sensor.
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Old 04-24-2019   #5
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For High School Sports (a real exercise in available darkness), those f2.8 apertures were a godsend on the telephotos. But boy were they heavy. My current "ideal kit" is a mirrorless body with an adapter to use small rangefinder glass. Remarkable what good images you can get from the modern mirrorless camera bodies, even in low light. And the camera, bag, batteries, and six lenses all weigh less than one 300mm f2.8. Not sure if it helps my grocery budget, but it sure saves my back.

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Old 04-24-2019   #6
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I like the way optics work at their extreme for the same reason I like driving fast in a car or riding a motorcycle fast. The closer you get anything to it's limit the better the rewards in my opinion.
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Old 04-24-2019   #7
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In terms of groceries?

I"m not sure if here is really this many and not expensive cameras which will give clear ISO 12800.
I'm not even sure if here is any digital camera which will give as good 12800 as 1600.

The way I'm checking is looking at high resolution test images on DPr reviews reports for each camera.

I mean where are many cameras with decent 12800, but non of them are a good as on 1600.
And with 1600, 1.2-1.4 comes handy.

But if you don't mind muted colors, odd tonality and so-so sharpness ...sure thing, smash it at 12800 and 5.6.
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Old 04-24-2019   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I mean where are many cameras with decent 12800, but non of them are a good as on 1600. And with 1600, 1.2-1.4 comes handy.
None of this came in handy until the advent of digital. How did we get along with just being able to push Tri-X to 1600 knowing the inherent quality loss in doing so. Everyone should do a search of their LR database and report back how many hits you get for high ISO and f/1.4. If you get any, ask yourself whether a slower shutter speed and a lower ISO would have resulted in a better image. The need for faster lenses is the current obsession with bokeh. Afflicted photographers think if they shoot with a 1.4 lens it will make them a better photographer. Again, do a LR search for f/1.4 and see high many hits you actually actually get.

Apropos of the OP, I think Fuji is on to something with its range of Fujicrons which are wildly successful. Take a look at the Fuji 23mm f2 and the 35mm f2 in relation to the new Nikon 35mm f1.8 and 50mm f1.8, which are huge by comparison. Why Nikon went with f1.8 instead of f2 is beyond me. 1/3rd of a stop is insignificant. Marketing.
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Old 04-24-2019   #9
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Agree.

But, always exceptions aren’t there, I do have a Canon 50 f1.4 that I bought new for about $350 from B&H and I have it on one of my Canon DSLR cameras most of the time.

When I made headshot portraits I used a 135 f2.0 lens on my DSLR. I also would use a 150 for medium format.

Smiles.

And it was also fun. I enjoy people, they, in turn, enjoyed me. This atmosphere was reflected in photographs I made.
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Old 04-24-2019   #10
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Bill, as always I appreciate your thoughtful topic starters, even if I don't often contribute.

It's been a while since i worked on the retail side of things, but back when the D300 and EOS 5D had come out, and there was buzz that those signaled the death of fast primes and giant constant-aperture zooms. And yet here we are still with them, deep into the digital era with 12,800 ISO and full-frame sensors. I think that speaks to what you're getting at: a big zoom like the 28-70 is a status symbol, and maybe an automatic prescription to an orthopedist.

But you comparing f/1.4 and f/2 lenses hints that you're speaking specifically about primes especially 'normal' lengths. And now that I think about it, I don't think there is much in the way of slower modern primes, other than the standard 1.8s, the way there used to be from the major SLR manufacturers. I'd guess that the market (RFs excluded, more on that) is divided into two camps of zoom and prime, and if you're going to make primes, you're going to throw everything you can at them to differentiate them from a run of the mill zoom.
Slightly related: when I shot Nikon more, I was ecstatic to swap my 85 1.8 to a 1.4. Not for that extra half stop, but because it was so much better of a lens. My desire for it had nothing to do with a bigger, faster lens, but because the better optics and build quality were reserved for that model.

RFs are a bit different, as we all know, and there are plenty of fine slower lenses, and plenty of faster-for-the-sake-of-being-faster lenses (CV 50/1.1 anyone?) that aren't noticeably better optically. A Summicron is nothing to sneer at, and a big lens changes the whole balance of the setup. RF and mirrorless users are a lot more cognizant of the haptics of a camera kit, at least going on the sentiment on this forum.

When I switched fully from SLR to RF, of course I was looking for fast lenses. Both coming from that mentality of faster = better lens, and just the feeling that a faster lens was necessary for hand-holding in available light as it is with an SLR. I'm not much a fan of big grain and pushed film, and the M8 was, to me, unusable above ISO 320 (but beautiful below).
Speaking specifically about digital, now that I'm onto an M 262, I find my F/2-2.8 lenses more than adequate; they're small and sharp and I'm not missing out much. I've got 3 each of 35s and 50s ranging from the Canon 50 1.4 to the Skopar 2.5 and while I was planing to sell the slower ones, now I'm not so sure, now that they have more utility. Wide open, the fast lenses aren't sharp and have a borderline unusably thin plane of focus, but on the other hand bring their own optical qualities.
On the other, other hand (foot?), as you bring up, are those qualities really noticeable in the end product to someone without knowledge of the lenses? I think even to the layperson there's a visible difference between a kit zoom and a cheap prime, even if they can't articulate it, but few will be able to make a distinction between, say the ZM C-sonnar and Planar.
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Old 04-24-2019   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I"m not sure if here is really this many and not expensive cameras which will give clear ISO 12800.
I'm not even sure if here is any digital camera which will give as good 12800 as 1600.

The way I'm checking is looking at high resolution test images on DPr reviews reports for each camera.

I mean where are many cameras with decent 12800, but non of them are a good as on 1600.
And with 1600, 1.2-1.4 comes handy.

But if you don't mind muted colors, odd tonality and so-so sharpness ...sure thing, smash it at 12800 and 5.6.
I agree. Also, high shutter speeds in low light.
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Old 04-24-2019   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
None of this came in handy until the advent of digital. How did we get along with just being able to push Tri-X to 1600 knowing the inherent quality loss in doing so. Everyone should do a search of their LR database and report back how many hits you get for high ISO and f/1.4. If you get any, ask yourself whether a slower shutter speed and a lower ISO would have resulted in better quality.

Like John already mentioned, try to talk like this then you need at least 1/250.
I already tried it, with kids. Good luck to you to get something decent from pillows fight at slow shutter.

Also what bw has to do with my comment? Did you read about muted colors?
How often did you pushed c-41 film to 1600 back then?

Or have you tried to push Svema? You know, not all of us had access to Kodak bw film back then.
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Old 04-24-2019   #13
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I owened the Canon 50mm f1.8 LTM when I first bought my Canon P. It was great; small and lightweight, the f1.8 was almost never necessary. My copy had some pretty bad coating damage, so when I went to buy a new one, not a single one on Ebay had fine optics. Not one! So I went with the Canon 50mm f1.4 LTM which is a great lens, but it's bigger and it intruded into the 50mm frame lines on my P. The f1.4 was almost never necessary for me, and I didn't feel confident focusing that on my P. With Leicas the 50mm framelines aren't covered by it, but it's still bigger than I want in a lens. I wish I could get a great copy of the f1.8 lens, but there doesn't seem to be any available.
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Old 04-24-2019   #14
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I still like a fast lens, though it is less necessary in modern times. More apertures the better. But faster lenses are not terribly expensive if purchased (a) used and (b) outside the Leica system (excluding Russian M39 glass), (c) the Zeiss, many Sony, and "Art" and other higher-end 3rd-party lenses . In the Nikon lens ecosystem, a 50mm 1.4 AF-D can be had for $170 on the used market (which is what I paid for mine). There are also advantanges in shutter speed for less motion blur.

The avantage for me is zooms. No longer needed is the size, weight, and cost of fast fixed aperture zoom. Perfectly content with a less expensive variable aperture zoom. Smaller, less expensive and you can get away with losing a couple stops at the tele end. I'm perfectly content with my $35, 70-210 f4-5.6 AF-D. (Granted a steal, got lucky on that one, but still comparatively cheap at average used rates).

I say if you really want to have more money for groceries, stay away from new lenses and stick with competent mass-produced "non-sexy" performers by the mass producers of lenses like Nikon and Canon, especially Nikon, that have committed to a mount, have tremendous backwards compatibility, and have been cranking out perfectly good "D" series glass in F-mount for in some cases decades. Loads floating around used and in good condition 100's and thousands less in some cases.
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Old 04-24-2019   #15
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Why does anyone need 24mp full-frame cameras with max ISO of 32367 or whatever when phone cameras are about the same in most shooting conditions and displayed on typical monitors via Insta/FB?

Alternatively, shooting dance recitals with fast dance moves and low light from the press box with a 80-200mm f/2.8, ISO 6400 wasn't enough in many cases and looked bad. Would love to have had faster glass or higher ISO ability.

Another alternative - I like to shoot landscape and I typically shoot ISO 100 and f/22 or even up to f/64. Long exposures, obviously, on a tripod, with large sheets of film.

The idea that a camera's ability at whatever ISO or a lens' max aperture is "unnecessary" for someone else is just silly. Unless someone is asking what they "need' for XYZ lighting condition, it is an irrelevant conversation.
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Old 04-24-2019   #16
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Digital age! I've been willing to accept the low light penalty of moderate fast lenses form the film days. My 50 f1.8 or 24 f2.8 or 85 f2 or even my tiny 200mm f5 are plenty for my OM-1 use, that and a compact tripod. This has been true for me from the early 70's. My lenses are very compact, lightweight, and half the price of their faster versions. Filters are smaller and cheaper also and 49mm covers the whole range from 24 to 200.
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Old 04-24-2019   #17
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High speed lenses extend the possibilities at the expense of extra size, weight and cost. I like making portraits in low light (though my opportunities are limited) so I find faster is useful, to avoid motion blur, reduce artifacts and isolate subject. I'm not sure I'd like to carry around some of those modern, expensive monster-size fast lenses though.. my fastest lenses are 50mm f/1.4 primes from the film days.
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Old 04-25-2019   #18
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Smaller, lighter, cheaper are the advantages of slower lenses, and modern sensors have made them more useful in a wider range of settings than ever before.
However......With any sensor, even the most current ones, Signal to Noise ratio, Dynamic Range, Tonal Range, and Color Sensitivity are all going to be better at base ISO than at higher ISOs, (generally any ISO higher than base ISO). The richest, most malleable files come at native ISO. If all you want from a camera is “sharp”, a nice small f4-5.6 zoom is great for that.
If you want it all, a fast 50 at base ISO is as useful as it ever was.
Whether any of that matters to someone is a personal decision, but the fact that there are still tradeoffs to be made hasn’t changed.
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Old 04-25-2019   #19
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For my needs f 2 with a current APS-C sensor is fast enough. I have owned f 1.4 and 1.2 lens with APS-C sensors, but I rarely used then wide open. I sold them.

Of course there are projects that benefit from wider apertures (and larger sensors). And it's always nice to have flexibility even if the lenses cost more and are larger and heavier.
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Old 04-25-2019   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
When I made headshot portraits I used a 135 f2.0 lens on my DSLR. I also would use a 150 for medium format.
But did you use it at f2 aperture? You must have really dialed down your strobes.

Quote:
And it was also fun. I enjoy people, they, in turn, enjoyed me. This atmosphere was reflected in photographs I made.
And that fun and atmosphere was the result of using an f2 lens? Wouldn't have been as much fun with an f2.8?
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Old 04-26-2019   #21
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The lenses I use the most are all f/2 or f/2.8. I have faster lenses but they don't get much use unless I want to take a picture at f/1.4 for the limited DOF effect. But I seldom go for an effect when I take pictures. And the bokeh thing...not an issue for me since all lenses these days seem to have decent transitions from sharp to soft.
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Old 04-26-2019   #22
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Ultra fast lenses (meaning lenses faster than about f/2.8) in the film era enabled two things:
  • Ability to make usable exposures in poor light with modest sensitivity
  • Accurate focusing with SLR cameras
in addition to enabling extended control of focus zone with miniature format (35mm film) cameras.

That last is the reason why fast lenses remain viable (and necessary for some purposes) in today's digital camera era with 35mm sized sensors that can achieve eight to ten stops more light sensitivity than 35mm film with good quality results, and with cameras that have even smaller than 35mm format size.

If exquisite control of focus zone isn't needed for your particular photographic aims (and is it certainly not needed all the time for anyone's!), then there's little reason to spend the additional money for ultra-fast lenses.

The problem is that while you likely don't really need the exquisitely shallow focus zone all the time, on those occasions when you do, if you don't have the ultra fast lens, you can't get it. And the modern ultra fast lens typically performs as well as the lighter, smaller, cheaper lens when stopped down. The disadvantage of the ultra-fast lens, without price consideration, is that it's always a bit heavier, bulkier, and less appealing to carry.

"You pays your money and you takes your chances." I only have a couple of lenses faster than f/2.8 and I only very very rarely find myself wishing for something faster. Most of my photography with most lenses in the wide to short tele range seems to fall out with around f/4 to f/8 lens openings. But every once in a while, a special lens like the Walter Mandler designed Summilux 35mm f/1.4 v2 (circa 1972) used wide open makes its premium price well worth the expense:


Leica M-D typ 262 + Summilux 35mm f/1.4 v2
ISO 320 @ f/1.4 @ 1/30 second
No editing aside from the square crop and border treatment.

Since this particular lens also happens to be small and only modestly heavier than the similar vintage Summicron 35mm f/2, the extra $500 or so price premium I paid was money well spent. I can eat a little lower on the food chain for a month or two and make that up easily.

G

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
In the digital age, with the possibility of decent image quality at high ISO, I wonder if we need high speed lenses? I think the answer is yes and no. With the elevated “film speeds” that digital offers, you can shoot almost anything with an f/2 prime. Even a slower zoom, especially if it is equipped with image stabilization, can take on what was referred to in the predigital days as available darkness.

Then why would someone want a faster lens? Is f/1.4 going to open up a wealth of opportunities that can’t also be handled by f/2 or are you just indulging in conspicuous consumption and saying “My lens is bigger and more expensive than yours.” The truth is that SOME, not all, high speed lenses are going to deliver better image quality at wider apertures than the slower lenses at the same aperture. But will it make a difference in your photography? If that high-speed lens is really better, will your sensor show that difference. Do you present your images in a form that benefits from the improvement (printed images, cropped or in large sizes)? Does your shooting technique preserve the subtle differences? And, of course, we have to accept the fact that f/5.6 or 8 are the great equalizer among all but the worst lenses.

I think that once upon a time high-speed lenses were necessary for the available darkness shots. I think in the digital world those days are gone. Sometimes that expensive lens is a little better at the big apertures, but are we good enough to take advantage of it? Sometimes the slower, smaller lens is just more convenient to shoot with and there’s no real difference in the image quality in the final presentation and there’s more money left for groceries. All this being said by a photographer who owns a lot of high speed lenses and sometimes wonders why.

As always, your thoughts……..
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Old 04-26-2019   #23
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But every once in a while, a special lens like the Walter Mandler designed Summilux 35mm f/1.4 v2 (circa 1972) used wide open ...

Since this particular lens also happens to be small and only modestly heavier than the similar vintage Summicron 35mm f/2, the extra $500 or so price premium I paid was money well spent. I can eat a little lower on the food chain for a month or two and make that up easily.

G
what are we looking at here? sorry but i don't see 500 bucks on that cafe table.
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Old 04-26-2019   #24
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For High School Sports (a real exercise in available darkness), those f2.8 apertures were a godsend on the telephotos. But boy were they heavy. My current "ideal kit" is a mirrorless body with an adapter to use small rangefinder glass. Remarkable what good images you can get from the modern mirrorless camera bodies, even in low light. And the camera, bag, batteries, and six lenses all weigh less than one 300mm f2.8. Not sure if it helps my grocery budget, but it sure saves my back.

Best,
-Tim
I shot a lot on indoor basketball - before my sons went off to college. I was often shooting at f/2.8 with my Nikon 70-200 mm at ISO 6400 (Nikon D700 and then D750). Yes, there was noise, but they were pretty good. But I absolutely loved stumbling into those rare away games to discover that I could shoot at ISO 1600, because the images were so much cleaner.
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Old 04-26-2019   #25
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Originally Posted by Pherdinand View Post
what are we looking at here? sorry but i don't see 500 bucks on that cafe table.
An unmistakeable and lovely rendering quality. Sorry if you’re blind to it.

G
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Old 04-26-2019   #26
ptpdprinter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
An unmistakeable and lovely rendering quality. Sorry if you’re blind to it.
It just looks out of focus to me. Camera shake perhaps?
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Old 04-27-2019   #27
Godfrey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
It just looks out of focus to me. Camera shake perhaps?
Its critically focused and there is no motion blur. At 200%, a detail attached. You can see the stitching in the hat embroidery and the hairs on his head.



This is how a Summilux 35mm f/1.4 v2 renders at f/1.4. The effect is that of a Zeiss Softar 1 ... fine detail inside a soft glow. It's what makes the lens so sought after. The effect diminishes as you stop it down ... by f/5.6 it is razor sharp. This is what Walter Mandler intended.

If you want razor sharp, buy the Summicron 35mm f/2. Or the later Summilux lenses, particularly those with ASPH lens elements. They're designed to be both more evenly illuminated and without the glowy effect wide open.

Another example, this one at f/2:



This rendering is why people pay money for these lenses. They're special. If it's not to your taste, don't buy one.

G
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Old 04-27-2019   #28
MIkhail
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Ultra fast lenses (meaning lenses faster than about f/2.8) in the film era enabled two things:
  • Ability to make usable exposures in poor light with modest sensitivity
  • Accurate focusing with SLR cameras
in addition to enabling extended control of focus zone with miniature format (35mm film) cameras.

That last is the reason why fast lenses remain viable (and necessary for some purposes) in today's digital camera era with 35mm sized sensors that can achieve eight to ten stops more light sensitivity than 35mm film with good quality results, and with cameras that have even smaller than 35mm format size.

If exquisite control of focus zone isn't needed for your particular photographic aims (and is it certainly not needed all the time for anyone's!), then there's little reason to spend the additional money for ultra-fast lenses.

The problem is that while you likely don't really need the exquisitely shallow focus zone all the time, on those occasions when you do, if you don't have the ultra fast lens, you can't get it. And the modern ultra fast lens typically performs as well as the lighter, smaller, cheaper lens when stopped down. The disadvantage of the ultra-fast lens, without price consideration, is that it's always a bit heavier, bulkier, and less appealing to carry.

"You pays your money and you takes your chances." I only have a couple of lenses faster than f/2.8 and I only very very rarely find myself wishing for something faster. Most of my photography with most lenses in the wide to short tele range seems to fall out with around f/4 to f/8 lens openings. But every once in a while, a special lens like the Walter Mandler designed Summilux 35mm f/1.4 v2 (circa 1972) used wide open makes its premium price well worth the expense:


Leica M-D typ 262 + Summilux 35mm f/1.4 v2
ISO 320 @ f/1.4 @ 1/30 second
No editing aside from the square crop and border treatment.

Since this particular lens also happens to be small and only modestly heavier than the similar vintage Summicron 35mm f/2, the extra $500 or so price premium I paid was money well spent. I can eat a little lower on the food chain for a month or two and make that up easily.

G

No matter where you go, there you are.
I saddens me that one has to get Leica M-D typ 262 + Summilux 35mm f/1.4 setup to achieve this kind of quality. Not all of us can afford this perfection.
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Old 04-27-2019   #29
Bill Clark
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Quote:
But did you use it at f2 aperture? You must have really dialed down your strobes.
I like using window light. Many headshot portraits I used window light. I learned that from my coach Monte.

When I used flash it was Quantum. Lots of power settings available. It came with a nice diffuser that popped on, if I chose to use it. ISO of camera usually at 160 like the film I used in past. Operated camera and flash in manual mode. Used pocket wizards.

Bought f2 lens so as I could use it at places like wedding receptions with available light. I could turn the pocket wizard transmitter on or off using the flash or not.


Quote:
that fun and atmosphere was the result of using an f2 lens? Wouldn't have been as much fun with an f2.8?
Sounds like you’re kinda of wondering about that lens. Any reason why? Or are you just making conversation?

I believe that a fun atmosphere is created by people not equipment.

At any rate, it’s what I did back then.
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Old 04-27-2019   #30
Saul
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Its critically focused and there is no motion blur. At 200%, a detail attached. You can see the stitching in the hat embroidery and the hairs on his head.



This is how a Summilux 35mm f/1.4 v2 renders at f/1.4. The effect is that of a Zeiss Softar 1 ... fine detail inside a soft glow. It's what makes the lens so sought after. The effect diminishes as you stop it down ... by f/5.6 it is razor sharp. This is what Walter Mandler intended.

If you want razor sharp, buy the Summicron 35mm f/2. Or the later Summilux lenses, particularly those with ASPH lens elements. They're designed to be both more evenly illuminated and without the glowy effect wide open.

Another example, this one at f/2:



This rendering is why people pay money for these lenses. They're special. If it's not to your taste, don't buy one.

G
Wouldn't a cheaper alternative be a soft-focus filter?
Sorry, but the image appears (to me) to just be soft.
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Old 04-27-2019   #31
Ko.Fe.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saul View Post
Wouldn't a cheaper alternative be a soft-focus filter?
Sorry, but the image appears (to me) to just be soft.
Entire image rendering is just awful. IMO. Where are much better lenses, but no status, only good rendering.
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Old 04-28-2019   #32
Bill Pierce
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My feeling, especially with primes, is that the expensive higher speed lens is actually offering more than an increase in speed. Face it, there’s not that much difference in usability (or depth-of-field) between, for example, an expensive f/1.4 lens and a more economical f/2 lens. The expensive lens at f/2 or 2.8 is often a better performer than the less expensive lens. Not exactly a huge surprise. Nor is it surprising that as you continue to stop down both lenses the quality difference diminishes. This is, of course, a glittering generality. Going back to the days when sheet film was king, slow specialty lenses existed that were often better than higher speed ones and to a limited extent that is paralleled in today’s smaller digital cameras. But, in many cases, more money means not just more speed, but more high aperture image quality. Less money means smaller, easier to handle and probably just as good in good light.
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Old 04-28-2019   #33
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Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post



Are you pulling our legs? This is awful, and no-one can see what the lens can do because it's full of digital artifacts, blotches. Probably a very compressed jpeg.
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Old 04-28-2019   #34
Ko.Fe.
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Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
My feeling, especially with primes, is that the expensive higher speed lens is actually offering more than an increase in speed. Face it, there’s not that much difference in usability (or depth-of-field) between, for example, an expensive f/1.4 lens and a more economical f/2 lens. The expensive lens at f/2 or 2.8 is often a better performer than the less expensive lens. Not exactly a huge surprise. Nor is it surprising that as you continue to stop down both lenses the quality difference diminishes. This is, of course, a glittering generality. Going back to the days when sheet film was king, slow specialty lenses existed that were often better than higher speed ones and to a limited extent that is paralleled in today’s smaller digital cameras. But, in many cases, more money means not just more speed, but more high aperture image quality. Less money means smaller, easier to handle and probably just as good in good light.
Nothing else renders like Canon 50L (for me). Which is f1.2. Even at f5.6.
I miss this plastic and glue 1K$ lens.

And not so long time ago I have noticed what this Leica 50 1.1 if not faster lens (can't spell it name right, nor I'm able to own it) has much better oof rendering comparing to any other 50mm lens I have seen. Again, at f5.6.
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Old 04-28-2019   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Its critically focused and there is no motion blur. At 200%, a detail attached. You can see the stitching in the hat embroidery and the hairs on his head.
The stitching and [individual] hairs are not visible.
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