Does a Lens Really Provide a Look?

Yes! I have some material in the pipe on just this subject but I wanted to give a quick example. While taking some beauty shots of recent Cine-Mod performed to a Samyang 24mm f/1.4, I was pleased by the results of my initial photos. A bit of info: I had been using my camera for some casual street photography with a very nice, recently overhauled Angenieux 3 inch, f/2.5 lens attached to my Olympus OM-D. The lens remained on my camera over the weekend. When it came time to take some product photos back at the Lens Lab, I grabbed my camera with the Angenieux still attached and I figured I would just leave it there to see how it fared for product photos. The results were interesting to say the least. Not exactly product photo worthy so I decided to swap back to my go-to product photo lens which is currently an Olympus 45mm f/1.8.

The Angenieux is a pretty old lens and exhibits characteristics that some would find annoying and flawed. But the results can at least be considered interesting to just about anyone regardless of how you feel about the “look” of a lens. A few traits you can examine, the contrast is significantly lower in the Angenieux and the resolution is just slightly reduced. It’s important to note that the photos were taken with all the same setting with the exception of perhaps the aperture which is more difficult to exact in the Angenieux than it is with the fully automatic Olympus. A few other characteristics is a much more noticeable (perhaps not in this particular photo) is the higher chromatic aberration in the Angenieux. Most obvious is the color rendition and cast created by the older coatings and design of the Angenieux. Probably not something that Angenieux consciously included in their original designs, but a pleasant result nonetheless. Either way, it’s interesting and this clearly shows that lens character can drastically alter the look and feel of a photo/video without running it through photoshop or post processing.

2 thoughts on “Does a Lens Really Provide a Look?

  1. Great little write up. Cameras by and large do the same thing, what really gives an image its look is lighting, and as you said the lens.

  2. When I saw the title of this article, I said, YES! My first camera was a Nikon, so I’ve always shot Nikon. All my lenses were Nikon, except for the occasional Vivitar Series 1. I love my Vivitar lenses. Then one day, I started collecting Kodak Retina cameras and lenses. It was probably at least a year before I put any film through one of the cameras. They all had Schneider-Kreuznach lenses. Oh My God! Those lenses blew away any Nikon lens I’ve ever owned! The color and clarity was stunning. Far superior to anything I owned at the time. Do lenses provide a look? Oh yeah. Great blog. I love reading it, even though I’d never be able to afford anything.

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