Home Forums Legacy lenses "The flattening of modern lenses or the death of 3D pop"

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  verybiglobo 3 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #11044 Reply

    Anthony Mak

    Hi Viktor,

    Have you heard or read the above article? It’s author makes the interesting claim that the main difference in rendering between old film lenses and modern digital lenses is to do with the number of elements being used in their design. His definition of rendering is about the perception of depth a lens produces.

    He says that with fewer elements, you get a more lifelike 3d representation and when more elements are used the image becomes flatter (though better optically corrected).

    Despite the interesting theory, I don’t think he provides enough data (e.g. side-by-side comparisons) to substantiate his claim, so as far as I can see it’s unproven. What he does instead is randomly pick some flat looking photos from modern lenses to support his claim…which sounds suspiciously like a scientist cherry picking experimental results to support a theory.

    What do you think? You can find the article in the link below.



    #11815 Reply
    viktor pavlovic
    viktor pavlovic

    Hi Anhony,
    sorry to see this post late. I think that the main problem of any theory discussing 3D pop, is that there is nothing that would qualify 3D pop in the semantic way.
    There were many attempts to define it, but I haven’t seen anything yet, that will deliver reliable proof of its existence, especially in relation to the lenses.

    We can speak about overall characteristics of older vs newer lens renderings though. The main difference is higher micro and global contrast, primarily due to the reduced back reflections, which are done both with improved coatings and used glass.

    Another important aspect of optical evolution is much improved correction of lateral CA and astigmatism and to some amount Longitudinal CA in the newer lenses. This usually depends on the usage of special glass with high refractive index and complexity of the lens design.

    In a result, what we can see through modern lenses is very high acutance – high edge contrast of the subjects in focus. This alone would suggest better subject separation (3D pop?), but the problem is that high contrast is rendered also in the blurred areas, creating thus entirely image with usually harsher transition between subject and background and evoking certain “flatness” could it be so described.

    Much more important though than lens performance itself, is the composition of other aspects, such as lighting, contrast in luminescence and colors of the subject and background, distance form the subject and background and related amount of blur etc. than the lens performance alone. My Otus lenses are extremely complex and modern, but since they were calibrated for much wider light spectrum than other designs usually are, they can create extremely high acutance without increasing global contrast, making subject isolation very unique and distinctive (3D pop?).

    Some older lenses with under or over corrected SA will in contrary create sort of swirly bokeh, helping subject isolation and stimulating subject isolation in the mid frame zone.

    In short, there is nothing like 3D POP magic with old lenses, simply because the 3D pop is subjective and highly dependent on many other factors than lens rendering performance alone. Many modern lenses have higher micro and global contrast creating thus potentially harsher transitions between focus and out of focus areas and in some instances, creating sort of technical – sterile look.

    This is all my opinion of course.


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