Nikon 105mm F1.4 - Extraordinary

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
anotherMike Veteran Member • Posts: 9,978
Re: Nikon 105mm F1.4 - Extraordinary

I wasn't replying to you - but to the poster above me in the thread. Sorry for any confusion.

As a general rule, I don't like the word "clinical", because, frankly, its a word tossed out by people who want to force a negative connotation description to a lens they didn't pick. And here's the thing: I generally prefer well corrected lenses that are honest and transparent, meaning they transmit the data of the scene most accurately to the sensor. We can not add what isn't there in post processing, although we can of course manipulate what we are given. So I'll always take a well corrected lens over one that isn't so, although there are some deviations, which I'll get into in a bit.

So here's the thing: How can a lens that is sharp, honest, accurate, transparent be clinical if the scene itself isn't clinical? I've been doing post processing since 98, which is a while, and my current thinking is that with digital photography, the onus is on *us* the photographer, to handle *more* of the overall pizza of image quality, than we ever had to in the film days. So what happens is someone gets a really good lens, shoots it, but they don't know how to sharpen correctly, and they over-do it, and then they screw up the tonal qualities of the file because they're trying to enhance the image to their liking, probably on a monitor that isn't anywhere good enough to doing proper high level post with. And then they boost the color or manipulate the color properties of the image in a similarly poor manner. What happens as the end result? The shot looks what people call "digital", or perhaps "clinical", and then they blame the lens and rush off to use an older aberrated lens that isn't as sharp, isn't as contrasty, has more veiling flare, perhaps has a native color balance that the photographer prefers, and since the photographer isn't that good at the post - they aren't adept at realizing how to normalize the color balance of the lens, or how to process it, they think "their" lens is somehow superior and "not clinical", when the reality is that *if* they had the skills in the post end, they would achieve the superior result with the lens they had termed clinical. One way I think of it is that they use a "worse lens" as sort of a filter to cover up their own deficiencies. And then a bunch of followers start thinking that's the absolute truth, not taking the time to really think about the lenses job in the scenario, and how it really generally isn't "clinical", like, ever. (Note: I can see that some bokeh might be termed as clinical).  So that's a bad word in my book.

Now, to extend going off topic here, once we have well corrected, honest, transparent-to-souce lenses, that doesn't mean they are all the same. The characterization of transition from in focus to out of focus is different - it can be a fast transition, a slow one, or one in the middle. All equally valid options, and all can occur in a well corrected lens. This could be seen if we could see the objective measure of through-focus MTF. Unlike the qualifications of a well corrected lens, there is no "right answer universally. Add to that the complex subject of bokeh, which can be quite good on a well corrected lens too, and you now can see of course that there are differences even between excellent lenses.

But "clinical"? We really need to drop that word from our vocabulary for describing lenses. It's overused and not really indicative of what is happening in the overall scheme of things.

So, back to the 105E and 105Art. I've shot them both. Both excellent. But I'd respectfully disagree with you in that I think the 105 Art is the more honest/neutral of the two with the 105E leaning just ever so slightly into a subjective romantic/warm rendering natively. Just a bit. In my own lens collection, in mid tele, my other choices (couple of Zeiss plus the Sigma 85 art), well, they all are pretty honest/transparent, so perhaps I'm drawn to the 105E because of it's slight, minor deviation from being purely honest as the others while still being quite good in that category, so it gives me a different flavor that I find works better for things like headshots and portraiture. We are lucky to have choices - that's really what owning a DSLR/MILC is all about - and even I carry two very high quality 85mm lenses for their slightly different look and use accordingly.

Anyway, I probably took this way, way off topic. Sorry! And again, my comments were not directed at you, but rather the other poster.


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