Backing away from the edge

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by chalkdust, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. chalkdust

    chalkdust Leica Place Regular

    Apr 3, 2013
    I have begun reconsidering the "need" for very wide apertures, wider than f/2.0. I think it was my Zeiss ZM lenses that started me thinking. Most of them have f/2.8 as their widest apertures. I find that f/2.8 produces a wide enough depth of field to be useful for un-posed people and for many objects. I checked my father's old gear from the mid 1900's and found that he got by with f/2.8 very well indeed. So my latest thinking is to use wider than f/2.8 only for very special purposes where the extremely shallow depth of field is actually a good thing. Those opportunities exist, but they are rare. I am beginning to avoid thinking that my lens's "character" is only best shown wide open.

    What do the rest of you think? Do you tend toward wide open? How do you choose your apertures?
  2. flash

    flash Leica Place Regular

    Mar 30, 2013
    I agree, most of the time. Unfortunately I disagree some of the time so I still lust after super fast lenses.

    From a technical point of view I also work in some quite dim environmants (wedding receptions). And while I'm not afraid of flash lighting it's a bit unweildy on an M9, so I'll often need to shoot as wide open as possible. So lenses around 1.4 work well for me. Too bad I can't afford a lot of them. Also I tend to take advantage of the sensational image quality at lower ISO's, so again, I shoot more wide open.

    For protraits I'm not a huge fan, although there are exceptions, of the one eye out of focus look. I think 3.5 is almost ideal for a tight head/shoulders portrait and about 2.4 for full length. I'd say 80% of my shooting is deeper than 2.8. But I appreciate being able to go wider when needed.

    I think it's worth while keeping a single, "extra" fast lens in the bag, even if it's a cheapie, like the CV 35mm Nokton 1.4 for those special occasions, even if you normally prefer stopping down a bit. But that's based on my shooting style. I'm not a street shooter and only an occasional landscape guy.

  3. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Mar 30, 2013
    I'm in two minds about this... I tend to use my lenses wide open, but I also appreciate that f1.5 - in fact anything below f2.0 - is, for most general purposes, un-necessary.


    Who wants to take general purpose photos? For me, a wide aperture is about isolating my subject, making is the focus - literally - of the viewers attention. I can do that best with a wide aperture.

    Sent from another Galaxy
  4. Duane Pandorf

    Duane Pandorf Leica Place Regular

    Mar 30, 2013
    First off IMO one should have at least one fast lens. I prefer a fast 50mm.

    My preference when shooting with lens is wide open most all the time. I put a 3 stop ND filter on to ensure I can in brighter light. The only time I will stop down is if I need to have more in focus but not any more than I need.

    So why do I shoot wide open? Because I think it mimics exactly as we see. Well how's that? Think about it for a second. Focus your eye on an object. Doesn't matter the distance away. What's in focus in your peripheral vision or closer or farther away? Only other objects that are on the same focal plane and close to the center of your focus. So It's my opinion that shooting wide open more closely mimics how we see. The faster the lens the better in my mind.
  5. Amin

    Amin Administrator

    Mar 28, 2013
    I'm like Gordon - most of the time I don't want or need very shallow DOF or very low light, but when I want it, I want it. That's the one reason I'll probably eventually get an M9 (or M-E), and the fast lens I have in mind for that is the Nokton 50/1.5, a lens I've owned twice and regretted selling both times.
  6. usayit

    usayit Leica Place Regular Subscribing Member

    Mar 31, 2013
    Northern NJ
    The only fast lens I have that almost is always glued wide open is the Noctilux. When I have it mounted, I shoot with it wide open a lot... relying on ND filters. I think this is a unique situation... mindset if you will.

    My other lenses tend to be shot at all sorts of apertures depending on the situation.

    Portrait = f/2.8
    Subject = f/5.6
    Story = f/8

    When the shallow DOF becomes an intricate part of what I'm trying to convey, then yes... f/1.4

    I recently was debating between the Summilux 35mm previous version and the more recent FLE version which corrects for the focus shifts. Since I don't shoot just wide open and many reports focus shifts between f/4 - 5.6, the FLE itself would be a welcomed benefit.
  7. flash

    flash Leica Place Regular

    Mar 30, 2013
    Copy cat. :p

    Seriously though. The new version of the 50mm 1.5 Nokton could just be the ticket for you. Native M mount and 0.7m focusing with the same optical design. Yummy.

    And it is SUPER sexy. An absolutely beautiful looking lens.

  8. Amin

    Amin Administrator

    Mar 28, 2013
    I hadn't seen that! Now I'm not so sad I sold my LTM version. Will definitely pick up the new one if/when I get my M9/M-E!

  9. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    The new M-Mount Nokton is styled after the 1950s LTM mount 50/1.5 Nokton.

    I picked up a lightly used Black paint Cosina/Voigtlander LTM 50/1.5 Nokton for $400. Great lens.

    A lens with a wider aperture can always be stopped down. Typically a lens performs best stopped down 2 stops. So a number of fast lenses are better at F4 than a slower lens at F4.