Have RF lenses had their day ?

Started 6 months ago | Discussions
harold1968
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Have RF lenses had their day ?
6 months ago

Leica lenses, as Karbe admitted in a recent interview, follow the same design pattern they always did. This is an uncorrected rear element structure, where correction was not required due to the thickness of film emulsion.

this has meant that the digital Leica's have to have an extreme combination of angled micro lenses and software fringing correction.

With a fully corrected rear element, as Sony aptly demonstrated in the RX1, corner issues can be eliminated for a flat sensor.

although the A7(r) does have a combination of software and micro lens adjustment(in the case of the A7R) it seems that correctly designed lenses, like the 55mm, deliver spectacular results.

it greatly surprised me to see the Sony Zeiss 55mm easily eclipsing the Leica 50mm Summilux in all aspects:

http://3d-kraft.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=151:adorable-50s-otus-noctilux-summilux-hyperprime-sonnar&catid=40:camerasandlenses&Itemid=2

Also the performance of the Otis 55. Not only does this indicate that the modern "digitally designed" lenses are superior, that Zeiss appears to leading he pack of current lens design.

given the cost of Leica lenses, the nasty field curvature seems not worth it, especially with FF digital cameras.

i understand people with collections, and seeing the clarity of these lenses with smaller sensors, like the OM-D , Nex and Fuji series, but I am struggling why I should keep my 50mm Summilux asph ?

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quezra
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to harold1968, 6 months ago

Yeah, I was surprised that the rear element of the 55/1.8 almost sticks out of the baffle ... so much for close angle of incidence causing severe corner issues.  Interestingly, the kit 28-70 actually has a much longer distance from sensor to rear element, about a full inch regardless of zoom position (even longer distances at certain FLs actualy).  How's the 35/2.8?

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blue_skies
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to harold1968, 6 months ago

harold1968 wrote:

Leica lenses, as Karbe admitted in a recent interview, follow the same design pattern they always did. This is an uncorrected rear element structure, where correction was not required due to the thickness of film emulsion.

The uncorrected lenses of their era were sharpest with fewest lens elements. Only non-retrofocal lenses could deliver the ultimate sharpness for semi- to wide-angle FL.

this has meant that the digital Leica's have to have an extreme combination of angled micro lenses and software fringing correction.

Yes, the removal of the mirror allowed for such extreme close parameters - the lenses extend into the camera.

In film days, acute angles work, because film is best agitated under an angle (center sharpness would be an issue).

With a fully corrected rear element, as Sony aptly demonstrated in the RX1, corner issues can be eliminated for a flat sensor.

Most modern day lenses rely on software to compensate for lens flaws - typically vignetting and distortion. For the purists, this is not acceptable, but for most of us, this leads to higher quality pictures.

although the A7(r) does have a combination of software and micro lens adjustment(in the case of the A7R) it seems that correctly designed lenses, like the 55mm, deliver spectacular results.

The are merely retrofocal. Consider the E24Z on the Nex cameras - it is a wide-angle lens (on APS-C), but the lens is much longer than the focal length (or 24mm), which would not be the case for a non-retrofocal camera.

The extra lens compensation in the E24Z makes the lens large and expensive. If firmware/software can be used instead, you can simplify the lens design, e.g. as was done for the E1650P.

it greatly surprised me to see the Sony Zeiss 55mm easily eclipsing the Leica 50mm Summilux in all aspects:

http://3d-kraft.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=151:adorable-50s-otus-noctilux-summilux-hyperprime-sonnar&catid=40:camerasandlenses&Itemid=2

Not at all - 50mm lenses still require some post-edit or compensation. This is done, in camera, for the E55, but not for the 'lux.

Also the performance of the Otis 55. Not only does this indicate that the modern "digitally designed" lenses are superior, that Zeiss appears to leading he pack of current lens design.

The Otis is again an 'optically perfected' lens that works without lens compensation. It makes for a rather large and expensive lens this way.

given the cost of Leica lenses, the nasty field curvature seems not worth it, especially with FF digital cameras.

In Leica days, the field curvature usually applied to low light photography, under which edge softness was not an issue. Also, B+W became popular as it hides many issues, for more pleasing images.

In daytime shots, you would stop down the lens like any other lens to achieve sufficient DOF.

With modern day cameras, at 1/8000th, or when using an ND filter, you can achieve shallow DOF in daytime, but this exposes the DOF comprimises that go along with certain lens design..

i understand people with collections, and seeing the clarity of these lenses with smaller sensors, like the OM-D , Nex and Fuji series, but I am struggling why I should keep my 50mm Summilux asph ?

Each lens is designed for a different purpose. The 'lux has a f/1.4 and is a soft, but fast lens, The 'cron is slower at f/2.0 but has no significant softness. A 'rit would be sharp at all apertures.

The m43 and APS-C trade smaller sensor (for mode DOF) and higher resolution (for more demanding lens sharpness) versus FF. It is a different approach, to mimic e.g. OM-D fast lenses, you have to stop down the aperture by two stops. Or, a f/1.4 on OM-D is matched by f/2.8 on FF. This makes most lenses much sharper, and DOF issues go away.

The reverse, using f/1.4 on the FF cannot be matched on m43 - you'd need a f/0.7 lens and a super sensitive sensor that does not show low-light non-linearity.

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harold.co.il

If you reason from your perspective, you can be right. Many others will reason from another, need, perspective: when do you need a shallow DOF, high IQ, sharp lens with flaws? If never, the lens has no value, but alternative lenses are still a lot bulkier. The newer, software corrected lenses, are a good step forwards, but I expect that the legacy lenses will hold their value for a long time to come.

Cheers,
Henry

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harold1968
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to quezra, 6 months ago

Yeah, I was surprised that the rear element of the 55/1.8 almost sticks out of the baffle ... so much for close angle of incidence causing severe corner issues.  Interestingly, the kit 28-70 actually has a much longer distance from sensor to rear element, about a full inch regardless of zoom position (even longer distances at certain FLs actualy).  How's the 35/2.8?

I haven't finished testing the 35mm, however the centre is spectacular and the contrast is great even from f2.8

Rgds

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JamieTux
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to harold1968, 6 months ago

harold1968 wrote:

Leica lenses, as Karbe admitted in a recent interview, follow the same design pattern they always did. This is an uncorrected rear element structure, where correction was not required due to the thickness of film emulsion.

this has meant that the digital Leica's have to have an extreme combination of angled micro lenses and software fringing correction.

With a fully corrected rear element, as Sony aptly demonstrated in the RX1, corner issues can be eliminated for a flat sensor.

although the A7(r) does have a combination of software and micro lens adjustment(in the case of the A7R) it seems that correctly designed lenses, like the 55mm, deliver spectacular results.

it greatly surprised me to see the Sony Zeiss 55mm easily eclipsing the Leica 50mm Summilux in all aspects:

http://3d-kraft.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=151:adorable-50s-otus-noctilux-summilux-hyperprime-sonnar&catid=40:camerasandlenses&Itemid=2

Leica don't see the Summilux as their top 50 anymore, the more expensive noctilux has a larger aperture and the more expensive summicron is a no expense spared optical masterpiece, so the fact that the lux is getting beaten is not a surprise.

What is a surprise is the quality of the examples in that article, I've nit got one to try on my A7r but my Zeiss Planar ZM 50mm is in a whole different league than their examples (and I bought on price, the Leica 50s outperformed it on my testing but started at double the cost).

Also the performance of the Otis 55. Not only does this indicate that the modern "digitally designed" lenses are superior, that Zeiss appears to leading he pack of current lens design.

I've yet to see a head to head against the latest Summicron but the other thing to bear in mind is that the M lenses are designed to be pocketable - I'd love to see a Leica S equivalent to the Otus.

given the cost of Leica lenses, the nasty field curvature seems not worth it, especially with FF digital cameras.

i understand people with collections, and seeing the clarity of these lenses with smaller sensors, like the OM-D , Nex and Fuji series, but I am struggling why I should keep my 50mm Summilux asph ?

Don't then free up the cash and get something that will make you happier!  My choice was the Planar and it got me out of the chasing Mac aperture kindest I was in a few years ago.

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quezra
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to harold1968, 6 months ago

harold1968 wrote:

Yeah, I was surprised that the rear element of the 55/1.8 almost sticks out of the baffle ... so much for close angle of incidence causing severe corner issues. Interestingly, the kit 28-70 actually has a much longer distance from sensor to rear element, about a full inch regardless of zoom position (even longer distances at certain FLs actualy). How's the 35/2.8?

I haven't finished testing the 35mm, however the centre is spectacular and the contrast is great even from f2.8

Rgds

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harold.co.il

Oops I just meant to ask, how far is the rear element of the 35/2.8 from the sensor?  Same distance as the mount (like the 55) or deeply indented into the lens (like the kit lens)?

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harold1968
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to quezra, 6 months ago

harold1968 wrote:

Yeah, I was surprised that the rear element of the 55/1.8 almost sticks out of the baffle ... so much for close angle of incidence causing severe corner issues. Interestingly, the kit 28-70 actually has a much longer distance from sensor to rear element, about a full inch regardless of zoom position (even longer distances at certain FLs actualy). How's the 35/2.8?

I haven't finished testing the 35mm, however the centre is spectacular and the contrast is great even from f2.8

Rgds

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harold.co.il

Oops I just meant to ask, how far is the rear element of the 35/2.8 from the sensor?  Same distance as the mount (like the 55) or deeply indented into the lens (like the kit lens)?

About normal, just a few mm behind the mount
Rgds

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Mel Snyder
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to harold1968, 6 months ago

Really? What happened overnight that I missed?

Just yesterday I was shooting with my 30 year old collection of Leica M mounts on my NEX-6 that have served me since 1982, and got gorgeous images!

Which fairy tale are your referring to as "news" - "Cinderella" or "Chicken Little"?

Here's a clue, friend. APS-C isn't going anywhere.

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harold1968
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to Mel Snyder, 6 months ago

Mel Snyder wrote:

Really? What happened overnight that I missed?

Just yesterday I was shooting with my 30 year old collection of Leica M mounts on my NEX-6 that have served me since 1982, and got gorgeous images!

Which fairy tale are your referring to as "news" - "Cinderella" or "Chicken Little"?

Here's a clue, friend. APS-C isn't going anywhere.

huh !

i never said anything about APS-c going anywhere.

RF and other lenses are fun, e.g. you can pick oldie but Goldie summicrons for £300-£400, however for FF with absolute sharpness, contrast and field curvature the FE lenses are where it's at, at least empirically,

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parallaxproblem
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You are forgetting something...
In reply to harold1968, 6 months ago

The A7/r bodies have a very different design philosophy from the earlier NEX series: NEX 'embraced' legacy lenses whereas the A7/r bodies are basically built to sell the expensive Sony FE lenses

Even the LA-EA3 and LA-EA4 don't provide particularly satisfactory connectivity to Sony's own A-mount glass, being effectively lazy updates of the LA-EA1 & LA-EA2 (both of which I own) which carry on unfixed all the annoying bugs of the earlier adaptors and provide neither PDAF compatibility with the LA-EA3, nor the newer, more advanced 19-point AF system on the LA-EA4 

If Sony wanted you to use legacy glass on the A7 they would have released their full AF protocols to the third party adaptor builders: they haven't which is why the DEO tech Contax G adaptor still has shaky AF performance and the various EOS adaptors are seemingly rather slow in terms of AF.  Sony would also have released an ultra-wide lens option in the first batch of lens releases since there are already plenty of good 35mm and 50mm RF lenses around, but they didn't...

Sony priced the A7 and A7r low with the expectation of recovering the margin on the lenses (the NEX series bodies were always comparatively more expensive). Of course Sony won't make it so easy for us to use third party RF lenses!

Maybe the A7/r replacements will contain sensors which perform better with legacy glass (after the development costs have been recovered somewhat by the first models and early lens sales), in the same way the NEX-5n offered big improvements in this respect over the NEX-5?

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Keit ll
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Re: You are forgetting something...
In reply to parallaxproblem, 6 months ago

Older RF lenses are obviously the pride & joy of their owners but those contemplating an investment in new ( to them ) RF lenses should carefully consider their position before parting with their hard earned cash.

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ChuckTa
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to harold1968, 6 months ago

If u ask me, I actually prefer the less sharp images from the older lens. I found the newer Zeiss lens made the images look a bit "digital" and "hard" (whatever that means .. it might be translated to "a bit unnatural").

Anyways, on the web somewhere from the book "Only Zeiss", it talked about a thing call lens character.

Lens parameters such as clarity, contrast, Colour reproduction, Spectral transmittance, Gradation, etc.

It is a bit like wine, so I doubt if there really can be "one good lens that rule them all".

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harold1968
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Re: You are forgetting something...
In reply to parallaxproblem, 6 months ago

parallaxproblem wrote:

The A7/r bodies have a very different design philosophy from the earlier NEX series: NEX 'embraced' legacy lenses whereas the A7/r bodies are basically built to sell the expensive Sony FE lenses

Even the LA-EA3 and LA-EA4 don't provide particularly satisfactory connectivity to Sony's own A-mount glass, being effectively lazy updates of the LA-EA1 & LA-EA2 (both of which I own) which carry on unfixed all the annoying bugs of the earlier adaptors and provide neither PDAF compatibility with the LA-EA3, nor the newer, more advanced 19-point AF system on the LA-EA4

If Sony wanted you to use legacy glass on the A7 they would have released their full AF protocols to the third party adaptor builders: they haven't which is why the DEO tech Contax G adaptor still has shaky AF performance and the various EOS adaptors are seemingly rather slow in terms of AF. Sony would also have released an ultra-wide lens option in the first batch of lens releases since there are already plenty of good 35mm and 50mm RF lenses around, but they didn't...

Sony priced the A7 and A7r low with the expectation of recovering the margin on the lenses (the NEX series bodies were always comparatively more expensive). Of course Sony won't make it so easy for us to use third party RF lenses!

Maybe the A7/r replacements will contain sensors which perform better with legacy glass (after the development costs have been recovered somewhat by the first models and early lens sales), in the same way the NEX-5n offered big improvements in this respect over the NEX-5?

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I wouldn't go for the conspiracy theory.

i haven't used the adapters for A mount lens myself though.

Sony have mentioned a few times that they see the platform as good for other format lenses, and I see no reason for them to lie. Some people have been posting excellent results with other format and legacy lenses. My point is just about the relative cost of Leica lenses.

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martindesu
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to JamieTux, 6 months ago

JamieTux wrote:

Don't then free up the cash and get something that will make you happier! My choice was the Planar and it got me out of the chasing Mac aperture kindest I was in a few years ago.

What does "chasing Mac aperture kindest" mean?

I am thinking of treating myself to a ZM Sonnar 50/1,5 some day - not super sharp but really oozes character. A fine wine of a lens, if ever there was one!

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JamieTux
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to martindesu, 6 months ago

JamieTux wrote:

Don't then free up the cash and get something that will make you happier! My choice was the Planar and it got me out of the chasing Mac aperture kindest I was in a few years ago.

What does "chasing Mac aperture kindest" mean?

I am thinking of treating myself to a ZM Sonnar 50/1,5 some day - not super sharp but really oozes character. A fine wine of a lens, if ever there was one!

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It means chasing "max aperture mindset" when typing on a phone with autocorrect!
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to harold1968, 6 months ago

Leica still has kitsch and that goes a long way.  They make good photos, even great, especially when you're north of 800 ISO and 34mm.  I wish Leicas worked as good as they look and feel.  I had an M6 and still have an M3 and the lenses have a place on those cameras.  But they don't live up to the sensors of the day and the price/value relation isn't there.

Lloyd also pretty much said that the FE55 goes head to head and beats the Leica Apo and at 1/8th the cost.  The 55 also gave the Coastal Optics a pretty good spanking on JK.

The best lens in the world prior to the Otus was the Apo Sonnar 135mm.  But these are heavy lenses my camera bag with an Otus, Apo, the 21mm and FE55 and two bodies weighs 12lbs fully loaded and some of these lenses protrude nearly a foot once you add in the adapter and hood.   Hard to be discrete in that case.

The thing is, once you have all of the crap you wanted you start looking for the crap that allows you to leave all of that stuff at home and still get the near IQ you get with the heavy lugging crap. 

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parallaxproblem
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Re: You are forgetting something...
In reply to harold1968, 6 months ago

harold1968 wrote:

I wouldn't go for the conspiracy theory.

i haven't used the adapters for A mount lens myself though.

Sony have mentioned a few times that they see the platform as good for other format lenses, and I see no reason for them to lie. Some people have been posting excellent results with other format and legacy lenses. My point is just about the relative cost of Leica lenses.

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harold.co.il

No need for 'conspiracies'... the fact of (relatively) cheap bodies and (relatively) expensive lenses for the A7/r series is a pretty clear indication of the marketing strategy!

Let's look a bit closer at the A-mount adaptors: they certainly 'work', the resulting IQ is good and the adaptors provide aperture and (for the LA-EA2/4) focus coupling. However using an A-mount lens via the adaptor is nowhere near as nice as using a native E-mount lens on the same body, and likewise it is not as nice to use that A-mout lens on an E-mount body as it is to use the A-mount lens on an A-mount body!

This is strange as it would have been very easy for Sony to improve the experience enormously with just a few changes to the adaptors. eg. For the LA-EA4:

- Use the 19-point AF system instead of the older 15-point one (this would also interest many NEX users)

- Add a toggle button/switch which allows the user to directly select AF point via the D-controller, or even better place a joystick directly on the adaptor that allows AF point selection rather than having to dive into camera body menus as is currently the case

- Add an MF/AF toggle or focus-hold switch to the adaptor (ideally customisable so allow either)

- Allow image magnification when AF is activated so you can check focus (currently disabled)

- Allow focus peaking when AF is activated so you can check focus (currently disabled)

- Sense when the focus ring on a screw-AF lens is moved (this causes the screw drive to turn) so that DMF can be activated on the body

- Assign the button on many longer a customisable value, as is possible on A-mount bodies

At least a few of these things would have been easily possible, particularly as the LA-EA4 is now a second-generation product following on from the LA-EA2... so why didn't Sony do it?

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parallaxproblem
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In reply to JamieTux, 6 months ago

JamieTux wrote:

Is that why they gave a voucher for a free metabones adapter in Australia?
http://www.sony.com.au/microsite/a7redemption/

A rather obvious 'bait-and-switch' marketing ploy... and the extra premium that Aussi customers normally pay for their gear probably covered the cost of the adaptor anyway!

It appeals to existing owners of those other systems and encourages them to buy the 'bargain-priced' A7 or A7r. Their existing lenses 'work' on the A7 via the adaptor, but not quite as well as an alternative E-mount lens would work. What do the owners do? Some will certainly replace their current lenses with E-mount ones!

I'm currently in a rather similar situation... I recently bought an expensive long telephoto zoom in A-mount (70-400G) to use on my NEX-5R as there was nothing suitable in A-mount. The resulting IQ is good, but operationally the the E->A-mount adaptor is driving me crazy so I am now wondering about buying an SLT-A77 (or changing system, or just hoping for an E-mount alternative to be released in the nearish future)!

I got 'baited-and-switched' by the 'adaptor' idea, and I'm sure I'm not the only one...

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Lisa O
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Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?
In reply to EdnaBambrick, 6 months ago

Great!

EdnaBambrick wrote:

The thing is, once you have all of the crap you wanted you start looking for the crap that allows you to leave all of that stuff at home and still get the near IQ you get with the heavy lugging crap.

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