Introduction to the lens test widget

Alongside our partnership with DxOMark, we've completely re-written our unique lens test widget, that provides a simple and easily-interpretable display of lens properties. This allows us to include additional data that DxOMark measures for each lens. The new widget is also designed to work on mobile devices such as the iPad, as it's based on HTML5 rather than Flash. Note that the test data in the old widget is not directly comparable to that in the new one, due to differences in the testing methods and calculations used.

Our new widget is designed to look and behave similarly to the old one. Again it is designed to allow you to explore the optical characteristics of a lens and freely compare it to others. Three display modes are available, which show Sharpness and Chromatic Aberration, Distortion, and Vignetting.

Unlike some other sites, we don't concentrate purely on sharpness and present other lens qualities almost as an afterthought; we consider chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting at an equal level. The reason for this is simple, as these other attributes can easily have a more destructive effect on perceived image quality than any softness of the lens. Indeed 'sharpness' may be considered the lens equivalent of megapixels, superficially easy to understand and therefore the property most people think of first, but when taken on its own, far from being the whole story.

The main panel of the widget is arranged in three sections; the display mode tabs are along the top, the main data display is in the middle, and the user controls and data readout are at the bottom. Simply select the display mode you want by clicking on the relevent tab, and explore the focal length and aperture settings by dragging the controls.

Below the display are three links; the one on the left will take you to DxOMark's own page for the lens with its complete set of data. Those on the right take you to fullscreen and compare modes, which open in new windows or tabs. In these, the focal length and aperture controls can be changed using your keyboard's cursor keys (up/down to 'zoom', left/right for aperture). This becomes especially useful when comparing two lenses.