I was using the Nikon D800 for most of the studio shoot with model Alex so I dug out my Carl Zeiss Jena (“CZJ”) Sonnar 180mm f2.8 lens to have a play with.
I bought the Sonnar originally to use on my ARAX-CM medium format 6×6 film camera. Due to the larger medium format film sensor the Sonnar 180mm is the equalent of approximately 92mm f1.4 on a 35mm camera so it can give some really nice shallow DOF shots.
I know it is known to be a nice lens for film but it just cannot compete with the Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s in terms of resolution wide open or stopped down on the D800. The result of this effect has given this D800 photo a more vintage look straight from camera which is quite nice.
I plan to do some more 120 film photography with it when I get chance.
In terms of shallow DOF medium format film camera lenses the Contax 645 CZ Planar 80mm f2 equates to 46mm f1.2 in 35mm sensor terms and the Mamiya RZ67 110mm f2.8 Sekor lens is equal to 52mm f1.3.
If anyone wants to sell me their Konica Hexanon 60mm f1.2 for my Leica M9 I would be very grateful!
Nikon D800 was back in action today after a few months break. I gave the Leica M9 a rest and let the D800 take over.
D800 B&W JPEG
Studio Shoot. Coventry UK.
The D800 DSLR is so fast and easy to use after using a rangefinder for a while. Especially when using very shallow DOF as I do. I wont list likes/ dislikes here as full comparison of the two cameras to follow.
The Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s was on the D800 for most the day. Fantastic lens that I love shooting close and wide open (f1.2). The old manual focus AI-s Nikkor 50mm f1.2 is in my top 3 Nikon mount portrait lenses that I use for my model fashion and beauty photography. I tend to use it less for wedding photography unless light level are very low.
Miserable dull weather in the UK today. I was using mix of Arri light and a speedlight lighting
**Good news. I did break out the Leica M9 towards the end of the shoot so new examples to come using the Leica M9 + Jupiter 3 (Russian copy of a Sonnar 50mm f1.5 lens) combo. 🙂
Discussion – Can Lenses Be To Sharp For Portraits?
LinkedIn Original Discussion Thread
I just replied to the above thread and I thought you may find the topic of interest and the details below of potential use. Here was my reply:
“As for sharp lenses for portraiture, I specialise in female portraits and have used some of the best and sharpest lenses for Nikon, Leica and medium format Contax 645, Mamiya RZ67 and more.
A point was raised above Can a lens be too sharp for a flattering portrait? Answer Yes I think so. I aim to get my photos correct in camera so rarely airbrush a pimple unless a one off special photo. If you pose and light them well initially you can normally cover most of the imperfections. I also do not have time to remove every wrinkle. I cringe when I see a pore free texture free airbrushed portrait. They can look awful if done badly.
So back on topic.. lenses being too sharp. Yes they can. Even though I work with the majority of models aged 17yrs to 30yrs some of the lenses I have used will make a face unflattering unless the model has porcelain skin when I can then go all out for sharpness.
List of lenses that can be too sharp for portraits:
Samyang 85mm f1.4 @f1.4 (sharper than Nikon 85mm f1.4D BTW at f1.4)(Great lens!) Example standing further back, Ukraine
Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro lens – very very sharp but not fast enough (sold) Early example with my old Nikon D700
Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 T (on Leica M9) Example standing further back. F2
Nikkor 35mm f1.4G – super sharp Example on D800, high key Poland
Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8 (Great little lens)(Same as a Zeiss Planar 50mm with different badge) Example on Nikon D800
Lenses for non-perfect skin:
Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s (fantastic lens that gives a dreamy look shot at f1.2 but still sharp) Example on Nikon D800
Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 (on Leica M9) Example
Lensbaby Edge 80 Example – Kodak Portra 35mm film / Nikon FM
Lenses that do it all:
Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s (sharp at f2 yet flattering as shallow DOF) Example on Nikon FM – 35mm Film photography
Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 T (on Contax 645 medium format film camera) (very sharp+shallow) Example – film photography wedding portrait
Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 (on Mamiya RZ67 ProII)(sharp yet shallow DOF) Example – 6×7 medium format Kodak T-Max film
Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 (M42 mount)(Great for portraits) Example up close on D800
If you want to see more examples see my blog or Flickr. Many examples of each combination and 99% of the photos on there have not been airbrushed so what you see is what the lens provides”.
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MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – UK Leica Wedding Photographer
For Deb & Paul’s Wedding back in August in Gloucester UK, I used the Leica M9 for most of the wedding photos plus the Nikon D800 for some wide angle low light shots. I also shot a roll of 120 medium format Kodak Portra 400 colour film on my Contax 645 camera.
Contax 645 Wedding Photos
I had the film lab developed and here are the first few film negatives i’ve scanned from the roll.
Check back soon for the other photos taken.
Very pleased with the Kodak Portra and the Contax 645 combination. The level of detail captured is fantastic and I love the Portra tones.
Industar 26M Review (Industar 52mm f2.8) on FED-2 Camera
While working in Ukraine I found a shop selling an old FED-2 camera + Industar-26m 52mm f2.8 ltm lens attached. With an Leica-M to LTM adapter this screw mount lens can be used on a Leica. Here is a short Industar 26M review using the lens on my Leica M9 digital camera.
Photo of Ukranian model Julia trying out my new FED-2 rangefinder camera taken with Leica M9.
Industar 52mm f2.8 lens
I was in Hungary so took a taxi across the border to Ukraine for the weekend to do some model photography in Uzhgorod. While out on a walk I passed an antique shop so went in to see if they had any vintage Soviet cameras. I enjoy film photography and use both 35mm and medium format cameras, BUT.. on this occasion I was after M39 or Leica M lenses. They had a few old Soviet cameras, many in bad shape with lens not fit for photos. I found two that looked OK. One had a 50mm f2 lens collapsible but I could not see how it could be removed from the camera. The other was a Russian FED-2 1950’s rangefinder with an Industar 26M 52mm f2.8 lens attached. For less than £10 I could not resist the purchase! 🙂
Why buy legacy glass (vintage lenses) for the Leica M9?
I already own a very sharp Zeiss ZM Planar T 50mm f2 which produces photos with a modern digital look to them. I have a Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Nokton Classic that produces slightly softer images shot wide open and gives photos a slightly vintage look to them. I have a Soviet Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5 lens (Zeiss Sonnar copy) that is extremely soft shot at f1.5 on the Leica M9. Each lens gives photos unique characteristics and I enjoy using a selection of modern and older lenses on the M9. One lens I would love to use is the legendary Leica 50mm f0.95 Noctilux but at the moment I am neither rich nor mad enough to spend £8k on a lens!
Industar 26M Leica Portrait
Off Topic – Voigtlander lenses
I currently don’t have any Leica lenses and feel Voigtlander lenses give the best value for money. I own the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide Heliar (latest purchase and review to come!), the Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2, as mentioned the VC Nokton 40mm f1.4 (amazing VFM)(new review with examples to come) and my most expensive lens so far, the fantastic Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii. The VC 35/1.2 is sharp enough at f1.2 to use for wedding photography and for paying clients. I shot an entire wedding on the Leica M9 using just the VC 35/1.2. At ISO 800 and using handheld with a shutter speed of 1/8 it lets you shoot with almost no light.
Back on Topic! – Colours from Vintage Glass
Another reason I bought the FED-2 + Industar 26M 52mm f2.8 lens is older lenses are said to give more natural colours due to the lens coating. As per my recent post (De-saturated Leica M9 colours vs. Kodak Portra film) I think good colour film still has the edge over digital for portrait photography and natural skin tones. If I can get such tones using older lenses from the Leica then the M9 can really do pretty much all my film cameras offer. I have not shot any black and white film since purchasing the M9 as the in camera black and white JPEGs are just as good in my opinion. I hope I will shoot more film in the future but at the moment it is on hold.
Industar + Leica M9 Photoshoot
Lens flare and Leica glow look
One characteristic of some old lenses is they can be said to produce soft focus looking images when shot at their widest aperture. The apparent softness is often a combination of less contrast (due to lens coating) and flare rather than lack of sharpness. Highlights sometimes have a halo effect which is often viewed as ‘soft’. For portraits soft focus can sometimes be an advantage and I find for some models the super sharp (sharp and contrasty) Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 can be less forgiving for anything other than perfect youthful skin so I switch to the VC 40/1.4.
Russian lens quality = Russian Roulette!?
One problem of buying vintage Russian lenses such as Jupiter glass and here an Industar is that some lens models were built in multiple locations over an extended period with numerous versions so the quality can be a little hit and miss. Some lenses can be very good and the images are hard to tell apart from the lens they are based on (such as Jupiter 3 is copy of the Zeiss Sonnar design) and some can be poor quality.
Leica LTM-M adapter (Leica screw mount)
I was unable to test the lens in the shop on my Leica as I did not have my Leica LTM-M adapter with me so fingers crossed I got a nice one!