What Nikkors have most 3D pop (microcontrast)?

Started Apr 30, 2012 | Discussions thread
Regular MemberPosts: 339
Re: CLARIFICATION of 3D Pop and Microcontrast
In reply to Press Correspondent, May 1, 2012

Thank you vey much for this!

As you have explained elsewhere, in practice we get a convolution of subject and lens microcontrast, which is why different lenses may be optimal for different purposes. AND which is also why this MTF50-"definition" of "sharpness" has stuck so much.

If a lens is well below 50% resolution of a critical subject, it often doesn't help how much microcontrast the subject offers, the rendering won't be good. If it's not critical, and microcontrast is good, it might still be acceptable, though, which is why we often praise lenses with rather modest corner MTFs for their overall performance. And because the overall resolution will often contribute to the microcontrast upon downsampling, we seldom see lenses that are grossly outresolved by the sensor finding lots of favor, even if they may seem mostly perfect on lower resolution sensors. The 105/2 DC Nikkor may turn out to be an example of this, it will be very interesting to see how it performs on 24MP DX. When I had a D1H (2.7MP), lots of lenses with good microcontrast seemed mostly perfect!

I think the MTFs at 15-25 lpm, as you suggest, may be indicators of microcontrast. At lower frequency, I guess it may be more indicative of general contrast. But I'm not sure this is the whole story. For example, some lenses, like the 18-200 VR II, have very high MTFs centrally in the wide end, but I have never seen it touted as a microcontrast wonder.

The MTF measurements have AFAIK been beased on a black/white target, with the possible assumption that performance with such a target is representative for performance with lower contrast targets. Which may be wrong, as high-contrast lenses don't necessarily have high microcontrast. And suble nuances in color reproduction may also play an important part here.

As for "cheaper" lenses, I would guess the AF-S 300/4, the AF-S 60/2.8 micro and the AI-S 50/1.2 could show good microcontrast. And I think the AF-S 24-70/2.8 isn't bad, either.

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