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07-14-2010, 06:08 AM   #16
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QuoteQuote:
"Does lens make a huge difference?"
The lens is a link in a chain leading to a displayed image. If a link fails the whole chain fails.

A chain can be no stronger than its weakest link.

The links include camera settings as well as physical devices.

07-14-2010, 09:35 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
As the TO wrote, that the Nikon images look "much clearer", I think, that settings may very well make all the difference. Most makes apply much more sharpening, higher saturation and more contrast to the JPGs they produce. That is exactly, what most people would perceive as a "clearer" image.
True, and if you've made sure all else is equal - same scene, same focal length., same exposure, same focus point - then this would be the remaining variable. In my experience, though, most people posting this sort of question here haven't controlled those fundamentals, and that often ends up being the more important factor. But we're both just speculating here - I imagine the images, once posted, will resolve that.

QuoteQuote:
at standard print sizes, you'ld be very hard pressed to make out any difference caused by the lens.
Absolutely. That's true to some degree almost regardless of which specific lenses we are talking about, but especially so comparing two better-than-average but not pro caliber consumer zooms.
07-14-2010, 09:39 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by phuey Quote
Both photos were shot at 18mm.
The K-x kit lens is notoriously soft at 18mm, especially wide open. It could be your Nikon lens does a better job at 18mm or the settings were different between the two cameras at the same focal length. Compare photos between the two at 35mm at f8. You will probably get different results.
07-14-2010, 09:55 AM   #19
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I don't know, the *center* resolution of the 18-55 at 18mm is quite good - perhaps not *quite* as good as the 18-135, but I suspect you'd have to pixel peep pretty darned hard to spot the difference. Corners are another story, but according to Photozone, that's equally true of the 18-135 - plus the latter's distortion is far worse.

But this does bring up a good point - whatever differences there might be in the lenses, it could favfor one lens at one focallength, the other lens at another focal length. Results can similarly vary by aperture and center versus corner. So not only is it important to get an apples-to-apples comparison (same focal length, aperture, and scene), but you also need to compares oranges-to-oranges, apricots-to-apricots, etc. That is, you'd want to test both at *several* different focal lengths and apertures before leaping to conclusions.

07-14-2010, 11:05 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
At first, you think a lens is something you stick on the front of your camera. After a while you start to understand that a camera is something you stick on the back of your lenses.
Profoundly true, important—and brilliantly put. Mike, hope you don't mind if I quote this.

Will
07-14-2010, 12:01 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
At first, you think a lens is something you stick on the front of your camera. After a while you start to understand that a camera is something you stick on the back of your lenses.
I couldn't have said it better Mike.
07-18-2010, 10:33 AM   #22
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Here's one of my mantras.

There are five factors in capturing an image photographically. In decreasing order of importance, they are:

1) The photographer
2) The subject
3) The light
4) The lens
5) The camera

Significant shots were and are made with cruddy gear in bad light of weak subjects by indifferent photographers, but those are rare. And even the best gear, light and subject may not help a lousy shooter. A crisp, clear, brilliant image of boring crap is still boring crap. A technically weak shot of an astounding subject will always grab eyeballs. Art and communication do not depend on resolution.

That said, lenses DO make a difference, depending on how they're used. Many lenses are weakest at their extremes of focal length, aperture, sometimes focus. The old photojournalist's rule is f/8 and be there. For absolutely clearest images with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom, shoot between 25-45mm at f/8-11. That's for landscapes and structures and THINGS where detail is important. For people and other animals in action, don't sweat it. We can take fine shots of play with a US$10 magnifying-glass lens mounted in a US$40 bellows unit.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

As mentioned, camera settings CAN make a difference. Those JPEG settings are just an in-camera form of post-processing (PP), which also makes a difference. How a finished image is displayed makes a HUGE difference. I suspect that shots from the two cameras and lenses mentioned could be tweaked to equality in PP; when printed, mounted, shown, they'd likely be indistinguishable.

Presentation matters. An extreme example: I've shot with a 6x9cm folder (glass Zeiss lens), and with a 1mpx digicam (plastic Sony lens) producing 1216x810 pixel JPEGs. I'll contact-print the extremely high resolution 6x9 negative on glossy paper. I'll tweak the low-res 1mpg image in PP (sharpen, smooth, boost contrast, etc) and print it on equally glossy paper. I'll mount, frame, and hang those prints together. Viewed from a normal distance (2-3 feet), without a magnifier, they cannot be told apart.

Yes, razor-sharp optics are wonderful. Whether they matter depends on what you expect of an image, and what you expect to do with it.
07-18-2010, 10:46 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
At first, you think a lens is something you stick on the front of your camera. After a while you start to understand that a camera is something you stick on the back of your lenses.
This pretty much says it all....There are some lenses that will go with me to my grave, but bodies will come and go....

Even in the same family of specific lenses there are differences...As an example. My most used focal length is the 24mm lens.
Hence I have 1 Vivitar 24f/2.8, 2 cosina 24f/2.8, 1 smc-a24 f/2.8, 1 Sigma 24f2.8, and 1 fa24*f/2.8....They are all 24, but my favs are the sigma and Vivitar...Simply the best corner to corner...They even produce different colors. Slight differences, but they are there.

07-18-2010, 10:49 AM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
There are five factors in capturing an image photographically. In decreasing order of importance, they are:...

Excellent succinct analysis, RioRico. My listing of the factors is slightly different from yours but only slightly.

The important thing for this discussion—and for a very large number of the similar discussions that we seem to have non-stop—is that the lens is more important than the camera body.

Now, while a great body can't undo the effect of a terrible lens, in theory, a really, really lousy body could negate the excellence of the lens. That's in theory. In practice, there simply aren't many really, really lousy bodies these days. I have not run across a really lousy lens, either, in the last five years. (Well, I'm overlooking the no-brand lens I bought for $5 at a camera show.) But it remains true that I'd rather shoot with a Pentax K-x and, oh, a Pentax 70mm limited, than a Nikon D700 with some mediocre third-party zoom lens.

Your other point—that "presentation matters"—is also very important. In fact, I'm inclined to think that it matters more than I really would like it to matter. I've seen an awful lot of mediocre photos make a strong impact on the basis of very good presentation.

Will
07-18-2010, 11:52 AM   #25
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... also, I would be willing to bet that if a RAW image was taken with each camera lens set, that through processing the resulting images could be made to pretty much equal each other.

07-19-2010, 02:19 PM   #26
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IMHO good glass is a major player in trying to obtain first rate images.

Some lenses, especially some zooms try to be master of all, but to cover a range of focal lengths there has to be optical compromises.

That having been said, knowing those limitations can provide you with very capable work tools to get the job done. Use what you own, work with what you have and get great results.
07-19-2010, 04:20 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
At first, you think a lens is something you stick on the front of your camera. After a while you start to understand that a camera is something you stick on the back of your lenses.

Great comment, swiped for my Facebook friends.
07-19-2010, 05:33 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by kerrowdown Quote
IMHO good glass is a major player in trying to obtain first rate images.
That depends on what is meant by "first rate". As I said above, "Even the best gear, light and subject may not help a lousy shooter. A crisp, clear, brilliant image of boring crap is still boring crap. A technically weak shot of an astounding subject will always grab eyeballs. Art and communication do not depend on resolution."

Oh darn, now I'm arguing, and quoting myself. I'd better chill out...
07-20-2010, 09:23 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
There are five factors in capturing an image photographically. In decreasing order of importance, they are:

1) The photographer
2) The subject
3) The light
4) The lens
5) The camera
This is heavy, man.
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