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Author Topic: Best landscape lenses  (Read 4404 times)

Policar

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Best landscape lenses
« on: December 15, 2012, 04:31:55 PM »
I asked this elsewhere, but I figured I'd ask it here, too:

I'm thinking of getting into landscape photography, which was an interest of mine I never really pursued.

I started with 135 (Velvia) and then went to 6x7 and eventually 4x5. And while I found 4x5 had everything I needed (amazing IQ, color, lens movements) it was too expensive and slow. I'm not a patient person I guess.

I'm thinking of selling off either my entire 4x5 kit or most of it and investing the money in T/S lenses for my 5D Mark III. I strongly, strongly prefer the IQ and color on 4x5 Velvia, but it is too much work to shoot and too expensive. I'm just too lazy.

My favorite focal lengths were 135mm, 180mm, and 300mm. What lenses should I get to mimic these? The 24mm TSE II seems like the best performer, but the 45mm and 90mm seem like they would give me the FOV I like. But the corner performance... yuck.

Then I'd get an ND 1.5 so I could do the long shutter speeds I like. Does that make sense?

Has anyone successfully been able to get velvia style color and tonality out of a Canon sensor? I'd overexpose a bit, meter so that the scenes I shot only had 4-5 stops of DR (very low contrast scenes), etc. But is there some way to match color (LUT)?

Thanks!

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Best landscape lenses
« on: December 15, 2012, 04:31:55 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2012, 04:40:03 PM »
What is this Velvia, of which you speak so reverently?   ;)
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Policar

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2012, 05:18:07 PM »
What is this Velvia, of which you speak so reverently?   ;)

A transparent sheet of magic coated in pixie dust... DXOMark gave it a one billion.

(Of course they wouldn't; it has four stops of DR and is super grainy in the shadows at ISO 50 with terrible color accuracy.)

Kernuak

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2012, 05:25:43 PM »
I've never explored them, but I believe there are plugins and curves you can get (I've heard about curves mostly when talking about Nikon though). With some work, you could probably try to approximate Velvia, but I think you'd be hard pushed to get it exact, I'd be interested to see any results that people have though. From some experiments in recent years, Velvia has a unique look that I have never been able to reproduce, especially in the blues and greens. That said, I have more expertise with Photoshop now than I did the last time I tried, but even now, I really only do enough to get by. I really must use up my Velvia film before it goes off.
As for lenses, the TS/E has the advantage of sharpness at wider apertures, but stopped down to f/8 and beyond, the 24 f/1.4 MkII is equally as sharp according to tests, although I haven't compared the two. Personally, I like what I've seen with the 90mm TS/E, but most of what I've looked at with that lens has been near macro or closeup shots, where the corners wouldn't matter. I sometimes use my 135mm for landscapes, it has a different look to my 24 f/1.4 MkII and not just in terms of focal length/FoV. I also use the 50 f/1.4, but the tones aren't as nice as the 24 (or the Zeiss 21 from what I've seen during my previous research before settling on the 24).
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2012, 05:49:20 PM »
What is this Velvia, of which you speak so reverently?   ;)

A transparent sheet of magic coated in pixie dust... DXOMark gave it a one billion.

LOL.

Speaking of DxO, their FilmPack has a Velvia 50 option.  Might be worth a trial download, or if you like I can post up an image or two before/after their Velvia treatment.
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Kernuak

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2012, 06:53:02 PM »
What is this Velvia, of which you speak so reverently?   ;)

With regards longevity, stick it in the freezer, it will not deteriorate and can be used years past its date, if you can find somebody to actually develop it.  :)
There are still a few around.
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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2012, 07:12:56 PM »
What is this Velvia, of which you speak so reverently?   ;)

A transparent sheet of magic coated in pixie dust... DXOMark gave it a one billion.

(Of course they wouldn't; it has four stops of DR and is super grainy in the shadows at ISO 50 with terrible color accuracy.)

I wouldn't argue with the four stops and terrible colour accuracy, I would argue with the grain in the blacks, don't forget the base is solid black, mind you I always shoot it at iso 40 anyway.

With regards longevity, stick it in the freezer, it will not deteriorate and can be used years past its date, if you can find somebody to actually develop it.  :)

Velvia was the bomb until they discontinued it. :(

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2012, 07:12:56 PM »

Policar

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2012, 07:37:41 PM »
Did they discontinue all three versions or is 100 still available in 4x5? How about 120? Obviously 50 was my preference, but I can live with 100. And it was the greens, right? Green looks so good with Velvia. As for grain in the blacks, I don't know… it's certainly granier than digital, but the resolution was great even on 135. I really, really liked it and shooting film with a spot meter really improved my technique.

I might try the DXO emulation but I just can't imagine it would work. First of all Velvia has very tight color sensitivity peaks versus the pretty sloppy filters on bayer filters now to increase sensitivity, and amazing tonality since it has such low DR but such insanely thick DMAX. And beyond that it has such high contrast that any accurate emulation would map most pictures to blown highlights and crushed blacks and no one wants that (except me).

Haters always said it was cheesy, but that is why I loved it. You shoot a flat scene (four or five stops of DR) with it and use a normal lens (150mm on a view camera) and it becomes this amazing picturesque thing. Assuming you expose and compose well, that's what I struggled with. And loading film and getting focus. But try that with a digital camera and a 50mm lens and it's trivially easy but you get a very flat, boring shot even with a good composition and if it's a landscape or architecture and you've got trees the uncorrected perspective makes the leading lines point outside the frame and even the composition can never be great. So then the style with digital is HDR and UWA (without T/S to correct for perspective) and you get these super tacky, saturated photos with crazy contrast and colors but there's no actual sense of depth or reality since it's tone mapped to hell and the perspective is totally unnatural. Plus composing on 4x5 with a loupe felt big and composing in a viewfinder feels like a thumbnail. So the irony is the cheesy film turns out these beautiful elegant painterly photos, whereas digital, which should be all accurate and clinical and naturalistic, has made this really awful stuff suddenly popular.

</rant>

Did I mention I don't like HDR?

But anyhow, does anyone have much experience with the 45mm TS? Sample shots seem boring and have poor micro-contrast relative to the 24mm and 90mm, but still better than the Nikon 45mm TS. I might just get that and dump all the LF gear. Or take it for one last run (I still have a 6x12 back and access to a Nikon 9000 scanner) and bring the Canon along, too.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2012, 07:44:18 PM by Policar »

Policar

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2012, 08:00:57 PM »
If you can wait then the much rumoured MkII 45 and 90 TS-E's are bound to be huge improvements over the MkI's, well if the 24 MkI and MkII are anything to go by they will be. The 24 got a massive gain in IQ and functionality, I will 100% be in the market for the 45 when the MkII arrives.

With regards Nikon, lenses, especially their TS lenses, really do let them down, there is zero point to a D800 if you use their weak lenses for big high quality prints. Slightly farcical, Canon have the lenses but no medium format competing sensor, Nikon have the sensor but not the lenses!

The 90mm already looks good... But yeah I looked at sample images with the 45mm and it doesn't seem as good as the 24mm or 90mm. If the new one is under $1500 and has great image quality I'll just go ahead and buy it. I'll rent for now...

It's funny about the Nikon T/S lenses. Nikon makes this amazing landscape camera and don't have the lenses to support it. I do prefer the D800E files to the 5DIII ones, but not nearly enough to make up for my huge (and probably about to get much huger if I pick up a C100) investment in Canon's system.

neuroanatomist

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2012, 08:08:47 PM »
The 45mm is the worst of the current TS-E series.  The 24mm II is actually better with a 1.4x TC, and the 24mm + 2x isn't really much worse.
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Policar

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2012, 08:26:55 PM »
The 45mm is the worst of the current TS-E series.  The 24mm II is actually better with a 1.4x TC, and the 24mm + 2x isn't really much worse.

Egads, but doesn't the TC ruin microcontrast? Microcontrast is everything with deep focus photography.

As much as the true "artist" would prefer 45mm for its elegant neutrality (for landscape; 17mm makes tons of sense for real estate, architecture, etc.), I'll take 24mm and 35mm. I might even stoop to using an ND grad filter or HDR. I'll plan on renting a 24mm, 1.4X TCIII, and 90mm TS when I take a trip west. Thanks!

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2012, 10:02:06 PM »
For about $150 you can get a back for your 4x5 camera that will let you put the 5D3 body on.  I would suggest starting there; that way, you can use your LF lenses to create a baseline for comparison.  You might find that the optics have quite a bit to do with it.   And you get to use all the movements with your digital 'back'.  I realize that it doesn't cover the full field of view, but then again, with live view, you get skip the part where you trade the ground glass for the film pack.

It would be a cheap way to experiment until you find the settings that get you what you want.

I've been playing around with some old Ektar lenses on my 5D3 (with a real kludge of an attachment), and I find the images very interesting, so I just bought myself a LF camera (a Graphic View w/203mm lens), and plan on getting one of those back as soon as the camera arrives.  I'll even be doing some film, because there is still something about it that strikes my fancy.

If you are a serious LF user, the TS lenses might not be enough for you movement wise.

Policar

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2012, 11:47:01 PM »
For about $150 you can get a back for your 4x5 camera that will let you put the 5D3 body on.  I would suggest starting there; that way, you can use your LF lenses to create a baseline for comparison.  You might find that the optics have quite a bit to do with it.   And you get to use all the movements with your digital 'back'.  I realize that it doesn't cover the full field of view, but then again, with live view, you get skip the part where you trade the ground glass for the film pack.

It would be a cheap way to experiment until you find the settings that get you what you want.

I've been playing around with some old Ektar lenses on my 5D3 (with a real kludge of an attachment), and I find the images very interesting, so I just bought myself a LF camera (a Graphic View w/203mm lens), and plan on getting one of those back as soon as the camera arrives.  I'll even be doing some film, because there is still something about it that strikes my fancy.

If you are a serious LF user, the TS lenses might not be enough for you movement wise.

The trouble with them is the small format cameras mirror box, it is so deep you often get shadowing.

As for the smaller lenses having less movements, well they need less! Tilt degrees are directly related to the focal length, Policar's 4x5 lenses have a 135 format 3x crop factor, that means any lens he used to get the same fov would need one third the tilt. If he used 30º of tilt with his 300mm on the 4x5, he could use 10º tilt with a 90mm on a 135 format for the same identical image.

Yeah I don't think the 4x5 back is the answer. I'd have to stitch like 15 frames to get the same FOV and the shadowing might mean it wouldn't work at all.

I'm not a serious LF shooter. I never really got into it. So I don't think the transition would be too painful for me, but I don't know yet.

Is that true about needing less tilt? If it is, great. Isn't Scheimpflug the same for any focal length, though?

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2012, 11:47:01 PM »

TAF

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2012, 12:26:29 AM »
For about $150 you can get a back for your 4x5 camera that will let you put the 5D3 body on.  I would suggest starting there; that way, you can use your LF lenses to create a baseline for comparison.  You might find that the optics have quite a bit to do with it.   And you get to use all the movements with your digital 'back'.  I realize that it doesn't cover the full field of view, but then again, with live view, you get skip the part where you trade the ground glass for the film pack.

It would be a cheap way to experiment until you find the settings that get you what you want.

I've been playing around with some old Ektar lenses on my 5D3 (with a real kludge of an attachment), and I find the images very interesting, so I just bought myself a LF camera (a Graphic View w/203mm lens), and plan on getting one of those back as soon as the camera arrives.  I'll even be doing some film, because there is still something about it that strikes my fancy.

If you are a serious LF user, the TS lenses might not be enough for you movement wise.

The trouble with them is the small format cameras mirror box, it is so deep you often get shadowing.

As for the smaller lenses having less movements, well they need less! Tilt degrees are directly related to the focal length, Policar's 4x5 lenses have a 135 format 3x crop factor, that means any lens he used to get the same fov would need one third the tilt. If he used 30º of tilt with his 300mm on the 4x5, he could use 10º tilt with a 90mm on a 135 format for the same identical image.

That is very useful information, thank you for that.

But I was actually referring not to the amount of movement, but the number of options available.

The TS lens has essentially two.  A proper view camera has more like 8.  If the OP is a serious LF guy, he might be used to having more options available (I see from his reply above that is likely not the case, but I didn't know that at the time).


Policar

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2012, 01:03:02 AM »
That's great, then. I'm not super technical at all, I just want three things: enough tilt that I can photograph most reasonable landscapes with deep focus before incurring tons of resolution loss from diffraction, enough rise to correct perspective, and a reasonably sharp lens.

Are there any guides for focusing tilt/shift lenses for ideal sharpness or should I just apply the same principles as I would with a view camera?

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Re: Best landscape lenses
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2012, 01:03:02 AM »