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High contrast 35mm focal length lenses


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#1 sksaito

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 17:04

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I'm new to film and I've been trying to research online which M mount or screw mount classic or modern lenses of 35mm focal length give a HIGH contrast look. I was getting confused and lazy so I wrote this thread just to see what are some favorites preferred by the esteemed forum members. Thank you!

#2 kokoshawnuff

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 20:22

Modern lenses with aspheric elements will typically give the most contrast...so the Summicron 35 asph and the Summilux asph would be a place to start looking, but the Summarit 35 which isn't aspherical gives good contrast and is a lot cheaper.

But if you're shooting film, and you experiment with processing and emulsions, you can get good contrast using almost any lens
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#3 250swb

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 09:03

High contrast when referred to in lenses is a relative term because contrast is mainly determined by choice of film or during post processing, not the lens itself.

A low contrast lens can produce a high contrast print just as much as a higher contrast lens can produce a lower contrast image (although it is more difficult going in that direction). And the reference to 'higher contrast' in a lens is usually about the mid tone or micro contrast in more modern lenses with more efficient coatings and corrections, not necessarilly the overall contrast.

So rather than search for lenses to give you a 'HIGH' contrast look, instead search for film and processing options because these are the deciding factors.

Steve
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#4 sksaito

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 10:49

Thank you all for the education. I'm slowly using film more than digital and learning.

#5 CalArts 99

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 22:06

Just to add to what's already been said, there's this adage that's been around since day one: "exposure controls density and development controls contrast."

You also should take into consideration your own workflow. If you are scanning B+W film then you will normally be better off with a lower contrast negative to start with. You can change the contrast in PS. This also gives you the advantage of having a lower contrast negative with a smoother tonal range to use. You can set your black and white points as you see fit. A high contrast negative tends to be more difficult to work with.

Even if your workflow is 100% analog, you might want to be careful of too much contrast in the negative and instead rely on using filters with multigraded papers (or select a higher contrast graded paper.)

With color film it's a bit different since C-41 and E6 processing is not the same as B+W, but you can choose to use color films that possess different contrasts (like Ektar versus Portra, or Provia versus Velvia, etc..)
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