Nex-7 and fast lens use

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by AlwaysOnAuto, Apr 15, 2015.

  1. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Feb 17, 2015
    Looking at all the great photos here on the forum got me to thinking (a really rare feat these days, at least according to my wife).
    How many of you Nex-7 users with fast lenses, you know the f1.2's and f1.4's, go out and purposely shoot with them wide open?
    I'd never really considered doing that until I was looking at some of the threads here showing off the pictures taken with some of these lenses. I guess it never really occurred to me to do that since I didn't have a camera that could actually do that, ie had a fast enough shutter. It never entered my mind to change ISO settings much either. I guess that's the old school thinking that I'm stuck with the ISO of the film I'm using, right?
    Today I went out and took some shots with my Minolta 58mm f1.4 PF lens. I can't say I'm enthralled with its performance absolutely wide open, but that may be because it's kind of windy out today and really sunny so I think I was pushing the envelope even at 1/4000 SS.
    I do like the way it renders when stopped down to f2.8-4 though.
    Anybody care to share their thoughts on wide-open-lens shooting? DSC02923.JPG


    These are SOOC jpegs, not even downsized, at least not by me, I'm not sure what the forum up load system does to them.
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  2. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Totally doable.

    I had a 1.4 Minolta that worked great. The trick is to know when it is appropriate and when it is better to pull back.
  3. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    For me only reason to own a 1.4 lens is use it wide open. Many cases slower lenses are optically better, lighter and cheaper so I choose lens according to needs, outside and casual photos that is usually the slower lens, inside (and portraiture) the fast lens.

    In the old days focusing in dark was pretty difficult so a 1.4 lens that is softish wide open made much more sense. You focused at 1.4 and shoot at 2 or 2.8 or so.
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  4. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Feb 4, 2013
    My thought is, shooting everything wide open all the time is a trap people fall into when they first get a serious lens/camera. I sure did. Just doing it for the sake of it is something that I think most people really ought to grow out of.

    Legacy lenses will be soft, with ghosting and glowy characteristics wide open and this can sometimes add to the mood. If that's a deliberate choice, great! But most of the time it isn't.

    Certainly, if you are shooting a fast manual focus prime wide open you can not trust peaking to get the focus right. Peaking will highlight high contrast areas that are a little out of focus, and won't highlight low contrast areas that are in focus. You need to assign a button to magnify and focus that way.
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  5. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Legend

    Oct 8, 2013
    So far, I've found that I rarely ever shoot anything that makes me want to use my 1.4, 1.8, 2.0 primes...the need for DoF (or bright sunlight) almost always trumps the need for that kind of speed in my primary pursuit of nature / wildlife outdoor type shots
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  6. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    Here is an article in Wikipedia that explains why fast lenses were quite soft wide open:

    Now they incorporate aspherical elements in fast lens making and utilize them better (manufacturing them is cheaper and computers make simulations easier [in the old days those simulations were made by humans and increasing complexity increased simulation time a lot]) so they are able to make pretty good fast lenses (however big, heavy and expensive). Btw, stopping down doesn't remove all spherical aberrations so in many cases faster lens stopped down isn't as sharp as a slower lens.

    If spherical aberration increases to the 4th power of the diameter the difference between a 2 max aperture and 1 max aperture lens is 16.
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  7. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Feb 17, 2015
    Thanks for all the comments/thoughts on this everyone. I appreciate it. If nothing else it'll get me thinking more about how I'm actually using my lenses now.
    Here's some of that 'glow' of an old lens wide open.

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  8. DigitalD

    DigitalD TalkEmount Veteran

    Mar 2, 2014
    David K Fonseca
    There is a place for everything. I sure do fall in the camp of shooting with pretty shallow depth of field however I try to make the decision consciously and not 'just because'. If I am really looking to isolate the subject and create a more fine art representation of my subject I will shoot wide open. However I try to use lenses that are sharp wide open as well. Most budget lenses are better stopped down a stop or 2.

    For me there are times when the 'bloom' of the lens adds to shot, especially with people. There are times when a shallow DOF helps me draw out something special in a seemingly mundane subject. Its part of my style I guess. My 2 examples:


    shallow DOF:

    But always a good balance and purpose for any technique will always yield better results for you in the end. If obtaining the image you were going for is reached? Well thats a bonus :)
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  9. VLReviews

    VLReviews TalkEmount Regular

    Mar 16, 2015
    +1 on this tip! It took me quite a while to realize this. It's really misleading...

    That may be true if you change only the aperture. But faster lenses often use different designs. In my exprience, fast Minolta lenses are sharper and better overall than the slower ones. At least up to a certain point - with the MD 50 f/1.2 you actually see that they had to compromise on some aspects of the design to get to f/1.2. But the f/1.4s are generally better than the f/1.7s. I would guess that this is due to the more complex optics (7/6 instead of 6/5). So in practice, faster lenses are not generally inferior. There's just too many variables to draw this conclusion from the - existing - theoretical disadvantage.
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  10. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Feb 4, 2013
    Often it's better to stop down just a little anyway, even when isolating a subject. I see a lot of photos were the subject is not just isolated from the background, but also from other parts of the subject! Only one eye in focus, or half of the interesting part of a flower.

    I do really like that shot of the little girl running, because it's a great example of when it really does fit the mood of the photo. It's like a half remembered image from a dream.
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  11. xXx1

    xXx1 TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 15, 2013
    I think that the solution is in that some faster lenses use more aspherical lenses and are better calculated and you can push the max aperture just a slight bit further that way (and aspherical elements will reduce spherical aberrations with smaller apertures too). There is a theoretical max aperture for a given optical formula (using a larger elements will only result in a larger image circle) so they have to add extra elements. This is pretty challenging with just a single element. Modern lenses are much more complex and so can perform better.

    So it is that some slower lenses are optically better and sometimes faster ones (using roughly same formula) while theoretically the slower one should perform better. In practice it depends about calculations, materials and manufacturing quality.

    I think that greatest differences with same formula are with 135mm Sonnars. Sonnar is asymmetrical design so it is much more difficult to control spherical aberrations and many old f:4 or f:3.5 perform better than f:2.8 stopped down. I have a 135mm/4 Tele-Tessar and am waiting a adapter for it. It will be interesting to compare it against Sonnars (Contax, Jypiter 37A and Jena 135mm/4 [unfortunately I don't have Jena 135mm/3.5]).
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