Low element lenses do not necessarily have high micro-contrast - Response to Theoria Apophasis

notabotnotabot Posts: 8Member
edited September 2016 in Nikon Lenses
Hello, I don't like to post on forums too much but I was asked to write about lenses a bit; someone I know is interested in buying the Nikon 105mm f/1.4. The other thread concerning element counts has a lot of posts in it and I felt it would be rude to start arguing with multiple posts at a time; it's easier for me to write one long post.

There are a few people (I'm not talking about any specific forum) that tend to dismiss what others have said because they're not a professional photographer or their work isn't very good. I tend to follow a "formula 1 racing" style approach in that if I wanted to learn about engines, I'd be more inclined to speak to the techie guy that repairs engines rather than the guy that drives the car. If I wanted to know about handling, that'd be a different story altogether. I'm not an expert photographer but I do know a bit about science, optics, lenses and whatnot. Moreover, if an argument is valid, then it is valid. I hope the fact I'm a nobody doesn't make you dismiss some of my arguments. You can try all of this yourself, but some of it you might have to research if you don't believe my claims e.g. radioactive materials were used in old lenses.

I was linked to an off putting video made by Theoria Apophasis. I haven't tried the lens in question; I cannot tell you if it has good micro-contrast. I can only say that this video should not be trusted. Ultimately his primary argument that the lens is bad, might be accurate; I have no way of knowing.

A high element count does not necessarily mean a low micro-contrast or low transmission lens.

Think of glass like a piece of wood and a bullet (photon) has to go through it. You could have ten extremely thin planks of wood and a bullet would have no trouble going through all of them. If you had one plank of wood that's twenty times thicker than all of them put together, the bullet might struggle. In this instance, it is the volume of wood rather than the quantity of wood that defines whether or not the bullet can penetrate.

With glass, there's also the complication of the chemicals used to make the glass and to coat the glass. You could have an equal amount of elements and an equal volume of glass but one lens would perform substantially better than the other if its inherent proprieties were better.

If you research old, obsolete lenses, you'll find various companies used Lanthanum and Thorium amongst other chemicals (Lanthanum is still used but it's 1/10,000 as radioactive as Thorium); this helps with refractive index. A Geiger counter will clarify the presence of a radioactive material. Companies don't just use Lanthanum or Lead, and they don't simply stick with one type of coating and leave things be; technology evolves. Lenses aren't just pieces of glass. Lenses are obviously different to wood and there are negatives (there are also positives) to multiple elements but my point here is that you cannot blindly assume a high element count lens will be a bad lens. If you haven't been told the volume of the glass, just what calculations would you be doing?

I've seen two photographs to demonstrate "poor micro-contrast" and in my opinion, they're an excellent photograph to debate. It is something the average person might look at and think "wow, look at the difference."

https://www.flickr.com/photos/134746128@N05/29862664812/in/dateposted/

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Post edited by notabot on

Comments

  • notabotnotabot Posts: 8Member
    edited September 2016
    If we copy the left photograph and place it over the right, we'll see they're completely different sizes. If we crop them to be the same size, and we crop off the bottom to remove the text; we're left with something like this -- http://imgur.com/a/YwWFW.

    In the YouTube video concerning these photographs, Theoria Apophasis states the exposure was exactly the same. I'm not sure how the exposure was measured, but here's a few key points.

    1. After you've made the photographs the same crop factor, e.g. a square, and you run a separate histogram on each photograph, you'll discover the exposure is not the same at all

    2. A lens can have completely different transmission (how much light it lets through) so even if the camera says it's the same exposure, it might not be

    3. I suspect the newer lens has greater transmission at the same f-stop, despite the fact it's got more elements but I could be wrong; this is an assumption based on these photographs

    https://i.imgur.com/lzap5UJ.jpg

    As we can see, the histograms are vastly different but when we add 0.33+ exposure to the left photograph, the values become similar. From there, we can plot various "eye dropper" tools to measure specific points around the photograph to check whether the values are the same. I've discovered that if I add 0.33+ exposure to the left photograph, it doesn't just fix the brighter tones but it fixes the darker tones as well. It's a bit haphazard. At first I thought this was simply down to the lenses being slightly different focal lengths due to focus breathing, but it appears the photographs were actually taken at slightly different angles.

    If you copy and paste a black and white photograph over itself, and set the layer mode to "difference", it should be completely black because there's no difference. If we do that with the photographs shown on the flickr page; the results are astronomically different. This cannot be used as an accurate measure for objective testing. If you are to measure micro-contrast objectively, you HAVE to use a tripod and you HAVE to use studio lighting while indoors. Clouds can move, the Earth rotates, and the results vary dramatically. If you own a lens for long enough, I'm sure you'll get a feel for the kind of micro-contrast it has, but in terms of an objective review is concerned, the result here is no good. It can't be used to measure a lens accurately. Theoria Apophasis states the exposure is correct but clearly it is not; the black levels are proportionately incorrect too (they're darker on the left photograph). You can try this yourself and you'll get the same results. I'm working from JPGs here but most of the claims in the video and the results shown are so wildly inaccurate that I don't think it matters.

    One mistake I think people make is they look at objects, it doesn't matter what they are, and then they begin to make assumptions. For example, if you had never heard of a vehicle before and you saw a Ferrari drive by at 5MPH, but you only saw Coaches do 30mph, you might make the assumption that Ferraris are not very fast. People look at big lenses and they assume they have to be big (to an extent this is true, but I won't get into that subject here). People look at high element count lenses and assume they have to be bad. It's not necessarily so.

    Theoria Apophasis also states that to "insult a fool is the praise of wisdom." Personally I think this is not logical. Digging a hole under someone's toes does not elevate yourself. For that reason, I kindly ask that if he does post here insulting me, admin does something about it.
    Post edited by notabot on
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,699Member
    His real name is Ken Wheeler. www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3810477?page=3
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    edited September 2016
    I don't think many of us here have time for the Angry Guy :-) .. yes I mostly ignore his ramblings... his conclusions and his theories are very much like theories of ancient astronauts, fairly attractive, intriguing and with lots of "facts". They may be wrong but you cant prove it either way.

    However, His observations usually do have some merit. Just like observing that the ships sink into the horizon. His theories explaining why that is the case may be off.. (see flat earth theory ;-) ) but the observation are worth noting.

    As to micro-contrast and low element lenses. I see it, but I dont think its to do with low number of elements although some low element lenses seem to have them. as to what actually causes this I dont know. I have some possible theories but I have not tested or know how to test them... one of these theories is like yours ie its the volume/distance of glass that the light needs to flow through. If you look thorough a huge stack of glass or large volume of water(aqualand?) you know that you lose lots of light. Like you say its probably this loss of T-Stops that is seen as loss of micro-contrast and nothing to do with Number of elements.

    Of course all this is going to go away in a few years when "flat lenses" are able to be commercially produced. :-)

    PS welcome to NR !
    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.

  • notabotnotabot Posts: 8Member
    edited September 2016

    His real name is...

    His name isn't important to me :). I received loads of abuse from him when I made a different post in the past. I cannot relate to many of the comments in that thread; I have no desire to see his work, etc.

    However, His observations usually do have some merit...

    I don't believe his observations have merit in general, but you'd have to point to a specific observation and then debate that. Your argument assumes they're his observations to begin with--he might use someone else's observation and then develop erroneous claims of his own. For people interested in the subject, I think Zeiss have written some interesting articles, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

    His "observations" to do with magnetism are certainly inaccurate; blood is not ferromagnetic; MRIs would kill you if his claims or "observations" were true. His observations to do with "chromatic aberration" are obviously wildly inaccurate; if it were true that chromatic aberration is simply "rendered depth" the human eye cannot see, then you would get no chromatic aberration if you photographed the text on a book (it's all on the same flat plane).

    It might be true that the lens has low micro-contrast but that's somewhat unrelated. How can the audience differentiate between 39839393 inaccurate claims or observations and the 0.0001% accurate claims unless they know about the subject? If they do know about the subject, then they wouldn't need such a video in the first place.

    As to whether it can be proven or disproved, an unfalsifiable claim shouldn't be stated as fact; for the falsifiable, the burden of proof lies on the person making the claim.

    I'm sure that someone who makes 2,500+ videos will obviously strike lucky at some point or other but this thread regards a specific lens and specific claims made about said lens. I believe I have proven why you cannot make valuable observations from the data he has provided:

    • The photographs were taken at a different exposure
    • The photographs were taken at a different angle
    • The observable lighting in the photographs has to be slightly different if they're taken at a different angle
    It's illogical to compare lenses with results like these.

    Like you say its probably this loss of T-Stops that is seen as loss of micro-contrast and nothing to do with Number of elements.

    He thinks it is the same exposure and claimed it is the same exposure; I can only refute that. It is clearly not (up the exposure yourself and you'll see). This could be because he doesn't know how to use a camera or read a histogram. The lens might have better transmission and is letting in more light with the same settings which is why he is confused. I don't think it's responsible for why he thinks the lens has worse micro-contrast, as I don't think he relies on evidence for claims in the first place. In terms of actual micro-contrast, I don't believe it's possible to see, observe or make any meaningful claims from those shots.

    A difference layer to objectively show the angle of the shot isn't the same:

    https://i.imgur.com/vjrW58B.jpg

    The left photograph with upped exposure highlights my point:

    https://i.imgur.com/oSVpOr0.jpg

    The juxtaposition with the right photograph is lessened:

    https://i.imgur.com/bPekR6T.jpg

    I don't want anyone to think I am a Nikon fanboy or are have some agenda to make people buy the lens. It might be bad but people should not be swayed from buying it based on arguments lacking substance (the sharpness, lighting, exposure, angle of shot, etc., are different in the evidence provided).

    Thank you for the welcome :). I shoot Sony, so I'm probably considered the devil, haha :).

    Post edited by notabot on
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,030Member
    "How can the audience differentiate between 39839393 inaccurate claims or observations and the 0.0001% accurate claims" .. yes .. and that is why my first sentence was "I don't think many of us here have time for the Angry Guy"

    So, no I dont care much about his vids and claims at all.. Its just this thread seems to have a lot of him... ;-) ok, I am done talking about his pseudo science ..


    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.

  • notabotnotabot Posts: 8Member
    edited September 2016
    It is a response to him of sorts (as the title would suggest) but it concerns other reviews like this too. In another thread, I saw some photographs taken outside; the same logic applies to that. I'm sure there must be other reviewers that have said similar things somewhere. This just happens to be the best example I can find of a fictitious, fallacious and erroneous way of reviewing a lens. Personally I struggle to write detailed reviews--a lot of it can be a boring task.

    I cannot empathise enough that there is still a possibility this lens does have low micro-contrast.
    Post edited by notabot on
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,699Member
    The low or high micro contrast issue is interesting. However, I suspect is it one of those technical issues which have little impact on making a great photo. The same is true of low or high sharpness in a lens: an interesting thing to know but a highly sharp image is not the same as a great image.
  • notabotnotabot Posts: 8Member
    edited September 2016
    I agree with you. When I write or discuss photography, I tend to disconnect skill from the technical--it's easier to do so. I'm not satisfied with my skill as a photographer and most importantly I don't know how to objectively measure skill.

    I have this theory that a lens with the best attributes could effect the photographer's mood. They might think "if the photograph is bad it is my fault because I have the best equipment", and so they go into a shoot with a more positive attitude from the get go. If your camera equipment is so expensive that you feel afraid to take it to certain places, it might prohibit you from improving. A manual focus lens slows me down and helps me think about composition more but an autofocus lens removes the distraction of focus altogether and this too helps me think about composition.

    Most theories I have seem to have an equal counter argument to them; therefore, I don't know how to combine skill and the technical in an argument that makes sense, which is why I tend not to do it. I think it's important to know a little about equipment when making purchasing decisions but outside of that, it's an interest rather than a necessity :).

    Theoria Apophasis has responded to my argument. I was asked via email to respond --

    1. 1:30, "I do not make any money from..." = red herring; I did not claim otherwise
    2. 2:03, "some guy who sniffs gear..." = argumentum ad hominem
    3. 2:12, "such people have a hotlink..." = poisoning the well & argumentum ad hominem
    4. 2:18, "kickback that falls into their pocket..." = it costs more money to buy a lens from a shop & donate $2 (as per the request in and around Theoria Apophasis's videos) than it does to buy from an amazon affiliate link--affiliating does not add to the cost of an item
    5. 2:41, "no facts, no proof, no evidence..." = shifting the burden of proof; the burden of proof lies on the person making the original claim; however, I did offer facts, proof and evidence to support my claims. Like I said, people can replicate the methods themselves e.g. up the exposure on the left photograph and place the "eye dropper" tool around various points in the photograph
    6. 2:45, "lies, nonsense and BS..." = slander
    7. "even if it were $800..." = red herring; I did not claim the lens is good or bad, I merely claimed the testing method was erroneous and we cannot trust it
    8. "I have more Nikon lenses than..." = appeal to authority
    9. 3:13, "they think they know more than me..." = ignoratio elenchi
    10. 3:18, "fixes them and reviews them for ages..." = argumentum ad antiquitatem & appeal to authority. I've seen his quality of workmanship, i.e. ducktape, string and velcro; I don't trust it

    I'm not even four minutes into the video and I've spotted over ten different fallacies. I have no reason to continue listening, but if someone gives me a compelling reason to do so, I will; however, as far as I am concerned, I have proven the previous video to be illogical, erroneous and unreliable. At the end of the previous video he claimed that if we were to debate this subject, he would win.

    I don't know how he played chess when he was a "champion", but I never won my games through throwing the pieces up in the air and insulting people.
    Post edited by notabot on
  • MegapixelSchnitzelMegapixelSchnitzel Posts: 157Member
    "Cockroaches" and "scumbags" do seem a bit harsh. And I do have to really wonder if a $200 Russian Helios would out-perform the new 105. But I think he has some excellent entertainment value - so I may just watch some more of his videos! I'd like to see a slugfest between him and Rockwell!
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 2,699Member
    Forget the presidential debates, let's have a debate between Ken and Ken. They share the same first names.
  • notabotnotabot Posts: 8Member
    edited October 2016

    http://www.zeiss.co.uk/vision-care/en_gb/eye-care-professionals/optical-knowledge/optical-basics/lens-materials/glass.html
    Zeiss said:

    Mineral glass is the product of a melting process. The composition of the glass melt is as follows:

    70% glass former (quartz)
    20% fluxing material (potash and soda)
    10% glass hardener (oxides)

    Zeiss said:

    By the addition of different metal oxides and fluorides (1%), the optical properties and colour of the glass can be deliberately changed. The addition of lead, titanium and lanthanum oxide increases, for example, the refractive index, while barium oxide and fluoride reduce dispersion. The glass melt can also be dyed for tinted sunglass lenses by the use of iron, cobalt, vanadium and manganese. To obtain photochromic properties, metal compounds are added with fluorine, chlorine and bromine (halides) to the melt.

    Zeiss said:

    All of the substances required to produce the required glass are melted in a furnace at temperatures of between 1400 and 1500 °C.

    I spoke about this in an earlier post...
    notabot said:

    With glass, there's also the complication of the chemicals used to make the glass and to coat the glass. You could have an equal amount of elements and an equal volume of glass but one lens would perform substantially better than the other if its inherent proprieties were better.

    If you research old, obsolete lenses, you'll find various companies used Lanthanum and Thorium amongst other chemicals (Lanthanum is still used but it's 1/10,000 as radioactive as Thorium); this helps with refractive index. A Geiger counter will clarify the presence of a radioactive material.

    The original claims were unproven, and it seems like the goalpost has been moved.


    1. A glass having an index of refraction for the D line about 1.72 and a dispersive index about 47 and resulting fusion of a batch containing between 15 and 35% of lanthanum oxide, between and thorium oxide, between 28 and 37% borio oxide, between 10 and of oxides from the group consisting of tantalum oxide and tungsten oxide and between 5 and of oxidm from the group consisting of barium, calcium, strontium, and magnesium oxides.

    2. A glass resulting from fusion of a batch according to claim 1 which batch also includes a small amount of beryllium oxide.

    3. A glass containing about 28% lanthanum oxide, about 18% of an oxide selected from the group consisting of tantalum oxide and tungsten oxide, about 12% thorium oxide, about 12% barium oxide and about boric oxide.

    4. A glass having an index of refraction for the D line between 1.70 and 1.75 and a dispersive index between and comprising about 30% boric oxide, about 25% lanthanum oxide, about 10% thorium oxide, about 15% of the oxides from the group consisting of tantalum oxide and tungsten oxide, and about 12% of oxides from the group consisting of barium, calcium, strontium, and magnesium oxides.

    In this example, the "trade secrets" that "never get shared" didn't matter due to the patent (this is an old patent.)
    Post edited by notabot on
  • notabotnotabot Posts: 8Member
    edited December 2016
    His latest video is about criticising the usage of nylon gears.

    I'm going to paste a few servos to prove to you that an extremely low torque application such as a camera lens, does not require titanium gears. I believe nylon gears are superior because they're self lubricating, lighter weight (less wear on the motor and this also means quicker), they're more durable (where there's oil, there's grit as it attracts grit, unless it's a completely sealed unit), they're quieter, they vibrate less, and there's other advantages.

    Firstly, as a reference, the "HS-7950TH" servo has a coreless motor, it has titanium gears and its torque is 29.0 kg-cm @ at 6.0v. Its speed is 0.15 sec / 60 degree. This servo has dual o-rings to prevent any grit getting inside, which means the gears can be well lubricated and the lubrication WILL NOT escape. Keep in mind that an application such as a lens doesn't necessarily have the luxury for oil not to go everywhere.

    "HS-815BB" servo; 24.7 kg-cm torque @ 6.0v; 0.14 sec / 60 degree speed -- nylon gears & nylon arm
    "EFLRDS76T" servo; 0.8 kg-cm torque @ 4.8v; 0.03 sec / 60 degree speed -- nylon gears and nylon arm
    "BLS256" servo; 4.4 kg-cm @ 6.0v; 0.6 sec / 60 degree speed -- nylon gears and arm and are advertised as "faster"
    "9257" servo; 2.5 kg-cm @ 4.8v; 0.05 sec / 60 degree speed -- nylon gears and arm
    "S3010" servo; 6.5 kg-cm @ 6.0v; 0.16 sec / 60 degree speed -- nylon gears and arm
    "SG-5010" servo; 6.5 kg-cm @ 6.0v; 0.15 sec / 60 degree speed -- nylon gears and arm
    "2075" servo; 9.0 kg-cm @ 6.0v; 0.17 sec / 60 degree speed -- nylon gears and arm
    "SG90" servo; 1.8 kg-cm @ 4.8v; 0.12 sec / 60 degree speed -- nylon gears and arm
    "SM-S2309S" servo; 1.2 kg-cm @ 6.0v; 0.10 sec / 60 degree speed -- nylon gears and arm

    Having personally built my own servos and whatnot, I feel it is ridiculous people are criticising the usage of nylon gears in this lens, and typing out all of these specifications took quite a while.

    The burden of proof does lie on people like the Angry Photographer to prove nylon gears are bad, but I can't see those types ever proving themselves, so I've gone out of my way to reassure people. I hope this will be the end to the nylon gear discussion, haha.

    https://i.imgur.com/3xXpghi.jpg (the one on the left was pre-painted; I don't take credit for that. You can thank me for the pink :D)

    These two helicopters I built have nylon gears & servos with nylon gears. The larger, 6 foot, 100mph+ helicopter obviously requires substantial torque when it reverses its pitch (flying upside down) in an extremely short amount of time.

    https://i.imgur.com/oXT2t5f.jpg

    You can see the gear a bit better there.

    https://i.imgur.com/XkEwCNV.jpg

    The smaller one, you can see the nylon gear a bit better there.

    The angry photographer claims in one of his recent videos that I'm a "pseudo intellectual knuckle dragging unintelligent" whatever and that these gears are heavily reinforced.

    He's wrong; there's molybdenum dissulfide infusion to reduce the friction coefficient, but no such reinforcements were used for strength; I know because I made them myself.

    P.S $10,000 is on the table if he wants a game of chess.
    Post edited by notabot on
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,015Moderator
    notabot said:


    P.S $10,000 is on the table if he wants a game of chess.

    I'd pay real money to watch that match...
  • SportsSports Posts: 317Member
    Thanks, @notabot, I was pretty sick of such meaningless critisism against the new 105, but I didn't really have any actual knowledge to back it up. Until now ....
    D300, J1
    Sigma 70-200/2.8, 105/2.8
    Nikon 50/1.4G, 18-200, 80-400G
    1 10-30, 30-110
  • flipflip Posts: 51Member
    Mr. Apotheosis kind of reminds of me of Rush Limbaugh.

    First, we do not know if the e.v. was the same on both, i.e. controlled lighting. Nothing is stated. The exposure differential has already been noted which could be partially the result of transmission differences. Also, was mirror lockup and cable release used for this experiment.

    Second, I assume the lenses are compared wide open which means that for more of a 3D subject, you will easily see less DOF with the 1.4, therefore the area actually in focus will be significantly less than the F2. Therefore the first comparison is bogus as you cannot compare for microcontrast in areas that are not in complete focus. This is folly and frankly assanine. This is why established labs use 2 dimensional charts and controlled environment to determine comparable results.

    Third, if you look very carefully at the second image comparison (a ball of material), the edge sharpness and definition in the areas of focus of the 1.4 is significantly sharper than the F2 at their respective widest apertures. This is a remarkable result for the 1.4.
    Look at the area just in front of the ball and you will also note that at f1.4 the newer lens outshines the F2 in resolution and microcontrast. No questions there. Argument debunked. I think what Mr. TA likes about the F2 is that is has less overall contrast than the 1.4 which for facials may be more pleasing in some instances.

    Fourth, yes the bokeh is a personal matter and the oof areas can be somewhat distractive with the 1.4 due to the elliptical rather than round results. Yet the Zeiss Otus lenses have the same characteristics. You give up something to gain something else: high resolution at 1.4.

    Finally, it's easy to create controversy to gain attention which will sell advertising on youtube. As long as we are feeding the iconoclast, we are doing ourselves and the community a disservice.

    My two cents.
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