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08-09-2013, 02:12 AM   #1
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Pixel peeper 101

Pixel peeper 101
I recently purchased not one but two Tamron18-250s. I've purchased two FA50/1.4s as well (ended up keeping them both :S
About the Tamrons: I wanted to check if one might be better than the other. One definitely has light dust particles inside, really slack zoom and the pics came out kinda so-so compared to my expectations. The second one looks less used, zoom action is nicely dampened has no dust and maybe I'm biased from the first lens but I believe the pics from the second one were a baby notch better but I cannot be certain.
I be peeping pixels...
does this make me a pixel peeper? and is it ever ok to be a pp? why? why?
help...

08-09-2013, 04:53 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Iksobarg Quote
Pixel peeper 101
I recently purchased not one but two Tamron18-250s. I've purchased two FA50/1.4s as well (ended up keeping them both :S
About the Tamrons: I wanted to check if one might be better than the other. One definitely has light dust particles inside, really slack zoom and the pics came out kinda so-so compared to my expectations. The second one looks less used, zoom action is nicely dampened has no dust and maybe I'm biased from the first lens but I believe the pics from the second one were a baby notch better but I cannot be certain.
I be peeping pixels...
does this make me a pixel peeper? and is it ever ok to be a pp? why? why?
help...
I guess pixel-peeping is not much worse than being very keen on test charts and MTF-graphs etc. For my own part, I prefer looking at pictures rather than pixels and graphs. BUT if my pictures look *wrong*, I may well resort to pixel-peeping amongst others to look for noise-, distortion- and focus issues and the like.

The problem with pixel-peeping is that a) it is so easily done and b) everything will look *awful* when magnified beyond reason.

I suggest that you upload some 100% crops for others to study and comment upon.
08-09-2013, 07:25 AM   #3
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I don't think pixel peeping is bad - however it is just a data point. I usually "test" my lenses by taking pictures of the brick siding of my house. Typically add a few test charts to check the resolution. It does allow a fairly objective accurate way to evaluate how a lens performs at different apertures (and if a zoom - focal lengths) in terms of sharpness, contrast, and color. It gives you at least a starting point in understanding your lens, and how to best utilize it. Some lenses do great even wide open, and some benefit tremendously from stopping down. I see a significant difference between entry level lenses vs med/high end lenses - many mid/high level lenses ends up being close, and it becomes more subjective. And then occasionally there are suprises like a cheap FA 35-80mm that tested extremely well.

However, my most used lenses are not neccessarily the "sharpest" - I often use my lenses wide open, and one of my favourite lenses is the DA 21mm that doesn't qualify as a pixel peeper star. Some lenses just seem to perform much better in real life than the clinical tests.

BTW dont do like me: I tested my DA* 16-50 when I first bought it used, and one of the corners/sides were terrible. I eventually discovered it was because I had not ligned the camera up perfectly with the brick wall (it is acutally hard to do). Always use tripod, careful alignment, and mak sure focus is good

PS: I wouldnt worry about dust. Annoying? Yes - but extremely unlikly to affect your results. Suggest maybe compare the two lenses by putting the camera on a tripdod, locking down focus and aperture, and compare the the results. Anything else becomes much harder to compare.
08-09-2013, 10:16 AM   #4
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I read "pixel peeping" as ignoring anything in a photo except for sharpness. Sharpness has an impact but isn't the only thing that matters, so obviously that's wrong.

Some lens testing is useful, and at some point you'll look at pixels for that. Like Henrik, I learned pretty fast how to do a bad test and get unreliable results. Controlling everything is tedious. It will teach you how much difference just a twitch of the focus ring can make. I learned a lot about focusing from testing. You'll probably discover that dust doesn't matter. After a few tries, I could sort out good lenses from bad.

Just taking pictures never worked for me, especially at the beginning. I could see some differences between lenses and get a feeling about which ones I liked, but it was such a vague feeling. Testing showed me where a lens was clearly bad and helped reinforce the feelings. For example, I compared some 28mm lenses by taking shots at a botanic garden for colors, contrast and bokeh. Then I tested them for sharpness. Shooting flowers, some lenses were easy to use and particularly easy to focus, while some were tougher. When I saw the sharpness results, I found out that the lenses that were very sharp wide open were really easy to focus. Soft lenses make it hard to decide where the focus is. Some more testing showed that some lenses were just soft in the corners, while others had lots of coma, so wide open, points of light turned into blobs. The tests showed me why I liked some lenses better and gave reasons to reject others. But the flower shots also showed that some lenses would produce great images and still be not the ultimate in sharpness.

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