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09-04-2008, 03:27 PM   #31
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QuoteOriginally posted by deudeu Quote
There is no such thing as perfection...
QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
That sums it up perfectly.
I am perfectly happy to admit that perfection is impossible...

09-04-2008, 04:18 PM   #32
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
I've spent the last several weeks looking for the "perfect" all around lens, or lens combination. One week it was the quest for the best mid-zoom (Tamron 28-75?), the next week the search for the best combination of primes (that's probably the 31 and 77 to go with my 50 1.4?). Or maybe a combination of the two, or something else.

Being eager but ignorant, I've been online hours every day trying to reconcile the photozone MTF ratings with the Pop Photography SQF ratings and Dyxum scores. I poured through the other photography sites, looked at literally thousands of images on flikr and the rest, then watched the Camerlabs video reports and read hundreds of solid empirical posts on this forum and dpreview. Each day I knew more and understood less.

Then I realized I was getting sucked into the perfection paradox and forgetting that, for ordinary amateur photographers like me, good should be good enough. After all, the objective is to have fun, to challenge myself and others to be better, but not to take the world's greatest photographs.

If I wear Air Jordan's I still can't be like Michael. Thousands of dollars in camera equipment isn't going to make me into Ansel Adams.

No point really, just another travelogue from the road we're all on.
FHPhotographer

Bloody reality! interferes with all sorts of dreams and aspirations.
Good post btw.
Cheers.
09-04-2008, 05:04 PM   #33
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
Then I realized I was getting sucked into the perfection paradox and forgetting that, for ordinary amateur photographers like me, good should be good enough. After all, the objective is to have fun, to challenge myself and others to be better, but not to take the world's greatest photographs.

FHPhotographer
That says it in a nutshell. Heck, I just got a https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/36289-asahi-ta...-5-chrome.html that cost me all of $8.49. It is cetainly not the best lens on my shelf, but I am having fun with that nearly 50 year old lens.
Frank
09-04-2008, 05:15 PM   #34
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I recommend watching the BBC documentary (BBC 4) called "The Genius of Photography".

It will open your eyes to the varied nature of photography and surprise you as to what the best photos are from a historical perspective. They are very much different than what we see advocated in popular forums, magazines, how-to books, etc.

Right now, popular, hobbyist and vernacular photography is caught up in a technical race. It is exceedingly post-modern. The image quality we expect is not realized from the content, but from the technical merits of the environment we choose, the subject matter we select, and the equipment behind the production. Flaws are pixel peeped and abhorred. Lens flare must be "controlled" (one of the highest priced photos ever sold is largely about lens flare). Focus must be "edge to edge sharp". We must ninja our noise.

Nowadays, the process is more valuable than the product. What a photo says is less relevant than how one says it."That photo of your kid/backyard insect is great". What lens? Nice DOF. I can see al the details of the eyes."

The process of achieving this visual perfection starts with immaculate preparation (watch the last episode in the series), is objectively manipulated (Wall and the Vancouver School), must have post-processing (the Scott Kelby school of photo manipulation), etc. Forget Arbus or Mann. Not crisp and clean = no good. Photography is in the age or Mr. Clean. It's ultra-hygienic and controlled. Next, we'll applaud the fact they put anti-bacterials into all our equipment.

The parameters are set by media imagery: It MUST be sharp (tell that to Atget or Capa). The focus, colour, should reflect the capabilities of the equipment. If it is not ready for National Geographic, it's not good. you cannot open a photo magazine now and see anything but the tyranny of sharpness.

It goes on and on. What it boils down to is that media saturation defines the values we want. We are told via forums like this one that the National Geographic composition and output is what we can and should achieve in our travel photos. The best shots of our family will be portraits with a 50-135, and nothing else. We agonize over details that say little to nothing of artistic or compositional merit. "It's not good because you chose the wrong lens." Yada yada. The benchmarks are almost exclusively defined within the technical parameters of the lens and bodies we choose to shoot with. The story of Vaccaro and how he got the seminal portrait shot of Pablo Picasso is terrific. It's the antithesis of how we would approach that shot today.

So, you're right. Good point. Time to buy a Holga and have a few laughs. It's a bloody shame there's soon to be no more Polaroid. I'm off to watch Memento. Then I'll look at photos from the fellow in Thunder Bay who creates and photographs bee dioramas. There's vision and genius.

Good, honest, insightful post.

QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
If I wear Air Jordan's I still can't be like Michael. Thousands of dollars in camera equipment isn't going to make me into Ansel Adams.

No point really, just another travelogue from the road we're all on.
FHPhotographer


09-04-2008, 05:47 PM   #35
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OP response...

QuoteOriginally posted by MRRiley Quote
I am perfectly happy to admit that perfection is impossible...
Not really, perfection isn't impossible ... it just isn't attainable.
FHP
09-04-2008, 05:52 PM   #36
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I take your well reasoned point; we're doing it to ourselves in a thousand little ways, not the least of which is audio recording where the very notion of color and depth found on LPs is lost in the sonic perfection of CD. I wish we had acces to the BBC, but this, after all, Arizona and we're still reeling from the cultural shock of electricity.

Interesting , Aristophanes, but it remains all Greek to me,
FHP
09-04-2008, 05:54 PM   #37
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Interesting take on the issue...

QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I recommend watching the BBC documentary (BBC 4) called "The Genius of Photography".

It will open your eyes to the varied nature of photography and surprise you as to what the best photos are from a historical perspective. They are very much different than what we see advocated in popular forums, magazines, how-to books, etc.

Right now, popular, hobbyist and vernacular photography is caught up in a technical race. It is exceedingly post-modern. The image quality we expect is not realized from the content, but from the technical merits of the environment we choose, the subject matter we select, and the equipment behind the production. Flaws are pixel peeped and abhorred. Lens flare must be "controlled" (one of the highest priced photos ever sold is largely about lens flare). Focus must be "edge to edge sharp". We must ninja our noise.

Nowadays, the process is more valuable than the product. What a photo says is less relevant than how one says it."That photo of your kid/backyard insect is great". What lens? Nice DOF. I can see al the details of the eyes."

The process of achieving this visual perfection starts with immaculate preparation (watch the last episode in the series), is objectively manipulated (Wall and the Vancouver School), must have post-processing (the Scott Kelby school of photo manipulation), etc. Forget Arbus or Mann. Not crisp and clean = no good. Photography is in the age or Mr. Clean. It's ultra-hygienic and controlled. Next, we'll applaud the fact they put anti-bacterials into all our equipment.

The parameters are set by media imagery: It MUST be sharp (tell that to Atget or Capa). The focus, colour, should reflect the capabilities of the equipment. If it is not ready for National Geographic, it's not good. you cannot open a photo magazine now and see anything but the tyranny of sharpness.

It goes on and on. What it boils down to is that media saturation defines the values we want. We are told via forums like this one that the National Geographic composition and output is what we can and should achieve in our travel photos. The best shots of our family will be portraits with a 50-135, and nothing else. We agonize over details that say little to nothing of artistic or compositional merit. "It's not good because you chose the wrong lens." Yada yada. The benchmarks are almost exclusively defined within the technical parameters of the lens and bodies we choose to shoot with. The story of Vaccaro and how he got the seminal portrait shot of Pablo Picasso is terrific. It's the antithesis of how we would approach that shot today.

So, you're right. Good point. Time to buy a Holga and have a few laughs. It's a bloody shame there's soon to be no more Polaroid. I'm off to watch Memento. Then I'll look at photos from the fellow in Thunder Bay who creates and photographs bee dioramas. There's vision and genius.

Good, honest, insightful post.
I take your well reasoned point; we're doing it to ourselves in a thousand little ways, not the least of which is audio recording where the very notion of color and depth found on LPs is lost in the sonic perfection of CD. I wish we had acces to the BBC, but this, after all, Arizona and we're still reeling from the cultural shock of electricity.

Interesting , Aristophanes, but it remains all Greek to me,
FHP
09-04-2008, 05:57 PM   #38
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
It goes on and on. What it boils down to is that media saturation defines the values we want. We are told via forums like this one that the National Geographic composition and output is what we can and should achieve in our travel photos. The best shots of our family will be portraits with a 50-135, and nothing else. We agonize over details that say little to nothing of artistic or compositional merit. "It's not good because you chose the wrong lens." Yada yada. The benchmarks are almost exclusively defined within the technical parameters of the lens and bodies we choose to shoot with. The story of Vaccaro and how he got the seminal portrait shot of Pablo Picasso is terrific. It's the antithesis of how we would approach that shot today.
This place isn't too bad yet, some forums on the internet are plain ridiculous where lenses that are infact incredibly sharp are branded as "soft" because in perfect sterile conditions the poster can squeeze 1 lp/mm more out of a lens costing 10x as much.....

Often, once these people set off down the road of "technical perfection" then all hopes of them enjoying the art of photography are lost forever.

09-04-2008, 06:23 PM   #39
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QuoteOriginally posted by AlpenTak Quote

Often, once these people set off down the road of "technical perfection" then all hopes of them enjoying the art of photography are lost forever.
Well then maybe I had it right all along.

I've never been much of a tech head although I can follow the majority of what is discussed. My brain just doesn't operate that way when I'm shooting. My criteria for what makes a good photograph, regardless of tech specs, camera, lens what-have-you is this:

Does it make me say "oooooooo pretty!"
09-04-2008, 07:11 PM   #40
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
I've spent the last several weeks looking for the "perfect" all around lens, or lens combination. One week it was the quest for the best mid-zoom (Tamron 28-75?), the next week the search for the best combination of primes (that's probably the 31 and 77 to go with my 50 1.4?). Or maybe a combination of the two, or something else.

Being eager but ignorant, I've been online hours every day trying to reconcile the photozone MTF ratings with the Pop Photography SQF ratings and Dyxum scores. I poured through the other photography sites, looked at literally thousands of images on flikr and the rest, then watched the Camerlabs video reports and read hundreds of solid empirical posts on this forum and dpreview. Each day I knew more and understood less.

Then I realized I was getting sucked into the perfection paradox and forgetting that, for ordinary amateur photographers like me, good should be good enough. After all, the objective is to have fun, to challenge myself and others to be better, but not to take the world's greatest photographs.

If I wear Air Jordan's I still can't be like Michael. Thousands of dollars in camera equipment isn't going to make me into Ansel Adams.

No point really, just another travelogue from the road we're all on.
FHPhotographer
If there was one "perfect" lens, 1) wouldn't everyone have it, and 2) why would there be any others.

I forget who said it now, but I believe the following applies " If you design a product such that one product suites everyone, no one would use it"

The fact is, everyone has different tastes, vision, perspective etc, and will decide for themselves what is "perfect" for them.
09-04-2008, 07:30 PM   #41
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I recommend watching the BBC documentary (BBC 4) called "The Genius of Photography".

It will open your eyes to the varied nature of photography and surprise you as to what the best photos are from a historical perspective. They are very much different than what we see advocated in popular forums, magazines, how-to books, etc.

Right now, popular, hobbyist and vernacular photography is caught up in a technical race. It is exceedingly post-modern. The image quality we expect is not realized from the content, but from the technical merits of the environment we choose, the subject matter we select, and the equipment behind the production. Flaws are pixel peeped and abhorred. Lens flare must be "controlled" (one of the highest priced photos ever sold is largely about lens flare). Focus must be "edge to edge sharp". We must ninja our noise.

Nowadays, the process is more valuable than the product. What a photo says is less relevant than how one says it."That photo of your kid/backyard insect is great". What lens? Nice DOF. I can see al the details of the eyes."

The process of achieving this visual perfection starts with immaculate preparation (watch the last episode in the series), is objectively manipulated (Wall and the Vancouver School), must have post-processing (the Scott Kelby school of photo manipulation), etc. Forget Arbus or Mann. Not crisp and clean = no good. Photography is in the age or Mr. Clean. It's ultra-hygienic and controlled. Next, we'll applaud the fact they put anti-bacterials into all our equipment.

The parameters are set by media imagery: It MUST be sharp (tell that to Atget or Capa). The focus, colour, should reflect the capabilities of the equipment. If it is not ready for National Geographic, it's not good. you cannot open a photo magazine now and see anything but the tyranny of sharpness.

It goes on and on. What it boils down to is that media saturation defines the values we want. We are told via forums like this one that the National Geographic composition and output is what we can and should achieve in our travel photos. The best shots of our family will be portraits with a 50-135, and nothing else. We agonize over details that say little to nothing of artistic or compositional merit. "It's not good because you chose the wrong lens." Yada yada. The benchmarks are almost exclusively defined within the technical parameters of the lens and bodies we choose to shoot with. The story of Vaccaro and how he got the seminal portrait shot of Pablo Picasso is terrific. It's the antithesis of how we would approach that shot today.

So, you're right. Good point. Time to buy a Holga and have a few laughs. It's a bloody shame there's soon to be no more Polaroid. I'm off to watch Memento. Then I'll look at photos from the fellow in Thunder Bay who creates and photographs bee dioramas. There's vision and genius.

Good, honest, insightful post.


Excellent post, and that documentary is something I'd love to see. However, I find the text in bold above a little.... elitist, possibly? I'm looking for the right word, and I don't mean to be argumentative, and 'elitist' seems too strong...

What I mean to say is that holding a mildly derisive attitude towards images of backyard insects or someone's kid because it isn't 'artful' enough isn't a step up from lens snobbery - it's the same thing, only applied for a different reason.

Often, the backyard is the only thing complete amateurs like myself have time to shoot after a day of work, and some of the finest art, in our own eyes, is our children. I'd love to have the talent and the time to become a semi-pro street photographer using only Holgas, but as it is, I don't have the talent, or the time. Taking those easy images and then talking about the process or the lens used is an option that's open to everyone at every talent level.

Just my 2 pence. Everything else in that post is well stated and true, in my eyes.


.
09-04-2008, 07:57 PM   #42
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FH, Good you realized this before spending all your cash. Many have fallen victim to blind consumerism.

A year or so ago I sold my entire kit of high end (Minolta) lenses and bodies, re-invested in a K10D and m42 lenses. With the profits, I bought a motorcycle, learned how to ride it and a took off a 2500km road trip of a lifetime with my best friend. By the end I even had money left over. What's more, I have some amazing photos and experiences to show for it.

We all have a choice. For example...you could spend money upgrading your kit lens to a DA* 16-50 and photograph the clutter on your desk (again), or take that money and go on an adventure. Maybe you'll find some beautiful mountains, rivers, flora or fauna. Maybe you will meet some people that will be your friends for life, or find true love. Maybe you'll get some great photographs....you'll probably miss some too. But nobody can take that experience away from you. Lenses can be bought and sold, but experience, once gained, is yours to cherish.

Think outside the box and away from the desk. Lens be damned....You can't take beautiful pictures if you don't put yourself in beautiful situations.

Damian
09-04-2008, 08:14 PM   #43
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QuoteOriginally posted by FHPhotographer Quote
My conclusion is the primes don't justify the cost in terms of general improved image quality... not bokeah, not in DOf, not in the subjective "feel" of the lens, just in cost-benefit.
You've considered cost-benefit of prime vs zoom and it's not worth it to you. But your value system cannot be applied to others. Cost-benefit is entirely a personal question, not one that can be answered by me for you or vice versa.

My parallel is in audio. I can hear gear changes in my stereo that many people can't, or like you, they hear it but don't consider it cost effective. I've spent ten times as much on my audio system as I have on photography, but then I don't have anywhere near the ability to discern visual quality as compared to auditory. I look at photos that wow me, and someone else rips them for technical reasons. And they're correct, there's chroma noise or softness or whatever. They care deeply about these things, I don't so much. You have to decide what matters to you and what you are willing to pay to achieve it. But I would safely bet that if you were a multi-millionaire, you would buy the best lenses, and some would be primes.

There are people who can simply discern more from a photo than you or I, and these seemingly small quality differences matter a great deal to them. So when you come along and say "primes aren't worth it", expect some backlash.
09-04-2008, 08:38 PM   #44
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
The thing us ignorant consumers do is this: we make a fetish out of equipment, and ranking that equipment. After all, there isn't a good way to rank / measure the actual output (our photographs), so we displace this quality onto the hardware. With the marketing industry's full encouragement, I may add. We therefore obsess with this being better than that - besides displacing aesthetic self-determination, we're displacing pack pecking order onto the hardware - we are giving outlet to innate needs otherwise dangerous to display.
Ah, the pecking order. I'm better than PersonX because I possess the most elite gear; contrawise, PersonZ is better than me because they own all *LTDs and I've just got these measly Vivitar, Spiratone, Sears lumps. Boy howdy, when I slide from my Corvette and I whip out my US$31,000 Sigma lingam, the men all glare and the women breathe faster. Right.

(Oh yeah, I once lived on a chicken commune, and I've seen the pecking order in action. It gets pretty bloody down at the bottom. But I digress.)

Do we like playing these domination games, mentally positioning ourselves in a hierarchy? No, you say? How about this: Do you see someone pointing their teeny Canikonypus PnS at Niagara Falls or Mt Fuji or the Taj Mahal, flash firing, and feel superior? Or do you see someone with pro Canon gear, and a couple assistants to lug the hardware, and feel inferior? Who is pecking whom?

There are obviously links to professionalism and anxiety here. A pro has their tools, which hopefully were paid for by an agency or employer. Their tools get banged around, but are replaced only when broken or hopelessly inappropriate. Non-pros either have one or two get-by-with-it tools, or go whole-hog and collect the whole set. Most working carpenters don't own and display complete sets of pristine Stanley handsaws, just as most working photographers don't flaunt their collections of gold-plated Leicas with every minty accessory. What's the aphorism? "Amateurs collect implements; pros collect paychecks." Something like that. So to stem that feeling of inadequacy, the non-pro goes shopping.
09-04-2008, 08:49 PM   #45
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I think you misinterpreted my meaning. The post above mentions "sterility" in the output due to an obsession with a certain technical approach. This is a good summary of what I was getting at. Too often these forums look for an almost clone-like, sterile approach to image making. The sharpness must be within x parameters. The bokeh can only be so y. The contrast is too z.

20% of all my photos are of my kid in my backyard. But they'd be just as valuable to me if taken with a Polaroid. There's no need to aspire to be a semi-pro.

What's elitist is the striving towards this norm of technical perfection "……if I'd could only afford the 31mm Ltd, then I'd take great photos".

Somehow, we debase wonderful photos for not having the right bokeh or sharpness, or for minor imperfections that we haven't post-processed, when what really counts is the expression on your kid's face.

A Holga is an el-cheapo medium format film camera that sometimes takes great shots, and other times terrible shots. Its quality is its inconsistency, variability and plain old nuttiness. It can be fun, but I won't use one anymore because they use film that is hard to process and I share most of my images digitally.

It's the spirit of the image they produce that's special. Like many Polaroids. The other day, I saw a guy shooting with his Nikon D300 and portrait zoom lens plus premium flash, in the park, with his family. He was loaded with top-end gear and clearly knew his stuff. Every shot he took he agonized over: the histogram, the composition, the angle of the light, the sharpness, the flash fill. If a shot was not right, back they went. All sense of spontaneity was lost. No one was having any fun. Not him, not his kid, not the people watching. His quest for technical detail and IQ was painful to watch. I am sure the photos turned out technically masterful. They probably have excellent bokeh, magazine quality fill lighting, and so on. Meanwhile, I had my Pentax, my 50mm and lay it on the ground and took photos of my kid's and my feet with the remote while we ran by the camera. Then I showed him the photos. They all sucked. It did not work. It was hard to tell what we were shooting. Focus was all wrong. Even in the abstract they looked bad. My son loved them. He's 2. I am trying to teach him to love the act of photography. To be comfortable with it. To play with it.

That should go for a lot of us. The "best" image is NOT the one with the best IQ, edge-to-edge sharpness, bokeh, post-processing, blah blah blah. It's the one you had the most creative inspiration and perhaps fun with. Some may get a creative surge from technical excellence, but that's only a portion of the realm of photography. Most of the historically important photo of the last century come nowhere near the level of technical perfection we strive for today. In fact, that level of technical perfection would ruin those photos. In part, their flaws and ambiguities, their limitations (grain, vignetting), are what give them power and beauty. Capa's murky shots have unequalled drama. Too much detail would have answered questions we need to ask for ourselves.

Ever hear of camera tossing? Get a cheap, used digital. It needs a 3 sec. timer and preferably some control over the shutter speed. That's it. Set it to a few seconds for exposure and set it to a 3 sec. timer. Toss it up in the air on a 3-count. Try and catch the camera. See what you've shot. Experiment with shutter speeds. You never know what you'll get. Artful? Absolutely. Go to Flickr and search for "tossing."

Are those images perfect? Depends on how much fun you had. Try it with a 10 year-old. Then it's a blast!

P.S. Please do NOT toss your DSLR. I have a conscience.

QuoteOriginally posted by jsherman999 Quote
Excellent post, and that documentary is something I'd love to see. However, I find the text in bold above a little.... elitist, possibly? I'm looking for the right word, and I don't mean to be argumentative, and 'elitist' seems too strong...

What I mean to say is that holding a mildly derisive attitude towards images of backyard insects or someone's kid because it isn't 'artful' enough isn't a step up from lens snobbery - it's the same thing, only applied for a different reason.
Often, the backyard is the only thing complete amateurs like myself have time to shoot after a day of work, and some of the finest art, in our own eyes, is our children. I'd love to have the talent and the time to become a semi-pro street photographer using only Holgas, but as it is, I don't have the talent, or the time. Taking those easy images and then talking about the process or the lens used is an option that's open to everyone at every talent level.

Just my 2 pence. Everything else in that post is well stated and true, in my eyes.


.

Last edited by Aristophanes; 09-04-2008 at 09:19 PM.
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