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80mm Lens Shootout - see link end of post  
 

 
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Pillar of the Community

United States
2915 Posts
 Posted 02/12/2018  12:07 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I started a thread on Photomacrography.net 2 years ago with the intention of testing 80mm lenses for coin photography using some new techniques and equipment to improve on my previous shootouts.
The biggest change I intended to make was to use a FF camera, and I started my search. I wanted to get a better result than my HRT2i could produce. I had several candidates,
but none of them really met my criteria (no AA filter; good software tethering; EFSC/EFCS). The first camera that actually met all the criteria was the Sony A7Riii, but my
purchase of that camera ended in disappointment. The image was larger than what my T2i could produce, but quality was similar if not worse at pixel level, plus the high
resolution mode did not work well. I am still thinking of the 5DSR or the D850, but I realized that going back to my original premise of evaluating the 80mm lenses for coin
photography made use of APS-C more appropriate, since it's more likely coin photographers will be using APS-C than FF. So while I still may purchase a FF camera, I likely
won't use it for lens shootouts.

I had devised a new technique to measure lenses more effectively for IQ using a 2x teleconverter. This method seemed ideal, but unfortunately it failed due to the TC quality
at the corners falling below the lenses under test. I may still revisit this method in the future with improved TCs as I think it is still valid, and would eliminate some
of the variability due to the demosaicing and other camera issues.

So for now I'll stick with my tried and true HRT2i, looking at 100% crops of coins to determine image quality. To that end, I have completed the 80mm shootout of 30 lenses.
I chose 80mm since it is a sweet spot for coin photography on bellows. Canon and Nikon camera register distances, plus typical bellows minimum spacings, make it impossible
to frame larger coins using short lenses. My favorite focal length is 75mm, but some bellows are too long to work well at this length. Plus it's nice to have some flexibility
to frame even larger coins or other items. 80mm gives a bit more flexibility in extension and in working distance without making the overall setup much larger.

The list of lenses I was able to pull together is pretty broad. I actually don't know of any potential candidates that I missed, though a couple that I tried were not of high
enough IQ to include in the test. These were the Vivitar VHE (I can't find a copy without significant haze), and the Gaertner objective. I also ended up finding a couple more
lenses to include. The final list for this test is:

AGFA Magnolar f5.6
AGFA Repromaster f4
Beseler Color Pro f4.5
Beseler HD f4
Leica Milar f4.5
Leica Photar f4.5
Leica Summar f4.5
Meopta Anaret f4.5
Meopta Anaret-S f4.5
Meopta Meogon f2.8
Minolta CE Rokkor-X f5.6
Nikon El-Nikkor f5.6
Olympus OM Zuiko f4
PZO Emitar-S f4.5
PZO Janpol Color K f5.6
Rodenstock Eurygon f4
Rodenstock Rodagon f4
Rodenstock Rodagon WA f4
Rodenstock Apo Rodagon N f4
Schneider Colortrac Apo-Digitar f5.6 fixed
Schneider Colortrac Apo-Digitar f6.7 fixed
Schneider Componar f4.5
Schneider Componar-S f4.5
Schneider Componon f5.6
Schneider Componon-S f4
Schneider Componon-S f5.6
Schneider M-Componon f4
Schneider Makro-Symmar f5.6
Tomioka E36C f4 fixed
Vega 30Y f4

I have not yet taken pictures OF the lenses but will likely do this soon so folks know the version of lens tested and what they all look like.

Note that I also did not include the Schneider WA-Componon f5.6. I just forgot to include it as it was in my "use" rack. I will for sure add it to the list when I get a little
time to shoot with it. Good lens, though it likely wouldn't be the winner in this contest.

There were some surprises in this shootout, as one would expect from testing such a broad range of lenses:

- The Agfa Repromaster is superb in the center, but its narrow coverage keeps it from winning the shootout
- The Leica Milar and Summar, both older lenses, were disappointing, but the Photar was a contender
- The rare Meopta Meogon was very disappointing. It seems to have an undeserved reputation
- The rare Rodenstock Eurygon tested middle of the road, worse than expected based on reputation
- The expensive Rodenstock Apo Rodagon N was very disappointing
- A couple of fairly modest lenses ended up very high in the rankings. You'll need to read the report to see which ones
- The winner of the shootout was not terribly surprising

See here for the report, and let me know any comments: http://www.macrocoins.com/80mm-lens-shootout.html
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
Pillar of the Community
United States
2018 Posts
 Posted 02/12/2018  12:56 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add pepactonius to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks -- that shootout looks like it was a major undertaking.
Pillar of the Community
United States
2915 Posts
 Posted 02/12/2018  11:24 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
What took a lot of effort was assembling the group of lenses. I looked for over a year for 80mm lenses. The most difficult to justify was the Apo Rodagon N, since it was quite expensive, but I figured it would be worth it. NOPE! Check out the results to see how this lens is really middle of the road. Not bad, but not worth $300.

By the way, for folks who did not read to the bottom of the OP, see here for the report: http://www.macrocoins.com/80mm-lens-shootout.html
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
Pillar of the Community
Austria
1950 Posts
 Posted 02/13/2018  12:49 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Which monitor did you use and how was it calibrated?
Don't buy the book before the coin as too often the book is wrong. "Buy" the story then the coin
Pillar of the Community
United States
2915 Posts
 Posted 02/13/2018  08:41 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'm using several monitors, most of them ASUS. My main monitor is a stock ASUS 30" 2k on my desktop, but I also view at work, on my phone, etc.

I'm curious though why monitor type and calibration make any difference to this test. I did not test color fidelity or even make any judgements about CA. The only color-related part of the test was the initial WB, which is an objective process and thus monitor-independent. Please explain your thoughts on monitors regarding a lens test like I am showing here.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
Pillar of the Community
Austria
1950 Posts
 Posted 02/13/2018  09:12 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I was less interested in make and more interested in Resolution. From what you have said I for one couldn't rely on a a set of tests that we based on low resolution monitors. Using a calibrated monitor assures you that you are seeing the correct colors. Furthermore any one with a calibrated monitor is then assured that they are seeing the images the same way you edited them. From your answer I gather you used low resolution un-calibrated monitors. SO there is no way I can judge the veracity of your tests. It is possible that you may have been using monitors that have made some lenses look better than they are and others ( like the Rodagon N) look worse. Edit: this includes center edge differences.. is it the lens or the monitor?( Rhetorical). The shoot out is interesting but I wouldn't part with my cash ( or Rodagon N if I had one) based on it.
Don't buy the book before the coin as too often the book is wrong. "Buy" the story then the coin
Edited by austrokiwi
02/13/2018 09:18 am
Pillar of the Community
United States
2915 Posts
 Posted 02/13/2018  11:31 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
AK...In general I am not sure what difference the monitor makes in this test. Certainly the monitor has no bearing on the image quality differences between the lenses.

Here are my individual comments on your points:

"From what you have said I for one couldn't rely on a a set of tests that we based on low resolution monitors"

Actually, high resolution monitors make it harder to assess sharpness, not easier. Doubling the resolution has the same effect as downsizing the image 2x. So images on high resolution monitors look "better" than they do on low resolution monitors.

To mitigate this effect, I presented the results such that monitor resolution is not a strong factor by up-converting the images to 2x full size. This allows folks with higher resolution monitors to see the differences between the lenses easier than can be done at 1x. My 2k monitor is high enough resolution that the 2x up-conversion is needed to accurately assess sharpness.

" Using a calibrated monitor assures you that you are seeing the correct colors"

As I stated earlier, I made no claims of color fidelity or even CA differences when comparing these lenses. I only did WB on the first lens tested to get the colors "close" to correct for the overall test. WB can be made to near perfection for any of these lenses so that is not really a factor in the shootout.

"Furthermore any one with a calibrated monitor is then assured that they are seeing the images the same way you edited them"

I did not edit them except for cropping and up-converting, both of which are monitor-independent.

" SO there is no way I can judge the veracity of your tests. It is possible that you may have been using monitors that have made some lenses look better than they are and others ( like the Rodagon N) look worse"

My 2x up-conversion somewhat mitigates any differences between monitors from sharpness perspective. Certainly when I view the test results on my phone, or even my work monitor, everything looks sharper, yet I still see the same relative ordering of results. I would urge you to look through the images and judge for yourself if you consider my groupings valid. They were certainly time consuming and subjective, so I do expect differences of opinion.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
Pillar of the Community
Austria
1950 Posts
 Posted 02/14/2018  01:17 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Your comments don't match my experience.
1: I learned with my Sony A7rII that tethering produced poor quality images... the reason being the monitor I was using was a low resolution monitor. The Laptop monitor I was using at the time was just not good enough to get critical focus. I gave up on tethering for focusing and used the cameras rear monitor which is a 4k monitor.

2: I used to get really frustrated with the output I was seeing from the A7rII. I initially made the same conclusion that you have made in regards to the A7RIII( Same sensor). It was pointed out to me that It may well be the monitor I was using and I went out and got some high quality prints of some coins and I could immediately see the pictures were substantially better than the monitor was displaying. When I built my current computer I switched to a 4K monitor. The issue went away.

As for Calibration Since having a calibrated monitor( re-calibrated every 4 weeks) I am much more confident of the color accuracy of my shots. Its probably not an issue for eBay sales shots and most coin collectors but for tests such as the ones you have performed it is, in my opinion, important. How do you know if a particular lens you are using has a color cast( Rhetorical)?
Don't buy the book before the coin as too often the book is wrong. "Buy" the story then the coin
Edited by austrokiwi
02/14/2018 10:36 am
Pillar of the Community
United States
2915 Posts
 Posted 02/14/2018  11:26 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I think I wrote too much on my shootout page for folks to read all the details, methods, philosophy, etc. If you dig into the text, you'll see that I did focus stacking with this shootout. It's the first time I've done this, and was more work, but eliminates the issue of missing or variable focus in the comparisons. So I agree with you that critical focus is tough and subjective and if it's not done well it can cause an unwanted variation between the lenses under test. But it is not a problem here since stacking eliminates this variability.

I am also very frustrated that you keep coming back to color in your criticisms of the shootout. Let me say it a 3rd time...color was not a part of this shootout. I made no claims toward comparing color fidelity of the lenses. I used a bronze cent to do the comparison, and they are notoriously difficult to use for CA comparisons. I may do a CA comparison using a Silver coin in the future, but not on the whole group of lenses. Perhaps just the top 5 or 10.

That said, if you are doing White Balance using visuals from you monitor, you are not doing it correctly. White balance is not a subjective thing, so it makes no difference what monitor you use. I have written out a correct white balance procedure in another post recently. You might want to refer to it.

Finally, I'm not sure what conclusion about the A7Riii you are referring to. I found the camera itself to be very good, with output as expected from the 4.3um sensor. It has less chroma noise than my HRT2i, and the same resolution. I did find that I could essentially match the outputs of the two at 100% resolution, as expected. The problem I had was with the pixel shift multi shooting mode. In that mode, there was indeed an increase in detail in the final image, but the process created odd donut-shaped artifacts that made the images appear "sharp" but were very unrealistic looking at 100% pixel level. There was no way to adjust the 4-image composition process to eliminate the pixels, so I considered the camera faulty and sent it back. Plus, it had something loose inside anyway. I was seriously considering getting a A7Rii, but I decided essentially all it would give me is a FF camera with same 4.3um pixel size as my HRT2i, so I will wait yet again to buy my next camera.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
New Member
Greece
33 Posts
 Posted 02/14/2018  1:19 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Nickos to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Although I am Greek, this is all Greek to me.

Forgive me, but what was the purpose of this test? Using a camera and lens that are worse of a smartphone camera what should I expect?

I want to write my experience. At the beginning I wanted to have a cheap lens and camera to shoot my coins. Getting experience I wanted something better every time.

Two years ago I ended with a canon 700D and a f2.8L Macro Lens. That's what I should have done from the first time. I read too many threads about cheap set ups and so on. What serious people should do is to advise people to use their phone camera (paying nothing) and in case they want something better to buy something really cheap which is a good reliable lens to be bought once and maybe forever.

In the past I spent much more in total making experiments with cheap lens and cameras. Now I am looking for a FF too but still the camera I would like to have (value for money) is not yet in the market. (But I will still be using my canon macro L2.8).



Pillar of the Community
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2915 Posts
 Posted 02/14/2018  8:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Nickos...the purpose of the test was to look at all the available 80mm lenses to see which ones of them are worth considering for coin photography. 80mm is an excellent focal length for use on bellows shooting coins. Any of these lenses would be a potential replacement for the 75mm lens recommended in the "<$400" thread. Some are better and some are worse, but ALL the lenses in the test, even the very worst one, are better than what is contained in even the best cellphone camera.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
Pillar of the Community
Austria
1950 Posts
 Posted 02/16/2018  03:08 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add austrokiwi to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
That said, if you are doing White Balance using visuals from you monitor, you are not doing it correctly. White balance is not a subjective thing, so it makes no difference what monitor you use. I have written out a correct white balance procedure in another post recently. You might want to refer to it.

LOL your gearing up to loose you temper. I don't need instructions on how to set white balance. You might want to add one thing to your instructions on setting up White balance. After I have set white balance with the camera I apply an LLC template in raw editing. The LCC( Light cast calibration) is created for each coin photo set up

Don't buy the book before the coin as too often the book is wrong. "Buy" the story then the coin
Edited by austrokiwi
02/16/2018 03:12 am
Pillar of the Community
United States
2915 Posts
 Posted 02/16/2018  07:50 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add rmpsrpms to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I had to look up what you were talking about...

I assume you mean LCC, Lens Cast Calibration. I could only find references to it in regard to large format photography, where it is used in tilt/shift cameras due to the large differences in incident angle of light across the sensor causing color casts:

Here is Phase One's page for LCC for Macs as a reference:
https://people.ok.ubc.ca/creative/V...e/LCCMac.pdf

In this reference they say they don't see much color cast except on a 12-24mm lens at the 12mm end:
https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2012/...calibration/

I do often see significant color cast shifts with copper coins, but the cast shift if fairly uniform, so I've never found it necessary to do anything other than global WB compensation. Certainly in the longer FL lenses (like the 80mm ones in this shootout) the light angles are fairly small.

In one of my posts on this subject (you'll need to search) I recommend shooting on a stage surface with calibrated color, and I describe the WB process using such a stage. I have some grey reference backgrounds with mottled tonal variations that are wonderful for this. By shooting on such a surface, WB can be compensated in post processing very easily. This is the only method I've found to directly compensate WB for each coin such that I trust the results, and with the grey background anyone looking at the coin can check the color fidelity to be sure the coin is showing true color.
Contact me for photographic equipment or visit my home page at:
http://macrocoins.com
Edited by rmpsrpms
02/16/2018 07:51 am
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