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  1. #21
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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...

  2. #22

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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.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh View Post
    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.
    Plus, "craft" skill and "art" skill aren't the same, though they often help to reinforce each other. It's that old "sharp image of a fuzzy concept" quote again. Conversely, sometimes the artistic intent demands something other than technical correctness; look at Nan Goldin. (Whether you like her work or not, and I usually don't, it's clear that the technical "failings" of her photos are intended as part of the content. I'm pretty sure she can take a sharp photo when she wants to.)

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    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_

  4. #24

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    What a pointless article. I suppose maybe there was a point - the first few times it was said that crap is crap and chasing marginally better lens performance doesn't mean better pictures. But by now it is as old and tired as any lens test article.

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    What a pointless article. I suppose maybe there was a point - the first few times it was said that crap is crap and chasing marginally better lens performance doesn't mean better pictures. But by now it is as old and tired as any lens test article.
    Yes, it's a rehash of aticles I remember reading in the mid '70s. But, there is a point to lens sharpness and fine grain film with tiny negatives. I never realised just what a wonderful job 35mm does until I started using larger formats.

    I wonder how many of these seekers of the sharpest lens ever bother to use a tripod?

  6. #26

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    Minor improvements in equipment and techniques can indeed cumulatively add up to an overall improvement in the intended result. For example,
    when my "chihuaua" 6x9 format pretends to be an 8x10 rottweiler, I find that I really do need my finest taking, enlarging lenses, and specific
    film choice to get a reasonably comparable result in a 16X20 print. But more often it's the "look" or rendering of a particular lens in relation to
    the subject matter which is far more important. "Cult" lenses sometimes deserve their reputation, sometimes do not. Just depends what you
    want and, all too often, how much of a sucker you are when handing out your shekels. But all this talk about the "image" mattering regardless
    of the tools is nonsense. People can make music with kazoos, gut buckets, and handsaws, but I don't want to listen to it.

  7. #27

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    Don't be so sure, Drew. The latest aspheric gut buckets are really something.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    Don't be so sure, Drew. The latest aspheric gut buckets are really something.
    So's a 100 year old Dagor in the hands of some one who can actually use it.

  9. #29

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    Sorry I thought we were talking about gut buckets.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by DREW WILEY View Post
    But all this talk about the "image" mattering regardless
    of the tools is nonsense. People can make music with kazoos, gut buckets, and handsaws, but I don't want to listen to it.
    I understand both these sentences, but not how they go together. Are you suggesting that you'd like jug band music just fine if it were performed on orchestral instruments instead? (The image of Gus Cannon playing the cello has a certain weird appeal, actually.)

    At the risk of putting words in your mouth, it seems like what the second sentence suggests is that jug bands are working in an *aesthetic* you don't like, not that they're impaired by inadequate tools.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    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_

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