Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?

Started May 13, 2013 | Discussions
Canyongazer
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Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
May 13, 2013

As we know, most lenses hit peak performance when stopped down two or three stops from max aperture.  Coupled with the desire of, admittedly most, for big holes when wide open, this leads to largish, heavy lenses with best performance typically at about f 4. It also means great Depth of Field is gained at the expense of inferior lens performance.

Since most landscape photographers often prefer to be in f 8 to f16 territory and favor smaller, lighter gear, would they --- would you --- be attracted to a Landscape Series of primes with maximum apertures of f 4?

These lenses could be small, light, high performers peaking at, perhaps, f 11 for the shorter, f 16 for the longer ones. They should be relatively easy to design and build, selling for significantly less than their f 1.4 / f 2 counterparts.

20, 30, 50, 90mm?

Perhaps it would represent too small a potential market for Nikon or even Sigma. Perhaps not.

Voigtlander? Zeiss?  They don't even have to be autofocus.

What do you think?

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brightcolours
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Whah?
In reply to Canyongazer, May 13, 2013

Canyongazer wrote:

As we know, most lenses hit peak performance when stopped down two or three stops from max aperture.  Coupled with the desire of, admittedly most, for big holes when wide open, this leads to largish, heavy lenses with best performance typically at about f 4. It also means great Depth of Field is gained at the expense of inferior lens performance.

Hmm, Which lenses have best performance at f4? Lenses usually do not have best  performance wide open. When you close down, many lens elements only use a central part, improving sharpness. But it is DIFFRACTION which lowers resolution when you close down more and more. Diffraction caused by the small hole the light has to pass through, and the distance of that aperture which influences how big the diffraction impact will be.

Since most landscape photographers often prefer to be in f 8 to f16 territory and favor smaller, lighter gear, would they --- would you --- be attracted to a Landscape Series of primes with maximum apertures of f 4?

Only for the weight loss.

These lenses could be small, light, high performers peaking at, perhaps, f 11 for the shorter, f 16 for the longer ones.

Impossible. The only reason your above example lens loses resolution above f4 (wonder which camera has such high res. that f4 will show max. resolution...) is due to diffraction. You can't have lenses that show no diffraction softening at f11 or f16.

They should be relatively easy to design and build, selling for significantly less than their f 1.4 / f 2 counterparts.

20, 30, 50, 90mm?

Perhaps it would represent too small a potential market for Nikon or even Sigma. Perhaps not.

Voigtlander? Zeiss?  They don't even have to be autofocus.

What do you think?

I think you just do not have enough knowledge about lenses, and are oblivious to what diffraction is and does. Which is not bad, there are many things I do not know either. But yeah. read up on what diffraction is, and how it lowers resolution.

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inasir1971
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to Canyongazer, May 14, 2013

Interesting you mention Voigtlander because they have, or rather had, just the lens you describe - the Voigtlander 90/3.5 APO Lanthar SL II. 90mm, f/3.5 maximum aperture, distortion free, sharp right from wide open, very small, light and beautifully made. At around $450 (new) it was a bargain. (Voigtlander is a brand name licensed by Cosina who also manufacture the Zeiss ZF/ZE/ZA(/ZK) line to which this lens bears more than a passing resemblance)

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ChristianHass
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to inasir1971, May 14, 2013

The Voigtlander 20mm f3.5 also fits the description.

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coudet
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to Canyongazer, May 14, 2013

Canyongazer wrote:

These lenses could be small, light, high performers peaking at, perhaps, f 11 for the shorter, f 16 for the longer ones.

Lens that peaks at F/16 is not a high performer. It would be the worst lens I have ever seen in my life.

Read brightcolours' post.

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pluton
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Re: Whah?
In reply to brightcolours, May 14, 2013

brightcolours wrote:

I think you just do not have enough knowledge about lenses, and are oblivious to what diffraction is and does. Which is not bad, there are many things I do not know either. But yeah. read up on what diffraction is, and how it lowers resolution.

In real life,  photographers use f/11 and f/16 every day with superb results, and a modest set of slow speed primes would be instantly attractive for many, but of course not all, users.

My concern is that the MFT and APSC mirrorless formats will suck up all market demand for smaller equipment, so the manufacturers will be even less motivated to make small primes for FX/DX as we go forward.

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-KB-

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brightcolours
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Re: Whah?
In reply to pluton, May 14, 2013

pluton wrote:

brightcolours wrote:

I think you just do not have enough knowledge about lenses, and are oblivious to what diffraction is and does. Which is not bad, there are many things I do not know either. But yeah. read up on what diffraction is, and how it lowers resolution.

In real life,  photographers use f/11 and f/16 every day with superb results,

What does this have to do at all with what the OP was talking about (stating that lenses peak at f4 and he wants them to peak at f11/16)??

Anyway, landscape photographers who use f16 on FF (or APS-C) do not get "superb" results. If they feel their results are good enough, good for them. But superb they are not.

and a modest set of slow speed primes would be instantly attractive for many, but of course not all, users.

Of course. Does that have anything to do with my post? No.

My concern is that the MFT and APSC mirrorless formats will suck up all market demand for smaller equipment, so the manufacturers will be even less motivated to make small primes for FX/DX as we go forward.

I disagree. In the last two years, Canon has introduced the EF 24mm f2.8 IS USM, the EF 28mm f2.8 IS USM, the EF 35mm f2 USM and the EF 40mm f2.8 STM. That is a lot of small primes... The problem seems to be APS-C, where no wider than normal primes are being offered.

For Nikon, Voigtlander has some nice products with the 20mm f3.5 SLII, the 28mm f2.8 SLII and the 40mm f2 SLII.

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-KB-

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coudet
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Re: Whah?
In reply to pluton, May 14, 2013

pluton wrote:

My concern is that the MFT and APSC mirrorless formats will suck up all market demand for smaller equipment, so the manufacturers will be even less motivated to make small primes for FX/DX as we go forward.

Put Voigtlander 28/2.8 and Nikkor 45/2.8 or Voigtlander 40/2 on that full frame DSLR, you got pancakes a MFT user can't match. And you don't have to sacrifice the optical viewfinder, handling, battery life or the image quality by going MFT.

It's all good.

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slimandy
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to Canyongazer, May 14, 2013

I use primes mainly because of the fast aperture. For landscape I stop the lens down and a decent zoom is fine. Also, if I'm hiking to my destination I'd rather have a zoom that several primes.

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Canyongazer
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Re: Whah?
In reply to brightcolours, May 14, 2013

"Whah?" back at ya.

You ask "Which lenses have best performance at f4?"  Answer: most of those w/ a maximum aperture of 1.4 to f 2.

You state: "Lenses do not usually have the best performance. wide open."

No kiddin'.  That is why I wrote in the first sentence "...most lenses hit peak performance when stopped two or three stops down from max."  Fast lenses designed for all around use suffer from diffraction at small apertures, ...  that was kinda the point of my post...a series of slow, specialty lenses designed to minimize diffraction .  How successful might that effort be? I don't know, just speculating. I've never designed a lens. You?

We really need to cut you some slack here, though. I see you have made over 7,000 (!) posts on DP. You can't be expected to do that plus read and comprehend the posts to which you are replying. Only so many hours in the day, no?

Slightly off topic, but your "...above f 4..."  You mean below f 4.  As you state, you are closing down the lens when going to a smaller aperture. There's enough confusion with beginning photographers as it is without this common error.  "Why is the number bigger as the hole gets smaller?" they ask.

F stops are not a measurement but rather a ratio...the ratio between the diameter of the aperture and focal length of the lens.

Thus, a 1" diameter aperture in a 2" (50mm) lens is f 2 (1:2)   A half inch hole is f 4(1:4 ratio)

That same half inch hole in a 100m (4" lens) will be f 8.

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brightcolours
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You are the one confused, not me.
In reply to Canyongazer, May 14, 2013

Canyongazer wrote:

"Whah?" back at ya.

You ask "Which lenses have best performance at f4?"  Answer: most of those w/ a maximum aperture of 1.4 to f 2.

No. That is not true. It depends on which body you test them on. Why? Because of diffraction, and of the sample frequency of sensors.

Again I will ask, which lenses perform best at f4, and then, which camera body are you referring to?

You state: "Lenses do not usually have the best performance. wide open."

No kiddin'.  That is why I wrote in the first sentence "...most lenses hit peak performance when stopped two or three stops down from max."  Fast lenses designed for all around use suffer from diffraction at small apertures, ...  that was kinda the point of my post...a series of slow, specialty lenses designed to minimize diffraction .  How successful might that effort be? I don't know, just speculating. I've never designed a lens. You?

You have to read my post again. You seem to have totally read past a crucial fact: diffraction is what limits resolution. Diffraction is linked to the size of the hole. That is what that f-number stands for, the size of the hole. And how much that diffraction spreads is linked to the distance that hole has to the sensor. So, that is where the focal length has an influence.

We really need to cut you some slack here, though. I see you have made over 7,000 (!) posts on DP. You can't be expected to do that plus read and comprehend the posts to which you are replying. Only so many hours in the day, no?

You still do not grasp the concept.

Slightly off topic, but your "...above f 4..."  You mean below f 4.

No, 8 is above 4. I did not say "an aperture bigger than" or "smaller than", just merely talking about f-numbers. Sorry to confuse you.

As you state, you are closing down the lens when going to a smaller aperture. There's enough confusion with beginning photographers as it is without this common error.  "Why is the number bigger as the hole gets smaller?" they ask.

F stops are not a measurement but rather a ratio...the ratio between the diameter of the aperture and focal length of the lens.

Thus, a 1" diameter aperture in a 2" (50mm) lens is f 2 (1:2)   A half inch hole is f 4(1:4 ratio)

That same half inch hole in a 100m (4" lens) will be f 8.

Again, read my post. You are totally off the mark with your thinking concerning f-values and resulting resolution. First, let me again apologize for confusing you, I will try to make it more clear:

Lenses usually do not have the best performance wide open. The more you close them down, less of many elements get used, and this results in increased resolution. However, at some point diffraction sets in. And diffraction is what limits resolution when you close down past that point.

What is diffraction? Diffraction is light "bending" past the edges of the aperture (or any other edge), and changing direction because of it. Diffracted light hits pixels next to the pixel it was intended for before it got diffracted.

There are tables which show how much a lens can resolve (in theory) for a given f-value. The tables give values for a single focal length of light, as different wave lengths of light diffract more or less. Lenses that are limited by diffraction at a certain f-value are called diffraction limited for that f-value.

When measuring resolution using a digital camera, something else influences the measurements: the sample frequency (or if you want, the sensor resolution). If the sample frequency is lower than the diffraction limit, you will not notice the diffraction hit. So, it depends on which camera you use when you will see the resolution drop due to diffraction.

For the Nikon D3x, the diffraction limit is past f5.6. If you look at for instance the photozone.de resolution measurements, you will notice that in general the resolution numbers start to drop at f8.

This means that if you have a D3x, if you want to get the highest resolution, you should shoot with f5.6 with every lens.

And that is what you have to understand. There is no way to get a lens to perform better at f11 or f16, because all get hit in the same way by diffraction. Your quest for a lens peaking at f11 or f16 can only be reached in two ways:

  1. You have to have an ABSURDLY bad lens, which has such a low resolving power that only at f11 or f16 the diffraction has a bigger effect than the bad resolving power of the lens itself.
  2. Or: you have to have such a low resolution sensor, that the sample frequency does not catch up with the diffraction until f11 or f16. For f16 that would be a 5mp FF sensor. For f11 a 10mp sensor.

For D800 with 36mp FF sensor, the diffraction limit lays arounf f5.6.

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Canyongazer
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to inasir1971, May 14, 2013

Yes, right you are, inasir....Lanthar 90 is sharpest til 5.6 after which it deteriorates progressively. Dandy for a portrait lens and limited DoF purposes.

I'm proposing its opposite.

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Canyongazer
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to ChristianHass, May 14, 2013

Yes, you are right, Christian, the 20mm 3.5 Voigtlander ticks some of the boxes...unfortunately its appealing pancake size (52mm filter thread) contributes to less than stellar performance (as I've read...I don't own one.)

I use a Nikon 2.8 AF-D....it's pretty good on a D700, on a tripod at 8. 62mm filters...Nikon had an MF 20mm f4 with a 72mm thread so progress marches on.

What I am speculating about is a new line of landscape lenses that will be a good match for the D800E and the  other monster MP camera that come down the line.

Some inside the box folks think diffraction is an insurmountable problem.  They may be right but I hope not.

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brightcolours
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That is silly and insulting.
In reply to Canyongazer, May 14, 2013

Canyongazer wrote:

Yes, you are right, Christian, the 20mm 3.5 Voigtlander ticks some of the boxes...unfortunately its appealing pancake size (52mm filter thread) contributes to less than stellar performance (as I've read...I don't own one.)

I use a Nikon 2.8 AF-D....it's pretty good on a D700, on a tripod at 8. 62mm filters...Nikon had an MF 20mm f4 with a 72mm thread so progress marches on.

What I am speculating about is a new line of landscape lenses that will be a good match for the D800E and the  other monster MP camera that come down the line.

Some inside the box folks think diffraction is an insurmountable problem.  They may be right but I hope not.

Inside the box?? That is just one big insult. That you have no idea about diffraction is your own issue, and you can overcome that by education. Diffraction is just physics. Nothing more, nothing less.

http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/opt/mch/diff.rxml

http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr162/lect/light/ref-diff.html

http://www.universetoday.com/89409/diffraction-of-light/

About the Voigtlander 20mm f3.5 SLII, you have read wrong information. It actually is a very nice lens, just with quite strong vignetting wide open. but as you are a photographer who likes to use lenses stopped down, that should not be a problem.

http://www.echenique.com/index.php/2010/02/02/cv-color-skopar-20mm-review/

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Dennis
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Zoom zoom zoom
In reply to Canyongazer, May 14, 2013

I much prefer zooms for landscapes.

They're going to be plenty sharp stopped down for DOF.

And unless you don't mind the arbitrary FOV choices you have with whatever primes happen to be in your bag, then you're going to end up cropping, which negates any small advantage (in resolution) you'd get from shooting a prime in the first place. (Distortion is another issue and I like the idea of low zoom ratio, high quality zooms with no need for fast max apertures).

The biggest argument I see for shooting (landscapes with) primes is to shoot with a T/S lens.  Personally, I have never had the luxury, but would love to try one out at some point.

- Dennis

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Canyongazer
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In reply to Dennis, May 14, 2013

Well, you have a lot of company in that preference, Dennis!

Actually, I do have a Nikon 14-24 2.8 ... I'm not a totalLuddite. 

It is superb on the D800E....or the D700 for that matter.  Camera and lens makes for a pretty heavy chunk of kit, though. Sometimes it doesn't matter, sometimes it does.

Didn't Edward Weston claim something like  There are no good picture opportunities more than 500 yards from the car. ?  I lean on that from time to time!

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Cytokine
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to Canyongazer, May 14, 2013

Canyongazer wrote:

What I am speculating about is a new line of landscape lenses that will be a good match for the D800E and the  other monster MP camera that come down the line.

"Monster MP cameras" and mass production conventional lenses are increasingly becoming a mis-match for for each other:

1) Lower-cost consumer lenses have less optical quality control, and  Monster Pixel Cameras need more expensive precision.

2) As pixel density increases and size decreases, Micro lenses are themselves approaching diffraction limits.

3) Micro lenses have a limited angle in which they can accept a light ray, and this is already being exceeded at large apertures, so while more light enters the camera the sensors cant see it, and they cheat by increasing ISO, you will still get narrow depth of field but less light and IQ.

4) Different colours have different wave lengths, and large wave lengths like red will be diffracted before smaller blue / violet wave lengths, and the colours start to separate out from white light.

5) Diffraction is only affected by hole size and the wave length of the light concerned. Low quality apertures, lenses, centration could make the effect worse.

Apart from the speed advantage it is understandable why the D4 is not over pixelated.

Some inside the box folks think diffraction is an insurmountable problem.  They may be right but I hope not.

The above problems are all being worked on, for example micro lenses can be re-orientated, sensors that don't need micro lenses. But the laws of Physics cant change, but do we understand all the laws? that is the question.

John

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calson
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to Canyongazer, May 14, 2013

For anyone shooting with the D600/D800 cameras the best image quality is going to be at f8 for any lens that is used. Refraction is much more of a problem with these need ultra high resolution sensor cameras.

The 14-24mm f2.8 zoom is sharper than the Nikon 14mm f2.8, 18mm f2.8, and 24mm f1.4 prime lenses at any aperture. The same applies to the 24-70mm f2.8 Nikon zoom when used at landscape apertures.

With windblown dust a concern the last thing I want is to replace 2 zoom lenses with 5 prime lenses so I can change lenses 2-3 times as often and let more dust inside the camera.

Prime lenses provided superior image quality to zooms in the 1970's but times change. The only reason for prime now is for a fisheye, PC, macro, or super telephoto lens. I do not use any of these types of lenses for landscape photography. The PC has value but with the new ability to combine multiple images and focus points in Photoshop has eliminated the need for my purposes.

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jhinkey
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to Canyongazer, May 15, 2013

Working on my set of FX landscape primes.  So far:

16/3.5 AI - Nikon needs to re-make this lens with the same optical formula

20/2.8D - This lens needs to be tweaked by Nikon to improve those corners, but not at the expense of making it huge

50/1.8G or 45/2.8 AI-P - Stopped down they are all you could ask for really

90/3.5 CV - Excellent even wide open and very compact

180/4 CV - Working on getting this one, but they are not common

400/5.6 ED AI - Excellent

Nikon needs:

- A new fisheye worthy of the D800(E)

- 20/2.8G with much improved corners wide open and excellent by f/5.6

- 24/2G with great IQ across the frame by f/2.8

- 200/4 that's not huge in size or cost

- 400/5.6 ED-IF AFS VR that's also not huge in size/weight or cost

- John

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M35G35
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Re: Any interest in a line of Prime Landscape lenses?
In reply to Canyongazer, May 15, 2013

Unfortunately for me my back bothers me so zooms are better off.  I do have a few primes and if they fit the situation I will use them. However, zooms are better for my condition. Laziness I guess.

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