Nikon 1.8g's vs Sigma 1.4 Art Series

Started Aug 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
anotherMike Veteran Member • Posts: 8,636
Re: Am I the only one who feels this way?

I think you don't get me at all.

I have very high technical standards because as I've said many times in the forum over the years, I have a background that includes all three film formats - 35mm, medium format film, and large format film. I've seen stellar - as in "best there is" prints - original Ansel Adams prints at the George Eastman house in upstate NY, large format landscape work printed on cibachrome in galleries in the southwest, and top of the line epson inkjet output from modern fashion masters. NONE of which was shot with small format. The problem is that I'm just not a large format guy - particularly in the studio, where I like the responsiveness and feel of the SLR/DSLR, so my lifelong dream as a child and young adult was to someday find a 35mm sized camera that produced near large format quality. If you've never seen the work of a darkroom master who shot large format, and knew what the hell he/she was doing in the darkoom (whether it be analog or digital), frankly you're going to have a very difficult time understanding my point of view.

Fast forward to 2012: When the D800E came out, the ability, the promise, of being *able* to get to this "dream" was realized. It doesn't happen every time, nor every shoot - and believe it or not, I shoot a bunch of stuff where I'm absolutely okay with not achieving that level. While I post very technically and have extremely high technical standards here in dpreview, trust me that if some godlike higher alien power, some little green alien dude or something, came down to earth and said I had to choose between posting here on dpreview or shooting as I do, and I couldn't have both, then you'd never hear one damned word from me ever again. Not one. Luckily I don't have to make that choice ( I watch the sky for a bright shining light LOL)

What I've learned over the years - much of it from my own experimentation but also by learning from others is that getting this "level" of quality from the D800E (or, say, a high rez Canon if one were to come out) requires the maximization of as many individual components in the imaging chain in terms of quality as you can. If you start taking the "good enough" as opposed to "great" option several times, the cumulative effect is going to be that I don't get to that goal. The D800E is an easy camera to get great results from, but it's another notch harder to get world class results from.

Now, it's in now way a mandate from the same skies that produces our alien friend that everyone MUST have the same standards as I do. I don't always have the same technical standards for everything I shoot - I end up having to do a live theater/dance gig in lousy light, I'm like the next guy praying I'm in focus, praying I've got a high enough shutter speed and praying I've estimated the white balance of the mix of stage lights right while trying to time a shot, and given I'm likely at ISO 3200 (or higher), I'm not at all concerned with resolution, microcontrast or tonal transitions in highlights. But on a landscape print on a tripod, I am. This doesn't at all relieve me from my responsibility to produce a good image artistically either - my feeling is you want to be solid on a craft level, solid on an artistic level, and for landscape work, be lucky enough to wander into some excellent light on top of it all (and trust me, a lot of that last part is luck, or being stubborn enough to revisit favorite places in order to get the odds of lucky light on your side)

What I get a bit tired of is those tho seem to think just because someone goes for high standards technically that they can't be artistic, or produce artistic work, or think in terms of creativity as well, and I get tired of those who feel it's being "too microscopic". Just because you don't have high standards for quality doesn't mean I shouldn't have high standards and vice versa. I'll drag out the alcohol analogy I've used. I'm pretty much an expert palette in two spirits: Gin and Cognac. Spent way too much money on both But I'm strictly an 'advanced amateur' when it comes to wine. I *know* I don't have the palette of the top guys at wine spectator, but I also know what I like. I know I prefer some regions to others, and some varietals to others, but there is no way on pluto or saturn, much less this planet, that I could ever begin to critique the work of the one pros. And I'm okay with that. You'll never see me in a wine forum calling out some wine expert because he only rated "my wine" a 92 instead of a 94 and it hurt my feelings. If anything, it makes me wonder "If I ever had the time, I'd like to *understand* what he tastes that I am not yet tasking", as opposed to "he's been too microscopic and I can't tell the difference so he must be full of it". Make sense?

And as usual, I'll end with a story. My view is that not everyone is created with the same ability to see differences - from photographers to customers of simply the parents/uncles/kids who get our work. I have a friend, retired now, who is unlucky in that he's color blind, is on more drugs than any one person should be for a variety of health conditions, is NOT a good photographer by his own admission, and isn't really a person who in his entire life has cared a single thing about high standards in any arena at all, whether it be beer, cars, cameras, cigars or chinese food at the take out. Just happens that recently he used, in parallel, at his beginner-at-best skill level, the 70-200/2.8G VR-II in parallel with his own 80-200/2.8 AFD from the late nineties. He doesn't even make big prints. And he could see the difference in quality output EASILY and I seriously doubt there is one person in the entirety of dpreview who isn't far better technically than he is. And he shoots a D700 - a very, forgiving camera. And this is FAR from the first time something like this has happened. You'd be surprised at the variance of how people perceive things. It would be an interesting study for a young grad student out there somewhere I'm sure.

BTW, on the 28/1.8G, I am far from the only one who has found field curvature to be an issue with this lens. Not every scene or distance, but it is there, and you could see it on a D700, much less a 600 or 800 series body. Add to this that pretty much every wide angle I know from any brand at under 35mm has some field curvature and that makes me seriously question why you can't see it.

This is a lens forum, and if we're only going to talk about "good enough" lenses, there won't be much to talk about, because - shock of shocks - most every lens I know of, even things I don't like, are good enough in a basic sense. I don't consider it a stretch to have a discussion about the finer points of lens image quality (here in this forum). Of course not everyone has to strive for the same goals, but some do and it's for that audience that my posts are generally intended for. My contributions here don't cost anyone anything, and if you feel I'm overly analytical, well, you don't have to read them and you can, as they used to say in the wild (american) west, "ride on". I get enough private messages that support what I do so as long as I have long running backup jobs or print jobs, I'll keep contributing to dpreview. Well, unless that little alien tells me to make a choice


(Edit): As for your wish that I disclose more about testing and conditions - yea, I guess if I had more time I could type even LONGER posts than I already do. Frankly I think anyone who follows my posts knows I test as completely as possible within a set of scenarios I would use the lens for personally, and I try to disclose what I haven't tested (example: I note I am not interested in the 35mm lenses wide open and have not spent time there - perhaps if someone was paying me to test there I would, but they're not so I don't given I don't shoot the lens wide open)and I'm always advocating people to not fully trust the one test / one test scenario / one test distance posts.

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