Do low element lenses have more "depth" than high element lenses?

donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,699Member
edited August 2016 in Nikon Lenses
This question is limited to primes because zooms, by their nature, are high element lenses. We, myself included, have been sold on wanting high megapixel sensors and on buying the sharpest modern lenses which will have many glass elements to provide all the correction needed. We look at images zoomed to 100% and want to see great detail. But that is not how an image is really seen by the normal viewer. They see the whole image at once. Some people argue we are being mislead and are losing what they call depth perception of an image produced by a low element count lens. They say the new high element lenses create a "flat" image. This may apply to a comparison between the old low element count 105 f2 DC and the new high element count 105 f1.4. Is something in the image lost with the new and sharper (pixel peeped 100%) lenses? Can you see a difference in depth perception in the two Micky Mouse photos in this discussion of the issue? yannickkhong.com/blog/2015/10/4/the-flattening-of-modern-lenses-or-the-death-of-3d-pop I am wondering if we should include "depth" reproduction in our evaluation of lenses. For example, if someone has the old 35mm f2 and the Sigma Art 35mm f1.4 and shoots the same scene with both do you see more depth rendered by the old 35mm f2 low element count lens?

(EDIT: fixed the web address)
Post edited by Ironheart on
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Comments

  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    edited August 2016
    For the last few weeks have been musing over the ideas and implications and limits of human perception and how it relates to photography and the images we create. For example photos with good bokeh.. are never really ever "seen" by a human being. Our eyes have huge DOF never this shallow DOF the lenses produce.

    So this idea of a "flat" image vs a more "3d" image intrigues me. Thinking back to the sample images of the 105DC vs the new 105. I think I perceived/felt this "depth" in the older lense and also in my own older lenses like the 50mm F1.4 AIS. I wonder what constitutes this perception of "depth"?.
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,699Member
    I don't know if this is true or not but some people are claiming older simpler lenses with "micro contrast" and "ability to show depth" are being replaced by new high element lens designs which are sharper but actually don't look as good. I can see a difference. You have to look at the examples linked below the video yourself to see if you can see the difference some people talk about and determine if it is important to you.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUQauEgSr7w

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsciFsjQxK4

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=bw1oCgH810w

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUyC463Hpx0

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmGQxWEqEDw

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzvV4CsilnA

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMJZjTpSaPo



  • framerframer Posts: 390Member
    edited August 2016
    I'll listen when someone that owns a 105 1.4 has a comment to make. So far all I'm hearing is BS.

    framer
    Post edited by framer on
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,161Member
    If Nikon comes out with a 135 1.4, I will buy it and compare to my 135 DC 2.0.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,699Member
    Here is a comment by someone who bought the lens and is taking it back. He concludes it is great but just not enough different from the other two he tested to justify the additional price.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUHbSVaUO9o
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,161Member

    Here is a comment by someone who bought the lens and is taking it back. He concludes it is great but just not enough different from the other two he tested to justify the additional price.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUHbSVaUO9o

    Hmmm.....I was thinking that this review was a waste of time as I was watching it. If I was doing this review, I would have taken a shot with each lens framed from head to toe without her glasses. The irises tell the truth. Then at the end he kinda did it with her hat and reached the conclusion that the 105 was the sharpest lens (he was comparing it against the 85 1.4G and a Tamron 85 1.8).

    But wait, he then said he was taking the 105 back. So this wasn't a review of the lenses, but a presentation on his own personal preference of quality vs price.

    I would have been helpful if he would have come out and said that instead of obfuscating a "lens quality review".
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,161Member
    Donaldjose, I think that the Angry Photographer should have figured out how to make his point in 10 minutes, not 70. That was painful and I remain highly skeptical about his views on micro-contrast. I think the first link showing the two Flickr pages is interesting. However, the difference looks like what you get by moving the contrast slider back and forth in Lightroom.

    However, I cannot deny that the old lenses have characteristics that I find appealing and cannot describe in words. I enjoy shooting my 15mm 3.5 AIS and 50mm 1.2 AIS, even though in both cases my other lenses that cover those focal lengths are obviously technically superior. So......
  • PistnbrokePistnbroke Posts: 1,057Member
    edited August 2016
    I think the era of a lens producing a perfect image are probably gone ..The idea now is for the lens to produce an image and the camera internal computer to make corrections based on whats been programmed in. This gives the lens maker the opportunity to make cheap crap lenses and correct with even cheaper programming.
    This is why we keep getting firmware updates for every lens Nikon make and it puts the third party makers at a disadvantage.
    Post edited by Pistnbroke on
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    edited August 2016
    Sorry couldn't bring myself to view the angry stuff .. TLDR;

    The Tamron one was nice but isn't it off topic ? (PS: I think he did say it was for his own edification :-) )
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • snakebunksnakebunk Posts: 626Member
    I think we must define what is meant by an image being "flat" before we can discuss it. Personally I don't know what it is.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    edited August 2016
    Just read through the Yannick Khong article ...
    :wink: interesting theory ..... but absolutely wrong .. LOL ! how can someone waffle on so much about things he knows nothing about... sigh ... ( lol I probably do the same !! ) still I do see the "3d" effect... but I don't think its anything to do with "impedance of light" through a glass capacitor. :wink:
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,699Member
    WestEndPhoto: Yes, Ken Wheeler, AKA the angry photographer, does have a strange, painful, repetitive, arrogant, obnoxious, etc personality. But, I think there is also a great deal of truth in some of what he says. For example, he says Bill Gekes is a great photographer. Look at Bill's images of his daughter. I think you will like them because the beautiful saturated colors are wonderful and may want to try something similar. I think Bill's work is most impressive. http://www.billgekas.com/p1014938437 The simple equipment Bill uses to produce these images is also most impressive. http://shotkit.com/bill-gekas/ I have been thinking about how he achieves this look. My guess is that he shoots on manual, sets his exposure for the background but about one stop lower than his camera (or that light meter in his kit) indicates and then uses flash to illuminate his subject to about -0.3 to achieve more saturated colors and make the subject stand out from the background. I find his effect "painterly" in the tradition of the dutch masters. It is most interesting that he can achieve this look using a simple speedlight and shoot through umbrella outdoors.

    As to the comparison review of the new 105 f4 I see two important things in that video. 1. the new lens is wonderfully sharp. 2. at the distances shot and the backgrounds used in the video I don't find the bokeh significantly better than the other two lenses. The new lens is worth the additional sharpness if that is important to you but not worth the additional bokeh. It seems to me this new 105 is following a recent trend of producing a line of ultra-sharp lenses for high megapixel sensors. We don't know when Nikon will be offering a 50, 75 or 100 mp FX sensor, but Nikon does. This new lens may be spectacularly sharp on such a sensor to come this year or next.

    everyone: you might find this Shootkit site interesting to see what others use in the kit.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    edited August 2016
    snakebunk said:

    I think we must define what is meant by an image being "flat" before we can discuss it. Personally I don't know what it is.

    Poking around I found this ... it may help ...
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    edited August 2016
    This is from my 50mm 1.4 AIS.. where I have "felt" the "3d". one of the reasons why I am not selling it :-) ... well maybe when I get a "terible" 50 1.4g which is close to this ..

    Yes, I do feel that the super sharp and nice Sigma 50 and 35 is "flat".
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,699Member
    edited August 2016
    heartyfisher: great examples. Anyone know what that net is they put over the Cooke lens at the end? In the "olden days" we used a nylon sock rubber banded over the lens as a diffusion filter. I am becoming a believer in the argument that the modern high element high sharpness lenses become "flat" and lose some three dimensional effect. Maybe I have to get some of those old low element primes before they are gone.
    Post edited by donaldejose on
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,161Member
    Donaldjose, Bill Gekas produces some interesting work and I have bookmarked him. Thanks for that. Your theory about upcoming sensors from Nikon is likely correct in my estimation.

    Heartyfisher, I will watch that video when I have more time. And there is something about that 50 1.2 AIS. I assume you have the 1.2? Or is it the 1.4.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    edited August 2016
    1.4 my brother has the 1.2 :-) i am going to try to steal it off him ... but he lives in a different country ...
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,699Member
    A few quotes from an article.

    "In the lens, micro contrast is often reduced by veiled flares of some sort or another. The more air-to-glass surfaces a lens has, the lower the contrast differentials that are passed. Yes, coatings can help this, but no air-to-glass surface moves 100% of the light through unchanged." and

    "I’ve long seen that some lenses do indeed produce more useful and easily observable contrast on small tonal differences than others. Those lenses tend to be ones with simple optical formulas, which suggests that both air-to-glass impacts as well as trying to do too much with things like aspherical polishing and how the optical formulas sometimes try to stretch or compress the optical path—as often happens in zooms—must be to blame."

    http://www.dslrbodies.com/lenses/lens-articles/what-is-micro-contrast.html
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    edited September 2016
    I see micro contrast being mentioned abit in the 3D effect discussions. I am still not convinced it has any relation. Some/many of the modern lenses have excellent micro-contrast but yet are very "flat".
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,015Moderator
    @donaldejose As usual, Thom nails it pretty well. He does go on to debunk himself:

    "But micro contrast is a much more nuanced problem than that. As I’ve tried to show here, even a lens—and position on that lens—that would be regarded as poor in micro contrast is still passing useful contrast info to the sensor.

    ...These days, most lenses are very good at all types of contrast, and a few are excellent at it. But there’s generally not enough difference there that I’d get over obsessed with it...Trying to distinguish between what was the lens’ contribution and what was the demosaic’s contribution (or deduction) is a fool’s errand..."

    http://www.dslrbodies.com/lenses/lens-articles/what-is-micro-contrast.html

    That being said, I tend towards "simpler is better" in most things in life :smile: The way I think about this "3D pop" vs "flat" is that everyone perceives it differently. Why? In the real world, our binocular vision gives us actual three-dimensional information to process. Our brain uses other clues such as size, contrast (light and shadow), haze/fog, and color to supplement or provide additional clues as to relationships between objects.

    (As an aside, and as a motorcycle rider, this is why the infamous "left hand turn across oncoming traffic" is such a large percentage of accidents. Drivers unconsciously use the "distance between headlights" to determine approach speed and distance, to judge when it is safe to make the left. The single light of a motorcycle fools them into thinking you are further away and approaching more slowly. See the Hurt study, but we digress...)

    This has been known for centuries in the fine art world. The technique of Trompe-l'œil (French for "deceive the eye") is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trompe-l'œil



    The reason this is such a good debate is that a photo is by definition a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional world. Everyone's brain interprets this differently. Or put another way, some people's eyes are more easily fooled than others. In a good way.
  • NikoniserNikoniser Posts: 92Member
    I am on the fence on this one.....I have looked at the sample pictures, and I do find myself thinking that differences are very very small.

    Ironheart makes a very good point above - the way we perceive a flat picture vs a 3d one with ours eyes is very dependent on the characteristic of the lens.

    I have a Nikon 50mm f1.4 D and it has terrible contrast and terrible sharpness and loads of CA and flare compared to modern lenses. However it does have wonderful colour and saturation and a real 3d pop to the images. I have always attributed it to the quality and non distracting nature of the bokeh.

    In contrast the Sigma 50mm 1.4 is very sharp but has quite busy and distracting bokeh under some conditions that I think distract the eye and reduce the sensation of depth in the image.

    This why the 58mm f1.4 can produce such nice images, and why I am exited for the new 105mm f1.4 from nikon, it has the potential to make real art.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 2,161Member
    I think Ironheart's observation, if I may paraphrase, that different people looking at exactly the same thing may perceive it differently is an excellent point. As an additional point, I spent five years in a local Vancouver Coffee shop chain, officially doing accounting, but overseeing a variety if functions including product development. I ran an experiment to see how people could discern the differences in coffee of varying "post-roasting ages". My conclusion? About 5 or 10 percent were super tasters and could discern tiny differences. About 5 or 10 percent could not tell the difference between coffee and tea (this is metaphorical, but I set up a test to test essentially this). One interesting observation, none of the supertasters smoked and few liked spicy food and the observations for the non-tasters was essentially the opposite.

    Now the human sensory system is complex and varied from individual to individual. I have often thought that the visual system would not be unlike the taste/smell system (taste is a lot about smell). If we could test for this, I suspect that that there would be surprising variations in outright perception and significant variations in the ability to discern nuances.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 3,343Member
    Ironheart said:


    That being said, I tend towards "simpler is better" in most things in life :smile: The way I think about this "3D pop" vs "flat" is that everyone perceives it differently. Why? In the real world, our binocular vision gives us actual three-dimensional information to process. Our brain uses other clues such as size, contrast (light and shadow), haze/fog, and color to supplement or provide additional clues as to relationships between objects.

    As someone with monocular vision I suspect I see the world more like a camera does in some respects. I can still see in 3D for one thing (at least somewhat), although my depth perception is likely woeful compared to most people with binocular vision.

    Lens manufactures have a choice, and always have, add more elements to try and deal with optical issues like CA, distortion, ghosting, and sharpness, or use fewer elements to reduce light falloff and this supposed "3D pop". Frankly I don't really see it. Do the lenses have a different look? Yes, but is there something magical about older glass? Other than that it has stood up to the test of time, not really. Some of this is just perception, and personal taste when it comes to colour and contrast rendition, which is effected by different generations of glass manufacturing, and optical coatings.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    edited September 2016
    I have been looking at hundreds of images from the 50AIS vs 50 afd vs 50 afs vs 58. (I have also looked at some sigma 50 images and they are indeed "flat")

    From what I perceive it seems the AIS indeed appears to have more "3d" followed by the AFD and then the AFS. The 58 also seems to have a bit more "3d". Now what makes the "3d"ness ? I dont know... will continue to investigate ...

    I have a thought that its related to how unnatural a VR immersive Game looks. ( But then no photo looks "natural" either... But that's another discussion ..)



    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • It would be interesting to see the same subject with the same perspective and lighting and framing, same exposure, through several different lenses for comparison. This idea of 3-dimensional feeling could have a lot to do with light and shadow aside from the lens dynamics being discussed. With studio lights I can achieve a pretty good sense of depth from even marginal lenses when I can control the shadows and lighting direction.
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