Have RF lenses had their day ?

Started Jan 5, 2014 | Discussions thread
blue_skies Forum Pro • Posts: 11,470
Re: Have RF lenses had their day ?

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:


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.

-- hide signature --


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.


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