Do lenses have subjective qualities not shown in any technical specification?

Started Mar 31, 2013 | Discussions thread
PSCL1 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,770
Re: Do lenses have subjective qualities not shown in any technical specification?

Yes, lenses have "subjective qualities" but these are probably a combination of factors which, if identified, could be objectified (e.g. field curvature, vignetting, resolution). E.g. the old 105 f2.5 AI Nikkor was considered the greatest portrait lens of the film era and magical properties were imputed to it.  Consideration of the lens data sheets Nikon used to publish for all lenses revealed that it's optimum aperture was f4, not the typical f8 of most lenses.  Shooting at f4 and normal head-and-shoulders portrait distances, the person being photographed would just pop out from the background, a very 3-dimensional look.  But it was a product of optimal aperture at optimal distance for the likely subject.   If you really want to see posters rhapsodize subjectively about lenses, try the Leica forum, where countless Leica lens owners rationalize the special look of those lenses.  I personally think what they are perceiving is an evenness of resolution and of illumination over the entire field of the lens, giving it a particularly 'real' look.  But I've never seen Leica or anyone else put forth any lens data to support that hypothesis.

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