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The sharpest lens in the world

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mrcal  101032 forum posts
22 Oct 2012 - 8:11 AM

Does this get the award for oldest resurrected thread? Has CB changed his mind on his final comments?

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22 Oct 2012 - 8:11 AM

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NEWMANP e2 Member 61587 forum postsNEWMANP vcard United Kingdom574 Constructive Critique Points
22 Oct 2012 - 10:11 AM

i read somewhere that the nikkor 28 mm f2.8 mm AIS (predigital manual focus with rabbits ears made for the f2 and later pro cameras) was the sharpest and as near to optically perfect lens that has ever been made. this was at a time when Nikon only made pro lenses.

it was the result of an unlimited research and development budget to reafirm Nikons position in the pro lens market from the rapidly rising manufacturer Canon, who at the time were making large inroads into the press and sports world..

as i understand it, the revered East German lenses used by Leica were not actually as sharp as you would believe in terms of resolvement but handled contrast better than anything before and so the final image looked sharper.

to be fair , i still have such a lens and i have to admit i havnt seen anything come close, not even the 50mm from the same stable.


22 Oct 2012 - 10:14 AM

Lens design is a compromise.

The sharpest lenses that I've ever come across are the Ultra Micro Nikkors that are used for integrated circuit manufacture but the extreme sharpness has been gained at a price. The "photography" has to be with one particular wavelength of green light and at one reproduction ratio so it's hardly suitable for general photography.

Normal camera lenses need to perform well under a huge variety of situations. The Zeiss planar is indeed sharp but intended for distant subjects. The Makro Planar is stunning for close-up but less sharp when focussed at infinity.

On the Zeiss site, one of the FAQs is how the sharpness of lenses for 35mm and medium format compare. They say that the ZM Planar is about 100 lppm sharper than the ZF and this is because Leica M cameras don't have a mirror. ZM lenses can protrude into the body whereas ZF designs for Nikon must leave space for the reflex mirror. The ZV lenses for Hasselblad are less sharp than ZF by the same margin.

However good the lens, a bad photographer will still take a lousy picture.

Carabosse e2 Member 1139544 forum postsCarabosse vcard England269 Constructive Critique Points
22 Oct 2012 - 12:07 PM

Quote: Does this get the award for oldest resurrected thread? Has CB changed his mind on his final comments?

My final comment was: "I don't think we are really drifting too far away from the topic. Just indicating that the question is really a trifle pointless when there are more important factors."

So have I changed my mind? Of course, not - it's valid so why would I? Smile

Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan e2 Member 1315605 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
22 Oct 2012 - 5:02 PM

The new Olympus lenses are getting rave reviews for sharpness, the 45mm is right up there and its being given away as a free gift for the next few months Smile

Carabosse e2 Member 1139544 forum postsCarabosse vcard England269 Constructive Critique Points
22 Oct 2012 - 5:04 PM

Indeed, even the modestly priced Oly lenses seem to be up there with the best. I've never used Olympus until quite recently, and it's been a bit of an eye-opener. Smile

Sooty_1 Critique Team 41215 forum posts United Kingdom200 Constructive Critique Points
22 Oct 2012 - 7:26 PM

Leica lenses are the standard everything is measured against, and have been for a very long time. Not just in resolving power, but contrast, distortions across the frame, CA, "bokeh" and everything else a lens may be judged by.

Mostly sharper wide open than competitors, the Summiluxes at f/1.4, Summicrons at f/2, are at least as good throughout the aperture range. They also exhibit more 3-dimensional-ness than any digital lens I have seen or used.

I'm not making the claim that they are the 'sharpest' but they are probably the best overall optically, considering all the parameters.

BTW, the Leica works is at Wetzlar and Solms, near Frankfurt, both of which were in West Germany during the cold war. The factory was not split like the Zeiss one into East and West.

Leica produced the 800mm Tele-Elmarit back in the '60s, that came with a complimentary VW Beetle! That gives an idea of the prices....Wink


31 Jan 2013 - 9:27 PM

Glad this thread has come back from the dead, as it is an interesting theme.Smile

Sharpest lens ever? That is tough

If it was from trawling through the net, the Canon 24mm TS/E II is sharp as they come, but I am sure that the photographer has to work hard to get the sharpness out of it in the first place.

From friends images, all of them who have the Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6L lens, that is one sharp monster! As is the Canon 100mm F2.8 L Macro.

From my point of view, I have some that could be considered sharpest ever.
My Tamron 90mm F2.5 SP Macro is so sharp, I should not use it for portraits......But I do! Same with my Sigma 105mm F2.8 macro.
Just about all my primes are stunningly sharp - SMC-Takumar 35mm F3.5, Super-Takumar 55mm F1.8, SMC-K 55mm F1.8, SMC-M 50mm F1.7, SMC-DA 40Ltd, SMC-DA21Ltd. Even my DA*50-135 is sharp thoughout the range and aperture.

But, there is one lens that is unbelievable. Especially as it is old, east-european and came with my praktica. I have used it a lot on digital too.
That is the Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm F2.8 Tessar. There, that one word - Tessar.

Maybe Zeiss got it spot on with sharpness when they came out with the Tessar, and indeed the Planar on 35mm. They are old, but very very sharp, and still surprise today.

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