Is there a need for F1.4 lenses....

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 3,772
Re: Is there a need for F1.4 lenses....

DenImage wrote:

It's funny how you get "carpet bombed" for having an opinion that others disagree with.

It is a fact established by extensive research, that people look for evidence of what they already hold true. The believe that a slower lens has no advantage vs a faster well corrected lens (with the general wisdom being also that stopped down, the faster lens will be superior as well) is widespread.

My point was a little vague, and while it was mostly opinion, that slower lenses have qualities that don't make them just a subset of a better faster lens, but things that stand on their own, was lost.

My conclusion comes from having read for a few months, about history of lens design, stories and struggles about the people leading optical labs at companies such as Zeiss Oberkochen, Jena, Leica, Nikon, and a bit about a few others as well. I am admittedly not any expert, nor an optical designer of any sort. Actually, most of the research was more a review of history and the stories of people behind these lenses.

In this journey, I also happen to have lenses made from 1930 to current designs. And to have seen MTF charts of so many, and explored all the ways in which they can display all sorts of aberrations (some of which can be noticed easily but we have no way to quantify very objectively, such as bokeh, longitudinal CA, etc).

In this "exploration" I see lenses of genius design that are very low in aberrations, low in distortion, and with other great qualities. Let's take a Hologon just as an example of how a slower lens and a faster lens can use very different approaches and have very different trade off. The reason we don't use Hologon lenses, is that light coming from an angle, even if perfectly well focused, does not work well with our current approach digital sensor designs. One day,we may learn how to count photos like film did, by where it lands, and not requiring particular angles, as it was with film. The important part shows not that a modern lens is better or worst, but that it's a very different beast and has trade offs, even when stopped down.

Hologon 16/8

Contax G version (1990s)

Original version (1960s)

Scroll to where it says "The MTFs of the Hologon 16/8" for the MTF

1) Elements: 3

2) Groups: 3

3) Special Glass: 0

4) Aspherics: 0

5) Distortion (edge, as %): 0.0%

6) MTF see chart

Milvus 15/2.8 (Current)

Now look at this:

1) Elements: 16

2) Groups: 11

3) Special Glass: 5

4) Aspherics: 2

5) Distortion: 1.9%

6) MTF at 5.6 worst in almost all aspects to Hologon: see chart

If you are shooting film, a Hologon lens will produce almost no distortion vs noticeable 1.9% for the best lens Zeiss have right now. The rendering is very different with one lens having 3 elements and the other having 16 and about 60 coating layers and over 15 air transitions.

Likewise, when you start to investigate, and read about lens design, you start to see a pattern where certain designs are unmatched in performance but only work starting at larger apertures.

One such example is the 1930 design of Sonnar 135/4. When I made the comment of lenses being underrated, I used shorts from that lens as an example. At f4, I see better corners, less distortion, bokeh that I like more, and sharpness that exceeds by far what a 24MP FF camera can show. I try the many 135/2.5 or 135/2.8 lenses I have and they have very different renderings, often defects that do not show in MTF (eg. LoCA), corner is less sharp, T-stop relative to f-stop is much worse, and, generally, the f4 old 1932 design, can produce stunning sharp, richly saturated, highly competitive images. But of course, that's a 1930 design.  That doesn't mean the best 135/2 will not beat the 1932 lens MTF. But it will have trade offs.

So when people "carpet bomb" the arguments, in general, it has to do more with biases, finding some image they think should have had a longer exposure, and all the details ignored. The most common comment will be that the point is not clear.

But that's not because I am not arguing that there's a design trade off, and slower lenses upen up new posibilities, and attributes that no sfaster lens has been able to match in some regards, in addition to a lot other factors (like weight, etc). Also, I made the argument with a 1930 design, and produced one sample MTF which shows how sharp it is (modern very good will be superior, but it's already very very good)...nobody looked at it.

So when you talk about this, maybe you don't make a pause, and would not factor all the ways in which I am basing the fact that slower lesnes, today are rated below the potential value they could have. But most manufacturers will not do well, in the current environment, in exploring a modern, new 135/4 that would reresent state of the art performance wide open. Why? Because people, today, have shifted and are in pursuit of faster speeds. But at some point, where the poster here independently believes the race for large apertures is getting into diminishing resturns fast, likewise, I am observing something related.

Unfortunately that's a sign of the times nowadays. Others feel the need to try to convert your opinion than respect your right to differ.


Personally, unless I ask someone for their opinion I'm not interested in debating mine.

Sounds sane!

However if someone expresses an opinion without substantiation, then they need to substantiate it when challenged. I think that's where the arguments start.

The more you read about psychology, the more you realize this makes sense, but not even in careers that are supposedly about having no bias, or scientific, this is proven to be defeated by human nature. Someone went to the great length of proving people are not rational being, don't make rational choices, don't notice their own biases, and was awarded the Noble price for this work.

I love how people post "most people" do this or do that, when they wouldn't have a clue what "most people" do or think. Easy to counter with "how do you know what most people think?".


Most people value faster lenses more than slower ones. That's a conjecture or hypothesis, based on my informal observation. I'd be money this is true, should we have a way to find out consumer preference. Price an f1.4 and an f2.8 lens the same...which one would sell more? I have a guess.

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