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05-31-2011, 09:14 PM   #376
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I agree with what everyone is saying about what makes a good picture but I think that the different components are on sliding scales and the higher percentages you have contributing to each attribute allow you more leeway in others. I suppose similarly to how iso, aperture and shutter speed relate to one another. Obviously no one contributing factor can reach zero but sometimes a really good photographer can make up for an average subject or mediocre equipment.

On a side note I don't really measure a lens' intangible with amounts of pixie dust but rather with something that I call "legacy". Which to me means if my kids get really interested into photography as an art form are these lenses something I would want them to have an work with.

05-31-2011, 09:16 PM   #377
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This thread was starting to get really silly in a bad way, but now it has taken a fortunate turn into silly in a good way. Carry on, men (and ladies!)
05-31-2011, 09:28 PM   #378
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QuoteOriginally posted by Todd Adamson Quote
I'll not bother to get specific with my own breakdown, but I've slowly come round to the opinion that in the recipe for a good photo, the photographer is maybe third down on the list of ingredients, behind light and lens. I'm certain no one would agree with this bit of sacrilege.

And it's complicated by the fact of the photographer's direct influence on both light and lens. But I have many photos the impact of which would have been reduced by 95% or so had the light been different. Certainly, even if we reduce the photographer's contribution down to something as low as 10%, it's a critical 10%. For example, let's say chocolate chips make up 10% of a great cookie. We cannot simply replace them with rabbit turds and expect to get a result that doesn't leave one with the aftertaste of rabbit turds.
Absolutely laughed out loud, but this is very insightful and very true, thx Todd.


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05-31-2011, 09:43 PM - 1 Like   #379
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Yes Todd, the percentages aren't indicative of their absolute value in a photograph - only their *relative* value, however way we can ascertain that.

Without a photographer, there is no photo.
Without a camera, there is no photo.
Without a lens, there is no photo.
Without light, there is a black image.
Without pixie dust, there is no magic (if you believe in magic )


Last edited by Ash; 06-02-2011 at 04:28 AM.
05-31-2011, 09:55 PM   #380
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Yes Todd, the percentages aren't indicative of their absolute value in a photograph - only their *relative* value, however way we can ascertaint that.

Without a photographer, there is no photo.
Without a camera, there is no photo.
Without a lens, there is no photo.
Without light, there is a black image.
Without pixie dust, there is no magic (if you believe in magic )
I think the relative values change. I mean, if I'm pointing a camera at, say, Carlotta Champagne in her altogether, it's gonna be pretty tough to make a dud. OTOH, only jsherman can make the handlebars of a kid's trike drip with pixie dust!

But, more seriously - *Intent* is a requirement of photography; only the photographer can have intent. Well, models can, too. And cats. But not cameras, nor light.

So it's like, before you can make a painting, you have to invent the universe.
05-31-2011, 09:57 PM   #381
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QuoteOriginally posted by Todd Adamson Quote
This is about the best summation I've seen thus far for the anti-PD movement.
"Pixie Dust Deniers!" (ROFL) WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!!!!

05-31-2011, 10:27 PM   #382
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QuoteOriginally posted by jstevewhite Quote
But, more seriously - *Intent* is a requirement of photography; only the photographer can have intent. Well, models can, too. And cats. But not cameras, nor light.

So it's like, before you can make a painting, you have to invent the universe.
You are quite right. Without intent there is only a random act of photography. The creative part of us recognizes true beauty (and pixie dust!) and responds accordingly.

The universe we create is our own, which we can then share with others.
05-31-2011, 10:51 PM   #383
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
1, 2 and 4 definitely. i see dust people.
Thanks Robin, +1

QuoteOriginally posted by asdf Quote
Maybe, not. However, I did give some thought to the "moving the goalposts" fallacy and "folie a plusieurs."

...while we're on the subject of bokeh, I noticed that TOUGEFC posted an image that has a mirror lens like quality and noticeable vignetting, as well:



If "pixie dust" is synonymous with less than stellar optical qualities, then at least we've got it pinned down somehow.
QuoteOriginally posted by v5planet Quote
I'm not sure whether your first comment was directed at pixie dust or at aikido, but I would take less offense at the former, since it is an aesthetic notion rather than a practical one. Curious to know what your background in aikido is since you are so dismissive of both its efficacy and value to its practitioners.

As for Simon's image -- I agree, the bokeh in it is a bit distracting, and the 43 is clearly best used without a busy background. Regarding the vignetting, I'd be curious to know if it was added in PP or if it was present from GO. Sometimes people enjoy adding those to strengthen their images

FWIW in that shot, I added the VIGNETTE in PP

06-01-2011, 05:57 AM   #384
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
I thought SP stood for Super Pixie.
Does that mean that SMC stands for Super Magic Coating?
06-01-2011, 06:37 AM - 5 Likes   #385
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my summary

I will mix this rather long post up with some images, since perhaps I have neglected to posted any in this thread.

As I have stated, I do not think there is "pixie dust" in the FA Limited lenses, for the reason that this would imply something unexplained, whereas Jun Hirakawa has in fact explained this thing. If this contentious phrase is used, it is only as short-hand because we are unable to verbalise the MTF etc. (Not to mention that these measurements have not been made available to us by Pentax.) Also it could be that no existing measurement would reveal the distinctive rendering. I'm not sure: one can read a lot from an MTF graph including quality of bokeh.


pug


But I certainly do believe, since I can see it plain as day, that there is a special rendering with these lenses. And it is not a simple matter of bokeh, since many lens render nice bokeh. It is also not entirely a "3D pop" since that is dependent on other factors (light, subject-background distance). It is however closely related to this effect, in that it affects the dimensionality of objects in or near the focal plane.

Of course not all photos show this in equal measure. Not every shot can be ascribed to a given lens. Making this a requirement of a statement of difference is as silly as describing a writer as passive-aggressive and then expecting every single sentence they scribe to be equally passive-aggressive. Distinctive features might well reveal themselves in time and in aggregate but not necessarily in each and every test case. (This is dead obvious, but is seems I must make many obvious points to counter some of the unsubstantiated statements made in this thread.)

I believe the lenses possess this factor in order of decreasing effect: FA43, FA77, FA31. In fact, I find it most difficult to see the "magic" in the last listed lens; I would bet no money on picking shots with the FA31 out of the crowd. If I did, I imagine I would be using other cues, such as the lovely bokeh and geometric distortion based on the focal length.

There is also a slightly different colour rendering from these lenses. Exactly why this should be is also a mystery but I recall Hirakawa writing about their distinctive coating, which could be a factor.

This is of course not to say that only these lenses are good, only these lenses are worth using, only these lenses have useful distinctive properties or any of a number of other stronger assertions those disagreeing with me have erected as straw men. Certainly I use a whole host of other lenses, as any cursory examination of my Flickr photo stream (or posts I have made on this forum) would show.

It is also a fallacy on the part of the detractors to claim that because the rendering qualities cannot completely be quantified and explained, they do not exist. Many subtle things we cannot explain certainly exist. These are quite often the joys that make existence something special. I humbly submit that sucking the poetry out of life is hardly a worthy aim, so perhaps you might consider a different activity?


Truman


Those who have implied the ability to recognise the shots comes from reading EXIF data or some other practice are simply accusing those of us who successfully make these determinations of dishonesty. If that is the only argument you can make, I am quite justified in dismissing you entirely.

Is it elitism to claim that these lenses have special rendering, given that not everyone can see it? Sorry, but that is a terrible argument. By this logic we would have to call those who know calculus elitist since there are those who do not know calculus. Or we would consider those who can distinguish the visible colour spectrum in a normative manner elitist since colour blindness exists. Farcical notions!

These accusations come from a basic insecurity on the part of the accusers. Perhaps I can reassure such people that no-one here is trying to con you. Be not afraid! Anyone who wanted to gain photographic advantage over you would simply keep their lens secrets to themselves. Those of us who share, do so out of the same sense of camaraderie that founds community forums like this one in the first place.


in the domain of the mirror


Recognising and appreciating the differences in lens rendering is simply a matter of trained and attuned perception. If you do not have it, fair enough. You can gain it if you want, or you can spend your time heckling from the sideboards. I suppose you won't know what you are missing, just as I do not appreciate the wonders of, say, Italian opera.

Though actually I can, in a pinch, appreciate opera and even [shudder] Country and Western. In fact it is rather difficult for me to find something I absolutely cannot appreciate or don't agree someone else should have the rights to appreciate. I believe this is called an "open mind". A shame it is so out of fashion.

And on the other hand I will stand and be counted for my preferences. Because difference makes us all stronger. And it's good fun.


QuoteOriginally posted by Ash Quote
Without a photographer, there is no photo.
Without a camera, there is no photo.
Without a lens, there is no photo.
Without light, there is a black image.
Without pixie dust, there is no magic (if you believe in magic )
This I can agree with. Any other formulas are reductionist thinking.

Those who argue against the importance of lens choice are actually making a veiled statement about their ability as a photographer, the very factor they claim as being most important! Because what sort of an artist chooses to use an inferior tool?


Hey, it's Steve


In short there are the following categories of people in this thread:
1. Those who think lenses don't matter, or don't matter enough to care about.
2. Those who know lenses matter but don't believe the FA Limiteds are special.
3. Those who know lenses matter and believe the FA Limiteds to be special.

We can further divide class 2 into:
2a. Those who are content with this and have perhaps found their own special lenses.
2b. Those who find it necessary to deride those in class 3.

Those in class 1 have a lot of photographic learning to do -- this is good fun! Those in 2b have a lot of life learning to do -- this is often painful.

Postscript:
These photos were chosen for their diversity and because I like them. Some will illustrate the special rendering of the FA43 and others might not. But in no case do I take a shot with this lens and say "I could have done better with lens X". That's because the FA43 Limited is the best lens ever made for Pentax. And only in cases where the focal length is completely wrong would I reach for another.

Thank goodness I appreciated the photographic work and advice of those who came before me. I followed their example and took their advice, buying the FA43 as my first lens after the kit zoom. That gave me a gold standard against which to measure other lenses. (I didn't appreciate the full extent of this until I had used the lens for at least a year.) If I can provide the same service for others I feel happy in giving back to the community that so helped me.

Last edited by rparmar; 06-01-2011 at 06:42 AM.
06-01-2011, 07:05 AM   #386
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Fine insight Robin.

QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
there is a special rendering with these lenses. And it is not a simple matter of bokeh, since many lens render nice bokeh. It is also not entirely a "3D pop" since that is dependent on other factors (light, subject-background distance). It is however closely related to this effect, in that it affects the dimensionality of objects in or near the focal plane
Nicely put. It is this interplay that makes the unique FA ltd rendering difficult to define and quantify. It may be a case of seeing is believing. Those who have FA ltds and don't appreciate anything special about their output may be at a loss of the types of scenes and conditions that may enhance this particular rendering. Difficult to tell. But I can say that I was once a sceptic, and now I see it come true in my own results.
06-01-2011, 07:34 AM   #387
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excellent

QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
I will mix this rather long post up with some images, since perhaps I have neglected to posted any in this thread.

As I have stated, I do not think there is "pixie dust" in the FA Limited lenses, for the reason that this would imply something unexplained, whereas Jun Hirakawa has in fact explained this thing. If this contentious phrase is used, it is only as short-hand because we are unable to verbalise the MTF etc. (Not to mention that these measurements have not been made available to us by Pentax.) Also it could be that no existing measurement would reveal the distinctive rendering. I'm not sure: one can read a lot from an MTF graph including quality of bokeh.


pug


But I certainly do believe, since I can see it plain as day, that there is a special rendering with these lenses. And it is not a simple matter of bokeh, since many lens render nice bokeh. It is also not entirely a "3D pop" since that is dependent on other factors (light, subject-background distance). It is however closely related to this effect, in that it affects the dimensionality of objects in or near the focal plane.

Of course not all photos show this in equal measure. Not every shot can be ascribed to a given lens. Making this a requirement of a statement of difference is as silly as describing a writer as passive-aggressive and then expecting every single sentence they scribe to be equally passive-aggressive. Distinctive features might well reveal themselves in time and in aggregate but not necessarily in each and every test case. (This is dead obvious, but is seems I must make many obvious points to counter some of the unsubstantiated statements made in this thread.)

I believe the lenses possess this factor in order of decreasing effect: FA43, FA77, FA31. In fact, I find it most difficult to see the "magic" in the last listed lens; I would bet no money on picking shots with the FA31 out of the crowd. If I did, I imagine I would be using other cues, such as the lovely bokeh and geometric distortion based on the focal length.

There is also a slightly different colour rendering from these lenses. Exactly why this should be is also a mystery but I recall Hirakawa writing about their distinctive coating, which could be a factor.

This is of course not to say that only these lenses are good, only these lenses are worth using, only these lenses have useful distinctive properties or any of a number of other stronger assertions those disagreeing with me have erected as straw men. Certainly I use a whole host of other lenses, as any cursory examination of my Flickr photo stream (or posts I have made on this forum) would show.

It is also a fallacy on the part of the detractors to claim that because the rendering qualities cannot completely be quantified and explained, they do not exist. Many subtle things we cannot explain certainly exist. These are quite often the joys that make existence something special. I humbly submit that sucking the poetry out of life is hardly a worthy aim, so perhaps you might consider a different activity?


Truman


Those who have implied the ability to recognise the shots comes from reading EXIF data or some other practice are simply accusing those of us who successfully make these determinations of dishonesty. If that is the only argument you can make, I am quite justified in dismissing you entirely.

Is it elitism to claim that these lenses have special rendering, given that not everyone can see it? Sorry, but that is a terrible argument. By this logic we would have to call those who know calculus elitist since there are those who do not know calculus. Or we would consider those who can distinguish the visible colour spectrum in a normative manner elitist since colour blindness exists. Farcical notions!

These accusations come from a basic insecurity on the part of the accusers. Perhaps I can reassure such people that no-one here is trying to con you. Be not afraid! Anyone who wanted to gain photographic advantage over you would simply keep their lens secrets to themselves. Those of us who share, do so out of the same sense of camaraderie that founds community forums like this one in the first place.


in the domain of the mirror


Recognising and appreciating the differences in lens rendering is simply a matter of trained and attuned perception. If you do not have it, fair enough. You can gain it if you want, or you can spend your time heckling from the sideboards. I suppose you won't know what you are missing, just as I do not appreciate the wonders of, say, Italian opera.

Though actually I can, in a pinch, appreciate opera and even [shudder] Country and Western. In fact it is rather difficult for me to find something I absolutely cannot appreciate or don't agree someone else should have the rights to appreciate. I believe this is called an "open mind". A shame it is so out of fashion.

And on the other hand I will stand and be counted for my preferences. Because difference makes us all stronger. And it's good fun.




This I can agree with. Any other formulas are reductionist thinking.

Those who argue against the importance of lens choice are actually making a veiled statement about their ability as a photographer, the very factor they claim as being most important! Because what sort of an artist chooses to use an inferior tool?


Hey, it's Steve


In short there are the following categories of people in this thread:
1. Those who think lenses don't matter, or don't matter enough to care about.
2. Those who know lenses matter but don't believe the FA Limiteds are special.
3. Those who know lenses matter and believe the FA Limiteds to be special.

We can further divide class 2 into:
2a. Those who are content with this and have perhaps found their own special lenses.
2b. Those who find it necessary to deride those in class 3.

Those in class 1 have a lot of photographic learning to do -- this is good fun! Those in 2b have a lot of life learning to do -- this is often painful.

Postscript:
These photos were chosen for their diversity and because I like them. Some will illustrate the special rendering of the FA43 and others might not. But in no case do I take a shot with this lens and say "I could have done better with lens X". That's because the FA43 Limited is the best lens ever made for Pentax. And only in cases where the focal length is completely wrong would I reach for another.

Thank goodness I appreciated the photographic work and advice of those who came before me. I followed their example and took their advice, buying the FA43 as my first lens after the kit zoom. That gave me a gold standard against which to measure other lenses. (I didn't appreciate the full extent of this until I had used the lens for at least a year.) If I can provide the same service for others I feel happy in giving back to the community that so helped me.
.




In the 4+ years I've been a member of this forum, this has to rank up there as one of the best single posts I've read - and the images you've included put it over the top. Thanks Robin, bookmarked, and I will be referring back to it from time to time.

You summarized some of my own thoughts on the issue very well, but articulated them more directly (bravely) than I perhaps did. Well done.

(I may respond in more detail on parts of it as I have more time later.)



.
06-01-2011, 07:35 AM   #388
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QuoteOriginally posted by rparmar Quote
Of course not all photos show this in equal measure. Not every shot can be ascribed to a given lens. Making this a requirement of a statement of difference is as silly as describing a writer as passive-aggressive and then expecting every single sentence they scribe to be equally passive-aggressive. Distinctive features might well reveal themselves in time and in aggregate but not necessarily in each and every test case. (This is dead obvious, but is seems I must make many obvious points to counter some of the unsubstantiated statements made in this thread.)
Since I was primarily the person using the identification test as a measure of "pixie dust", I can only think you're talking to me, and did not read what I wrote... Just to refresh, I said I wanted an identification rate higher than chance by a statistically significant margin. Not 100%. But no false positives are allowed - if it's a characteristic of the lens, it may not always be seen in a lens that has it, but it should never be seen in a lens that doesn't.

QuoteQuote:
It is also a fallacy on the part of the detractors to claim that because the rendering qualities cannot completely be quantified and explained, they do not exist. Many subtle things we cannot explain certainly exist. These are quite often the joys that make existence something special. I humbly submit that sucking the poetry out of life is hardly a worthy aim, so perhaps you might consider a different activity?
There's a significant difference between a characteristic that we all agree exists, but is difficult to quantify (think the color of two shades of red very close to one another; we might have trouble describing the difference, yet it would be plain to everyone involved) and a quality that few people who claim it exists even agree on what it is, or even agree on the images that demonstrate it. To attribute fallacious reasoning to a healthy, skeptical view of such things is... fallacious.

QuoteQuote:
Those who have implied the ability to recognise the shots comes from reading EXIF data or some other practice are simply accusing those of us who successfully make these determinations of dishonesty. If that is the only argument you can make, I am quite justified in dismissing you entirely.
I read it as a joke, but hey. I can see why you'd be miffed about it.

QuoteQuote:
Is it elitism to claim that these lenses have special rendering, given that not everyone can see it? Sorry, but that is a terrible argument. By this logic we would have to call those who know calculus elitist since there are those who do not know calculus. Or we would consider those who can distinguish the visible colour spectrum in a normative manner elitist since colour blindness exists. Farcical notions!
It *is* elitism. When someone who can do calculus discounts a plumber's ability to fix the water delivery system because the plumber can't do laminar flow calculations, it's elitism. When the person who can see color dismisses the colorblind person's ability to play checkers because he's colorblind, it's elitism. When someone says ... (continued later)


QuoteQuote:
These accusations come from a basic insecurity on the part of the accusers. Perhaps I can reassure such people that no-one here is trying to con you. Be not afraid! Anyone who wanted to gain photographic advantage over you would simply keep their lens secrets to themselves. Those of us who share, do so out of the same sense of camaraderie that founds community forums like this one in the first place.
... "You are just insecure because other folks are better than you" it's elitism. Plain and simple. And when they go on to make unsubstantiated claims like:

QuoteQuote:
Recognising and appreciating the differences in lens rendering is simply a matter of trained and attuned perception. If you do not have it, fair enough. You can gain it if you want, or you can spend your time heckling from the sideboards. I suppose you won't know what you are missing, just as I do not appreciate the wonders of, say, Italian opera.

Though actually I can, in a pinch, appreciate opera and even [shudder] Country and Western. In fact it is rather difficult for me to find something I absolutely cannot appreciate or don't agree someone else should have the rights to appreciate. I believe this is called an "open mind". A shame it is so out of fashion.
And discussions of opinions go both ways, right?

QuoteQuote:
Those who argue against the importance of lens choice are actually making a veiled statement about their ability as a photographer, the very factor they claim as being most important! Because what sort of an artist chooses to use an inferior tool?
Even though I've never made this assertion, this statement of yours positively DRIPS with elitism. If you propose that photography is an art form, as you seem to be doing (and I agree), then the choice of lens is a subjective, aesthetic one; I cite as an example, once again, the people that have made excellent works of art with pinhole cameras and Polaroids. You're confusing art with technique - and that's true even if pixie dust is really something Pentax milks out of TinkerBell and paints lovingly onto every FA LTD.

QuoteQuote:
In short there are the following categories of people in this thread:
1. Those who think lenses don't matter, or don't matter enough to care about.
2. Those who know lenses matter but don't believe the FA Limiteds are special.
3. Those who know lenses matter and believe the FA Limiteds to be special.
I think that 1) is a straw man. I've not read anyone actually making that claim but Ken Rockwell, and he's a clown.

QuoteQuote:
We can further divide class 2 into:
2a. Those who are content with this and have perhaps found their own special lenses.
2b. Those who find it necessary to deride those in class 3.

Those in class 1 have a lot of photographic learning to do -- this is good fun! Those in 2b have a lot of life learning to do -- this is often painful.
Wow. It's really hard for me to get my head around the fact that you just argued that *you* see magical stuff in images made by magical lenses, and that this fact is due to your great, profound experience as a photographer and deep life experience as a human being, and that anyone lacking the ability to see this magical stuff must needs be lacking those very things. That's elitism that deserves a capital "E"...


QuoteQuote:
Postscript:
These photos were chosen for their diversity and because I like them. Some will illustrate the special rendering of the FA43 and others might not. But in no case do I take a shot with this lens and say "I could have done better with lens X". That's because the FA43 Limited is the best lens ever made for Pentax. And only in cases where the focal length is completely wrong would I reach for another.
I like the images, no doubt. They're mostly very good, and pleasant to look at. OTOH, I once again take umbrage at the assertion that the FA43 (or any other lens) is the best lens ever made for Pentax. It's a ridiculous assertion on the face of it - I mean, it's trivially false; it doesn't even require great, deep analysis or comparison of images. Wanna macro lens? A wide angle? A long telephoto? For all of these applications, the FA43 is going to be a *terrible choice*.

QuoteQuote:
Thank goodness I appreciated the photographic work and advice of those who came before me. I followed their example and took their advice, buying the FA43 as my first lens after the kit zoom. That gave me a gold standard against which to measure other lenses. (I didn't appreciate the full extent of this until I had used the lens for at least a year.) If I can provide the same service for others I feel happy in giving back to the community that so helped me.
Oh, wow, and just when things had gotten fun.

Nobody is trying to suck the poetry out of life. I can only think it must be a sad life in which discussions of such things *can* 'suck the poetry' out of it. *I* was just discussing lenses - and in much greater detail than I would if I didn't spend most of my working life sitting in front of my computer. I appreciated everyone's explanations and patience (particularly Todd, Ash, Blue, and jsherman - and others - , who've engaged, patiently, politely, and informatively) in more than one of these sorts of discussions with me and others.

If photography is an art form, then no lens is "the best" for anything, as Marc has said; the choice of lens is an informed, artistic choice; even if pixie dust is concrete and real, there can be situations where one might not *want* that rendering, and artists that might not like it. There might be viewers that don't like it. That's the thing about art; it's an aesthetic, and one cannot simply point to popularity as proof of "the better"; look at music and the movies for concrete examples of the accuracy of this statement.

While I appreciate the time and effort you spent trying to educate us Philistines, I have to point out that condescension isn't conducive to communication.
06-01-2011, 07:44 AM   #389
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Sorry Steve, I don't buy your arguments -- no, not any of them. Since I have already written at length I am not going to spend more time responding to them.

You see elitism and condescension in everything I write. Best of luck getting over that attitude, since it will always hold you back.
06-01-2011, 07:51 AM   #390
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Go easy on the elitism wolf cries, Steve!
I have considered your rebuttal in stride. Robin's post could conceivably be interpreted as condescending, but I didn't take it that way, nor to I believe it was the intent of the post. As Jay responded, it was bold and direct, but poignant and sobering.
Robin addressed many of your rebuttals within his own post by qualifying the statements made in it, so there is no need to go further into those.
Just relax, and see it from the point of view of a happy FA ltd user.
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