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12-18-2013, 05:14 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
I checked the exif…. 10mm. So here's the thing, some lakes, and this isn't the only one, look better with distortion, depending on the shape of the shore line. Everyone seems to assume that the distortion can ruin a picture, and sometimes it does. Other times it makes it look better. Distortion alters the photo. So it only makes sense that it doesn't always go one way. In this image, the shoreline looks natural, and my wife looks skinny, instead of short and squat like she would if I'd used the "corrected" 8-16. The 10-17 gives you two shots at a natural looking landscape used beside a more corrected lens. We have many images taken with the 10-17 taken in locations where it provided the best image possible for the occasion. We never defish, if I think an image is worth defishing I use the Sigma 8-16… I know people repeat that you can do anything in PP. But the only people I know who have the lenses to do it both ways say it's better off the lens, and PP can never quite match it, no matter what you do.
Photo's of lakes do look better when they are levelled though. Takes about 1 mouseclick during PP.

12-18-2013, 05:27 AM   #17
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As someone who has bought used lenses most of the time over a 45 years career I think sharpness CAN be overrated. However lack of it can be handled PP better in the digital world much better than we could in the old film world. I do look for bokeh, color rendition, and contrast in a lens and sometimes those qualities can be as important as sharpness or resolution (which is not the same thing as sharpness). I usually try to pick a set of lenses that overlap slightly so that a weakness at one end of the range can be covered by another. When it comes to primes I buy them for a particular reason or use. I tend to be more concerned with sharpness in a prime than a zoom although compared to 30+ years ago some zooms are as good as current primes in many cases. In the past they were not that close.
12-18-2013, 07:25 AM - 1 Like   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clavius Quote
Photo's of lakes do look better when they are levelled though. Takes about 1 mouseclick during PP.
Have you ever done it? Getting a lake to look level can be a set of compromises where what you end up with may or not be actually level. The shape of the shore line determines what appears to be level. SOmetimes you look at the trees on shore after and you realize, you're going to have a choice, the water looks level , or the trees look straight. Usually I go with the trees look like they are growing straight . But even looking through the view finder, you get optical oddities, based on lens curvature and shoreline curvature, so no, it take a little more than a mouse click, and if you'd done it at all you'd know that. The small lakes I photograph are nothing like the large bodies of water where you have a clear horizon line.

Often it has nothing to do with level getting a view in which the camera is absolutely level, you move the angle a few degrees one way or the other and decide which one looks best, base on shoreline, the appearance of the horizon, lens distortion and the relationships of objects in the picture. You end up with what looks best. Absolute level has nothing to do with it.

Last edited by normhead; 12-18-2013 at 08:42 AM.
12-18-2013, 07:45 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Have you ever done it?
It's really easy with Lake Superior - but if you want to be accurate you have to give the Lake just the slightest tilt to the east so it properly drains through the St. Mary's River into Lake Huron.

But I agree, 'level' can be subjective. I've taken some shots using the camera's electronic level, and then given things a tilt in PP simply because it looks more natural to most viewers.

12-18-2013, 08:44 AM   #20
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Sharpness is important but I also think that at some point you get something that is sharp enough - unless you pixel peep at 100+% or make enormous mural sized prints. I have a 21" screen with 2 MP resolution. My K-30 wows me with what I see on this screen. This screen size is way bigger than I will ever print and I am only seeing a scaled 2MP out of my 16 MP possible. Maybe my standards are low but I'm satisfied with my lowly F, FA, and FA-J lenses that I have been accumulating. Whatever sharpness that could be lacking... well, I just don't see it.

What I do see and what grinds on my nerves is poor color rendition, awful flare around minute details, and even more importantly poor contrast! Lenses with poor contrast hurt my eyes.
12-18-2013, 08:57 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Have you ever done it? Getting a lake to look level can be a set of compromises where what you end up with may or not be actually level. The shape of the shore line determines what appears to be level. SOmetimes you look at the trees on shore after and you realize, you're going to have a choice, the water looks level , or the trees look straight. Usually I go with the trees look like they are growing straight . But even looking through the view finder, you get optical oddities, based on lens curvature and shoreline curvature, so no, it take a little more than a mouse click, and if you'd done it at all you'd know that. The small lakes I photograph are nothing like the large bodies of water where you have a clear horizon line.

Often it has nothing to do with level getting a view in which the camera is absolutely level, you move the angle a few degrees one way or the other and decide which one looks best, base on shoreline, the appearance of the horizon, lens distortion and the relationships of objects in the picture. You end up with what looks best. Absolute level has nothing to do with it.
I was just reverring to the second picture of post no 9.
12-18-2013, 09:05 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Clavius Quote
I was just reverring to the second picture of post no 9.
So was I.
12-18-2013, 10:19 AM   #23
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Sharpness is WAY overrated these days, I think as a direct consequence of the digital age and how easy it is to see it at pixel-peeping magnifications. While there certainly are lots of duds out there -- lenses that will only take crappy pictures, mostly to be found among no-name budget lenses from the 70s and 80s (although there are plenty of very good budget lenses from the same time period also), the fact is any half-decent lens made in the last 80 years can take a sharp enough picture for most purposes. The big exceptions are at the extremes: macro when you *really* shooting at macro levels or need a flat focus plane (but most any decent macro lens from the 60s onward will do you fine), extreme telephoto -- good long lenses have always been expensive, and also extreme wide-angle -- the modern WA lenses are just way better than the older ones. Also extremes of print size -- it becomes more important if you are going to print huge, but still there I would argue format size is much more important than lens sharpness, but to maximize the sizes you can print at with a given format I suppose you'll want it as sharp as possible. But the argument that you NEED super-sharp lenses for most applications is just bogus. It is a fetish for the photographer more than anything. For most images and most sizes they are displayed at, just as an acceptable result could be gotten with a less sharp lens and perhaps some different post-processing choices, or as I suspect in most cases the viewer just won't be able to see the difference anyway in the final medium/size. Super sharp images on digital also have a bit of clinical look that I don't like -- we actually add grain and noise to most of the pictures we sell to make them look better. (we=wife & I) Obviously that is very application dependent.

Lens sharpness is always relative so it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing one lens to another and thinking you NEED the sharper one just because it is sharper, but do you NEED the sharpest steak knife in the world once it is sharp enough to cut your meat easily?

Aberrations that you can't easily get rid of are a much much bigger concern for me (which are actually sometimes a side-effect of very sharp lenses at wider apertures), but that is and will become less of an issue as time goes on because it is becoming easier and easier to get rid of them. Technology is marching on all the time -- post-processing CAN and DOES make lenses sharper. I can make a lens with bad edge CA visibly sharper and bring out additional detail in Lightroom right now. That lens is effectively a better lens than it used to be because I can now easily post-correct for some of its problems. Post-processing can even remove some amount of motion blur now. There is a technical article floating around here (I linked to it before) that showed how some guys were able to take crappy soft and aberration-filled pictures with a super-simple single or double element lens (really crappy, crappier than any actual lens from the last 100 years would take) and their computer algorithms would turn it into an image rivaling that from a high-quality modern lens. The information *doesn't* get lost, it is just in the wrong place and needs to be moved around a bit. In 5-10 years I think we'll be able to correct for just about ANYTHING from any lens.


Last edited by vonBaloney; 12-18-2013 at 10:24 AM.
12-18-2013, 11:14 AM   #24
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Sometimes - it really depends on what you're shooting - for how sharp you really want/need the picture to be.
Having a fast (or long) lens can add in a lot of bokeh which can make the in-focus object 's sharpness stand out.

For some wide / far landscape - you might not need to have a tack-sharp image - as the DoF is going to vary anyways - so not everything is going to be tack sharp.
If you're doing macro/wildlife or a specific subject - then you might want that detail.


These were taken - handheld with a manual focus Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4. The second one isn't as sharp as it could be - slight movement caused OOF
If I had stopped these down a bit (especially the outdoor shot) - they'd be much better.
In this case - focusing on an object - typically you'd want a VERy sharp lens. I'm only an amateur, so I don't mind criticism.
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Last edited by formercanuck; 12-18-2013 at 11:19 AM.
12-18-2013, 11:23 AM   #25
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People tend to forget how much camera movement affects, sharpness. If you're not shooting on a tripod with a two second delay, camera shake is going to limit the sharpness you can achieve even with a really sharp lens, and you're not going to see the difference between a really sharp lens, and an an average lens. The difference is enough that, the camera shake can make the great lens worse than the average one. Camera shake is the great leveller. The first thing to do if you want more resolution, try a heavy tripod with the 2 second delay. If you're not doing that, don't even think about wasting money on a sharp lens. Your results will be completely unpredictable.

Shooting birds without a locked tripod, I shoot in burst mode, in hope that for one of the images the camera will be still enough to achieve a sharp image. Out of a 20 shot burst, it's often that not more than a couple are even in focus, and none of them are as good as what I'd get with a 2 second delay.
12-18-2013, 12:57 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kenntak Quote
I am new at this hobby, and I have a couple of questions for the more experienced. I noticed that when looking for a lens, it seems that to many people, the ultimate criterion is obtaining a very sharp, or the sharpest lens. It appears that various other lens qualities or deficiencies, such as color rendition, bokeh, aberrations, focusing, contrast, etc. often take a backseat. For example, I will often see posts asking for recommendations for the sharpest lens in a particular focal range, with other lens qualities sometimes not even mentioned, or if they are mentioned, not being nearly as crucial.

Considering all of the qualities associated with a lens, the balance appears to tip clearly in favor of lens sharpness. Has the trend always been like this, or is this a more recent phenomenon? Is this something that is more characteristic of new photographers or amateurs, or is it characteristic of experienced photographers and pros alike? Just curious.
I think people are pixel-peeping too much, myself included. That being said, a lack of contrast could be fixed in post-processing. Distortion, falloff, chromatic aberrations - all fixable as well with a click of a button. I am not sure what you mean by focusing. To me, manual focus isn't a big concern either as I use autofocus 99% of the time.

So, while I think we pay too much attention to sharpness, it still is one of the most important aspects of a lens, at least to me. That, together with things like flare resistance (which btw can also affect sharpness), bokeh and maybe color rendition (a lot can be achieved in post for that too).
12-18-2013, 02:35 PM   #27
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For focusing, I see some people comment on their satisfication with a lens from a manual focusing standpoint, and I see some criticisms that certain lenses need a focus limiter.
12-18-2013, 02:44 PM   #28
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QuoteQuote:
That being said, a lack of contrast could be fixed in post-processing. Distortion, falloff, chromatic aberrations - all fixable as well with a click of a button.
Only works when you don't have a second image to compare to. Because we often work side by side and take the same images, we have seen a number of images, where a lens did a good job, and distortion CA etc have been corrected in post. Not once has the corrected image ever been a better image than the one where the lens got it right, with the exception of contrast, and contrast is usually pretty much similar. Side by side, you can tell when an image has been corrected for CA or distortion. You can do it, but it doesn't lead to the same IQ.
12-18-2013, 09:11 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
People tend to forget how much camera movement affects, sharpness. If you're not shooting on a tripod with a two second delay, camera shake is going to limit the sharpness you can achieve even with a really sharp lens, and you're not going to see the difference between a really sharp lens, and an an average lens. The difference is enough that, the camera shake can make the great lens worse than the average one. Camera shake is the great leveller. The first thing to do if you want more resolution, try a heavy tripod with the 2 second delay. If you're not doing that, don't even think about wasting money on a sharp lens. Your results will be completely unpredictable.

Shooting birds without a locked tripod, I shoot in burst mode, in hope that for one of the images the camera will be still enough to achieve a sharp image. Out of a 20 shot burst, it's often that not more than a couple are even in focus, and none of them are as good as what I'd get with a 2 second delay.
Now try a fast / manual telephoto. Its fast enough not to get blur, but without a tripod and/or remote - camera shake puts me out of focus all too often. That's probably my biggest complaint with my 85mm f/1.4 Rokinon.
Its VERY sharp, VERY fast - but at f/1.4 - the DoF I need a tripod at minimum - and pretty much need to use the live-view with 6x zoom for focus.
12-18-2013, 10:10 PM   #30
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I find decentering more annoying than a lack of sharpness in general. Much more difficult to deal with, and more obvious. Doesn't seem to worry a lot of people, who concentrate on centre sharpness only.
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