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Archive 2011 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?
  
 
bluetsunami
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p.1 #1 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


I'm sure bringing up another term that may be considered ineffable and what seems to be immeasurable may raise the ire of those that hate the thought of "3D" characteristics being a characteristic some find in particular lenses but I've found the usage of the term "roundness" when talking about the rendering characteristics of some lenses interesting.

I've had times where I've been processing/looking over my own images and had this feeling with my Nikkor 28/2 AI but not my C/Y 50/1.7 (certainly not as much as my Nikkor). Mainly at close to mid-distances at larger apertures. But what made me really think about it and want to inquire about it is from looking through some alt-images on another board. I noticed some pictures taken with the C/Y 50/1.4 that had this same sense to, a sort of volume to the subjects in focus.

Interest piqued I ran a search online for the term so I wouldn't end up with egg on my face. I remember hearing it in regards to Leica lenses on boards so I went searching and found the term used in the Leica M Compendium: Handbook of the Leica M System on page 39 to 41...

http://tinyurl.com/c3jemnj

What these types lacked however was the ability to produce an almost indefinable roundness and depth of colour while at the same time maintaining outstanding differentiation in shadow areas. In the case of Leica, these characteristics are maintained across the whole range of lenses. They differ marginally between some older and newer lens designs, a phenomenon which I have exploited in interpreting the colours of some subjcets.

Its also used again on page 65 in regards to the rendering characteristics of the 50/1.4 Summilux.

So have you seen this phenomenon in any of your lenses? Do you think its just a case of seeing what one wants to see? Or do you think there is a specific sort of rendering of certain lenses that allows for this "look"? Or maybe its just a case of the many characteristics of light coming through and imprinting its own feel to subjects? Here are the photos I feel that exhibit this from my Nikkor 28/2 Ai on my Rebel XT...





















Dec 12, 2011 at 05:14 AM
redisburning
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p.1 #2 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


it's an old example of describing a very technical phenomena with enigmatic and mostly meaningless terms because it's understood that the audience will not understand.

"3D" is a newer term, but it used to be called plasticity.

I think what it really describes is the effect that the sharpness and speed of the transition to out of focus effects the overall impression that the photo gives.

when you shoot a 3 dimensional object with a lens it has a plane (doesnt have to be flat) of best focus and everything off of that plane is very slightly out of focus and getting more out of focus so when a lens has a transition that more closely matches what our eyes see we tend to think it looks good.

faster and sharper makes the image look flatter, slower and gradual makes it look more round.

at least that is my thinking on the matter.



Dec 12, 2011 at 05:47 AM
bluetsunami
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p.1 #3 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


That makes sense and could be why I see this effect with larger apertures. In think the first photo I posted could have been a good test case for this considering the subject and how she's posed. But in the second photo, even though I shot wide open, there's still that sense of volume with the subjects even though the subjects and wall are in the general area of sharpness. Although I think the gradual drop off focus could apply in that image ever so slightly.


Dec 12, 2011 at 06:29 AM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #4 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


redisburning wrote:
it's an old example of describing a very technical phenomena with enigmatic and mostly meaningless terms because it's understood that the audience will not understand.


I love this description and I suspect this thread will be full of great images which many will likely disagree upon as to how well they fit into this enigmatic term. Nevertheless, I will play.

Subjectively, I have traditionally associated this idea with mostly larger format images, seldom small format. Medium format film and up perhaps. This likely has to do with the qualities mentioned above regarding detail, sharpness and focus transitions. Other mysterious, almost meaningless adjectivesI associate with the look are "richness" and "fullness". Obvious sound analogy would be the rich, full sound of analog vs the thin, almost hollow sound of digital - a grand stereotype that does not always hold true of course.

Surprisingly to me though, I have seen what appears to my eyes to display this quality in even APS format, most recently with the lens of the Fuji x100. I have also seen it with the Leica Summicron R 50. I tend to prefer shooting at around F4 so I suspect there is something to using a moderately bright F-stop.

Fuji x100, 50 percent crop below full image:













Dec 12, 2011 at 10:36 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #5 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


Man, how'd your sensor get so dirty?


Dec 12, 2011 at 02:01 PM
FlyPenFly
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p.1 #6 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


Plasticity and "roundness" is the perfect way to describe this look. IMO, it differs considerably from the Zeiss high micro contrast look which is also striking but in a bit of a harsher way.

I definitely agree with you Tariq that the X100 has this look. Personally, it is not my style at this point because I prefer the sharper edges over round.

Interesting thing though is that there is just as much detail.



Dec 12, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #7 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


jcolwell wrote:
Man, how'd your sensor get so dirty?


Ha ha.



Dec 12, 2011 at 02:36 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


redisburning wrote:
I think what it really describes is the effect that the sharpness and speed of the transition to out of focus effects the overall impression that the photo gives..


+1 ... Whether it's the roundness, 3D, or MF/LF "look" .... that rate of transition is at the heart of the matter. For me, that's one of the strongest reasons why I have multiple FL's with different drawing styles. Contrast & color, PP can approximate fairly well. A fast transition vs. a slow transition ... PP isn't as well suited (at least not for mere PP mortals) at changing a slow transition image into a fast transition image (or vice versa).

For me ... I reach for the Nikon & Zeiss (Voigts if I had them) to get the fastest transistions. Oly & Leica (Minolta if I had them) for slower ones. Mamiya for middle/neutral.

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that if they are "too fast" that's when you get that "cut out" look.




Dec 12, 2011 at 04:45 PM
bluetsunami
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p.1 #9 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


Tariq Gibran wrote:
Fuji x100, 50 percent crop below full image:
http://www.gibranstudio.com/round

http://www.gibranstudio.com/round2


Definitely see it here and its good you posted a crop since you can see the DoF starting to really fall off starting from his shoulders. There may be a very subtle transition happening before the shoulders and the area in focus.

Also, looking over some samples with the Z* 35/1.4 I see this effect with it wide open which once again points the transition of blur. Its a great character in a lens for photography of people.

Another commonality I may be seeing is in the light. It seems like softer directional light that tapers off slowly adds to the effect of volume for round objects.

Edited on Dec 12, 2011 at 09:49 PM · View previous versions



Dec 12, 2011 at 06:43 PM
AhamB
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p.1 #10 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


@Rusty: So in your experience all Zeiss lenses have a fast focus transition? Maybe just the ones you've tried?
I think that lenses with a flat kind of rendering can make the plasticity/roundness less, because textures get underemphasized. Clarity is lost and the impression of looking at a flat image is increased.

bluetsunami wrote:
Another commonality I may be seeing is in the light. It seems like softer directional light that tapers off slowly adds to the effect of volume for round objects.


Yes, lighting is an important depth clue. Perhaps you get most information from it when the light is directional, but still somewhat diffused so that the contrasts aren't too high -- in which case we run into the DR limit of our vision, meaning that stuff gets filtered out. For the latter reason I don't like it so much when I see that the black level of images has been pushed too much, or excessive burnt out highlights.

Edited on Dec 12, 2011 at 07:24 PM · View previous versions



Dec 12, 2011 at 07:06 PM
 

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michael49
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p.1 #11 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


redisburning wrote:
it's an old example of describing a very technical phenomena with enigmatic and mostly meaningless terms because it's understood that the audience will not understand.

"3D" is a newer term, but it used to be called plasticity.

I think what it really describes is the effect that the sharpness and speed of the transition to out of focus effects the overall impression that the photo gives.
....


Agreed.

Here is an image over the weekend from the Yahsica 50 1.7 taken at f/2 on a 5d that I think exhibits this (exaggerated by the vignetting of course).....








Dec 12, 2011 at 07:11 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #12 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


AhamB wrote:
@Rusty: So in your experience all Zeiss lenses have a fast focus transition?


No ... definitely not.

My 50/1.7 transitions different than my 50/1.4.

IMO, Zeiss has some of the better "fast transition" glass, but not "too fast". Some I own, some I don't. But when I'm looking for that kind of transition ... I check for Zeiss offerings (C/Y mostly) first ... then on down the line so to speak.

Most mfr's have a variety of offerings that provide for a range of transition rates (except maybe MF/LF) to choose from ... but most mfr's have their signature philosophy of lens design that excels in their lineup a bit over a different attribute of another mfr. Most of my Zeiss glass was chosen specifically for faster transitions or micro contrast ... so that's what I grab for when that's the look I want. When I want something slower transitioning than my Zeiss lineup ... I grab from a different mfr (likewise selective purchasing for a given look).

"Cherry Picking" from different mfr's ... gotta love Alt's.




Dec 12, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #13 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


RustyBug wrote:
No ... definitely not.

My 50/1.7 transitions different than my 50/1.4.

IMO, Zeiss has some of the better "fast transition" glass, but not "too fast". Some I own, some I don't. But when I'm looking for that kind of transition ... I check for Zeiss offerings (C/Y mostly) first ... then on down the line so to speak.

Most mfr's have a variety of offerings that provide for a range of transition rates (except maybe MF/LF) to choose from ... but most mfr's have their signature philosophy of lens design that excels in their lineup a bit over a different attribute of another
...Show more

To this point of lens design, I have seen it's influence most notably in comparing say a four element Zeiss Tessar/ Schneider Xenar to a five or six element Zeiss Planar/ Schneider Xenotar of similar focal lengths. My experience with both types in MF and LF tend to make me feel the Tessar design has smoother oof transitions and perhaps more "roundness" vs the much more contrasty Planar design with its faster oof transition. Stopped down a few stops, a Tessar design will have great resolution but also smoothness and a certain subtlety while the Planar design will often hit your eyes with it's incredible contrast and edge definition.



Dec 12, 2011 at 07:51 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #14 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


+1 @ Planar design ... does anybody do it better (when that's the look, you're looking for)?

Sounds like you might feel about your Tessar the same way I feel about my Mamiya glass ... excellent combination of detail and smooth transitions, i.e. quite different from the Planar's. NOTE: I'm also mixing glass formats @ 35mm Planar vs. 645 Mamiya (i.e. more 'cherry picking') ... both on 5D or SLR/C.



Dec 12, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Tariq Gibran
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p.1 #15 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


RustyBug wrote:
+1 @ Planar design ... does anybody do it better (when that's the look, you're looking for)?

Sounds like you might feel about your Tessar the same way I feel about my Mamiya glass ... excellent combination of detail and smooth transitions, i.e. quite different from the Planar's. NOTE: I'm also mixing glass formats @ 35mm Planar vs. 645 Mamiya (i.e. more 'cherry picking') ... both on 5D or SLR/C.


Yes, I really love the look of the old Xenar (Tessar design) as used on the old TLR's, particularly for people, but I often prefer the look of the Planar for pretty much everything else.



Dec 12, 2011 at 08:34 PM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #16 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


bluetsunami wrote:
I'm sure bringing up another term that may be considered ineffable and what seems to be immeasurable may raise the ire of those that hate the thought of "3D" characteristics being a characteristic some find in particular lenses but I've found the usage of the term "roundness" when talking about the rendering characteristics of some lenses interesting.


Not to turn this into a battle of terms but I can deal with a term like "roundness" much more easily that I can "3D" which previously already has meanings associated with raster and print images.

Roundness in regard to the falloff shape of the focus plane seems perfectly legit to me.




Dec 12, 2011 at 10:58 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #17 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


Well, it's all about subjectivity. Personal opinion, that is. I think it all boils down to this: what do you like the best? Of course, the answer is often, it depends...

As far as "Roundness" or "Volume" goes, I like Tariq's dirty sensor the best. YMMV.



Dec 13, 2011 at 12:51 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #18 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


I'm tend to think of them along the lines of flat vs. smooth/linear transitions vs. abrupt/logrithmic transitions X^0, X^1, X^2, etc. ... "Sick Puppy", I know.

Edited on Dec 13, 2011 at 01:49 AM · View previous versions



Dec 13, 2011 at 01:45 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #19 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


RustyBug wrote:
I'm tend to think of them along the lines of "smooth/linear transitions" vs. "abrupt/logrithmic transitions" ... "Sick Puppy", I know.


Smooth and abrupt are subjective concepts that I can support. Linear and logarithmic are objective concepts that require evidence . Where does your Sick Puppy sit?



Dec 13, 2011 at 01:49 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #20 · Lens "Roundness" or "Volume"?


Subjectively ... but I relate to objective concepts.

Sometimes it is without the benefit of objective empirical evidence ... which is why it must remain subjective until otherwise substantiated. Doubtful that we'll ever see the math from the design engineers to know if holds true or not ... but it's how I correlate ... i.e. Sick Puppy. Probably more like X^1.3 vs. X^1.6 vs. X^1.9 ... just to illustrate that the transition curve is different, not actually a formulaic fact. Probably should be interpreted as "more" linear vs. "more" logrithmic.

I'd be curious to see if anyone is using Fibonacci somehow in their design.

NOTE: The 'normal' world should stick with "roundness", etc.

Edited on Dec 13, 2011 at 02:05 AM · View previous versions



Dec 13, 2011 at 01:53 AM
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