Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by zenrhino, Jun 8, 2009.
Can you think of any 35mm lenses that are too sharp?
None are too sharp.
However that opens up a can of worms, the debate bout Japanese & German lens design parameters.
It's not possible for a lens to be too sharp.
Way back in the 1970's I produced a tight head and shoulder portrait of my lady friend, with a 55mm Nikon Macro lens in strong lighting on Kodachrome film stock. I loved the sharpness. She screamed "I DON"T need a photographer, I NEED a plastic surgeon"! Yes sometimes things can be too sharp.
Or the Tessar vs Planar debate. In fact what we perceive as sharpness are more often than not actually contrast more then resolving power or resolution.
Many (typically German) 85-90mm f/2.8 lenses are "too" sharp or harsh-looking for flattering or pleasing portraits. In some cases that also corresponds with less than ideal bokeh.
Their f/2.0 or f/1.4 brothers are usually softer at full aperture and better suited for portraits, usually throwing in great bokeh as well (the Nikkor 105 f/2.5 also has this behaviour).
For non-portrait use, those "too-sharp" lenses are usually great!
Not 35mm, but MF. I have been told that the 100mm Hasselblad lens is brutally sharp for women's portraits.
It's a lot easier to contrive a soft image with a sharp lens than it is to get a sharp image out of a soft lens.
There are some sharp lenses out there, notably the enlarger lenses come to my mind. In 35mm photography probably the sharpest lenses are the short tele like the 75/2 Apo Summicron ASPH, 100/2.8 APO MAkro Elmarit, the Zeiss Makro Planar 100/2 ZF and the Sonnar 85/2 ZM. The MTF curves of these lenses even wide open will show you the 40lp/mm line horizontal and well above 60, stopped down above 80, for the moment nothing gets really better than that in the 35mm photography. I use the MP 100/2, and with some sharp film the results can be frightening: http://www.flickr.com/photos/59177039@N00/1794817250/sizes/l/ BTW, the bokeh of this lens is wonderful.
A lens too sharp?? A girl too pretty?? Having too much money?? Easter Bunny??? 4 things that don't exist. But I find that there are other factor than sharpness that go into making a great lens. 99% of the lenses have an acceptable degree of sharpness.
A lens is never too sharp.
Some people don't want to face the truth, yes.
But a lens is never too sharp.
Many lenses are not sharp enough.
You can dumb down a sharp lens. If you really dare not face the truth.
But you can never get anything good out of a 'not sharp' lens.
A lens can have more contrast than I like, but it can't be too sharp.
Uh, someone mentioned a portrait of a lady in harsh light, tack sharp lens and Kodachrome.
Brutal combination for a ladys portrait.
Redeem yourself, put her into soft light and use a softar filter on your lens.
Super sharp lenses are great, but for portraits use a quality softar filter with your lens.
Or print it with a stocking folded over several times. You may need a cigarette to burn holes for the eyes. :rolleyes:
Kind of a sweeping statement. I have seen plenty Holga images that dispute this statement.
I do wish people would consider that sharpness in photography has less to do with the lens and everything to do with the mind behind the camera :rolleyes:
I for one think that the answer of relative sharpness all depends on what you are seeing, and how you wish to communicate it. So the answer is yes, a lens can be too sharp....and the same lens can also be too soft.
"Kind of a sweeping statement." Now, that's both tautological and funny!
Guess it is more a matter of the quality of the light hitting your subject?
also, Keith Carter, TX, springs to mind - believe one of his "core tenets" is that unsharpness is as much a creative element as sharpness is.
I see your point...perhaps I should have left out the "kind of.."
Some 'sharp' lenses have horrid bokeh
People forget that there are ways to de-sharpen a sharp lens. Filters with petroleum jelly; nylon under the printing lens; and so on, and so on...
But (short of Photoshop, which doesn't really create sharpness, anyway; it creates the illusion of it) there is no way to sharpen the image of an unsharp lens.
Mark's point about bokeh is valid, but I'm answering the question in the absence of all other criteria. A lens cannot be too sharp. If it is sharp at the expense of other important factors, the sharpness is not the problem, the lack of the other factors is the problem, and that's a fair nit to pick.
I think one could find a lens too sharp when portraits show very clearly wrinkles, pimples and other 'undesirable things'. Though they're there, a good photographer should try to erase some... to get lots of positive comments from female models (men would probably also value such improvements but not say it...)
Perfect illustration of the what a lens does vs what you want a lens to do thing.
A lens that shows most of what there is to show isn't bad because it does.
It perhaps is because you don't want it to be.
So a lens is never too sharp.
But you may find a lens too sharp.
And when you do, the lens still is not too sharp.
It boils down to the you can dumb a good lens down, but not 'smarten up' a bad lens thing.
You can find a good lens too sharp and do something about it.
You can find a lens not sharp enough and then find you can do nothing about it.
So a lens is never too sharp.
So do some 'unsharp' lenses.
Separate names with a comma.