I am so confused. I must be doing something wrong. All the lenses I buy, which have reputations for softness, are far too sharp and detailed for my liking. Example: Nikon 24-120mm f4 G.
It was a holiday here in my country so I decided to do something different today and go for a walk in our ever growing downtown. Astute readers will remember that I bought a Nikon 24-120mm f4G lens about a week and a half ago. I almost didn't buy it because even though the long range of focal lengths and the relatively fast, constant aperture made it look great, on paper, I read many reviews which would have left a saner man running in the opposite direction from this product.
The two biggest knocks against this lens are that it is a crazy basket of distortions and that it's just not very sharp in the corners or at the longer focal lengths. Of course I have two replies. The first one is a quick acknowledgement of the fact that the lens has geometric distortions across the frame at different focal lengths. It's most pronounced at the widest setting. Most of the lenses people shoot with these days have the same kinds of distortions to some degree but the relevant thing is that the distortions can be automatically corrected by the camera, if you are shooting Jpegs. If you are shooting raw files the correction is one mouse click away in Lightroom or PhotoShop. Problem solved. Moving on.
The sharpness thing has me baffled and it may be that I'm just not keen enough to see it or smart enough to know what I should be looking for. I used the lens this afternoon to shoot lots of pretty pictures and I came back to the studio to fix them up and play with them on my computer. No matter what focal length I used to shoot the images they all looked sharp to me. And by "sharp" I mean they resolved lots of detail and that the transition between tones has high enough edge acutance to show off the detail in a convincing (and satisfying) way. I was using the Nikon D810 at ISO 64 and I don't think that's cheating. The camera can only pull as much detail out as the lens puts in. Right?
Stop reading lens reviews and test the lenses you are interested in for yourself. You might be surprised to find that most modern lenses are pretty good and that there's more to a lens than extreme corner sharpness. I hate corner sharpness. I put clear filters on my lenses and rub vaseline into the edges so it softens my corners up nicely. That way a file with too much sharp detail won't harm my eye with over sharpness. (kidding. Just kidding).
But seriously, if you are a Nikon user, try whatever lens might suit you for yourself and ignore the internet experts. They are aiming for something different than you and I and it probably isn't the happiness of making nice photographs.
Happy Fourth. Independence can even extend to lens evaluations. Fun/Fireworks.
Too much fun playing with filters in SnapSeed......
Posted by Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer at 19:33