Jim Galli, Jan 14, 2003; 10:22 a.m.
Jim I'll bite. I like Heliars. They have an unquantifiable quality to them that I'll try to illustrate. A nice balance of contrast and resolution but on studying what it is that gives the effect I like, If you look at your images with a 40X scope you'll find that the Heliar causes a certain point transfer in the highlights that gives a glow not unlike what an unsharp mask will cause. A halo effect. But only in the highlights (or likely only noticeable there). They are "useable" at f4.5 if that is the look you are after. That's why portraitists have sought them. As you stop down things sharpen up significantly so that you would consider it among your sharpest lenses but even at f22-f32 I'm still seeing the luminescent "glow" in highligt edges. I haven't answered all of your questions, only put forth what I've observed in use. Better or worse than my other lenses? NO. Yes. Different, and sometimes I'll grab it because I know that it will give an image the luminance I'm looking for.