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Archive for July, 2022

One of the things I love to do is shoot vintage glass on my modern mirrorless bodies. I have written up reviews on a wide variety of these old school lenses and many more on modern adaptations of these lenses. They all feature manual focus and aperture with typically compact designs.

Photographers may find that these lenses, particularly the vintage models may lack contrast and sharpness commonly found in modern lenses including consumer grade lenses. Most vintage lenses that are razor sharp and full of snappy contrast are either super expensive or offer mundane focal lengths and f-stops sometimes both. But there are a great many old school lenses that are reasonably sharp and offer beautiful bokeh and soft tones that add character. These old lenses often have imperfections in design that render images that are artistically quite pleasing.

Post processing in software such as Lightroom or Photoshop can help offset these issues with sophisticated AI and the amazing high quality sensors and processing inside our latest cameras. Increasing contrast using highlight and shadow controls with a modern camera and a vintage lens is easy. One can also use masks to select areas of the photo to enhance sharpness around the point of focus and selective uses of other enhancements like saturation and exposure to counter the lenses shortcomings and to add some ‘pop’ to the subject.

Lightroom offers easy masking with a simple tool offer linear gradients, brush masking with up to a 50% fade, and a few other styles. This can then be used for a variety of localized processing tricks to add saturation, contrast, color, and many other standard adjustments that only effect the masked area. Photoshop is more sophisticated and offers much more, but its basic editing is similar to Lightroom especially if you use camera raw filters.

Here is a picture you may remember if you read my review of the Leica Summarit 50/1.5 LTM lens a couple years ago. My example of that lens has some internal haze and light surface scratches on the glass. Yet it still produces lovely images. There are two images below the first straight out of camera the second with some edits. Straight out of camera looks good actually just a wee flat on contrast and not tack sharp. The edits in camera raw are shown but I further tweaked it with some localized sharpness and saturation on the jewel eyes that right eye receiving a sharpness tweak along the plane of focus and both getting a slight bump in saturation. You can get beautiful images with old school glass and that bokeh is difficult to reproduce in camera or post with modern glass.

Leica Summarit 50mm f/1.5 on EOS R @ f/1.5 1/400th second ISO 400 unedited aside from resize
Leica Summarit 50mm f/1.5 on EOS R @ f/1.5 1/400th second ISO 400 edited in Photoshop

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