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02-23-2021, 06:55 AM - 3 Likes   #46
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QuoteOriginally posted by Serkevan Quote
I don't think that's true. A fuzzy concept stays fuzzy - a sharp concept can survive less than stellar execution.

A sharp image (or, rather, a sharp execution) of a sharp concept is of course the best, but if I can only have one I'd rather have a strong underlying idea than a technically perfect barbituric photo
St. Ansel said it, it must be true.

Here is a sharp image of a fuzzy concept:


I also have a lot of fuzzy images of sharp concepts, mostly thanks to Pentax's rather abysmal continuous AF. To me, they fail simply because the sharpness is demanded but isn't there. The fuzziness needs to be a built in part of the sharp concept (Hello Henri Cartier-Bresson) to work. Sometimes luck will be on the photographer's side, most times it won't be.

02-23-2021, 07:18 AM   #47
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
The fuzziness needs to be a built in part of the sharp concept
Ah, absolutely.

To be clear I'm talking about which suboptimal situation is more acceptable (or which one damages the image less, I guess?).
02-23-2021, 08:32 AM - 2 Likes   #48
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QuoteOriginally posted by Serkevan Quote
Ah, absolutely.

To be clear I'm talking about which suboptimal situation is more acceptable (or which one damages the image less, I guess?).
And also how much technical damage can the image take before it is no longer acceptable, this depends a lot on the final intended use of the image and the perceptions of the audience.

My mother kept an absolutely craptasticly bad picture in a frame on her desk of one of her sisters. One day I asked her why that one when there were so many better (ie: in focus, properly exposed and well colour corrected) photos of her floating around, all of which were more flattering.
Apparently the one on her desk was her favourite because of the memories it invoked. It was a terrible photograph, but it worked for her. Note it didn't work for anyone else, including the subject of the photo, but for an audience of one, it was a good picture. I suspect it would have been just as good a picture if the technical bar had been raised as well. The technical quality was absolutely immaterial to the image, at least in her eyes.

One of my favourite photographs is the Cartier-Bresson one of the cyclist riding past the stairwell. It's in focus, albeit suffering from the technical limitations of the equipment and film of the day, but the cyclist is fuzzy due to subject movement. The image still works, at least for me.

However, as a counterpoint, none of Ansel Adams landscapes would have worked if they were out of focus (although the foreground in Moonrise over Hernandez is somewhat soft), or if the tripod had been singing.

I think because of the way I came to photography (I came in the backdoor via the darkroom), I tend to value high initial technical quality of the image. Good negatives are easier to print.

I do still have a collection of softening filters for portraiture, many of which I made myself for specific image styles, though now I generally just use the tools available in Photoshop.

Sometimes a little softness will save an image, or at least won't hurt it, but for me, most times it will ruin it. I don't think Cartier-Bresson's cyclist would have been anywhere near as good an image if there was no subject movement. At the same time, I don't think any of Yousuf Karsh's portraits would have worked if he had smeared Vaseline on a filter and stuck it in front of his lens.

This is all stuff that needs to be considered before pressing the button. Blind luck, and the fact that modern cameras and lenses automatically try to give the best technical quality possible saves a lot of images, but when we start to think about these details, we have started taking our photography to the next level beyond point and pray.
02-23-2021, 11:55 AM   #49
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlhawes Quote
I agree with the person who said it's important to be able to really see the feathers on a bird. Without that level of detail, I'm not looking at a bird, but at a photograph.
Duh???

What Is a Photograph? | International Center of Photography

02-23-2021, 01:57 PM   #50
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote

Here is a sharp image of a fuzzy concept:

I had misunderstood you. I read "subject" for "concept".
The photo shows what you meant.
02-23-2021, 02:06 PM   #51
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QuoteOriginally posted by swanlefitte Quote
I had misunderstood you. I read "subject" for "concept".
The photo shows what you meant.
That was a desperation photograph. I had been dragged to the beach by my wife and a couple of friends, and took the Burke & James 4x5 with me. There was NOTHING worthwhile to photograph.
No amount of lipstick was able to make that pig pretty.
02-23-2021, 02:15 PM   #52
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QuoteOriginally posted by dlhawes Quote
A fuzzy bird may be a good picture, but I'm not interested in the picture, I'm interested in how the light perceived by the photographer communicates with me.
Pentax actually softens their internal processing and lenses so birds wouldn't look so sharp. Their opinion is that overly sharp feather don't look natural. It doesn't take a lot sharpness to render life like looking bird feathers.

Check out the kit lens at 28 mm

@ ƒ8 ( where it's sharpest) the numbers are 2604 Center, Border 2155
Now the DA 35 2.4

@ ƒ5.6 2679 Center , Border 2320

So the difference is 60 lw/ph

That's about a 2% loss in resolution.

Each line line from the 35 2.4 takes 2679 / 16 inches for 163 lines per inch is 1 line in every .00613 inches
Each line from the 18-55 at ƒ8 is 2604 inches/16 162.75 lines per inch 1, each line takes .00614

Do you honestly think you can see a difference 0 .00001of an inch?

I think not.

This is the reason for not worrying about sharpness with modern lenses. Not some kind of preference for fuzzy images, its more about how little extra res you get by buying great glass. People really need learn to work out the math between what they have and what they want to see I it's worth while. By my guess you'd need between 100 to 150 lw/ph to have even a remote chance of seeing a difference, depending on the image.

I've always pointed out, buy the focal length you want, zoom or prime and the aperture you want, then see if the ou o focus areas and transitions are to your liking, and it's usually out of focus areas and traditions that are the most critical to my lens selection. Most of the time the sharpness of the lens won't be a huge factor.

You would probably have to take 100 to 1000 images before the DA 35, sharp as it is, gave you an image that looked better than the kit lens.

Ok, so I picked an extreme case you might think.... at 10 MP the DA 50-200 centre @200 is 1906 at it's sharpest, ƒ11.
The DA*200 at 5.6 is 2074. Hard to believe but at their best, their sharpness is comparable. Not at the same ƒ-stop but at their best. At ƒ11 the DA*200 is measured at 1956, not a whole lot of difference, like 50 lw/ph, even less than the DA 35 agains the kit lens.

So don't even hit about fuzzy. That's not part of the conversation. Think about cheap lens sharpness compared to expensive lens sharpness. That's the real word. You can't buy a modern fuzzy lens.

Last edited by normhead; 02-24-2021 at 01:27 PM.
02-24-2021, 05:50 PM - 1 Like   #53
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kiddo70 Quote
But Iím beginning to think that sharpness is not necessarily important to making an artistic image.
End thread, yes! This!


I had a fun experience two years ago, taking a darkroom course at the SPAO in Ottawa. I'd like to think I was technically pretty gifted, but one of our assignments was "portrait". We all went away, and took a roll of film worth of portraits. Came back, I thought I'd done ok. It was a fun class, we all would check out what other people had taken. One of the people's rolls were all just amazing, interesting photos. Even the ones that may have been technically interesting were really engaging portraits. Anyway, not to say technical merit doesn't help, but I love thinking of this kind of thing, where ultimately an interesting photo is probably more engaging than a technically brilliant but less interesting photo.

02-28-2021, 04:51 AM   #54
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Here is a sharp image of a fuzzy concept:
It's rather interesting to read people having bought top notch glass and claiming sharpness isn't important. And looking at test charts all over.


QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
So don't even hit about fuzzy. That's not part of the conversation. Think about cheap lens sharpness compared to expensive lens sharpness. That's the real word. You can't buy a modern fuzzy lens.
I think whether sharpness is overrated or not is related to money. Is there a curve showing the cost of line pairs per mm or picture height so we can see where the lowest cost is? Is apsc the one that can by the most line-pairs for the money?
02-28-2021, 09:53 AM - 1 Like   #55
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I have 3 razor sharp lenses. I never seek them out for their sharpness. One for its macro ability where I use it at f/16-18 where it has lost most of its sharpness, one for it's low light and bokeh ability, and one for its lack of distortion. I often choose less sharp lenses for their strengths. I do choose by sharp enough. I only use my 18-50 in bad weather. In fog and rain it is sharp enough and wr.
02-28-2021, 01:52 PM   #56
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
It's rather interesting to read people having bought top notch glass and claiming sharpness isn't important. And looking at test charts all over.
I'm not sure if anyone has done that.

QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
I think whether sharpness is overrated or not is related to money. Is there a curve showing the cost of line pairs per mm or picture height so we can see where the lowest cost is? Is apsc the one that can by the most line-pairs for the money?
This looks like the sort of face slap dismissiveness that I've come to expect on internet forums.

It's more to the point that sharpness is more and more valued the more educated one becomes about the medium of photography.

Last edited by Wheatfield; 02-28-2021 at 02:41 PM.
02-28-2021, 10:03 PM   #57
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
And also how much technical damage can the image take before it is no longer acceptable, this depends a lot on the final intended use of the image and the perceptions of the audience.

My mother kept an absolutely craptasticly bad picture in a frame on her desk of one of her sisters. One day I asked her why that one when there were so many better (ie: in focus, properly exposed and well colour corrected) photos of her floating around, all of which were more flattering.
Apparently the one on her desk was her favourite because of the memories it invoked. It was a terrible photograph, but it worked for her. Note it didn't work for anyone else, including the subject of the photo, but for an audience of one, it was a good picture. I suspect it would have been just as good a picture if the technical bar had been raised as well. The technical quality was absolutely immaterial to the image, at least in her eyes.

One of my favourite photographs is the Cartier-Bresson one of the cyclist riding past the stairwell. It's in focus, albeit suffering from the technical limitations of the equipment and film of the day, but the cyclist is fuzzy due to subject movement. The image still works, at least for me.
I agree, with what you say.

Many years ago, they had an exhibition of Cartier-Bresson's photographs at the Wpg. Art Gallery. My wife and I went. What an opportunity to see a lot of his work, blown up and not too far away.

My favourite book on photography was written by Eisenstadt himself, essentially about the W5's of the pix he liked. Talked about how as a young guy, living in Europe he spent a lot of time in art museums looking at , particularly paintings by the Dutch Masters, to soak in ideas of lighting, composition, etc.

Anyway, i wish I could find it again. Some years ago, I put it away somewhere 'safe' and I'll be darned if I can remember where.

But I still like my Pentax 100 Macro F 2.8 WR.

Boy is that thing sharp.
03-01-2021, 05:29 AM - 1 Like   #58
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Last edited by 35mmfilmfan; 03-01-2021 at 05:30 AM. Reason: Clarification
03-01-2021, 10:02 AM   #59
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I actually find Cartier-Bresson's subject very sharp. His subject is often the space, negative space and that is very sharp. When his subject is a person, the person is sharp.
Others who want negative space as the subject almost always keep it out of focus with the exception of constructed very geometrical shapes like buildings.
03-02-2021, 03:22 AM - 1 Like   #60
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QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilmfan Quote
Sharpness : Google Maps
I know it well, and for those who don't, it is a small port and dock. The locals speak of a Sharpness Monster that lives there
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