#245. Oh No! My Lens is Having a Panic Attack

By pascaljappy | Opinion

Jun 19

If this was a money shot, you’d hear me whining from the Arctic to Oz.

I remember setting up the small tripod given to my by friend and co-author Philippe (because my main Feisol is too large for cabin luggage and I’m too cheap to put a case in the hold). It was a lovely cool evening in Amsterdam, and the frail plastic legs of the Cullmann spiked waves of fear through my spine as I set the exposure to 30 secs and prayed that the breeze wouldn’t send the front A7r & Leica Elmarit-R 19/2.8 toppling into the dark waters.


Massive internal reflexions in a night view of the Amstel in Amsterdam with a Leica-R Elmarit 19mm f/2.8 on a Sony A7r

This reflects badly. My Leica Elmarit-R 19/2.8 is having an attack


The never-ending exposure eventually came to a joyful conclusion made happier still by 100% chimping that revealed very sharp detail inside the houses on the other side of the Amstel river.

It isn’t until a few weeks later that the terrible flare and internal reflections became obvious.

When the image appeared in LightRoom, I burst into laughter. We photographers are such anal creatures, always worrying about the tiny technical details and here was a photograph made by one of the best wide-angles ever designed mounted on one of the best digital cameras this side of an Arca-Swiss Rm, yet displays more flaring than your average kit zoom heading for the sun!

Oh well, it’s kind of cute in its own way. The caustic on the right is an interesting feature, like Apollo landing in a crosswind. The crimson hexagons neatly occupy what would otherwise have been an empty spot and the red arc on the left nicely frames the shiny angel-like figure apparently causing all this optical distress.

And to be fair to the lens and the great man who designed it, here’s a second photograph showing how well it acquitted itself on other occasions that evening.


Canal houses and a beautiful barge in Amsterdam

Cool canal life, cool lens


Not too shabby for a 30+ year-old design. This is a lens I kept in a box for 2 years, not wanting to love it and that you’d have to pry out of my dead hands today. There may be sharper out there (although my test reveals moiré in the corners !!!) but I can’t think of a more beautiful signature.

Here’s a challenge! If you have a worse case of flaring from a quality lens in your catalog, bring it on 😉

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  • FAS says:

    It’s not a 30+ years old design, it’s “just” 21 years old 😀
    However, I think that camera sensor too is playing a role in this behaviour, A7/A7R are unfortunately a bit prone to sensor reflections / blobs / etc.

    • pascaljappy says:

      You’re right, version is a little younger 😉 It is very prone to flaring and that’s the only drawback I can find with it. What you say about the A7r’s senstitity is interesting. I’ll have to try to replicate some shots made with my R lenses & my Nikon D800e on the A7r to see what difference I can find. Better still, co-author Paul Perton is paying me a visit in the summer with his D800e so we can make immediate comparisons between the two. Should be interesting. Thanks for the idea 🙂

      • FAS says:

        Yes, I find it wonderful, only “cons” are ghosting (but hood is usually effective in preventing it if light sources are outside frame) and a little bit of vignetting even at smaller aperture (but it’s easy to deal with it in post-processing)

        Nice idea to test the camera for sensor flare in night shots (not shaded street lamps towards the edge of the frame are the worst things), you’ll probably find that A7R is far less prone to it than standard A7, but still worse than D800 (Friends have the former, I have the latter 2)
        I look forward to reading your comparison 🙂

  • FAS says:

    Of course, thank you 🙂

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