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86 years old lens hacked onto 5DMKII (todaystomorrow.tumblr.com)
86 points by rainboiboi on Mar 27, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 19 comments

Not to sound cliché, but that old lens takes the warmest picures i've seen.

It's hard to say what's part of the lens and what's part of the postprocessing - notice that the pictures of the lens/camera itself is quite warm also. May just be the author's style.

That lens was never created for color photography. The warm tones probably have advantages on the B/W film.

The lens was just probably not color-corrected.

Early BW films were mostly sensitive to the blue and green side of the spectrum. Only later did they become more sensitive to the entire visible spectrum (including the red zone, which we consider warmer). They were called panchromatic films (as opposed to earlier orthochromatic films).

Agreed, but not surprising... calling a nice modern lens "warm" would be nearly an insult. Modern lenses generally prioritize accuracy to warmth, and appropriately so. It is however a little sad that there is such a small market for more stylistic lenses.

It is perhaps sad from a nostalgic standpoint, but otherwise it is quite possible to closely approximate all characteristics of an old lens just by post-processing an image taken with an accurate modern lens (e.g. the Hipstamatic app), so it is little wonder that the market for old, stylistic lenses is so small.

I used to have a mobile phone which could take "warm" photos. It could also do "alien vision", and a couple of other neat tricks. People said it was cheesy. You can also attach some APS-C lenses to a Full Frame, and get "romantic" vignetting. If you do that in Photoshop, it's fake. The "creamiest" bokeh you can get is a gaussian blur, unless they know it's photoshopped and then it's no longer "creamy".

There's some kind of emotional response people have to optical distortions which they don't have if they know it's from post-processing.

There is a reasonable size market, but a vast supply of old lenses so making new ones not very profitable...

I first saw pictures made by Timur Civan with a similar technique and an even older lens:


The sharpness surprised me. What a beautiful combination of new and old.

People often underestimate the sharpness of narrow apature lenses. Unless you need a fast exposure, a narrower apature can be be sharper.

On an APC-C, at 135mm, difference between the maximum center resolution of a cheapish superzoom lens (Tamron 18-250mm), and a luxury prime lens (a Canon 135mm f/2) is ~10%. And neither perform best wide open (especially at the borders). The difference at the border is ~20%. The prime lens has other advantages (much better max apature, less distortion, less CA), but the sharpness of "bad" lenses is often underestimated.

I hope you're getting a ton of up votes for this. As geeks, we have a bad tendency to focus on the gear. As if good, sharp photos can't be taken without a $2,000 lens.

My interest in photography tends to be periodic, with phases of intense interest, followed by droughts of inactivity. The last time I got back in to photography, I had already sold my old Canon A1 35mm camera, so I only had a Canon SD870IS point-and-shoot camera. I started out by digging around on the internet searching for the "best value" in camera gear.

I don't remember what triggered it, but I remember stopping to think, "If I want to take photos, what's stopping me from just taking this SD870 out and shooting?" After reflection, I decided that it didn't matter what other people thought of my gear. When/if I decided to post anything online, I'd just omit my gear information anyway.

So I went out, and I shot. As it turns out, I was really pleased with the results. I kept the 870 with me nearly all the time, so if I found myself driving back from out of town and saw some cool ship yard, I'd just stop and shoot it. I ended up getting some shots that I was really happy with.

I find a lot of geeks are actually not crazy gear-heads. You don't see many geeks falling for $1000 gold plated audio cables or CPUs with massive GHz ratings either. I'm a mediocre photographer, but I know how to get the best technical results out of my gear, and can tell what kind of gear and configuration is needed for a good shot.

It's often geeks (and genuinely good photographers) who shout the loudest that any camera with a decent sized sensor is fine. Yes, we love spec porn, but at least we know when it's a con.

Old lenses are often sharper in the centre of the field than modern ones, but much less sharp nearer the edges. Trade offs in design, overall sharpness is what people want now.

What's the limitation that causes this?

Lenses can be less sharp around the edges for a number of reasons:

- Chromatic aberrations. Most old lenses are not achromat or apochromat, so different wavelengths of light get refracted with different indices of refraction. In black-and-white photography, the colour fringes near the edges simply show up as being slightly blurry, so it's not as big of a deal as in modern colour photography.

- The plane of focus might not in fact planar, but may be curved due to the lens having a simple optical design with few elements. So when one focuses on the centre of the frame, the edges of the scene do not coincide with the plane of focus.

As for the claim that old lenses are sharper than modern lenses in the centre... perhaps it is true when comparing that lens to compact camera lenses and the such. But from my casual perusal of DSLR lens benchmarks, modern prime lenses are very, very sharp in the center and should certainly beat this lens - especially when stopped down. Modern DSLR prime lenses are often faster than f/2 wide open, whereas that old lens is f/6.8, yielding a deeper depth of field. But stopping the modern lens down to f/6.8 should result in superior resolution. Anyway, small cameras and cell phones can be less sharp due to diffraction effects on such a small scale.

Thank you for posting this. I still think of lenses as just a tuple of (focal length, f-number), and can't understand why two lenses of the same "spec" can be different. Probably a bad mode of thinking to be in.

Look up lens design and you will find it is very complex. Actually getting a flat field is pretty complex.

An absurd ammount of flare... but the camera looks awesome with the Frankenstein in front of it. As a side note: I use a lens from the early 50's in my Pentax DSLR - without hacks - and it produces beautiful portraits. Amazing how optics were already damn good back then.

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