So how fast does you lens need to be ?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by kevinparis, May 11, 2010.

  1. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Posted this originally on the Noktor thread - but think it might get a bit more discussion here

    Premise is that everyone gets all excited by wide apertures and are all chasing the widest possible. Noktor have very cleverly used this to market what is effectively a CCTV lens as something for photographers.

    Problems is many people haven't seen what the difference is between f1 and f1.4

    I am lucky to own 3 fast 50mm and have access to one very expensive 50mm lens. So I thought i would try an experiment.

    I shot a scene with each of the lenses from 1m at wide open - Aperture priority, not really taking too much care with actual exposure and doing no PP at all

    so here are the shots. One was taken with a very expensive lens, one lens cost e 200 euros, another 100 eur and another cost me 75 euro complete with an film SLR Body

    which is which ?... I will give clues and answers as we go on

    I am not saying which lens is 'better' - that is down to your own tastes - but hopefully this will let you see how much or how little that extra stop brings you


    • Like Like x 3
  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    I'm not quite sure what the objective is with this comparison. Is it depth of field, bokeh, or ability to shoot effectively in low light or poorly lit conditions? The speed of the lens can make a substantial difference in capturing hand held shots or movement in difficult conditions. The difference between an f1.1 lens and a 1.4 lens can be decisive.


  3. hcarlen

    hcarlen New to Mu-43

    Jan 23, 2010
    I lika A, soft out of focus area and nice rendering of materials...but I guess its a matter of taste
  4. mauve

    mauve Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 9, 2010
    Paris, France
    To my eye, C leads the pack, A & D are correct, and B is outright unpleasing (and flares like mad). This said, I don't really care which is the fastest or the more expensive. I just like the way the C one draws your eye to the focus plane and how it's sharp without having an out of focus unpleasing rendering.
  5. kahren

    kahren Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 21, 2010
    i like A most, then D then B then C
  6. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    No real objective other than a bit of fun, and to show people who may be agonising on getting that extra stop or half stop of speed just what it actually looks like. I think thinks like IBIS and higher ISO's have taken away a little of the need for that extra stop just to get the shutter speed up.


    Interesting observation... that is actually the oldest lens i think

    hcarlen - hope you have an understanding partner - you have expensive tastes :)

  7. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    you can obviously see speed - you have them in the correct order of widest aperture
  8. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    Hi Kevin

    It is good to see stuff like this - I find it (really) interesting

    - I prefer C - although I can see that maybe A is doing what they are supposed to do wide open, (have No DOF) - if I knew what that was

    but i thought the point of fast glass was not image quality wide open but more usability in low light - (if you can focus the bloody things), and maybe OOF areas - (I don't speak Japanese)
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium


    it is an interesting point... what is the point of fast glass. I think it was originally to get more of the available light on the film/sensor in the days when 400 ISO was regarded as high ISO. I think the shallow DOF was a byproduct. However I think today maybe the shallow DOF is what draw most people to these lenses

    Just my opinion

    Its interesting that lens C is appealing to a few people - its probably the oldest and may even be slightly radioactive.

    I will also add I don't think any of the shots represent the best that can be got from each of the lenses - the Flare in B could have been controlled better with a lens hood. It was a very quick and dirty experiment


  10. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Before I read all the comments and get a clue as to what I might write I'll just give my quick first impressions ;
    A is sharpest on the card writing and has the most blurry blur.
    C has the deepest DOF, i.e. probably the narrowest aperture.
    I have a potential problem with this : "Aperture priority, not really taking too much care with actual exposure" : while they all look similar exposures did you fix white balance and ISO for all the shots? : C has a warmer tone altogether.
    I'd have preferred shots in a dimly lit bar of some poet bloke drinking absynthe ... or are these his jeans?

    Kevin I've just read your explanations. so A (my blurryest) is the expensive (and so 'fastest'?) lens and C (my 'slowest' and warmest) appeals to people at 1m focussing on Jeans with a speaker in the background.
    Perhaps different lenses suit different subjects?
  11. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    thanks for the comments - Just rechecked - I had meant to post the images without white balance -but I did apply some - but the same value to all 4 images. All were shot at ISO 200 and the shutter speeds, while in the ball park don't quite map to the difference in aperture - was using averageing metering and its my experience that that tends not to be as accurate as it should be at sub f1.4 apertures

    Lens C is definitely the warmest of them all even in the untouched state

    Absolutely agree that different lenses suit different subjects - and this was never meant to be an absolute empirical test - just a bit of fun and a discussion point

    Would be happy to run further tests if people would find it usefull - but I am not wanting to get into pixel peeping contest.

    The real purpose of the exercise was to show people who are maybe lusting after the very fastest of lenses that there are alternatives


  12. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    What is the focus point? I kinda feel that when making comparisons like these, especially with narrow DOF, the focus point is critical.

    If we hypothetically say that the "air france" card or whatever it is is the focus point, this is how I'd rate them:

    A and C are a tie.

    I personally am tired of all the complaints about the lack of fast glass. Everyone it seems over on various forums even say that the Panny 20mm at f1.7 isn't even that fast. There are those who want it for the light and others who want it for the shallow DOF. I have no problem with what people want, but it just gets tiring after a while.
  13. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    the focus point i used was the "Elite Plus" logo

    I am with you about the incessant and unrealistic demands on some forums for faster glass. I suppose i posted these pictures just to highlight that the difference between f1 and f1.4 is not that great in real life ie if you ignore the number in front of the lens and just look at the picture.

    The fastest lens here - a noctilux does have a particular quality that shines through even in a 4/3 sensor, but the cheaper alternatives still offer an interesting look at a price even lower than the much hyped Noktor - you could buy three of the lenses here for less than the Noktor

  14. SFA

    SFA New to Mu-43

    Feb 18, 2010
    There is some really nice, inexpensive old glass out there - so long as one knows and works with its limitations.

    Here's a question though.

    Why would manufacturers seek to produce ultrafast lenses these days unless they are for Pro's and very expensive?

    The light issue is becomeing a non-issue, lost somewhere between Image Stabilisation systems and low noise/high ISO sensors. If you don't agree with this today wait 2 years, global financial events permitting.

    If DoF then becomes the main point of desire one has to start looking at formats and sensor size engineering being a more cost effective solution than lenses. Back that approach with some form of digital processing to auto simulate the effects of very narrow DoF and the appearance of the result bokeh and to all intents and purposes the overall performance of the lens, in many many cases, may not matter that much.

    Indeed with Adobe now starting to offer DiY lens correction software and the 'Context' related spot repair and cloning tools in CS5 one might argue that we hardly need a camera at all ... :wink:

    Right, now I have written that I'm off to get my flameproof overalls ...

  15. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    I hope so

    If you look at the price of fast-ish MF glass you could buy a lot for the price of the Leica Noctilux 50mm f0.95 = £3,000 used to £7,000 new

    Canon FD 50mm f1.2 = £250 = used
    Nikkor 55mm f1.2 = £300 = used
    Nikkon 50mm f1.2 = £800 = new
    Nikkor 50mm 1.4 and Canon 50mm f 1.4 = under £100 each = used and about £240 new


    Not sure what the Canon 0.95 RF lens costs used

    I suppose the Noctilux is worth it!!!!! - nice name anyway - but can you value anything Leica is £ terms

    but see

    for Noctilux -
  16. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Yes please!
    This is the first really useful test I've seen of these f1-ish lenses.
    I'd like to see the same lenses in a 3m distance setting including a human face, dim lighting and light points in the far distance. (On one WB setting) Sounds a bit strict ... hmm. Maybe you get my idea.
    And can you include a f1.7/f1.8 good prime too?

    Good point Grant
    Always a cost/performance balance though.
    Personally I was looking for a CHEAP e-bay DSLR or a zoomy bridge to take 'better' photos of my work and accidentally ended up with an Oly e-410 ... which led me to understand I could buy old lenses and stick 'em on it to achieve shallow-DOF shots ... which led me to buy a G1 to use the EVF for focussing ... which led me to buy a couple of LTM-39mm Russki lenses for the same job.
    I still didn't spend a great load, I guess the £250 for G1+kit lens was the biggest chunk : all from trying NOT to spend much on the job!
  17. acmatos

    acmatos Mu-43 Regular

    Great thread, thanks for the test, Kevin!

    And I think the pictures illustrate your point very well.

    To my taste (even knowing now that the A was taken with the most expensive lens), I would rate these photos C-A-D-B.

    I know this is only one photo, maybe in less than ideal circumstances for the wider lens to shine, but I wouldn't pay hundreds (thousands?) of euros to choose one in favour of the others.


    António Carlos
  18. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium

    Understand your spec for the next shoot - but you may need to wait a week or 2 ... I am in the middle of moving from Paris to Belgium :)... let me have a think on what I could do

  19. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Ulfric - just for you here is another quick and dirty wide open test

    All shot wide open with WB for incandescent lighting at 200 ISO. Focus was on the wall edge to my right.

    wont make you guess the lenses this time



    Olympus 50/1.4


    Pentax Takumar 50/1.4 (M42)


    Nikon 50/1.2


    Leica R 50/2


    Contax 50/1.7


    Leica Noctilux 50/1.0


    Zeiss 50/1.5

    • Like Like x 1
  20. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Excelent comparisons.

    I like the leica 50/2 the best. Second goes to the Zeiss 50/1.5.