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kit vs premium lenses

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
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  • #2017
    Curious
    Participant

    Ennuipoet posted this in the PSAEF: “Rather than turn this into the Farktography forum, I’ll just say that if you don’t want to lay out the thousands of dollars for premium lenses, but want to use for a vacation, renting is the way to go. You can usually get a weekly rate on premium lens for 100, 150 bucks, then send it back when vacation is over.” that after a couple of us were bemoaning digital photos vs film.

    so my question is if i can get pretty sharp pictures with my film lenses why are digital lenses of the same dollars softer?

    yes i understand the whole xx elements in XX groups (at least in theory) but again those specs seem to match reasonably well also. ditto lens coating, etc, etc.

    or it may be a matter of auto focus vs manual since my SLR film cameras are manual and my DSLR are auto focus. and i do seem to get better results with manual focus.

    #33014
    lokisbong
    Participant

    I am by no means an expert and I have not played with film lenses but I would agree with the auto focus theory. I get better sharpness if I turn off the auto focus on my cheap kit lens

    #33015
    orionid
    Participant

    A focus prism with manual focus will give you the absolute sharpest image. I’ve half-heartedly looked around to see if there’s a conversion or retrofit kit for dslr’s to no avail. Otherwise, my SWAG (scientific wild-ass guess) guess would be that the autofocus algorithms get to a “close enough” window (electronics keyword: deadband) and stop, rather than differentially seeking the inversion point.

    It may also seek differentially from both directions, average out the two values, and then position the focusing element halfway between, which would then leave you out of focus / soft by a minuscule amount due to mechanical tolerances.

    #33016
    Curious
    Participant

    A focus prism with manual focus will give you the absolute sharpest image.

    my konica/minolta maxxum 7D has a prism not mirrors and in manual is is sharp even with less expensive lenses. plus it has a handy button right behind the shutter release where your thumb is that deactivates the auto focus. and for those images i really want the best focus i use it. but that sort of defeats the point in buying auto focus. not that you can get manual focus only DSLRs.

    #33017
    ennuipoet
    Participant

    You actually CAN get manual focus only DSLR lenses…as I understand it…ultra fast primes by Leica. As you might expect, the start price is in the $5k. As to the difference between contemporary kits and premiums vs older film mounts, I think the real answer is “Because they can”.

    Back in the day (we wore an onion on our belt because that was the style then) companies produced lenses with good optical quality because that is what people demanded. Today, people with Point and Shoots and cellphone cameras have swallowed the low end market completely, no need to make quality for people that are shooting the equivalent of Polaroids of their two years old’s birthday party. (NTTAWWT) The mid-tier market has been sold that megapixels are the only important factor in taking a good photograph. They buy the kit lens that comes with their DSLR, which takes “good enough” photos, maybe a lower end zoom and call it a day. Which is fine. So Canon/Nikon/Pentax don’t spend a lot of money on those kits because they don’t have to. They are a loss leader, slap the lens on the body, and people will buy it because “Look it comes with a lens”.

    Premium glass (and I have only the my f4 70-200L and my f.28 Sigma 24-70…which not “really” premium”) is a specific market for photographers who A.)Really care about image quality and/or B.)have gear acquisition syndrome. In essence, they created a whole new market of high end customers by shorting people on the initial purchase. When we were buying film frames, they were simply making better lenses because some marketing genius hadn’t sold his soul yet.

    #33018
    sleeping
    Participant

    Back in the day (we wore an onion on our belt because that was the style then) companies produced lenses with good optical quality because that is what people demanded. …. So Canon/Nikon/Pentax don’t spend a lot of money on those kits because they don’t have to. They are a loss leader, slap the lens on the body, and people will buy it because “Look it comes with a lens”.

    Um, actually a lot of those cheap modern kit zooms are optically better than their equivalent *professional* zoom lenses from the “good old days”, even if they are built like crap. Lens design has improved enormously in recent years.

    #33019
    Curious
    Participant

    what bothers me nowadays about the less expensive (i won’t say cheap) zoom lenses is the poor F stop. 3.5 on an 18-55 or 18-70 and 4.5 or worse 5.6 on a long zoom is crap. film lenses (and now the much more expensive digital zooms) were 2.8 usually and 1.8 for premium.

    grumble grumble

    #33020
    sleeping
    Participant

    That’s really primes vs zooms more than anything, but it amazes me that no one is building something along the lines of an 18mm F3.5 in a compact design for aps sensors. You’d think Nikon might have figured that out after seeing the 35/1.8 selling like hotcakes….

    #33021
    ennuipoet
    Participant

    Um, actually a lot of those cheap modern kit zooms are optically better than their equivalent *professional* zoom lenses from the “good old days”, even if they are built like crap. Lens design has improved enormously in recent years.

    Granted, but that is an aspect of technology, not design. What I am saying is the companies are intentionally putting out an inferior product because there is an option to make more money that way. Twenty or thirty years ago there were high end lenses, but the mass market lenses were not built intentionally substandard in order to drive the high end lens market.

    ETA: I am particularly talking about the Canon EF-S Series, I’ve no experience with Nikon gear. After shooting with the EFS lens and shooting with even a midrange EF mount, the differences in design and construction left me feeling as though Canon said “Here, try this piece of crap, it will make you buy something better”. So, you go out and buy an EF lens and say “Wow! This is good, I wonder what the “L” is like” Soon you are selling your organs on the black market to buy another L

    #33022
    zincprincess
    Participant

    what bothers me nowadays about the less expensive (i won’t say cheap) zoom lenses is the poor F stop. 3.5 on an 18-55 or 18-70 and 4.5 or worse 5.6 on a long zoom is crap. film lenses (and now the much more expensive digital zooms) were 2.8 usually and 1.8 for premium.

    grumble grumble

    Grumble grumble indeed. I have taken decent pictures with my kit lenses, but I’ve taken enough pictures to realize the limitations of these lenses. I’ll probably trade up at some point when I can free up the cash.

    #33023
    zincprincess
    Participant

    That’s really primes vs zooms more than anything, but it amazes me that no one is building something along the lines of an 18mm F3.5 in a compact design for aps sensors. You’d think Nikon might have figured that out after seeing the 35/1.8 selling like hotcakes….

    I bought myself the 35/1.8, and I love it pieces. You cannot beat it for less than $200. Now if only I could find a macro at that price.

    #33024
    chupathingie
    Participant

    One thing that bears mentioning is how amazingly hard it is to color-correct a fast system. Even high-end glass suffers from a lot of CA when wide-open. You can drop $5k on a fast lens and it will still get smacked around like an unruly stepchild by a well-engineered APO triplet at f6 on the CA/sharpness front.

    I haven’t had the chance to test any older glass in this regard, but I’d love to do a comparison someday.

    #33025
    Curious
    Participant

    last weekend i bought a nikon D3000 w/18-55 kit lens and also the new nikon 55-300 zoom. wouldn’t have got the camera except it was $350. brand new in the box full warranty. as you may know that model is being replaced by the D3100 so the retailer was getting rid of existing stock. and it was a display model. as far as i can tell being a display has no downside. it did reduce the price $180 from the best i found online. all the camera features seem to work as advertised.

    anyway i have spent a couple of days shooting test shots. roughly 300 images. final judgment — ok to good. these suckers really like to have a nice bright day. or my hand held 300 zoom days are past. as with my last DSLR setting the focus to spot seems to help.

    #33026
    soosh
    Participant

    One thing that bears mentioning is how amazingly hard it is to color-correct a fast system. Even high-end glass suffers from a lot of CA when wide-open. You can drop $5k on a fast lens and it will still get smacked around like an unruly stepchild by a well-engineered APO triplet at f6 on the CA/sharpness front.

    I haven’t had the chance to test any older glass in this regard, but I’d love to do a comparison someday.

    I really haven’t found that to be true. I’ve got a Sigma 20mm f/1.8 and have had two copies of the Canon 85mm f/1.8 and also the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro.

    One of the 85mm lenses would give me some CA, but the other, not at all. None of the other lenses has given me any.

    The zooms that I have, I have seen it pop up from time to time. But there’s a big difference between some of the $400-600 zooms and the $200 range.

    If you’re getting sharper photos manually focusing than auto-focusing, it could be a matter of the lens not being calibrated precisely enough and is back or front focusing. There are tests you can do for that with a ruler. People on Photo.net seem to be crazy for that kind of testing.

    #33027
    chupathingie
    Participant

    I really haven’t found that to be true. I’ve got a Sigma 20mm f/1.8 and have had two copies of the Canon 85mm f/1.8 and also the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro.

    One of the 85mm lenses would give me some CA, but the other, not at all. None of the other lenses has given me any.

    I’m pretty demanding on the CA front, but then my main interest is astrophotography. Pinpoints on a black background will show any CA at all. Every L-series and Nikon ED lens I’ve used has suffered from CA. It’s there for terrestrial photography as well, but it’s not going to be anywhere near as obvious. The higher-end glass is certainly better in that regard, but I still have to stop them down 1 or 2 stops to get round stars on the edge of the field and shrink the purple halos over the entire field to a manageable level. The $100-$200 zooms are the worst, the halos are 20x the size of the stars.

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