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02-16-2021, 06:18 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by asahi67 Quote
I have the Pentax 85mm soft, find it works well on my K1. I have used it in portraits, wedding and scenic shots, beats smearing a lens with vaseline!
Aye getting it off afterwards is a bitch...

02-16-2021, 08:39 AM - 2 Likes   #17
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My wife also tends to prefer the pictures with emotional attachment or where the poses are right or the details are the way she wants - sharpness or perfect focus is not a primary concern.

Regarding lens sharpness, they all are "sharp enough" now... look at this quote: "Any good modern lens is corrected for maximum definition at the larger stops. Using a small stop only increases depth..." - Ansel Adams in 1937!!!

I think edge correction has become the "new sharpness" for lens testers. God forbit someone have to correct a bit of fringing at the edges of a picture nowadays. Oh the horror... that, and definition with super high megapixel sensors. I guess this keeps lens testers busy and gearheads buying so it's good for the business - but in terms of final images, I'll have to agree with those who say technique and composition are far more important.

Also, I think though that color rendering and microcontrast are technical aspects that are more important to a lens than sharpness...
02-16-2021, 09:08 AM - 1 Like   #18
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I think most of up have gone through that phase. I still look for those absolutely crisp lenses but only for doing astrophotography where getting nice pinpoint stars without halos, color fringing, coma etc but for regular shooting sharp enough is what I am looking for and basically anything made now is sharp enough. Even my awful Tamron 28-300 f/3.5-6.3 is sharp enough most of the time. I actually only own 1 modern design digital era lens and it is the one I like the least but that is personal preference. I like lenses that have some character and offer something unique. My most used daylight lenses are my SMC A 50/1.2, 77ltd, Vivitar Series 1 135mm f/2.3 (M42 mount), D FA 100/2.8 WR Macro (non modern design), Sigma 300mm f/4 APO Tele Macro (the one with the Zen barrel coating), and S-M-C 28mm f/3.5 Takumar.
02-16-2021, 10:09 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by asahi67 Quote
beats smearing a lens with vaseline!
Er... I think you're meant to smear the filter...



02-16-2021, 11:02 AM - 1 Like   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kiddo70 Quote
But I’m beginning to think that sharpness is not necessarily important to making an artistic image.
Many would argue that obsessing over sharpness is actually detrimental to the thought process of making an artistic, emotionally impactful image. This is a tendency that I fight. Some of my images that get the most 'likes' aren't the sharpest, but have other elements that make them appealing to others. On more than one occasion I've had an image that I thought wasn't quite up to snuff, but then thought 'what the heck, I'll post it anyway'. I've been surprised by how many nice comments I've gotten. But then, members here are generally nice folks.

I can recommend Bryan Peterson's 'Understanding Composition' as a good read to get your mind on the right track for what's important in creating an image. Full of thought provoking and horizon expanding concepts; at least it was for me.
02-16-2021, 01:58 PM - 1 Like   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
The thing is.. a painting isn't a photograph, and a photograph isn't a painting. I often tell myself that sharpness is overrated, but I know that I'm not being completely honest with myself
This is true and the vision is filtered through the medium. Each medium is better for different jobs. But why do most painted portraits seem to have a FF dof of around f/5.6? Serious question I wonder about.
02-16-2021, 03:32 PM - 4 Likes   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by swanlefitte Quote
This is true and the vision is filtered through the medium. Each medium is better for different jobs. But why do most painted portraits seem to have a FF dof of around f/5.6? Serious question I wonder about.
My reference for painted portraits is William Bouguereau... early on his portraits had the depth of field of a point and shoot... the background was fully "in focus"... later his paintings seemed to have a shallower "depth of field".
He did make his subjects look like they had the best studio lights on them...

Earlier:


Later:


02-17-2021, 09:38 AM - 5 Likes   #23
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People get siloed in their thinking. Sharpness isn't important until it is. I can easily soften an image that is too sharp, but it's a different story if the image isn't sharp enough.
The smart photographer eschews both the I'm not concerned about sharpness train of thought as well as the it has to be pin sharp one. If the image calls for a softer rendition, then render it accordingly. If it calls for razor sharpness, then you'd better have the equipment and skill to make it that way.

The too sharp image can generally be fixed, albeit with varying degrees of success, the one that is too soft is ruined.

02-17-2021, 10:07 AM - 1 Like   #24
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Beyond the focusing and choice of aperture for any one given image, sharpness is an aspect with variable degrees of appreciation by the viewer, including the photographer. To a point, the image’s subject much be sharp enough where it needs to be to render it pleasingly enough to the viewer. Most lenses can manage that. Pixel-peepers or people who just appreciate attention to detail like me look for more subject sharpness than what is “just good enough”. But it is the entire image that makes it what it is: colour contrast, lighting, subject matter, etc. Sharpness above and beyond that basic level of detail is the icing on the cake that makes an image as great as it can be.
02-17-2021, 12:12 PM - 2 Likes   #25
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For 40 years in photography, I've been chasing sharpness. Most of us were. Growing up with 35mm film, even a taste of Medium Format showed us what we were missing. I made more large prints in the darkroom then, and they proved that point every time. Those images worked by the standards of the day, but we knew we could do better.

Then came digital, barging in at the turn of the millennium. Sharpness did take a step backwards then, with 2 MP cameras that freckled our photos with ugly color noise, while doubling camera prices. I actually got out of photography for several years, and when I came back, 6 MP cameras were giving very satisfying results at large enlargements.Today, my 20-36 MP cameras make me struggle to see unsharpness; yes, it's a little blurry at 100%, but who else will ever see that? My K-1 allows me to make 4x crops with excellent detail at large sizes. Now, I have no desire for sharper images. I get that from my iPhone!

There are more technical types in photography now, as it's become a side application of computer tech. Those folks will always be seeking higher metrics of performance. Since sharpness is measurable, it's important - to them. They tend to dominate on these forums, making sharpness seem like a big deal for everyone.
02-17-2021, 12:22 PM - 1 Like   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatridger Quote
Today, my 20-36 MP cameras make me struggle to see unsharpness; yes, it's a little blurry at 100%, but who else will ever see that?
Great summary statement!

I've been shooting with a DSLR for about a decade, and still appreciate when my images are sharp. However, it's taken me that long to realize that I don't really need to 'zoom' into an image at 100% -- or take a magnifying glass to the corner -- to appreciate it. Now, I'm looking at my pictures at about 30% on my 24-inch screen, and they appear suitably sharp corner-to-corner.

On the other hand, I take pictures as a hobby, so I don't need to satisfy clients who might have a sharp eye.

- Craig
02-17-2021, 03:23 PM - 2 Likes   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatridger Quote
There are more technical types in photography now, as it's become a side application of computer tech. Those folks will always be seeking higher metrics of performance. Since sharpness is measurable, it's important - to them. They tend to dominate on these forums, making sharpness seem like a big deal for everyone.
Thank you for a thoughtful and insightful post and for sharing long experience. I agree with everything you said, except the suggestion that nerdy tech types obsessed with metrics dominate on these forums. Actually I think one of the great things about PF is that they don't (in contrast to so much other discussion of photography on the internet), at least amongst that part of the community who post a lot of images. (Put aside those noisy threads where people say they want lenses that are sharp sharp sharp and nothing else - forgive them, for they know not what they do.) For example, most Pentaxians venerate the Limiteds and the aesthetics of many designed-for-film Pentax lenses. We love these lenses not because they are sharp (although they are generally sharp enough for most purposes, and some are quite stellar) but because they can produce beautiful images. If there is a dichotomy between the aesthetes and the nerds (and frankly I think most of us are a little of both), my experience here is that the culture respects and values both aspects of photography.

Last edited by Des; 02-17-2021 at 03:30 PM.
02-17-2021, 04:56 PM - 1 Like   #28
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For me it depends on the subject. I love portraits taken wide open with a fast fifty or 85mm, even if the lenses are a little soft. For birds, I am a sharpness addict, not happy unless the feathers show moire because the lens so so sharp. hahaha
02-18-2021, 05:19 AM - 1 Like   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatridger Quote

There are more technical types in photography now, as it's become a side application of computer tech. Those folks will always be seeking higher metrics of performance. Since sharpness is measurable, it's important - to them. They tend to dominate on these forums, making sharpness seem like a big deal for everyone.
This is somewhat true and there are certainly many "spec-sheet chasers" who come from tech backgrounds - I have the . However (obligatory "not all nerds" here :P) I and my friends in photography don't quite care about resolution numbers or megapixels or whatever.

I'm probably the most gear-headed of them and you ain't prying that 77mm limited from my hands, chromatic aberrations or not (Okay, probably bad example, the 77 is darn sharp around the center and mid-frame, where the subjects will most likely be).

That said, I'm there with Wheatfield: sometimes the image calls for overwhelming detail, and for those sometimes you want gear capable of making sharp images.
02-20-2021, 10:22 AM - 8 Likes   #30
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This photo is definitely not sharp and is clearly out of focus but I like it for what it is and what it means to me. It was taken at a charity cycling event to raise funds for cancer research and pictures the enthusiasm of the folks participating.

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