Quote Originally Posted by eddie View Post
While they may give you a measured standard of sharpness (or any other lens attribute), it's entirely possible that a "lesser" lens will give you a better print.
You... can't... be... serious.

Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post
As they say, opinions are like arse holes, everyone has one and every one else's stinks.

There's a difference between an 'opinion' and an actual test comparison in controlled conditions. Such comparisons are very useful and are really all we've got aside from our own personal experience. If find comparisons, rather than objective tests (even with their graphs, facts and figures), to be far more useful however there will always be an element of sample variation to factor into any findings.
I couldn't have said it more succinctly. Photography is just physics and chemistry. You manipulate the physics and chemistry to make art. You start from a commonly agreed upon baseline and then tweak to get what you want. That doesn't mean the baseline is useless. I really wonder how some people buy cars. I as well as everyone I know looks at the MPG sticker on the car window. Now I know depending on whether I drive in the city or on highways my mileage will vary. It will also vary with how aggressively I accelerate. Passenger and cargo load will make mileage vary. Heck using the A/C will change mileage as well. Does that mean we don't look at the manufacturer's mileage data? Does that mean we ignore what Consumer Reports and Motor Trend say about mileage? I think not. Why on earth would that all of a sudden change when talking about a simple $40 lens? There is nothing special about photography. The same common sense we use in the rest of our lives is not suspended when we pick up a camera or turn on an enlarger.