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07-21-2011, 09:58 AM   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildman Quote
You are being very sloppy with the language.

"Quality" = better lens or better image?

If you mean better image

Than look at it this way:

Would you rather hear a Beethoven concerto played on a well tuned $10000 home upright piano by the worlds best concert pianist

or

Played by a first year music student on $500000 Steinway concert grand?
For that matter, a well tuned old beat up piano with a good sound board that was bought second hand for a couple hundred dollars played by a talented piano player would tend to be a lot better than a super expensive piano played by a newb.

In a lot of cases the person playing has a lot more to do with the sound then the actual instrument... as long as the instrument is functioning properly.

07-21-2011, 10:06 AM   #47
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For any given photographer, a better lens will make a better picture and is almost always true. I've seen tons of technically awful pictures with gorgeous IQ from expensive cameras and lenses

As far as value goes, the more money you spend, usually the better lens you get (for the exactly same type of lens, eg DA 55-200 vs DA* 60-250. How much better? that you can decide yourself.

http://rgoldsteinphotography.com/

And Rob, very nice portfolio

Last edited by Andi Lo; 07-21-2011 at 11:21 AM.
07-21-2011, 11:38 AM   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by Andi Lo Quote
For any given photographer, a better lens will make a better picture and is almost always true. I've seen tons of technically awful pictures with gorgeous IQ from expensive cameras and lenses

As far as value goes, the more money you spend, usually the better lens you get (for the exactly same type of lens, eg DA 55-200 vs DA* 60-250. How much better? that you can decide yourself.

Robert Goldstein Photography


And Rob, very nice portfolio
Andi,

Thanks for taking the time to look and for the kind words, as well.

You raise the distinction between "technical" quality and "IQ.". We should all remind ourselves that some of the greatest photographic images in history were taken with lenses and on film that would be considered inferior by today's standards. In my mind, the ultimate goal of photography is to produce images that have impact. Good lenses help, but they are not always essential to achieving that goal. Holga, anyone? : > )

Rob
07-21-2011, 12:05 PM   #49
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A very high quality lens will help you if your goal is accurate reproduction. This is known as "contrast", "sharpness", "colour", etc.

Otherwise, lenses can be exploited in many ways if your plan is to distort reality. That means that for a particular vision, a 5 dollar garbage lens would be more appropriate than a 1000 dollar prime. Holga is one such example. Another would be the look that people achieve wit old, fast glass. (e.g., Cosina 55mm f1.2).

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/406881-post94.html

Another would be the CZJ 80mm f2.8


Not really accurate, but sometimes that is more desirable than clinical perfection.

I would also suggest that it is the imperfections in reproduction that we associate with the "magic" of particular lenses.

07-21-2011, 12:20 PM   #50
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
Another would be the CZJ 80mm f2.8


Not really accurate, but sometimes that is more desirable than clinical perfection.

I would also suggest that it is the imperfections in reproduction that we associate with the "magic" of particular lenses.
Nice image - reminds me of a warm summer night in the city.

I agree 100% and a big reason I enjoy older manual focus lenses. They are easy to collect and can produce images that do not look quite like those from modern lenses.


Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Oreston 1.8 50mm M42 - Some flare and pleasing softness in my opinion.


07-21-2011, 12:40 PM   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
I would also suggest that it is the imperfections in reproduction that we associate with the "magic" of particular lenses.
And that is what we also call 'character'. We often prize the character (flaws) of a lens. One complaint about highly-corrected modern lenses is that they are *too* perfect, too same-same. Think of the difference between stenography and prose. Or better, between police reports, and a journalistic accounts, and personal memoirs, and dramatizations. Totally accurate photography is forensics. Forensics indeed has its place. But ID photos usually aren't valued as portraiture.

A police report describes facts in constrained language. A journalistic account tells a story that contains facts. The memoir or dramatization may shade or distort or omit facts, but make the events come alive for the audience. And an accurate photo may show what's there (or at least what the camera can see) -- but does it tell the story in ways that humans care about?

So I'll keep using my old glass with all its character (flaws) because... well, because they FEEL right.
07-21-2011, 12:50 PM   #52
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QuoteOriginally posted by paperbag846 Quote
A very high quality lens will help you if your goal is accurate reproduction. This is known as "contrast", "sharpness", "colour", etc.

Otherwise, lenses can be exploited in many ways if your plan is to distort reality.
I'm not disputing that... but I do want to point out a different way of looking at this, maybe connected to some of the 'perfection' vs. 'imperfection' mentioned above.

There is a theory of mimetic art that says the actual goal of mimesis is to improve on reality in its representation, but to do so in a subtle way. Photography is a flat medium; our eyes see things sterescopically. Thus, some of the 'contrast' 'sharpness' 'colour' and what have you needs to be more than real in order to give the photograph some of that magic that makes us go ooh-aah and remark how real it looks.

When technical perfection is too much - or rather, the mix of performance characteristics is overly skewed in some direction - sometimes there's actually a lessening of the ooh-aah in some situations, and perhaps an increase in ooh-aah in others. E.g. harsh bokeh, where 'good' bokeh also is something we don't typically see with our own eyes, but gives a pleasing sense of reality to compensate for the two dimensional image.
07-21-2011, 12:55 PM   #53
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What I've found as a beginner, 2 years after buying my first real camera.

Skillful composition has the most impact. The lens doesn't have anything to do with that. This is a skill that can be learned on a point n' shoot camera. My wife still doesn't understand how exposure works entirely but her photos are almost always better than mine just because she moves around a lot and has creativity.

I've used and tried some nice lenses, it does make a difference. Even with my unskilled eye there can be a big difference. But if the photo is uninteresting who cares how nice the lens is.

At first I thought wide angle was best for landscapes. After looking at my landscape shots with the 18-55 my favorites were closer to 55 than 18. This was sort of surprising. But after a while I understood that having "more" in the photo didn't make the photo better.

I've got to talk with some real pros who have talent. They're mostly using 4+ year old beat up cameras they have taken everywhere, with 80k+ shots. They never talk about the camera but they talk about the lenses.

07-21-2011, 02:12 PM   #54
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I would rather have a really good lens that captures the scene accurately. I can make it look like I used cheap glass in post if I want to. If I use cheap glass to capture the image to start with I am pretty much stuck with what I have. It is a lot like shooting RAW or JPEG. I would rather use RAW and have the flexibility to process they way I want than to shoot JPEG and have limited options.
07-21-2011, 02:45 PM   #55
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
I would rather have a really good lens that captures the scene accurately.
In other words, you prefer stenography to prose.
07-21-2011, 03:26 PM   #56
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
In other words, you prefer stenography to prose.
No, I prefer starting with the best image possible and working from there. I can always duplicate duplicate the look of cheap glass.

There is no "prose" in harsh boken, purple fringing, or flat images. I can always use a filter or smear oil on my lens.
07-21-2011, 03:51 PM   #57
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
No, I prefer starting with the best image possible and working from there. I can always duplicate duplicate the look of cheap glass.

There is no "prose" in harsh boken, purple fringing, or flat images. I can always use a filter or smear oil on my lens.

I think starting with the best image is a fair point and I have certainly changed the look of an image via post processing.

I would not consider good manual focus lenses as cheap - rather I view them as inexpensive and good deals. It allows for a host of focal lengths without breaking the bank.

Adding one more image to the mix. This one taken with an old Takumar 135 3.5 preset lens.

07-21-2011, 04:15 PM   #58
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QuoteOriginally posted by Winder Quote
No, I prefer starting with the best image possible and working from there. I can always duplicate duplicate the look of cheap glass.

There is no "prose" in harsh boken, purple fringing, or flat images. I can always use a filter or smear oil on my lens.
At what point and which image would you decide to duplicate the "look of cheap glass" via PP?

Recently, a D7000 user wanted to borrow my dainty Canonnet for a project. Sure no problem and I asked, can't you do that on your camera (via PP), he just said no, it's not the same...
07-21-2011, 04:43 PM   #59
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QuoteOriginally posted by theunartist Quote
no, it's not the same...
I would agree with this. I don't have the Cosina 55mm f1.2, but I can find some examples of why it might be worth tracking down (if this is the effect you are after...)





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You can add a nice touch to some images that a "straight" lens would completely miss. I'm not sure that the second portrait, for example, would be helped by an ultra-modern, super sharp lens like the DA 40 / FA 43 / DA* 50-135 etc.

I'm not suggesting any particular lens... but rather that there are a lot of gems out there, from the olden days, that would completely FAIL any traditional lens test. But they might be good for the photos you are looking to take.

I learned this by tirelessly comparing my FA 50, K 55 1.8, and my (now sold, too expensive for me) FA 77. The differences were clear, but my PREFERENCES were very muddled. Collectively I was out about 1000 bucks, but I really had trouble pulling images from the 77 that were clearly better than the ones from the FA 50 (to my tastes), or, for that matter, the K 55. After I sold the FA 77, I continued to compare.

The FA 50 seems to render colour more accurately, and *is* sharper than the 55 (and the 50 1.7 for that matter)... but do I care?

The zany bokeh from the 55 makes me smile. The incorrect colour is actually advantageous for portraits. I like the focal length better. And it was only 50 dollars.

So what I'm getting at is the more expensive tool is *not always* the most appropriate tool for the effect you might want to achieve. There was the awesome shot of an middle-aged man on the street (maybe an orthodox Jew). Fantastic shot. Fuzzy as hell, out of focus, nervous bokeh. Great photo. That picture is a perfect illustration of what I'm getting at.

Last edited by paperbag846; 07-21-2011 at 05:08 PM.
07-21-2011, 04:52 PM   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rainy Day Quote
As far as the users who reckon that 'you don't need a wide angle lens for landscapes,' that's true. HOWEVER, there are many photographic opportunities that are only fully realized by using a wide-angle.
I think folks were talking about "ultra" wide-angle lenses...those in the near fisheye range. Truth be told, I have only encountered one situation where a photographer's skill outstripped the capabilities of his lens. I was in a workshop with a guy who had a tremendous talent for engaging people in conversation, putting them at ease, and taking great environmental portraits. But he was shooting with an off-brand zoom that was fuzzy across-the-board. I didn't examine his lens, but if I were guessing, I'd think it had a severe case of fungus. Everyone in the class told him, "Dude...you need a new lens!" He was taking some killer images, but they just weren't useable.
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