Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/11/29

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Subject: Re: [Leica] More Sharpness is Highly Overratted
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 00:54:05 EST


The Thambar is indeed a unique lens.  I own two of them and you don't see them
very often.  This is the only Leitz lens deliberately designed with
aberrations.  It came with a special center spot filter, which would cut out
the sharp image forming light rays entering the center of the lens.  The
special soft image quality of the lens is most pronounced with wider
apertures.  The photos exhibit a "glowing" quality to them.  It is somewhat
like the soft focus portraits of the Hollywood starlets of the early thirties.
Yet, it is a different quality than that from a Softar type filter, or a gauze
or Vaseline on a UV filter.  The big problem with this lens is the
unpredictability of the soft focus effect.  I have taken photos of the same
subject, same aperature, one right after the other and one photo will have the
effect and the other will not.  The only difference was a slight change in the
camera angle in relation to the light source.  You cannot see the effect in
advance with a rangefinder camera, unlike an SLR.  I think it takes a lot of
experience with the lens to use it well.

Bill Rosauer