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Remeber, Sharpness is not everything !

Started Feb 20, 2014 | Discussions thread
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andrew britten
Senior MemberPosts: 1,124Gear list
Re: Ansel Adams had a take on the "perfect" lens....
In reply to brecklundin, Feb 20, 2014

brecklundin wrote:

andrew britten wrote:

Not necessarily disagreeing, but where are these sharp lenses that are no good?

I don't recall where I read it but there is a quote from Ansel Adams when he was asked to help design or was simply asked what needed to be done to make a "perfect" lens. His response was what sort of describes this issue. It was, and I am quoting from memory, "...no need, it has already been done..." or something to that effect.

Adams was saying that the lenses he had were already perfect. Look at his results and even though he was a master in the darkroom, it's hard to argue against the sentiment in that comment.

Here the issue is not that sharpness is bad, it's not, but in evaluating a lens it is not now, should never be and really until modern times never was the sole criteria in judging a lens.

As to the issue of too sharp portraits are a great example. Too much detail can actually make an image less interesting as much as camera shake or missed focus. There are times when you don't always want or need bleeding edge crispiness in a shot. You can add sharpness to edges in post to give the perception of sharpness but going the other way never has worked out well for me...then again I stink-on-ice in post processing.

And know I am not arguing against sharpness as a portion of the criteria to evaluate a lens. I mean it has to capture enough detail to give you something with which to work, right? But it doesn't need to be perfectly sharp.

Also when i talk about sharpness of a lens I am generally referring to across the frame. Almost all modern lenses are excellent to outstanding in the center at one or more apertures. It's this across the frame thing where it becomes a creative tool. I feel, personally, that less sharp towards the corners makes for a creative rather than documentary/clinical tool.

Again, I basically agree that sharpness is not the beginning and end of a good rendering.

Witness the Pentax lenses that don't do all that well in lab tests, but interpret scenes beautifully.

But, as I asked, where are these sharp lenses that are no good?

As to portraiture, there's always some filter out there, be it physical or computer code, that will take the edge off.

You can always blur sharpness, but the opposite is not always possible. Was that an Ansel Adams quote? 



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