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Author Topic: Confused about the Macro Planar 120/4...  (Read 1362 times)
ErikKaffehr
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« on: July 10, 2013, 02:50:37 PM »
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Hi,

I happen to own a Macro Planar 120/4. This lens has about the worst MTF curves at infinity anyone has seen.

I don't know if this is proper usage, but the curves are here:



Now, keep in mind, this is a macro lens, corrected for short distances. The MTF for the macro range is here:



What I see is about the worst MTF I have ever seen at infinity, but pretty good at close up range.My guess is that the problem is field curvature at infinity. The curves are close and bend uniformly.  I guess that if you can focus on a given point, it will be pretty sharp.

The odd thing is that it seems that everyone loves this lens. So according to MTF data from vendor it is good for close up but pretty bad for normal woking distances.

I have the Sonnar 150/4, and that lens is excellent both according to MTF and my experience. The Planar 80/2.8 is, well OK, about as the MTF curves. My Distagon 50/4 FLE is also consistent with MTF data. The Macro Planar is nice, but sharpness is nothing to write home about. I would say, it needs to be stopped down to f/11 or even f/16 for corners. Very much consistent with MTF data!

The MTF data were taken from this publication: http://www.hasselbladhistorical.eu/pdf/lds/CFi120.pdf

Now, I often shoot MF at f/11 - f/16 anyway, to gain DoF and also to compensate for my weak focusing technique (which I am working on), and that reduces the problem. On the other hand,  small apertures cause problems, as seen here in my diffraction series (on Sonnar 150/4):



My take on the issue? Zeiss intended the Macro Planar as a macro lens. It is not intended for landscape work. If pressed into landscape work, it my perform decently at small apertures but cannot match the other lenses intended for longer working range.

Macro Planar on P45+ corner at f/8:


Sonnar 150/4 on P45+ corner at f/4 (a very good lens):


Best regards
Erik
« Last Edit: July 10, 2013, 03:40:07 PM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

Nick-T
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2013, 04:45:34 PM »
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My take on the issue? Zeiss intended the Macro Planar as a macro lens. It is not intended for landscape work. If pressed into landscape work, it my perform decently at small apertures but cannot match the other lenses intended for longer working range.



I would say this is accurate.

I used that Zeiss for many years but always as a studio lens. One area where the HC lenses have made big improvements is better performance over a range of subject distances.

Nick-T
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EricWHiss
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2013, 05:04:53 PM »
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Yes, many of the older lenses were optimized for specific focal ranges.   An example of a lens optimized for infinity would be the Leica R telyt's. 
 
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2013, 01:05:10 PM »
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Hi,

I shot a new series today, and the Macro Planar worked really well. Surprised, but that is what I see. I might have improved my focusing technique and it may also be necessary to stop down f/11. Anyway the results are much better than in previous series, actually they are really good!

An aperture series of edge detail are here:
http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/Articles/MFDJourney/Lenses/SonnarVSPlanar.html
So, now I have some things to explain!


Best regards
Erik
« Last Edit: July 13, 2013, 02:30:59 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

chrismuc
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2013, 09:57:53 AM »
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Eric, I suggest to try the Zeiss HB CF 100f3.5. The lens is quite superior at larger distances to the 120 Macro-Planar and has very equal sharpness across the 6x6 image circle (and beyond).
Enclosed a link to my standard test shot (upper half): FPS + IQ180 + Mirex adapter. 15mm vertical shift.
Aperture 11. Without shift, f8 would be sufficient or better.
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18437364/Contax645%2BiQ180/Hasselblad-CF100%2B15mm-upperhalf.jpg
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2013, 10:17:14 AM »
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Hi Chris,

I am very much aware of the 100/3.5, but they are hard to come buy second hand, and expensive. I have the 80/2.8, the 120/4 and the 150/4 Sonnar. I know that the 100/3.5 is stellar.

My main interest here is that 120/4 has a stellar reputation that contradicts it's MTF plots. It has even been suggested that Zeiss published an MTF plot of a bad sample, which I think is unlikely. MTF data is pretty consistent between Hasselbald, Zeiss and Photodo tests. It seems, at least to me, that the planar is corrected for short distance, which makes a lot of sense as it is called a macro lens.

What I see is essentially that the Planar behaves as expected from MTF data. I did not report on tests at macro range as these are error prone.

It seems that Zeiss made some new lenses for F-series that were more up to date designs than the usual lenses.

Best regards
Erik

Eric, I suggest to try the Zeiss HB CF 100f3.5. The lens is quite superior at larger distances to the 120 Macro-Planar and has very equal sharpness across the 6x6 image circle (and beyond).
Enclosed a link to my standard test shot (upper half): FPS + IQ180 + Mirex adapter. 15mm vertical shift.
Aperture 11. Without shift, f8 would be sufficient or better.
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18437364/Contax645%2BiQ180/Hasselblad-CF100%2B15mm-upperhalf.jpg

« Last Edit: July 13, 2013, 05:32:24 PM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2013, 01:15:29 AM »
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An example of a lens optimized for infinity would be the Leica R telyt's.  

Indeed, the 180 f2.8 APO is just amazing near infinity.

Cheers,
Bernard
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