Thursday, February 26, 2015

Leica M lens comparo / Ricoh GXR A12 / Summar / Jupiter 8 / Summicron / Nokton 40 S.C. / Epson R-D1

Slow today. I did the shooting to compare the R-D1 to the GXR A12, both for useability, sensor rendering, focus ability, etc. It's also fun to see how the lenses do from the 1930s to the current day, from bargain lenses to decent but not expensive modern, coated lenses. I got about what I expected.

1.) The newer the lens, the less chance there is for internal haze, fog, cleaning marks.
2.) The newer the lens, the the better the coatings that make the lens perform in all kinds of light and which tend to serve as a color filter.
3.) Newer lenses provide better micro contrast for digital cameras.

So, if this is true, why fool with old lenses?

They provide a different rendering to a photograph. Not a whole lot separates modern lens rendering. Great color, clarity and micro-contrast. The only way to provide some relief from all this perfection is to resort to legacy lenses. It's also true that really good modern fast lenses tend to be expensive. Older fast primes can provide focus separation just as well or better than new lenses. A blurred background doesn't need all that clarity, it just needs smooth bokeh.

I've also come to realize that modern photographs can be made more or less sharp, more or less saturated, more or less green, red, blue, yellow or monochrome through software. It's a great equalizer but while it can help subject a photo to the taste of a photographer, it can't render what subtlety a legacy lens can produce on a properly aligned photosite on a decent sensor. Anyway, I shot some shots to compare lenses using two M bayonet mounted cameras. I shot raw and developed in PS 5.1 and Epson PhotoRAW. I tried not to do much in the process.

I think each lens has its use. I like the way the Summicron renders but let me say this, the Jupiter is pretty close to the Summicron in rendering, even though its build quality is poorer. But photo to photo it holds up really well. If you want to try out an M mount lens on your camera that can accept an M mount adapter and you don't want to spend a whole lot, get a Russian lens. They're a little weird but bang for the buck, you can't go wrong. The Nokton is a modern lens that knocks it out of the park now and then. Again, great value for the money when compared to a modern Leica. They hold their value, have decent build quality and render sharp, well contrasted images. The difference can be seen between comparable Leicas but again, all modern lens differences can be Photoshopped a bit to alter color, sharpness, etc. So far it can't repair nervous bokeh. A really good photograph, well taken with a great lens that doesn't NEED post processing can bring great satisfaction. So there's that. Anyway, nothing earth shattering here, just a few photographs made out of curiosity that I'm sharing. I think they show quite a bit of continuity of comparison and spending a lot more for a lens isn't always necessary and the Russian lens holds up well.

Where there's no camera credited on the photo, it defaults to the GXR. The Summar apparently has a bit of haze inside or it's lenses are fogged a bit, so you can a bit of glow and flare. These photos are not worst case of anything.

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