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  1. #11
    Chris Lange's Avatar
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    This is one of those articles that you write when you feel like you need to prove to your audience that you are unburdened by the ever-present weight of technology and that you are indeed more of an artist than Ken Rockwell, which anyone, or anything could be, without doing so much as emitting a small burst of flatulence.

    It's not exactly like anything on "gear theory" that's been written...well...practically ever is a new idea that isn't pure common sense.

    Hasselblads and Leicas don't matter, but they're nice machines, no one needs an asph summicron, and the much maligned original nikkor 43-86 really wasn't that bad, because hey, it still put an image on film and that's really all that matters when you need an establishing shot followed by a portrait in the space of 4 seconds.

    Anybody that actually comes away from one of these articles feeling like they "learned something" has bigger concerns than worrying about what lens to use. Common sense...
    Last edited by Chris Lange; 01-26-2014 at 09:20 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    See my work at my website CHRISTOPHER LANGE PHOTOGRAPHY

    or my snaps at my blog MINIMUM DENSITY
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    If you don't have it, then you don't have it.

  2. #12

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    It's pompous to denigrate those whose desire for sharp images is paramount. I suppose you can try and convince someone that the sharp images he desires aren't worth pursuit, based on the accolades others heap upon works which do not embody sharpness. All ye learned men are certainly in the know.
    In life you only get one great dog, one great car, and one great woman. Pet the dog. Drive the car. Make love to the woman. Don't mix them up.

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by snapguy View Post
    So then, lousy tools make great work?
    I agree that some people go off the deep end with their search for the "best" lens or whatever. The best is the one that works for you. But the article makes it sound that trying to get it right is some kind of grave error.
    By the way, in Nihongo (Japanese), bokeh mean off in the head, bonkers.


    No, you got the wrong Boke.

    Japanese language have some tremendous number of words that sound exactly the same or very much alike but have different meanings and are indeed different words entirely. When we write it in Romaji (roman alphabets), we just sound out the words, so you are forced to guess at the word depending on the context. The real words are written in Kanji. The Boke you refer to is basically an insult to call someone. It means "stupid." Bokeh as used in Photographic terms is "blur" or unsharp, if you prefer.

    I am a native speaker.

    As far as sharp image is concerned, I'm a big fan of sharp lenses. Heck, I go nuts over great equipment. But I also use vintage gear and I simply love them. In my own photography, I use whatever the set of gear that gives me the image I want in the way I want to express it. I'm learning more and more, it's my vision first, then gear that can realize my vision - not the other way around.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  4. #14
    lxdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snapguy View Post
    Juan Fangio did not always have the best car and he was not always the best driver in the race but he knew how to push his car to the limit and keep it there before it blew up. He won a lot of races against better cars and better drivers.
    Exactly. His tools were secondary to his ability.
    I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
    When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.

  5. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfeye View Post
    It's pompous to denigrate those whose desire for sharp images is paramount. I suppose you can try and convince someone that the sharp images he desires aren't worth pursuit, based on the accolades others heap upon works which do not embody sharpness. All ye learned men are certainly in the know.
    I'm not sure you and I even read the same article. Who said sharpness isn't worth while?

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
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    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  6. #16

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    For some images, sharpness and contrast are not that necessary, and may even be obtrusive. But one can always reduce contrast and sharpness afterwards when printing. However, some images simply look better with more resolution and contrast. Large B/W landscapes, for example. So buy and use whatever enhances your style of photography - simple as that. If you are in the competitive arena, then expensive equipment is sometimes the price of admission. However, I do not think that really applies to current analogue photographers to the same extent as it used to.

    Among photographers you will find some gear nuts, and between gear nuts a few photographers. Being interested in and fascinated by gear does not make a photographer less of a photographer. It is only when someone thinks better (or more expensive) gear will make for better photographs, when they could do nothing worthwhile with perfectly adequate gear, that the point of the article really is valid. But even then, why would I care what others pay for their gear and what they do with it? It is their business, and so is what I pay for, and do with, my own. This gear syndrome, and the response to it, has been around since the invention of technology.

  7. #17

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    Edward Weston used to make phenomenal images w/ crap gear. I, however, am not Edward Weston, so I need all the help I can get. I think the most important thing is to find a lens that has the character that you like for your style. There is nothing bad about having good gear, unless it becomes a silver bullet quest. More than sharpness, I like images w/ a sense of 3-D imaging to them, and smooth, but not too smooth, bokeh. Characteristics that are harder to find than you would think.

    I don't like the F1 analogy. They have dumbed the sport down to a spec series now, and innovation and creativity are discouraged. One car is not that different from another. Sad. It's all about tire management and fuel efficiency now. That ain't racing!
    Last edited by momus; 01-27-2014 at 02:17 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  8. #18

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    I take exception with the term perceived sharpness when used with lenses. Lens resolution is an easily measureable and quantifiable property. There is nothing perceived about it. Now the sharpness of a particular print is subjective and the use of "perceived" is proper in this case.
    Last edited by Gerald C Koch; 01-27-2014 at 11:44 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Lange View Post
    This is one of those articles that you write when you feel like you need to prove to your audience that you are unburdened by the ever-present weight of technology and that you are indeed more of an artist than Ken Rockwell, which anyone, or anything could be, without doing so much as emitting a small burst of flatulence.
    ...
    A personal attack on KR is a bit of a non-sequiter in this discussion, but it made me laugh.

    The whole concept of gear and the quality requirements really is an odd one. I worked just fine for years only using a DSLR and the two kit lenses. Looking back on those photos I cannot fault the technology in any way. They are bright, sharp, technically amazing; artistically "small burst of flatulence" is probably a really good descriptor actually.

    I moved to adapted MF lenses not for their quality, but because I liked how they rendered colour (far less saturated than my kit lenses, with all the same settings) and how they felt in hand. I moved to shooting film because I enjoyed the feel of the cameras.

    When I added MF to the fleet, I went with a Bronica 645 instead of a Hassy 500cm. I have no doubt that a really skilled user can make the Hassy sing in ways the Bronica can't. But the Bronica was (comparatively) affordable, and I enjoy the feel of using it. I can't imagine I will ever take a picture where I'll think "Damn, this would have been so much better if only I'd had a Hasseblad!"

    And yet, for all this, when the chance came up to buy a 50mm 1.4 for my 35mm slr, I jumped on it. I use it instead of the 1.8 as my primary lens. And, just like the Bronica/Hassy situation, I doubt there will ever be a photo where the difference between the 1.8 and the 1.4 would show up in a meaningful way. Even though my 1.8 is relegated to back-up status, I will never sell it, I love it; but I use the "superior" 1.4...

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Brown View Post
    Recommended reading:

    http://theonlinephotographer.typepad...of-lenses.html

    "The "cult" of lens "sharpness" and quality evolved in parallel to the miniaturizing of film formats. It's very difficult for most lenses to look bad contact printed, or enlarged 3X; the smaller the film got, and the more it was enlarged, the more the characteristics of the lens were exposed; so along with the interminable push for more sensitive and finer-grained films and developers, the "cult of lens quality" emerged."

    "Never be blinded into thinking that good tools = good work. The world is full of photographers who churn out sharp but wretchedly poorly-seen pictures. They can break their own arms smugly patting themselves on the back for owning the latest apo-this or aspherical-that, but regardless, Johnston's eighth law still holds: crap is crap."
    Good tools = fewer limitations, all other things remaining equal. But you have to have a pretty high level of skill to take advantage of those good tools and use them to their limits.

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