Remeber, Sharpness is not everything !

Started Feb 20, 2014 | Discussions thread
James O'Neill Veteran Member • Posts: 4,465
Well put ...

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, " 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.

I've actually bought one Pentax's 85mm-Soft lenses (mostly out of curiosity). The 77 is so sharp I can't do beauty shots with it, unless I soften a lot in post.

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.

As you say, sharpness is one characteristic among many. We get more and more obsessed with measuring things, those which are easy to measure get extra attention.

If we look at the lenses used to take the great pictures of the 20th century, their quality is below what todays amateur expects.

 James O'Neill's gear list:James O'Neill's gear list
Pentax K-5 IIs Pentax K-1 Pentax smc FA 50mm F1.4 Pentax smc DA 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 Pentax smc FA 43mm F1.9 Limited +2 more
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