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characteristics of H vs V system lenses


The intention is not to start a theological discussion about H vs V system lenses, but I would be interested if users of both systems' lenses do detect specific characteristics that differentiate the lens lines from each other. Is there such thing as a "H lens ID" and a "V lens ID"? I am curious.
In my opinioin there is a distinct difference between German and Japanese made lenses.

German, Zeiss and Leica, lenses seem to have well developed properties for out of focus reproduction.
Japanese designed lenses are tag sharp with out of focus areas occuring rather more instant.

Often a matter of what you are used to and what you have come to appreciate in your life as a photographer.

H lenses are without a doubt very very good lenses.
Also keep in mind that lens design is a never ending business.
The last design Carl Zeiss made for the V series, the 40 IF, is a development that comes closer to the Fuji lenses.

It is a pity no more new designs are expected for the V series.
The last update for the 120 Makro-Planar as was realised for the Contax 645
is quite different from the Makro-Planar available for Hasselblad.
Pascal, my limited experience shows me that often it is not easy to distinguish an image from a German or Japanese lens - provided that they are high quality lenses in the first place.

But, there are some differing attributes generally as well as some that are specific among certain German or Japanese designs and glass used.

So the differences I see are:

1. the OOF attribute Paul referred to - how progressive the soft OOF is;

2. the actual bokeh rendered - I find that overall Japanese bokeh is more often "pretty" compared to German lenses. This is often influenced by iris design and the number of blades. So, for example today's Zeiss/Hasselblad lenses with just 5 blades can cause unattractive non circular highlights etc..

But then there are some old German lenses like the Hasselblad/Zeiss Tessar 80mm from the 19050s - 12 blades producing pretty OOF.

3. Tonality - IMHO this is where the Germans win hands down - to my eyes they are often more mellow. Personally I think the Germans' coatings enable more faithful tonality. In some lenses the Germans' choice of glass influences this too.

Also I feel that Fujinon lenses specifically have closer attributes to German lenses than Japanese lenses - maybe their LF as well as MF lens design and making along side the Germans has lead to this. I have found this with LF and XPan Fujinon lenses.

4. Distortion - my own experience has been that quality German wide-angle lenses stand out from Japanese wide-angle lenses because the Germans achieve better correction of distortion.

So there are some differentiators between collective German (Schneider, Rodenstock, Zeiss and Leica....) and the numerous collective Japanese lenses.

However, I think to be fair to the Japanese, we should remember that all lenses are designed and built to a brief - balancing correction of aberrations etc with budget, size and other attributes. So where we see differing attributes, which be referring to better "performance", some may be because the Japanese typically shoot for volume business, while often Germans shoot for niche and higher end market segments.

Some people here may disagree, but I just think the commercial imperatives must also be considered - so that we consider like for like!! :)

So, in the end, yes I feel there are some broad attributes that set German and Japanese lenses apart. However, these attributes are not always visible even to a trained eye - that comes down to how they are used. I would never claim to always be able to pick one from another - I think it would be a brave man who does!! :)

I'll be interested to read others' opinions.
Pascal - 2 images:

1. Candle - A 1960s Leica Thread Mount Canon 50mm f1.2 - wide open

2. Ducati - A 1950s Hasselblad Zeiss 80mm Tessar f2.8 - wide open


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Perhaps one may show a 100% crop of the same picture taken with 39Mpix back with the 80mm fuji and the 80mmCFI (with CF ring)

The 5 blades in Zeiss lenses is a shame.
I find that it varies lens to lens. I shoot a full line-up of HC lenses and Zeiss CFi/CFE optics ... sometimes on the same job.

Generally speaking, I'd say the HC lenses are visually optimized for commercial studio work with strobes ... which makes sense because that's who uses them the most.

When shooting digital files any distortion is a non-issue with the HC wide lenses because of the DAC corrections in Flexcolor and Phocus ... in other words, there is none, nor is there C/A ... actually, it's uncanny.

I ran a controlled studio test between the Zeiss 40CFE and the HC/35 ... same H3D-II/39, same test cards, same Profoto strobes, same f stops. While the 40's center was a miniscule amount sharper, the edge sharpness and image clarity was so much better with the HC lens that it wasn't even funny. I re-ran the test because I didn't believe it myself. (Note, this was not the IF version of the 40mm, it was a late model CFE.)

For table-top work, the HC 120 Macro is visibly sharper than my 120CFE, and the OOF areas are also nicer ... and both suffer in terms of resolving power and sharpness compared to a Rodenstock 120 APO Digital on a Rollei Xact2.

I like the Zeiss 50 CFi better than the HC 50mm.

My favorite HC lens is the 100/2.2 which has very smooth transitions in the OOF areas, and no "Chrysler Logo" specular highlights.

The HC 300/4.5 is also a spectacular performer with more Zeiss like snap and color rendition ... not up to SA standards, but close enough considering the money.

It makes no difference to me, I have and use all the lenses from both systems. The prime advantage of the HC lenses is DAC corrections ... and they are AF.