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05-25-2011, 08:56 PM   #121
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QuoteOriginally posted by v5planet Quote
Oh pixie dust is quite real, but that doesn't mean it can be channeled reliably.
Thank you!
I used to suck it through a straw as a kid. Which explains... a lot.

05-25-2011, 09:02 PM   #122
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QuoteOriginally posted by Todd Adamson Quote
Can a given photographer, of reasonable talent, produce more interesting images with one lens than another? If not, then I'll go all Ken Rockwell on your ass and trade all of my gear for the Nikon 18-200 VR. But if so, then your statement cannot be critically true.
Sorry, I'm not buying that syllogism. I think it's absolutely true that a talented photographer will make more interesting - "better" - images with any lens than a less talented photographer can with the same lens. But if you give him the lens *he* wants to use - the one that matches his vision the best - he'll make the best images he can make. But art is an incredibly personal thing, and the artist chooses the tools *he* likes. Artists have painted with palette knives and made some striking work. Others have used very carefully graded brushes in fourteen different sizes and a particular flavor of linseed oil.

Back in high school, before carpal tunnel sidelined my pencil drawing, I used to draw with a technical pencil, a .3 with HB lead. My artist friends were horrified; they used "real" HB pencils. Yet, in the end, I got a better grade and won an art contest. Was the technical pencil better? Not at all. I could have *done* it with the regular pencils - I did, before I discovered the one I ended up using - but because I liked it more, I practiced more...

QuoteQuote:
Just like a lens, a photographer, or a camera system, or the combination thereof, can have a gestalt, and when we talk about making great images, we can't leave any of that out of the equation. But you seem to be trying to ascribe a definite place of residence to something that many can't even agree exists. It's pretty ethereal. It just isn't that black and white. If we admit that "Pixie Dust" exists in some sense, but is merely a semantic qualification to something that eludes explicit defininition, then sure we can say photographers can have it, too. So can subjects. And days, and moods, and weather, and an infinite array of hypothetical and complex "gestalts." It's not either/or. It's everywhere, and nowhere. It's like the force. It may be here, it may be there. It's absolutely in the FA77, man. I'm not stoned, I swear.
I claim that art originates in the artist, not the tools. I have no problem with your idea of a gestalt, but I believe the system has a motivating force that's ultimately responsible for every decision in the production of the work... the artist. I don't see anything rational or logical that would lead me to believe that lenses are directing artists. There's a motive force that chooses the tools, and like any other art, may choose a pencil or a palette of oils.

This discussion started out about lenses with "magical" characteristics. I've accepted jsherman's definition of 'pixie dust' as reasonable and objective in principle, and noted his acknowledgement that what constitutes "good bokeh" is subjective. Which was a good portion of my original point, that was not to suggest that individual lenses do not have discrete characteristics, but that those characteristics are more or less desirable to different individuals, and contain *no magic* but the enthusiasm they inspire in the mind of the artist, and that those discrete differences are far less apparent than many would like to believe.
05-25-2011, 09:05 PM   #123
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
If Pentax were a religion, that article would be scripture.
Oh, it is, my friend. It is. We're arguing about pixie dust, for pete's sake...
05-25-2011, 09:05 PM   #124
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QuoteOriginally posted by jstevewhite Quote
Sorry, I'm not buying that syllogism.
I'd say it's pretty clear we're not going to find a precise set of words on whose "gestalt" we agree. I'd also say it's not necessarily clear that we disagree at all. Cheers!

05-25-2011, 09:06 PM   #125
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QuoteOriginally posted by Todd Adamson Quote
Images were either shot with the FA77 at f/2 with the Pentax K-5, or with the Nikkor 70-200/2.8 at f/2.8 and ~116 mm with the Nikon D3.

In the first set, the green/yellow bush, the first image was the Nikkor and the second was the FA77. In the other 2 sets, the FA77 image appears first.
Interesting. So I like the contrast of the Nikon setup better, and the bokeh of the 77. Good to know.

Thanks again for taking the time.
05-25-2011, 09:09 PM   #126
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QuoteOriginally posted by Todd Adamson Quote
I'd say it's pretty clear we're not going to find a precise set of words on whose "gestalt" we agree. I'd also say it's not necessarily clear that we disagree at all. Cheers!
Well, yeah, that's true too.
05-25-2011, 09:12 PM   #127
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QuoteOriginally posted by jsherman999 Quote

I've probably taken hundreds of fern shots, with almost every 50mm, telephoto, and macro lens I've owned, from every distance, with varying lighting, PP, etc - but one simple snap of some of those same pedestrian ferns taken with the 77 was better than any other fern shot I've ever taken - and I wasn't even trying, I just pointed and shot, expecting nothing.
So a couple of days ago I ordered a DA70. Once I get it and play with it for a week, I might just rent a 77 for a week, throw it on the K20D, put the 70 on the K-5, and shoot a bit, doubling up each image. Then switch, and do it again. If I see anything interesting, I'll report back here.
05-25-2011, 09:20 PM   #128
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QuoteOriginally posted by jstevewhite Quote
Interesting. So I like the contrast of the Nikon setup better, and the bokeh of the 77. Good to know.

Thanks again for taking the time.
No problem....I wish I had time to do it more carefully. The Nikon 70-200 is truly an amazing lens with regard to sharpness, bokeh, and focus speed, all with such a great zoom range. I doubt there's anything else that can match it for all-around performance in a broad range of situations. But it's huge and heavy, and personally, I just think it lacks that special character which I see in a few other lenses (none of which are Nikon....I've been truly impressed with the character of a very small number of lenses from Pentax, Zeiss, and Voigtlander). Maybe I can get Dan to scrape up some stray Pixie Dust from his earlier efforts, and apply it to my Nikkor. Eh....probably there would be a rejection event, like in an organ transplant, LOL. I never use that lens when I can get by with the Zeiss, or with my Pentax system. But I have to keep it around for fast-moving kids or the other occasional job which requires auto-focus. I prefer manual focus whenever possible, and much prefer the character of the aforementioned lenses.

It's honestly too bad I ever have to resort to auto-focus, because the used market for that lens is through the freakin' roof lately. If I sold it, I could almost buy the other two FAs. Not that I really care about the FA31. My ZK-35 will out-do it under most scenarios. Hehhe.....to start another controversy.

05-25-2011, 09:50 PM   #129
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QuoteOriginally posted by Todd Adamson Quote
No problem....I wish I had time to do it more carefully. The Nikon 70-200 is truly an amazing lens with regard to sharpness, bokeh, and focus speed, all with such a great zoom range. I doubt there's anything else that can match it for all-around performance in a broad range of situations. But it's huge and heavy, and personally, I just think it lacks that special character which I see in a few other lenses (none of which are Nikon....I've been truly impressed with the character of a very small number of lenses from Pentax, Zeiss, and Voigtlander). Maybe I can get Dan to scrape up some stray Pixie Dust from his earlier efforts, and apply it to my Nikkor. Eh....probably there would be a rejection event, like in an organ transplant, LOL. I never use that lens when I can get by with the Zeiss, or with my Pentax system. But I have to keep it around for fast-moving kids or the other occasional job which requires auto-focus. I prefer manual focus whenever possible, and much prefer the character of the aforementioned lenses.

It's honestly too bad I ever have to resort to auto-focus, because the used market for that lens is through the freakin' roof lately. If I sold it, I could almost buy the other two FAs. Not that I really care about the FA31. My ZK-35 will out-do it under most scenarios. Hehhe.....to start another controversy.
No argument from me. I loves me some Zeiss. And Leitz. And Schneider. I just ordered one of them there Helios Biotar copies to see what all the fuss is about. (actually, since 85mm was my favorite in 35mm, I figured I might like 58mm in APS-c) Hey, it was $30; how can you go wrong spending $30 lookin' for cheap pixie dust? ( Even if it's the stuff they swept up off the floor of the East German Zeiss Jena factory LOL )
05-25-2011, 10:03 PM - 1 Like   #130
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Pixie dust is the term used to explain the price differential between a fa limited and a da limited.
05-25-2011, 10:06 PM   #131
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
If Pentax were a religion, that article would be scripture.
Yes, but we'd have a cader of nonbelievers even in our own ranks. I think I shall dub them "The Undusted".

Let me address something else though as well, which is the false dichotomy that has cropped up in this (and similar) thread(s) of "pixie dust = the lens and not the photographer" VS "pixie dust = the photographer and not the lens". Why isn't it both? Why wouldn't a dusted lens need a good photographer to illuminate it? And why wouldn't a good photographer find his job easier with a magical lens?

Jay I think is a good illustrative example of how this disjointed narrative is flawed. For his part he exercises a lot of humility and is eager to attribute the quality of the images he has posted in this thread and elsewhere to the 77. This is ridiculous because anyone who's seen his work also knows that he could instill LBA in this entire community for the sawed off end of a Nalgene if he attached it to his camera with lint-covered masking tape and went about snapping off photos and sharing them with us. How can we reconcile these things? Simple: the dust only comes out if the photographer is skilled enough to communicate with pixies inside the lens; but you know, they will make his photographs look better.
05-25-2011, 10:13 PM   #132
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Thx for the compliments on the shots guys, but what I'm mainly saying is that getting shots like those is just much easier with a 'dusted' lens. (I think Shooz said that same thing up there a ways.) The magic-image ratio is very high with the 77, for example.

I think Steve is completely correct when he says that a photographer's connection to a lens is what really matters, but when many photographers seem to have their own connection with the same lens, and understand when they hear this connection described, it points to a real quality of the lens - or, a collection of subtle objective qualities that manifest themselves as a single, subjective-feeling quality, that can be summarized by a conceptual contraction like.... Pixie Dust.

(I think the term mainly gets used because it saves folks a lot of typing. )

There's other types of dust, by the way. I think the Cosina 55 f/1.2 is capable of... Angel Dust! (It's very trippy.)


















.
05-25-2011, 10:14 PM   #133
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QuoteOriginally posted by v5planet Quote
Yes, but we'd have a cader of nonbelievers even in our own ranks. I think I shall dub them "The Undusted".
You don't have to be on the dust to be a True Believer in Pentax.

QuoteQuote:
Let me address something else though as well, which is the false dichotomy that has cropped up in this (and similar) thread(s) of "pixie dust = the lens and not the photographer" VS "pixie dust = the photographer and not the lens". Why isn't it both? Why wouldn't a dusted lens need a good photographer to illuminate it? And why wouldn't a good photographer find his job easier with a magical lens?
But why wouldn't a magical lens make *every* picture better? If we postulate "magic", who makes the rules of magic? You've not demonstrated that it's a false dichotomy, either, merely claimed it so. I don't believe it's a false dichotomy, because art is subjective; to produce art requires subjectivity, intent, a sense of existence, so to speak, and I don't think lenses have become sentient...

And if... as you say:

QuoteQuote:
Jay I think is a good illustrative example of how this disjointed narrative is flawed. For his part he exercises a lot of humility and is eager to attribute the quality of the images he has posted in this thread and elsewhere to the 77. This is ridiculous because anyone who's seen his work also knows that he could instill LBA in this entire community for the sawed off end of a Nalgene if he attached it to his camera with lint-covered masking tape and went about snapping off photos and sharing them with us.
(which I agree with, in principle about jsherman) This sounds like a resounding - nearly conclusive! - argument for *my* viewpoint...

QuoteQuote:
How can we reconcile these things? Simple: the dust only comes out if the photographer is skilled enough to communicate with pixies inside the lens; but you know, they will make his photographs look better.
Why do we even need to reconcile them? You've made a very good argument for my view (that jsherman has magic eyes, not magic lenses) and then added a *rationalization* for the previous view. The No True Scotsman... "Don't get pixie dust? Well, you're not a True Photographer; you see, only a True Photographer can bring out the pixie dust!"...
05-25-2011, 10:48 PM   #134
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QuoteOriginally posted by jstevewhite Quote
Why do we even need to reconcile them? You've made a very good argument for my view (that jsherman has magic eyes, not magic lenses) and then added a *rationalization* for the previous view. The No True Scotsman... "Don't get pixie dust? Well, you're not a True Photographer; you see, only a True Photographer can bring out the pixie dust!"...
We need to reconcile them because we are often so eager to attribute the quality of an image to the photographer that we are willing to ignore the photographer's own clearly stated admission that a given piece of equipment is helping him create images of superlative quality with uncanny frequency. No matter how much humility that latter statement is couched in I don't think we can wholesale discount it as a (perhaps major) contributing factor.

I'm not one who argues for pixie dust as panacea for bad photographers. i.e. I don't believe "pixie dust" (as I conceive it) guarantees a lens will produce a quality image each and every time, and I don't think it comes out unless the wielder of the lens knows what he's doing with photographic equipment in general. Yeah you can get lucky with stray snaps now and again, but you're right, a photograph has to be "seen" by the photographer -- the person holding the camera has to have an eye for what he's doing. I have not argued otherwise, and I'm sorry if my poor phrasing at the end of my last post suggested pixie dust is a quality attainable and perceptible only by an elite group of the initiated. This was not my intention.

I meant simply this:
a) a lens is just an object, it is not truly "magical"; but that b) it has real qualities, a combination of difficult to describe optical characteristics that can come together to produce stunning images with greater frequency or at higher levels than similar equipment that is not considered "dusted"; and then, finally, that c) simply owning the equipment is not enough -- you actually have to be a skilled photographer to take advantage of a lens' strengths, just like with any other piece of equipment. There was nothing about being a "True Photographer", whatever that would even mean.

That a good photographer can make good or great images with anything he attaches to his camera doesn't mean he can't make better images with a better piece of equipment, and with greater consistency than he would otherwise, or with more stunning character and visual interest that is attributable to a combination of poorly-explained optical characteristics inherent to the lens itself. I think as a photographer you channel the pixie dust to make your photos better, and to do things you simply can't with other lenses; the pixie dust doesn't wield you of its own accord to make great photos and will not through some strange alchemy transform the poorly-executed snaps of a bad photographer into gold.
05-25-2011, 10:51 PM   #135
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If I hadda pick lenses from my bag that had "pixie dust", it would be the 50-135:







The FA 35mm f2 AL:







And the Tamron 180mm F2.5 (second one has 1.4x TC):







So what's the verdict? Dusty, or no?
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