hazy lenses

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Can anyone explain to me what haze in a lens is. I've this lens which seems to perform well; however, I was looking into it with a magnifying glass, and it is hazy. The haze seems to be on the back side of the front element. If not haze, and I don't know a lot about lenses, it seems like foam looking through the back of the lens. From the front, it's hazy looking to me. And I wonder if this, whatever it is, has the effect of a soft-focus filter. I mean, until I discovered that there was something wrong with this lens, I liked its performance, and now I wonder if it's possible the haze was producing somekind of effect on the tonality. If anyone has any experience with this please let me know. Thanks.

-- David Clark (doc@ellensburg.com), October 19, 1998


I've told this story online several times, but it bears repeating as a partial answer to your question. Last year I purchased a 10" WF Ektar for my Deardorff 8x10. In order to save $200 off the price of one in better condition, I bought one with "polishing marks" on the front element. I was concerned that they would affect the picture quality but I figured what the hell: $200 is $200. Then one day I tried shooting nudes in the studio with this lens, under a big Westcott soft box, and was very pleasantly surprised. The slight diffusion effect was gorgeous, especially when combined with my favorite toner. I now use this lens exclusively with that light. And outdoors it's fine too; the diffusion effect is minimal under normal outdoor conditions, just slightly softening the contrast. Moral of the story: Just because a lens isn't the latest or most expensive doesn't mean you can't take great pictures with it. I own a Leica M2 with a pristine 50mm DR Summicron (the sharpest lens ever tested by Modern Photography) and a very pricey 35mm Summilux. But I wish I had an old Leica III and a hazy screw-mount lens too!

-- Peter Hughes (leonine@redshift.com), October 20, 1998.

Sometimes an oily film will diffuse onto the lens elements from lubrication in the shutter mechanism, especially in hot weather. Cleaning the lens elements on a regular basis helps to minimize this source of fogging.

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), October 20, 1998.

From your description it sounds like you may have the dread Fungi Amungeye.

-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), October 20, 1998.

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