This is a torture test for any lens: shooting almost straight into the sun without a lens hood. Each lens was set to f/4, with the shutter at 1/30 (exposed for the shaded area of the trunk). The point of focus was the near trunk of the river birch. The setting sun was just above the top edge of the frame, partially obscured by branches but still very bright.
The FED shows off some semi-swirly bokeh in the background. This may not be to everyone’s taste, but I rather like it; it’s quite different from any other lens I have. Contrast is moderate, and the center sharpness remains reasonably good despite the direct backlighting, though some softening on the edges of the trunks is visible.
The brighter I-26 presents a considerably more neutral image here; while it appears to be rather low contrast, this is most likely due more to the slight overexposure tendency as applied in this particular scene than anything else. Bokeh is more natural and softer than above, and the sharpness again remains more consistent across the frame.
Massive glow was expected here, and rightly so; the damage to the front element of the I-50 throws the bright backlighting everywhere. The bokeh is not very attractive, especially on the right side, and contrast is predictably low, but it’s still better than what I expected from the lens given its condition.
The differences between the J-8 and the other non-damaged lenses are not major, but they add up. Contrast is slightly better, especially in the small details, and the light is better controlled (look at the edges of the trunk in the center foreground, where the light is pushing through the loose bark). The result is a crisper image overall, though not to modern levels. Bokeh is soft and pleasant, though to my eye it lacks the visual interest of the FED.
In the fifth and final part of this series, we will look at fine detail in 100% crops shot at two different aperture settings.