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  1. #1

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    the perceived sharpness of lenses

    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."

  2. #2

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    Good stuff. I couldn't really find anything to disagree with, and that's an area in which I'm usually pretty resourceful.

    None of that is to say that lenses aren't fun, or aren't different, or that the differences between them don't matter for photographic use. But the desperate pursuit of specific metrics like sharpness does seem like it's largely a function of smaller formats. The LF folks will pay terabucks for certain lenses, but it's for some sort of perceived fairy dust that in most cases is resistant to lab analysis. No one knows how to measure just what that je ne sais quoi of a Dagor is, right?---which doesn't stop us.

    -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_

  3. #3
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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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."
    simply but well put.AAsaid:there is nothing worse than a sharp picture of a fuzzy concept;and HCB said sharpness is a bourgois concept.I say:sharpness is not clearly defined and often confused with resolution or contrast.what is it in your eopinionand why is it so important?
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  4. #4

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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.
    I didn't get that sense from it at all. To me the article seemed more to be pointing out how absurdly far up the diminishing-returns curve some people are inclined to go, and the extent to which we use objective measures of "quality" that don't actually say much about how the picture at the end of the workflow looks.

    By the way, in Nihongo (Japanese), bokeh mean off in the head, bonkers.
    I think it's from "boke" (暈け), "blur". The h is supposed to prevent Anglophones from pronouncing it to rhyme with Coke.

    -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_

  5. #5
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    What you point a lens at I.M.O. and what your pictures say ( if anything ) is much more important than the acuity of the lens they were taken with.
    Last edited by benjiboy; 01-26-2014 at 08:25 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Ben

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Brown View Post
    Recommended reading:

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

    [...]
    "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."

    Says it all. However, if one has the skills and knowledge and experience, I see nothing wrong at all with drawing a bead and unloading both barrels with the best equipment you can afford — provided you have years of experience to form a judgement as to how your work may be improved e.g. would a better quality lens allow for a bigger enlargement? Is chroma and astigmatism too visible in the cheap lens that came with the camera? Is spherical aberration now too much of an irritation to let it continue? What else? If a photographer can realistically satisfy himself with qualified answers, go for it. Then there is the geek: a photographer with little to no foundation skills and little experience yet spends and spends and spends on extravagant equipment but shows little investment in producing quality images (very common with digital shooters) — resulting in thousands and thousands of — frankly, bloody awful images, destined for the proverbial "digital black hole", never to see the light of day. I don't see this with analogue photographers. But I still see this bokeh bullshit leading to bunfights over who's lens is better than another! It is suggested people concentrate on the quality of their photography rather than quaint terms to impress and befuddle.

    In reflection, I'm happy that I learnt photography and honed my subject understanding with quite awful lenses before I moved up, and up, and up. I am at that point now that I feel my work will not benefit from any further investment in equipment.

  7. #7
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    I find my car drives better, and so do I, after I washed it.

  8. #8
    lxdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snapguy View Post
    So then, lousy tools make great work?
    You're kidding, right?

    The best tools in the best hands give the best results. The best tools in the worst hands make no difference.

    The best F1 race driver in the best F1 car will win races. The same driver in the worst F1 car might win. In either car, I certainly won't win, and if I try to keep up, I'll likely just crash.
    Last edited by lxdude; 01-26-2014 at 08:54 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    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.

  9. #9
    lxdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntenny View Post
    I think it's from "boke" (暈け), "blur". The h is supposed to prevent Anglophones from pronouncing it to rhyme with Coke.
    Right. Not right in the head is only one meaning of boke.
    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.

  10. #10
    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
    --
    If you don't have it, then you don't have it.

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