Re: [OM] Zeiss Luminar Lenses

Subject: Re: [OM] Zeiss Luminar Lenses
From: Don Holbrook <donholbrook@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 7 May 2017 16:03:17 -0400 (EDT)
Excellent suggestions.......I, for one, appreciate longer posts with logic and 
experience included.
> On May 6, 2017 at 8:38 PM Moose <olymoose@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> On 5/6/2017 11:41 AM, Maggie wrote:
> > Hi all,
> >
> > I am planning what, if I go ahead with it, will probably be the last major 
> > project of my life.
> >
> > This is to do a photographic record of 600 or so of the major flowering 
> > plants of New Zealand.
> >
> > The last time that I know of to do a volume of this degree and scope was 
> > Prof. J T Salmon with his wonderful "Native 
> > New Zealand Flowering Plants" with 252 pages and many wonderful photos.
> > . . .
> > All of the (many) macro shots were taken (to use his words) using special 
> > Zeiss Luminar lenses in combination with 
> > electronic flash as the light source.
> >
> > I'd not heard of Luminar lenses before this, and wonder if it might be 
> > worth my while to track some down for this 
> > project; and wonder how they would perform on OM digital - probably the M5.
> If this is not a nostalgic exercise in retro recreation of the tools and 
> techniques of the past, I suggest you ignore 
> the Luminars and Prof. Salmon's other equipment information. The bibles for 
> this kind of work for many years, and 
> justifiably so, have been John Shaw's "Closeups in Nature", "Nature 
> Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional Field 
> Techniques" and "Focus on Nature", all pre-dating Salmon's book, but with 
> better equipment and technique information.
> His "Nature Photography Field Guide", with which I am not familiar, was 
> updated in 2001. "Guide to Digital Nature 
> Photography" is quite up to date, from 2015.
> I would be looking to these as guides, although not necessarily as gospel. 
> For example, in  "Guide to Digital Nature 
> Photography", his section on using extension tubes leaves out the problem of 
> AF lenses with internal focus, including 
> most recent C-U/macro lenses, such as the Canon and Oly 60/2.8s, that focus 
> by shortening focal length, so his formula 
> won't work for them. He also changes his long standing recommendation of the 
> Nikon 5T achromatic supplementary C-U lens 
> in favor of the Canon 500T, mostly because the Nikon is no longer available 
> new. However, with my particular most used 
> lens with such, the Nikon clearly out performed the Canon. That might not be 
> true with the lenses he used.
> Not to knock his books. They are very well thought out, organized and 
> written, with excellent examples. Nobody/nothing 
> is perfect, and they are as good as I know of for this subject.
> I have several suggestions for you to consider. First for image quality, and 
> second, but still important, to save time 
> and effort. This is a huge project. Sitting around in the ground, focusing a 
> manual lens, remembering to set the 
> diaphragm, etc. will make it ever so much larger that it need be. I have 
> taken many thousands of flower pictures; the 
> ones I post here are just a tiny, tiny tip of the iceberg of my HDs. They 
> cover tiny blossom as small as 2-3 mm, up 
> through dinner plate sizes and huge sunflowers and exotic blooms in botanic 
> gardens.
> Lenses:
> ------------------------------
> In film days, the lenses with which I got the best results were Oly 55/3.5 
> Macro, Tamron 90/2.5 Macro, Kiron 105/2.8 
> Macro and Oly 135/4.5 bellows lens.
> Recently, my best results for flowers have been with current zoom lenses and 
> aux. C-U lenses, most notably with the 
> PLeica 100-400. I know this sounds so very, very wrong, but things have 
> changed. Contemporary µ4/3 lenses are notably 
> sharper than old MF glass mounted on µ4/3 bodies. This is in part because 
> much of the FF field the old lenses had to 
> cover is thrown away, but mostly as a result of advances in glass, design 
> software, etc.
> All this has consequences for old techniques. Very common, and very little 
> known, is that internal focus prime lenses 
> are really, in a way, zooms, as they change FL to focus. (You figure out how 
> else to do it internally, without change in 
> length.) The latest computer design software and the ability to use huge 
> numbers of elements, of many refractive indexes 
> and with several asymmetric surfaces, allows much closer control over 
> characteristics. In the old days, you could figure 
> that using extension tubes with normal lenses would be the best way to focus 
> closer.
> Now, you can't count on that. I recently compared a lens using extension 
> tubes on the back for C-U with using several 
> achromatic C-U lenses on the front. A couple of the C-U lenses didn't do very 
> well outside the very center. The tubes 
> weren't great. The hands down winner was a particular (old) C-U lens, 
> sharpest in the center and holding very well out 
> to the edges.
> If you've been watching here, you've seen many IQ excellent flower images 
> taken with PLeica 100-400, Oly 12-100 and 
> Pleica 12-60 zooms, several here. 
> <http://zone-10.com/tope2/main.php?g2_itemId=20399>
> And here. 
> <http://galleries.moosemystic.net/MooseFoto/index.php?gallery=Home/Garden%20with%20Leica%2012-60>
> Not that tubes don't work. <http://zone-10.com/tope2/main.php?g2_itemId=4534>
> You'll notice again that I was working with the long end of a long zoom. 
> There are several reasons I've moved from 
> 50-145 mm prime macro lenses to long zooms.
> 1-4. It works! Great images.
> 5. Reach. These 'shrooms were 6-8' away horizontally and 4-5' vertically, up 
> a very steep, very muddy slope. 
> <http://zone-10.com/tope2/main.php?g2_itemId=21495> I have many great flower 
> shots that I simply couldn't have made with 
> a short FL lens, because I couldn't get close enough.
> 6. Working distance. This is a flower three-fer:
>      a. It's much easier on older knees, elbows, etc.
>      b. It doesn't block the light, making working with natural light MUCH 
> easier.
>      c. I generally prefer the perspective of longer FLs for flowers.
> 7. A bonus beyond flowers - It doesn't scare off critters as easily.
> For prime macros, the Oly 60/2.8 Macro is an excellent lens. 
> <http://zone-10.com/tope2/main.php?g2_itemId=8362>
> The time and trouble saving over an old MF lens is huge.
> It focuses directly to 1:1 on the sensor, which is eq. to 2x on 35 mm. Good 
> focal range AF options and a wonderful hood 
> design (the JJC  version works as well and is MUCH cheaper). I don't use it 
> more because of the relatively short working 
> distance, exacerbated by the shortening of FL with focal distance. (Yes, it's 
> 120 mm AoV eq. on the 4/3 sensor, but 
> optically, it's still 60 mm for working distance, and just over 40 mm at 
> closest focus.)
> If you really need a short FL, bellows macro lens, follow the advice of our 
> resident, very expert Dean. He has more C-U, 
> Macro, Micro experience than all of us combined, I suspect. The Oly 38/2.8 is 
> outstanding for 2-8x (4-16 eq.). On the 
> Oly bellows with a cable release, it's semi auto diaphragm, too.
> Lighting:
> ------------------------------
> Salmon, John Shaw, everybody back then was using flash. Flash works, but also 
> has drawbacks. At least with digital, you 
> can see if the exposure worked immediately.
> Nowadays, excellent higher ISO sensor performance and IS make artificial 
> light necessary far less often. Again, 
> technology has changed options. There are excellent, white balanced, small, 
> light LED continuous light sources available 
> for little money. One may see what the lighting will look like, and adjust 
> it, before making an exposure.
> These options are particularly important for focus stacking, below.
> Camera support:
> ------------------------------
> Yup, tripods work, really well, for many subjects and situations. They also 
> limit angles of view. More importantly, they 
> take time to set up and take down. The vast majority of my flower images are 
> taken hand held. Would they be better using 
> a tripod? I think only occasionally, as the IBIS on the E-M5 II is 
> spectacularly good. (Oly claims the even better IBIS 
> on the E-M1 II is limited in some circumstances by the rotation of the Earth.)
> OTOH, once I've set up the tripod, focused, set lighting, etc. for a shot of 
> a particular flower, I've got a lot 
> invested. Then when I walk farther, and find a nicer specimen, setting and/or 
> background, what are chances that I'll go 
> to all that trouble again?
> If all I've done before is take a few moments for a careful hand held shot or 
> three, I'm happy to do that again. I think 
> the chances of the best possible final image of the flower may be higher hand 
> held. With digital, the cost is nothing, 
> not wasted film and processing.
> Depth of Field
> ------------------------------
> Here again, tech has changed the possible dramatically. The project you are 
> contemplating is primarily documentation, 
> not art. Focus stacking (which Oly, correctly, but confusingly, calls Focus 
> Bracketing) changes the whole process. It's 
> possible to have the sexual organs of a Hibiscus, for example, AND the front 
> part of the petals, AND the bent back tips 
> of the petals, ALL in focus at once, in one "shot".
> This is a huge change for documenting flowers, allowing capture of details in 
> one image not possible before. If I 
> couldn't do this for the flowers where it's indicated, I wouldn't do the work 
> of updating Salmon's previous work.
> One problem for this is it would require a new camera, as it's available 
> in-camera only with the E-M5 II, E-M1 I & II. 
> another is that it requires software to merge the slices of the stack, and 
> likely more computer power.
> Old lenses with digital cameras:
> ------------------------------
> You ask how the Luminars, and others will work with the E-M5. If you've been 
> following AG, MikeG, me, and others, and if 
> you surf the web, you'll find that some MF lenses work well with some digital 
> backs, and come combinations work poorly.
> Many of the reasons for this are known, but some combos defy what would be 
> expected, so I conclude that all reasons 
> aren't as yet known/quantified. MF practically forces tripod use, and is time 
> consuming. If I were contemplating this 
> project, I'd be planning around AF lenses, for simple practical reasons, 
> perhaps most because I'm not immortal. I save 
> old lenses on digital backs for other fun.
> Publishing:
> ------------------------------
> The Salmon book is 9.6x7.4'. So I assume the largest image in it might be 
> about 6x8". If you are contemplating a similar 
> end product, practically any of the lenses, MF or AF, that you might use will 
> be fine. Even at 8.5x11, in the photo 
> books I've made, my µ4/3 lenses and the 12 and 16 MP sensors have been more 
> than good enough for even reasonably cropped 
> images, often spectacular.
> I have excellent 11x14 and 12x18 prints from the E-M5 sensor. Even a heavily 
> cropped 11x14 of the center of a dahlia 
> causes involuntary oohs and aahs.
> I imagine that the limitations of film and publishing would have masked the 
> flaws in any lenses he used. I don't think 
> you need look for any old special, magic lenses to get great images.
> Some of this seriously breaks long held beliefs, but I swear it's all true, 
> now - experientially tested.
> Iconoclast Moose
> -- 
> What if the Hokey Pokey *IS* what it's all about?
> -- 
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