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Monday, 08 November 2021


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This is interesting timing. Just last night I watched a YouTube review of the new Voightlander 35mm f/1.2 lens chipped for Fujifilm cameras. This reviewer parrots what others have said, that this lens has crazy flare. He talks like it's a feature, designed in to give a vintage look. I gave the lens serious consideration given my positive experience with the brand on my Nikon DSLRs, but it would make me feel pretty stupid to spend $700 for a lens that gives the illusion of being cheap.

If interested, link to video:


Dear Mike,
Interesting article about flare!

Also: When tipping us about books, please include bookdepository.com links also (thus I can save the shipping cost), and you get the cut (commission(?))all the same. :-)

All the best,
Anders H.

Excellent explanations and illustrations, Mike. That’s where a hood can com in handy…or not. Strangely, the worst flaring lenses I own are both Leica M’s! My 90 Apo Summicron f2 is particularly touchy, even with a hood.

But, towards your general guidance to get to know your lenses, I sometimes try to make flare/glare work towards a visual concept. As a publicly-viewable example, my iPhone X had a lovely sweet spot for flare with light source at about 75 degrees. It was a perfect moment to enlist the optical phenomenon for this contemplative scene.


No later models of iPhone cameras have shown such predictable flare effects. They’ve become too “smart”!

I use a lot of lenses with image circles that are larger than needed to cover the sensor, sometimes a lot larger. Veiling glare can be especially hard to manage with these. I have some where the primary function of the lens hood is to protect the glass from knocks; even a very long hood can't manage flare. For those lenses, only a baffle at the rear is effective.

My wide-brimmed fedora is another essential tool in my photography tool bag. It's not just for fashion ya know!

[Ha! Yes. I used to wear a brimmed hat when using the Mamiya 6 because it helped shade the metering sensor. Sunlight on the meter could mess up the reading. --Mike]

Good post, Mike.

These days, I see all of the "problems" you've mentioned, and more.

Submititng your photographty into competition every week for the better part of four years makes you...very discriminating.

Moreover, having shot a lot of commercial photography the last three years, I've become particularly aware of extension distortion and color casts (both of which there is skosh of in the Butters photo).


Reminded me of the old film production joke:
What's the difference between a flare and a highlight?
$1,000 a week.

The updated lens on the Fuji x100v has some of this flare, even with a hood. Otherwise, great contrast.

Ansel Adams in one of his books (I'm too lazy to look up the exact reference) noted that lens flare can be useful in high-contrast situations by lifting the base exposure of the dark areas, somewhat like might be done with pre-flashing the film, and suggested choosing lenses with that in mind.

Veiling glare is my least favorite of the flare family; I've spent real money to replace a lens for having that as its besetting sin.

Flare is easier to spot before exposing, so less likely to be a nasty surprise, compared to veiling glare. And I find flare easier to use artistically.

Not that veiling glare can't be used artistically, or for that matter "technically" as in the Ansel Adams suggestion mentioned above. But I find the artistic uses harder to come up with.

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