Single coated vs. multicoated vs modern multicoated lenses

Started Jun 15, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP Pangloss Senior Member • Posts: 2,298
Thanks, a very informative post


I'd say you're generally correct, but not necessarily because of (just) coatings.

I've seen exactly what you describe on my DSLR's. But there are at least three factors coming into play here:

1. coatings - nano coating being one of the latest technologies that really seems effective in reducing flare and increasing contrast. That feeling of 'clarity'.

2. Lens design (more below)

3. Lens design in terms of materials, manufacturing - aspheric elements in particular, molded elements.

Coatings are designed to increase light transmission between air/glass and (I assume) glass/glass elements. Each improvement increases the transmission efficiency, leading to a brighter image with less flare. Modern coatings have made a huge difference since the early days of uncoated lenses. Lensrentals blog has quite a nice writeup on the history of coatings.

Lens design, and newer manufacturing techniques, has also made a large impact. A digital sensor needs to have light rays striking at a more-narrow range of angles than film did. Rays need to be quite parallel to each other all across the sensor. Newer lens designs do this, and they simply work better than older designs that didn't do it as well.

And the modern capability of molding plastic lens elements allows for complex aspheric lens elements to be made cheaply, and thus used in affordable lenses to correct for distortions that were previously uncorrectable, particularly in zooms.

Hard to say what part of the above contributes X percentage to the results. You get a new lens that does a lot better than it's older parents, and it probably has all three of the above in at the same time.

My own personal observations date from 1992 to present, from 8008s and 50F1.8AF to D800e and several new G lenses. The newer lenses obviously have more contrast, seem 'clearer' (more contrast + resolution at the same time), and are much sharper wide open than the older lenses I have.

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Hi Craig

Thanks for your post and sharing your experience. I wonder when I'll be able to try a lens with nano coating on my V1, these Nikkors are out of my (financial) reach right now.

In the meantime it's great to be able to try some fabulous old lenses from the past on my V1, I am really enjoying it!

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