Veiling glare or atmospheric haze or low contrast?

Reader, Nick, commented about the "veiling glare" issue in some older lenses.  And that may well have been his experience with some optics.  I went back to the images I shot for the previous article on the Olympus 150mm lens and tweaked each image with the black slider and the contrast slider in Lightroom 3.6.  Kind of like matching negatives to paper contrast grades in the old days of printing black and white in a darkroom.  I think that what Nick saw in the train shot is a a lot of dust and atmospheric haze (and some bad technique since I hardly nailed focus on the front of the train).  In the other images I think what he saw IS a combination of the lower contrast of the older lenses combined with some atmospheric haze.  They clean up okay when you through some post processing on them and we could probably do quite a bit more in curves, etc.  Just thought I'd throw this up to show a post processed version...... commentary welcome.


  1. The edited versions look pretty good to me! I would imagine though, that you'd have to pixel peep the files to really figure out the difference. Frankly, the lens certainly seems good enough, and that's all I'd be concerned with.

  2. Yes, they are much improved after the contrast adjustments.

    I have noticed that my older OM Zuiko lenses are more sensitive to flare/loss of contrast compared to the newer lenses that I have. It's all easily taken care of in Lightroom as long as I am aware of the issue and take care when photographing in strong light.

  3. I found the contrast a bit too much in the processed versions. A matter of taste.


  4. I second Peter. Some people like Original Recipe, some people like Extra Crispy. I think there's a little more complexity of flavors in the original recipe. But I don't mind extra crispy every now and then either.

    Fortunately, in photography, there are infinitely more than two recipe variations.

  5. Since the advent of digital post processing you can often times have it both ways. And that's fun for everyone.

  6. The original flat images are just right for LR/PS. This lens would be perfect for video.

  7. It's pretty easy to end up with reduced contrast when using old lenses adapted to digital cameras - happens all the time with my OMs. As I understand it, it's indeed veiling glare because the sensor stack is pretty reflective, and the rear element lacks additional coatings to deal with it.

    Awfully easy to deal with in Lightroom, though.

  8. Fashion or Art?

    How much of the current visual fashion will be seen as art. Or will the style simply timestamp it?

  9. We are so used today to see images (not only photos) with high contrast and saturated colors that a photo with "normal" colors even if more realistic is very oft less appreciated. PP makes easier to adjust it to personal tastes or requirements.
    PS: personally having shot Velvia for so many years I prefer the postprocessed photos.

  10. The 'Blacks' slider in LR and I have become good friends over the last couple years :-)

  11. I think another thing that is happening is that many photographers have become accustomed (addicted?) to the crispy full scale images that digital excels at in the same way many came to see the world in Velvia color when shooting film. How much of that is reality and how much is current fashion?

  12. "you can often times have it both ways"

    This is one thing I love about digital images... How easy it is to create various versions from the same original file -- and still have the original file.

    The few times I've posted more than one version of a photo, different people always like different versions.

  13. On these, I like the unprocessed version. It seems to stand out better when compared to the processed version.

  14. I definitely notice this more with older, faster lenses on my EP1. Big apertures and the lack of new technology coatings, as mentioned above, seem to allow the light to reflect off of the sensor and bounce around in the lens barrel causing the veiling. Sometimes not a bad thing, but sometimes it does get intrusive. On the other hand, having a fast 170mm (equiv) is nice to have at your disposal, if you can wrangle it into focus.

  15. This "veiling glare" is very much what I think I am seeing with current manufacture lenses on a D7k when initially viewing RAW files. I have described it as looking " blah!" which is partly because the colors & etc are on the flat side being a RAW file, but more importantly simply not looking clear.

    Although I would most certainly not discount the possible contribution to this effect of atmospheric conditions, I doubt that atmospheric conditions would have a significant effect on the photograph of the man with a child because of the very short distance involved. In comparing the before/after versions of this image it is plain that the black sign with white and red lettering to the left of the man's head is really quite gray rather than black as well as lacking contrast and sharpness in general.

    I have to wonder how much of this is a sensor issue. Even though I can not prove it, I have to wonder if the sensor problem is not properly compensated for by the in camera processing .

    It just seems to me that this phenomenon is too widespread to be explained by anything other than a hardware/software problem.

    I would certainly welcome further explanation of this.

    P.S. As to Olympus OM "Legacy" glass, if you follow the history of most of these lenses you will see that there were both design and lens coating changes throughout the production life of many of these lenses. E.G. The OM Zuiko 50mm f1.4 serial number greater than 1.1 million has the last version of lens coating and is generally regarded as superior to the early versions of this lens in most ways. Also, when acquiring legacy glass, the the lens shade is frequently no longer with the lens. I also note that Olympus does not include lens shades with the current E-PEN lenses. You must order them separately and I doubt most people go to the trouble of doing son. If you run glare tests with Leica lenses I think you just might be surprised at the results even with this premium glass.

  16. Hmm. The photos certainly seemed to reprocess better than some of the ones I've taken myself (although I probably would have split the difference between OOC and the versions you put up), and I haven't used the Pen F 150 mm, so I can't be sure it exhibits the same issues I observed. I remain a bit skeptical (lens coatings have improved tremendously over the past few decades), but hey, you enjoy the lens, the files cleaned up decently, and that picture of the guy holding the baby is great; whether or not there's a veiling glare issue isn't really that important by comparison.

  17. On the contrary.

    My old Nikon Manual Focus lenses deliver more vivid color to my eyes.

    The old Leica Elmarit shows a gaze a bit. But once you set the curve, it will give you a wow image.

    My advice: If you want to use old MF lenses then use high grade old optics. Don't use junks like east-german, russian lenses. They can tag Jena Optik, Zeiss or whatever. Sucks is sucks.

  18. The analogy to graded papers is spot-on.

    In general, it's way easier to add contrast than to take it out.

    The Olympus is a great "sunny day lens". You could think of it as collapsing the dynamic range to fit the sensor..


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