I have noticed, in my own work and here in the galleries more and more prints of high contrast being evaluated in glowing terms of sharpness. As if greater contrast produces greater sharpness. I think this is a mistake.
I've always felt sharpness in a negative or print is determined by optics and may be obliterated by development and that contrast is another issue.
While negative contrast is set by more or less development, and print contrast by filters or paper grade, the sharp line will be dulled by excessive contrast.
Where a high contrast image is sought (one with few shades) the sharpness of the line can devastate a viewer (well, maybe not devastate but stop them in their tracks) but when that line is muted or melted into broader tones, the image is muted.
By adding contrast arn't we just mushing the blacks together and the whites together. We're not making more shades of black but fewer.
This may just be a personal thing with me but I am wondering if anyone else sees this?