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Re: Eclair Cameras: Super 16 Zooms - real general

Hi Michael and list members,

It would be nice if someone reliable has run all these tests on 16mm format
lenses.  I'm sorting through the reviews on Nikkor lenses on still
photographers' websites.  The only reviews I really believe are the ones
who point out faults; the other reviews seem too rosey ("You will LOVE this
lens!!!  It is TACK SHARP at all speeds, no distortion, etc").

The better reviewers suggest people try the lenses and shoot film, then
look at the film with a loupe or project it.  Some of the criteria are:


sharpness in center, edges and corners of the frame

how sharp will image get as the lens is stopped down

how uniform is the illumation across the frame (some fast lenses merely
have a hot spot in the center of the picture)

how uniform does the illumination across the frame become as the lens is
stopped down

at what point does stopping down run into loss of resolution because of

ghosting, flare, coma

boke (or bokeh, what does the out of focus image look like and is it pleasing?)



barrel or pincushion distortion and more complex distortions

focal length change while focusing

mechanical construction

color cast

true focal length or zoom range

speed (maximum f stop)

is the sample lens collimated properly to the camera/film?

size and weight

method of attaching filtration, tripod support, etc.

anything weird about the glass, lubricant, etc. which is sensitive to
weather conditions, handling, infinity focus, etc.

other than all of the above, "what does the picture look like?"

And so, there are many conflicting choices to make in the design and
manufacture of a lens.  Resolution in the middle of the frame is only one
criteria.  The reviewers also mention that a lens is not necessarily the
limiting factor in creativity or use of the camera to produce art.

All lenses will be sharper in the center of the frame, less sharp at the
edges and still less sharp at the corners.  All lenses will have a hot spot
in the middle of the frame.  Both of these usually improve by stopping
down, some never get great, and they usually exhibit diffraction
limitations at the smallest apertures.  A difficult thing to get over is
that the expensive, fastest, most prestegious-looking lenses seldom perform
as well as the less expensive smaller aperture lenses.  Some modern zoom
lenses rival prime lenses, especially if there is an aspheric element done
right.  Some modern primes are astounding but also expensive and only have
the advantage of speed because smaller lenses can be just as sharp in their
similar aperture range.

Only testing of some kind will prove a lens.  An autocollimator can show
much about a lens on the camera on the bench.  Otherwise, film must be
shot, records kept and the processed film analyzed later with a loupe or
good projection.  Perhaps owners of the lenses you mention can get together
for a shootout.  And again, art is not brick walls and resolution charts.

Thanks for the link to filmcamerakit.com


Thanks so much for your input.  The one bit of information that it seems
you cannot find on the web is objective information about the
differences between the Super 16 zooms out there.  For example, I have
heard that the Angenieux 11.5-138 T2.3 can resolve 200 lines per
millimeter at the center of the image--and that makes it the ultimate
zoom lens.  But when it comes to other zoom lenses these tests have not
been posted or perhaps even tried.  If you go to Slow Motion Inc.'s
website it describes the Elite Series lenses as having 200/70 lines per
millimeter (whatever this means?).  But these are primes.  So I guess
what I'm trying to ask is does anyone know how much better one zoom lens
is over another in terms of an objective measure like lines per

I'm pretty sure the Angenieux 11.5-138 is at the top of the list but
where do other lenses like the Zeiss 11-110 T2.2 come in, or the Canon
8-64, or 11.5-138 or the Cooke 10.4-52 and then what about the
resolution of adapted zoom lenses Cooke's 10.8-60 and the Zeiss

What is the image hierarchy?

What is the best bang for the buck in a Super-16 zoom?

Michael Welle

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