Today I finally held in my hand what I was looking for since re-starting photography: A probably 15 years old second hand Minolta 1.4/85mm lens. Aah – that were the times when all lenses were built completely from metal. That definitely gives a solid feeling! And then that front lens, what an amount of glass! But I didn’t bother for long with admiring the outer qualities, instead I used my lunch break for a walk in the nearest park. That shallow DoF and blurry background is amazing (the shot above was taken stopped down half a f-stop) but what was demanding at least for the first frames is the discrepancy between the viewfinder image and what gets recorded on the sensor: In the viewfinder you simply do not see that shallow DoF and background blur or bokeh. The reason is the “optimisation” of the former ground glass into an array of micro-structures that are much brighter than any groundglass could be, but similarly to a loupe offers a virtual image to the eye. And this image does not obey to even only widely similar optical laws of the rendering on a groundglass. Well, without that artifice the viewfinder would be unbearably dark with the zoom lenses that are the standard now.
I am a happy camper for now, as this lens allows me to bask in low DoF images and, as I hope, those wonderful airy discs of out-of-focus light sources. Additionally I will try those fine portraits where only the pupils are rendered sharply but already nose and ears get enwrapped in soft and flattering unsharpness.