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'The King of Bokeh' killed by its father!

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Oh well 'ethereal' was obviously the wrong word. I should've stuck to something neutral like 'great microcontrast' but I don't really know what that means. I guess I chose the word because I'd been looking at pictures of my daughter taken during a summer party. Had I known Mandler intended me to only take pictures of gritty journalistic subjects, then I'd never had made such a dumb newbie mistake.

 

In any case, apparently the bokeh has been "surpassed" now - whatever that means...

I think you have misread adan's comment. He isn't objecting to the description "ethereal", just pointing out that that property "whatever it is" (and because it isn't a technical objective of lens design but something less scientific needs to be quoted) wasn't guiding Mandler.

Of course, adan might object to me interpreting his words. This is how snowballs roll down hills.

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I think you have misread adan's comment. He isn't objecting to the description "ethereal", just pointing out that that property "whatever it is" (and because it isn't a technical objective of lens design but something less scientific needs to be quoted) wasn't guiding Mandler.

Of course, adan might object to me interpreting his words. This is how snowballs roll down hills.

Yes I realized this after I'd written my comment. 

I appreciate Adan's expertise and vast contributions to the forum over the years, incidentally - so my irritation this morning wasn't aimed at him. Just this thread seemed to be filling-up with supposedly authoritative statements about what the lens is or isn't. Some 'objective' measure about which 'bokeh' is best, and so on. 

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In any case, apparently the bokeh has been "surpassed" now - whatever that means...

 

 

 

It's a personal choice. Shoot a portrait in front of a busy background at various apertures using a 35mm f2 IV and an ASPH side by side and make your own choice. I did. That's the only way you will know.

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It's a personal choice. Shoot a portrait in front of a busy background at various apertures using a 35mm f2 IV and an ASPH side by side and make your own choice. I did. That's the only way you will know.

Well, without wanting to get into a thing about this (which is a bagatelle) that's not what your original post said. 

However, I totally agree that it's "a personal choice" - which was essentially my point.

 

In general - and I'm not singling your post out here, nor you personally - I'm pretty tired reading 'authoritative' statements about which lens has the 'best bokeh' or the 'best color'. There was a lot of talk about how the 0,95 Noctilux has 'better bokeh' than the f1.0 for instance - whereas I use the f1.0 precisely because of the weird bokeh. Feel free to have an opinion - and express it - but I'd rather read "this bokeh is more to my liking" than some expert opinion about which is best, and the precise f-stop.

 

Don't get me even started on people who say stuff like "digital color surpassed film color years ago" - the way that the paintings in the Brancacci Chapel frescoes were 'surpassed' by the realism of Norman Rockwell I suppose... 

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@ plasticman and exodies - no problems, you're both cool!

 

I was just making the point that things we as photographers love about certain lenses may be "unintended consequences" of what the lens designer was trying to do. There are lenses intentionally designed for "ethereal" imaging (and that is a fine word) - from the Leica Thambar or Rodenstock Imagon up through the Nikkor DC (Defocus Control) 135/105 and the Sigma "ART" lenses - but I doubt that is what Walter Mandler intended for the 35 v.4. Its "look" - when and where it pops up - is just a side effect of what he did to corral other problems he wanted to solve.

 

The thing about bokeh - leaving aside personal preferences - is that it depends on many things besides simply the lens in use. Relative distance between lens and subject, and subject and background; or contrast and "structure" of the background, or whether what is blurred is foreground or background.

 

Here are 4 pictures with the 35 v.4, and at close to minimum focus (1 meter or less) for the main subject. With varying backgrounds (and apertures - all @ f/2 except the third, at f/4ish). I leave it to the reader(s) - does this lens have good bokeh or bad - or ethereal, or energetic, or glowing, or just...unfortunate? Or does it just depend...?

 

 

 

 

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Should we ever have a scientific metric for 'bokeh', I will probably stop reading within the same motivation that I cannot stand some early philosophers. You know when enough is enough.

 

When I first got a 35mm Summilux in 1970 I was thrilled to have a fast wide-angle lens, regardless of its tendency at 1.4 to 'glow' at the subject edges, depending upon light. My editor and clients could care less because I got the picture. Bills were paid. I was struck with ambivalence having a fondness for childhood illustrations, the fringing, or glow, or whatever, was fascinating. Still, I could only dream of a fast, sharp, W/A lens! I had no clue about optics. Still don't. Now that we have it, I'm stuck in the past. So today I'm put off by the aesthetic of acute focus separation and correction, but by gosh if anyone could do it right it was Karbe. Good for him, and good for us for the range of optics available.

 

BTW I'm on my third 35mm Summilux and lost track of how many lens shades I've replaced due to total damage.

I should hope to live long enough to require a 4th lens.

 

Here I should probably branch into a non-Leica thread, but I will ask now if any of our constituents have used, for example, old Super Ikonta MF cameras which usually evince swirly bokeh? I love it.

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Well, without wanting to get into a thing about this (which is a bagatelle) that's not what your original post said. 

However, I totally agree that it's "a personal choice" - which was essentially my point.

 

In general - and I'm not singling your post out here, nor you personally - I'm pretty tired reading 'authoritative' statements about which lens has the 'best bokeh' or the 'best color'. 

 

 

Totally agree. Everything I write could begin with IMO, but then I presume that's understood. I don't consider myself an authority either - just someone who's been shooting and collecting Leica since 1979. I've loved the 35mm F2 in all its versions, and always test a lens against its replacement before selling it on. 

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I owned all 4 of the pre-asph summicron at one stage or another. This is Bokeh King wide open:

 

 
This is V2 Summicron
 

 

 

this is goggle summicron 8 element:

 

 
and this is CV nokton f1.2 wide open:
 

 

Edited by jaques

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I am much more pragmatic here: I never bought the 35/2 version IV lens for its bokeh. For a great bokeh with a 35 mm M lens I am using my CV 35/1.2 II anyway. But instead the Leica 35/2 version IV is for me the "King of size and adaptability". I can use this lens without any issues both on all my M cameras and with adapter on my Sony A7R. Older 35/2 lenses have often some optical drawbacks, and newer versions suck on the Sony sensor due to thicker sensor glass (especially the ASPH version). That's why the version IV of the Leica 35/2 is simply the perfect compromise. It is my most often used M lens both for film and digital.. 

Edited by Martin B

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Jaques,

 

I'm appaled by the bokeh king's king bokeh in your examples. That's IMO, of course.

 

Maybe it's better at f3.852? Or f4.567?

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I think before we can elect a king of such a subjective matter as bokeh we ought to find a philosopher king first.

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In my experience the Ver. 4 35 Summicron does have a very nice OOF look at medium apertures, however I never liked the "look" wide open, the OOF image was not pleasant.

 

I owned the Ver. 1 Cron at the same time, and the wide open OOF image was much nicer than the Ver. 4.

 

Those lenses are in the past for me, I currently own the 35 Summilux ASPH and really prefer the performance, and "look" of the lens.....however it is much larger of course!

 

When the 35 Summilux FLE came out I did some testing vs my older Pre-FLE ASPH, and felt the OOF image had been compromised for slightly higher resolution especially at the corners.

 

SO, in my experience (subjective evaluation of course) having owned 3 of the 4  35's  mentioned here, I am very happy with my 35 Summilux ASPH......YMMV. 

Edited by 4X5B&W

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