Shared: (LinkedIn) – Can Lenses Be To Sharp For Portraits?

LinkedIn – BridesView Group

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
Magdalena (2)
Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 T (on Leica M9)
Example standing further back. F2
Leica M9 - B&W Film Look
Nikkor 35mm f1.4G – super sharp
Example on D800, high key Poland
Aga (2) SOOC with D800
Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8 (Great little lens)(Same as a Zeiss Planar 50mm with different badge)
Example on Nikon D800
Katie, as shot

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
Alice SOOC
Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 (on Leica M9)
Leica M9 B&W Portrait
Lensbaby Edge 80
Example – Kodak Portra 35mm film / Nikon FM
Film Photography Fashion

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
Film is NOT Dead - Model Photogaphy
Zeiss Planar 80mm f2 T (on Contax 645 medium format film camera) (very sharp+shallow)
Example – film photography wedding portrait
Contax 645 Wedding Portrait
Mamiya Sekor 110mm f2.8 (on Mamiya RZ67 ProII)(sharp yet shallow DOF)
Example – 6×7 medium format Kodak T-Max film
Film Fashion Photography
Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 (M42 mount)(Great for portraits)
Example up close on D800
Katie with CZ Pancolar 80/1.8

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”.

Join me – LinkedIn – UK Leica Wedding Photographer

Leica M Mount Lens Test & Zeiss Lenses for Model Photography

Tonight I was playing around with my M42 mount Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.8 on the Leica M9 via a Leica M – M42 adapter. I understood that you cannot focus M42 lenses on the rangefinder focus system as there is no coupling but I found that if I set my 50mm lens to 0.65M I could focus through the view finder. This is amazing for me as I like to use lenses close so can now use this nice lenses at 0.65M whereas other Leica M lenses tend to focus at 0.7M. (see below for Zeiss Planar Model Photography on D800!)

I then thought I would try my perhaps even nicer M42 mount Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8 lens (via same adapter). Again I found I could focus it at 0.65M. This is great for me as I now have an 80mm lens I can focus at 0.65M. Perfect for my model shoots.. watch this space! Pleased. (see below for Zeiss Pancolar Model Photography on D800!)
Zeiss 80mm Pancolar (M42) @f1.8  - Test Shot

My Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens acted as a bench mark for my little comparison test looking at both sharpness and minimum focal length.
Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Nokton @f1.4 - Test Shot

Latest my new Voigtlander 28mm f2 Ultron arrived today. It looks super sharp at f2 so looking forward to the wedding this weekend. My first Leica Wedding! ๐Ÿ˜€
Voigtlander 28mm f2 Ultron @f2 - Test Shot

> I have one more lens on route so check back and I will add the results. It’s a surprise! ๐Ÿ™‚

Note* All photos are resized DNG files using LR3. No sharpening. All lenses used wide open at minimal focal distance on Leica M9. The tones are not an accurate representation as the sun kept coming out (was for the 28mm shot).

I use the M42 Zeiss lenses on my Nikon D800 via adapter as love the super sharp Zeiss optics and tones over Nikkor glass.ย  Here areย  a few examples:

Zeiss Pancolar Model Photography: Katie & Harriett

Katie with CZ Pancolar 80/1.8

Katie SOOC with CZ Pancolar 80/1.8

Harriett with Pancolar 80/1.8 SOOC

Zeiss Planar Model Photography: Katie

Katie with Rollei Planar 50/1.8

Katie with Rollei Planar 50/1.8

Summer 2012 - Katie SOOC