1.27.2011

A brief, one sided conversation about lens testing and reality....


Testing lenses by shooting targets and graphing the resolution line pairs is interesting, compelling and.....silly.  Most high speed lenses don't do "great corners".  And in either image above the ability to have great performance in the corners is beyond meaningless.

To read the DXO reviews of Canon's fast primes you would think they were all designed by morons who couldn't make sharp glass if they broke it into little shards.  But very few lenses are really computed with intention of being flat field, macro lenses.

15 comments:

Herrgard said...

I don't know a thing about lenses, but those two sure are good photos.

Too bad the great corner performance of the lens makes the blurry whites a bit distracting in the second one :)

Keep up the good work, Kirk!

kirk tuck said...

Huh? Oh, Got it.

Curt Schimmels said...

She is my favorite model that you use - perhaps because she reminds me of my wife, when she was young.

I fully agree on lenses. In fact, sometimes you may not want lenses to be painfully sharp. The only true way to know is to use it and see how it works with your own style.

kirk tuck said...

YES!

Aaron said...

Kirk, I just recently started following your blog. I also just upgraded to a D7000. I have been reading lens reviews for months, literally, comparing data, charts, etc. I broke down and bought a Tamron 17-50/f2.8 VC. Paired with my 35mm/f.18 prime I feel unstoppable. This is one of the most "bang-for-the-buck" posts I've read in a long time. Simple and true.

Anonymous said...

You mean those pieces of glass are for taking pictures, not for creating reams and reams of nonsense data so tech nerds can worry about corner sharpness into the wee hours of the night?

BTW, beautiful model.

Kurt W. said...

When I only have time to read one blog, it's yours. Great post; the anti-gear geek theme is what keeps me coming back....besides the good writing and great portraits. Keep it up.

Peter Frailey said...

dslrgear is another site that has volumes of labratory test results about lenses. Sometimes I feel the reason we have all those tests is simply because the tools to perform the measurements exist. The result, of course, is the immortalization (such a word?) of the trivial.

Danny Chatham said...

Kirk,
Remember the wonderful 105 2.5 Nikkor? no where near as"sharp" as the 105 macro,however the world is not two dimentional.The 105 2.5 rendered the subject with a magical touch that seems to be lacking from many of todays "razor sharp" lenses.It still amazes me how many pros use a macro lense for portiture.The real world is not flat.

Steve Dodds said...

My little Pentax Primes seem pretty sharp and even across the frame when stopped down a bit, but these days I often find myself adding a bit (okay, too much) of a vignette in Photoshop. Got to stop doing that, I suppose. And the raggy borders. Remember the Dreamagon? still available, by the way. Now there’s a beautifully blurry lens for you! It all boils down to whether you view photography as a technical exercise, as an artform or a bit of both.

Eric said...

I think most of the people that get really hung up on those resolution charts are landscape guys. Some of them print really large and lenses do have to be sharp in the corners for them or they are just wasting their 20+ megapixel cameras.

As for me, I like looking at reviews so I can find the cheapest lens available with acceptable quality; or to know if I'm just wasting money by buying the more expensive option. The $1500 Canon 50mm f/1.2 and the $400 Canon 50mm f/1.4 is the most obvious example. There is no way the former is 4x better.

That said, I put more weight into images I see taken with the lens then I do test charts. I can browse Flickr for 30 mins and decide if a lens is good enough for my needs.

Pat said...

I know the feeling. I'll go you one better- I still use the F5. The colors are incredible. Batteries are really easy to find :)

Gary Campbell said...

Kirk, as an engineer I love reading your blog, reminds me to shoot not read technical specifics of lenses, great work !

Dave Elfering Photography said...

I read a football pro say something to the effect that an average QB when asked about a situation would describe in great detail how many steps he would take back in the pocket, where he would looke, etc. A great QB on the other hand would know what the objective of the play was and think less and simply make the play. Us wannabe photographers tend to micro analyze and get OCD about details instead of focusing (no pun intended) on the goal -- photographs!

Anonymous said...

I continuously read people write on your blog that they, "love your writing, your photography, and your writing about photography." And I agree with this sentiment 150% I have saved about a dozen of your quotes, and I reference them often.

However, all that being (said) written, whenever you post images of this model or Fadya, you might as well be writing about the history of the Mongolian empire, because I just get distracted by their beauty.