Photography On the Cheap2

Figure 1:  Glassware shot with the Soligor 35-70mm f/2.5-3.5

I am able to put the Soligor, in “Macro” mode, as close as a foot from the subject and still maintain reasonable focus-ability. I’m not sure what capability is claimed in the technical specifications for this attribute.  The Tokina 75mm-150mm f/3.5 is, like the Soligor, a medium zoom lens.  I don’t think it’s considered to be a macro lens, because the shortest distance between the lens and a subject, while maintaining focus reasonably – seems to be about five feet.  Again, I don’t have the specs on it.

What I like about the Tokina is the build and the color rendition.  The build is marvelous, and the rings are silky smooth when being worked.  The aperture stops have a soft, pleasant, but firm feel when turn-clicking through them.  The focus throw is wide (which is my preference anyway).

The color rendering is very warm, and gives especially nice skin tones.  In fact, I think this old, discarded antique store “find” has given me the best skin tone shots of any lens that I’ve used since getting back into photography a couple years ago.

I’m a novice at all-things-photographic, but my understanding is that most lenses have a distinct “color” bias, that is partly due to chromatic aberrations or the techniques used to quench aberrations in lenses, the general structure of the elements and groups, and also a possible variance based on the coatings that were used on the len’s surfaces.  Different color light waves bend a different amount when going through a lens.  Green bends a different amount than blue, which bends a different amount than red, etc. My readings imply that the manner in which a manufacturer deals with this phenomenon has an impact on what the color will be – warm or cool.

Looking at the front of a lens can give an idea about how the lens will render color.  If it is reflecting reddish/yellowish tones, then the results will be cool (because it’s allowing blues and discarding warm colors).  Conversely, looking through the lens from the back (just dismount the lens, open up the aperture and/or hold the aperture lever open) – one will see what color will be rendered.  This works better than looking at the front of the lens, because the light-flow is engineered to be from front-to-back.  So if the view from the back is reddish/yellowish, then the lens is “warm” and if it is bluish/greenish then it is “cool”.

One may wonder why the manufacturers don’t make all the lenses neutral, with no color bias.  This depends on manufacturer.  I’ve read that some manufacturers like to bias lenses the make them more lively (warmer).  I don’t know if that is why the Tokina is so warm, because I don’t know whether or not they try to make lenses neutral or warm or cool or whatever. The particular lens I own may have a little bit of age related artifacting.  I could conceive that lenses might shift in color due to the aging of coatings and so forth, but that’s just a guess.

I do know that my newer lenses have very little bias, either way. Here is a shot of my dog, using a newer lens (Sigma):

Figure 2: My dog Hutch shot with recently made Sigma lens.

The Soligor seems also to be warmly biased.  Maybe this is typical of older lenses.  The glassware shot in figure 1 is yellow because of the light reflecting off of yellow walls, and not so much because of any lens bias.  Or – at least it’s likely that any possible lens bias is much less than the effect of very bright yellow walls.  It’s amazing how much difference the wall color makes on photographic endeavors.  Want rich skin tones?  Use a room with warmly colored walls – reddish/orange/yellowish.  Want cooler pics?  Use a room that’s painted blue.

A color is what it is because it’s what’s reflected from what it’s painted on.  A yellow wall reflects yellow more than – say – pure green, so there’s going to be more yellow colored light bouncing around the room than pure green, and it’s that yellow color of light that is more likely to make the trip into the end of the camera lens.  This is treating yellow as a distinct color, rather than the mix of primary colors, but hey.

The Sigma produces very sharp images.  That is the raison ‘d etre of the company as far as I know.  Older film camera lenses tend to be somewhat less sharp.  Neither the old Soligor nor the old Tokina is as sharp as the Sigma, but that’s likely a bit of an unfair comparison because the difference in age is 30-40 years.

BTW, I usually purchase old film camera lenses that are from the 1980s and beyond, due to use of thorium in older ones. See:

Some older lenses contain …

To be continued …

The Tokina lenses shown were produced by Tokina Co., Ltd of Japan, and they still make lenses today.  This site has no affiliation with any of  the camera and lens companies mentioned on this page.  Tobori Manufacturing Company, LTD owns the tradenames of all its products.  This author and web site has no affiliation with Tobori.  Ricoh Imaging Co owns the Pentax and other tradenames.  This author and site has no affiliation with them.  Sigma corporation owns the Sigma brand, and they are not affiliated with this author or site.

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