Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

Started Nov 13, 2019 | Discussions
JohnNEX Senior Member • Posts: 2,342
Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)
31

This is another update of a previous post . I usually post updates on the lens forum, but a change is as good as a holiday ...

I'll repeat a bit of the old post here but if there is something you don't understand it may be addressed there.

There are several review sites which do sharpness tests. The problem is that they typically test only one copy of each lens and (sometimes) they do not consistently test on the same camera, which makes comparison between lenses impossible.

I have collated a LOT of test scores from the review sites now and mashed them together using regression-type techniques to get the test scores on a kind of consistent basis, so we have MTF curves for several samples of each lens, which (hopefully) are a lot more reliable. There are a myriad of assumptions in the calculations, however, which can provide handy excuses to ignore the results if you don't like them.

Here is an example of the presentation. The solid lines show the results for the lens in question (8 copies of the 85mm f/1.8), while the dashed lines show results for a 'comparison' (benchmark) lens (9 copies of the 85mm f/1.4 GM in the example). Most of the charts include a 'benchmark' lens so you can see how the sharpness compares to another.

The sharpness scale of zero to 160 means nothing - its just an arbitrary scaling so you can compare the scores across lenses (although a score of 100 is probably a useful definition of 'sharp'). The blue line is the centre and the grey line the corners. The orange line is a bit tricky to interpret because different sites use different terminology for the 'middle' measurement - one site calls it "border" and another calls it "partway" and another calls it "2/3" etc. If you are colourblind then the top line is the centre, the middle line the middle and the bottom line is the corners.

The dots show the results from Lens Rentals tests. Remember, Lens Rentals almost only tests at the maximum aperture, so there is only one data point rather than a sequence with a line.

Yes, the Lens Rentals data often does not align with the combined test scores. Why? You can read a long discussion of that here . It is NOT the case that Lens Rentals is just better. The tests are measuring different things, where one key difference is that Lens Rentals is testing with the lens focused at infinity while the test sites use a standard test diagram placed around 3 to 5 metres from the lens. They are very different tests. One obvious result is that macro lenses (e.g. 90mm f/2.8) do better on the test diagrams than focused at infinity, which should hardly come as a surprise. Another general point is that wide angle lenses tend to do worse on test diagrams than when tested at infinity, which I speculate is likely to be because the lens needs to be placed quite close to the diagram.

Both the Lens Rentals tests and the other websites' tests are useful. They should not be played off against each other. In Lens Rentals favour, their tests seem to be the best process and they test ten lenses which largely eliminates sample variation. Against them is that the tests being only wide open at infinity is a somewhat limited range of uses. For example, tests wide open are not so useful in assessing a specialist landscape lens designed to be most effective stopped down (e.g. Loxia lenses) - see here for a discussion of how lens performance can differ.

The new charts have some new lenses (e.g. Tamron 17-28 and Samyang 85/1.4) and I've also included the data from the excellent SonyAlphaBlog tests.

Sharpest lens? Longer focal length lenses will win every time. The Sony 135mm f/1.8 GM is the sharpest.

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Sharpness scores and other stats for many FE lenses here: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4428806
Fairly amateur photography here:
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iTanas Regular Member • Posts: 299
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

Thank you for doing this.

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steviewonder20
steviewonder20 Regular Member • Posts: 213
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

In general, it looks like it supports the old rule of stop down two stops from wide open for the sharpest images.

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OP JohnNEX Senior Member • Posts: 2,342
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

steviewonder20 wrote:

In general, it looks like it supports the old rule of stop down two stops from wide open for the sharpest images.

Yes, its a good rule of thumb.

Wide angle needs a bit more stopping down and tele needs less.

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jake14mw Contributing Member • Posts: 810
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

Thanks very much for posting these.  If I am reading things correctly, the Samyang 85mm 1.4 shows to be much sharper than the Sony 85mm 1.8!

OP JohnNEX Senior Member • Posts: 2,342
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

jake14mw wrote:

Thanks very much for posting these. If I am reading things correctly, the Samyang 85mm 1.4 shows to be much sharper than the Sony 85mm 1.8!

Yes, there are only three tests of the Samyang but they are show it sharper than the Sony.

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Fairly amateur photography here:
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terryreid
terryreid Senior Member • Posts: 2,670
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

JohnNEX wrote:

This is another update of a previous post . I usually post updates on the lens forum, but a change is as good as a holiday ...

I'll repeat a bit of the old post here but if there is something you don't understand it may be addressed there.

There are several review sites which do sharpness tests. The problem is that they typically test only one copy of each lens and (sometimes) they do not consistently test on the same camera, which makes comparison between lenses impossible.

I have collated a LOT of test scores from the review sites now and mashed them together using regression-type techniques to get the test scores on a kind of consistent basis, so we have MTF curves for several samples of each lens, which (hopefully) are a lot more reliable. There are a myriad of assumptions in the calculations, however, which can provide handy excuses to ignore the results if you don't like them.

Here is an example of the presentation. The solid lines show the results for the lens in question (8 copies of the 85mm f/1.8), while the dashed lines show results for a 'comparison' (benchmark) lens (9 copies of the 85mm f/1.4 GM in the example). Most of the charts include a 'benchmark' lens so you can see how the sharpness compares to another.

The sharpness scale of zero to 160 means nothing - its just an arbitrary scaling so you can compare the scores across lenses (although a score of 100 is probably a useful definition of 'sharp'). The blue line is the centre and the grey line the corners. The orange line is a bit tricky to interpret because different sites use different terminology for the 'middle' measurement - one site calls it "border" and another calls it "partway" and another calls it "2/3" etc. If you are colourblind then the top line is the centre, the middle line the middle and the bottom line is the corners.

The dots show the results from Lens Rentals tests. Remember, Lens Rentals almost only tests at the maximum aperture, so there is only one data point rather than a sequence with a line.

Yes, the Lens Rentals data often does not align with the combined test scores. Why? You can read a long discussion of that here . It is NOT the case that Lens Rentals is just better. The tests are measuring different things, where one key difference is that Lens Rentals is testing with the lens focused at infinity while the test sites use a standard test diagram placed around 3 to 5 metres from the lens. They are very different tests. One obvious result is that macro lenses (e.g. 90mm f/2.8) do better on the test diagrams than focused at infinity, which should hardly come as a surprise. Another general point is that wide angle lenses tend to do worse on test diagrams than when tested at infinity, which I speculate is likely to be because the lens needs to be placed quite close to the diagram.

Both the Lens Rentals tests and the other websites' tests are useful. They should not be played off against each other. In Lens Rentals favour, their tests seem to be the best process and they test ten lenses which largely eliminates sample variation. Against them is that the tests being only wide open at infinity is a somewhat limited range of uses. For example, tests wide open are not so useful in assessing a specialist landscape lens designed to be most effective stopped down (e.g. Loxia lenses) - see here for a discussion of how lens performance can differ.

The new charts have some new lenses (e.g. Tamron 17-28 and Samyang 85/1.4) and I've also included the data from the excellent SonyAlphaBlog tests.

Sharpest lens? Longer focal length lenses will win every time. The Sony 135mm f/1.8 GM is the sharpest.

Is this new or the one that was up a couple of months ago. I downloaded each and do not want to go through these if they are the same they appear to be.

Also concused w/LR at first I thought Lightroom but these include Lens Rentals and others like Sony's web site and other testers? Can you explain, thanks too.

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OP JohnNEX Senior Member • Posts: 2,342
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

terryreid wrote:

Is this new or the one that was up a couple of months ago. I downloaded each and do not want to go through these if they are the same they appear to be.

Also concused w/LR at first I thought Lightroom but these include Lens Rentals and others like Sony's web site and other testers? Can you explain, thanks too.

Terry,

these are the same charts with some new data. For example, last week ephotozine.com published their review of the Batis 18mm f/2.8 lens.  Its not a new lens, but this is a new test of the lens, so I've put that data in which means that I now have six independent tests of this lens rather than five.  Most of the charts have not materially changed, however.  One extra data point will not usually make much of a difference.

The test data comes from these websites:

camerastuffreview.com

Ephotozine

photographylife.com

Optical limits (was photozone.de)

dxomark

traumflieger.de

focus-numerique.com

SonyAlphaBlog

PCMag

Lenstip

Amateur Photographer UK

The big solid dots on some of the charts shows the Lens Rentals tests, which are only done wide open rather than across the aperture range.

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Sharpness scores and other stats for many FE lenses here: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4428806
Fairly amateur photography here:
https://www.facebook.com/John-Clark-Photography-1035965476487072/

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terryreid
terryreid Senior Member • Posts: 2,670
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

JohnNEX wrote:

terryreid wrote:

Is this new or the one that was up a couple of months ago. I downloaded each and do not want to go through these if they are the same they appear to be.

Also concused w/LR at first I thought Lightroom but these include Lens Rentals and others like Sony's web site and other testers? Can you explain, thanks too.

Terry,

these are the same charts with some new data. For example, last week ephotozine.com published their review of the Batis 18mm f/2.8 lens. Its not a new lens, but this is a new test of the lens, so I've put that data in which means that I now have six independent tests of this lens rather than five. Most of the charts have not materially changed, however. One extra data point will not usually make much of a difference.

The test data comes from these websites:

camerastuffreview.com

Ephotozine

photographylife.com

Optical limits (was photozone.de)

dxomark

traumflieger.de

focus-numerique.com

SonyAlphaBlog

PCMag

Lenstip

Amateur Photographer UK

The big solid dots on some of the charts shows the Lens Rentals tests, which are only done wide open rather than across the aperture range.

Thanks I am going to check some of those out.

Out of curiosity which site or top two sites do you lend the most credance too?

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OP JohnNEX Senior Member • Posts: 2,342
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

terryreid wrote:

Thanks I am going to check some of those out.

Out of curiosity which site or top two sites do you lend the most credance too?

I've had a look at this before, with some discussion in this thread:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4376602

The sites which have test results which are most consistent with the combined results is probably "Lenstip", although even they have some outliers.

The "Photographylife" website also looks very consistent, but they don't test very many lenses.

None of them are really terrible, however, in the sense of being consistently at odds with the others.  Combining them all together just gives a more robust result.

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Sharpness scores and other stats for many FE lenses here: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4428806
Fairly amateur photography here:
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TheOwl360 Regular Member • Posts: 349
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

Thank you for collating these data, JohnNex (Ph.D)

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Unum sed Leonem Junior Member • Posts: 47
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

Strange… I keep hearing the Sony 85mm F1.8 was among the sharpest Sony lenses until relatively recently, and now the 135mm F1.8 GM apparently surpasses every other extant Sony lens.

Yet, from your charts, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 is sharper than either Sony. Everyone waxes lyrical about the 135mm F1.8 GM's optical properties (and AF), especially the  sharpness of its output.

Also, from David Abbott's tests, the Samyang 85mm F1.4 appears to be slightly less sharp than its competition (although it's close). There is an obvious incongruence between the data online and your findings.

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jonpais
jonpais Senior Member • Posts: 2,950
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

Unum sed Leonem wrote:

Strange… I keep hearing the Sony 85mm F1.8 was among the sharpest Sony lenses until relatively recently, and now the 135mm F1.8 GM apparently surpasses every other extant Sony lens.

Yet, from your charts, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 is sharper than either Sony. Everyone waxes lyrical about the 135mm F1.8 GM's optical properties (and AF), especially the sharpness of its output.

Also, from David Abbott's tests, the Samyang 85mm F1.4 appears to be slightly less sharp than its competition (although it's close). There is an obvious incongruence between the data online and your findings.

The FE 85 1.8 is average at best. The 135mm GM is spectacular. The Samyang 85mm 1.4 FE is also superb. Many photos over at Fred Miranda.

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tonyz1 Contributing Member • Posts: 533
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

Unum sed Leonem wrote:

Strange… I keep hearing the Sony 85mm F1.8 was among the sharpest Sony lenses until relatively recently, and now the 135mm F1.8 GM apparently surpasses every other extant Sony lens.

Yet, from your charts, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 is sharper than either Sony. Everyone waxes lyrical about the 135mm F1.8 GM's optical properties (and AF), especially the sharpness of its output.

Also, from David Abbott's tests, the Samyang 85mm F1.4 appears to be slightly less sharp than its competition (although it's close). There is an obvious incongruence between the data online and your findings.

A lot of people tend to see what they want to see here to justify why their gear is the best...I appreciate these charts and most mtf tests since even if there is some human error, there is at least some attempt at objectivity.

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VLreviews
VLreviews Regular Member • Posts: 234
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

JohnNEX wrote:

[...]

The test data comes from these websites:

camerastuffreview.com

Ephotozine

photographylife.com

Optical limits (was photozone.de)

dxomark

traumflieger.de

focus-numerique.com

SonyAlphaBlog

PCMag

Lenstip

Amateur Photographer UK

The big solid dots on some of the charts shows the Lens Rentals tests, which are only done wide open rather than across the aperture range.

First of all: Thanks for putting in the work and compiling all the data!

I have one suggestion for the next iteration: I would recommend to remove all older tests done by focus-numerique.com / lesnumeriques.com from the pool. If you look at their older data, they seem to have some problem with the Imatest setup or evaluation. Their resolution numbers for the center are typically "flattened" between f/4 or f/5.6 and f/11 (examples: [1] , [2] , [3]). This is just not plausible, especially for the high-end modern lenses tested there.

Their mid-point and corner measurements are also sometimes janky, but I couldn't say with certainty that those are incorrect. The center measurements definitely are. They have also seemingly changed their test methods recently and current results (see [4] , [5]) do not show the sharpness plateau anymore. So those may be fine to include.

I know that removing the data from this site would reduce the number of samples and I know that by increasing your sample size, you hope to reduce noise/errors by averaging them out. But I think it's also worth to consider that by including clearly erroneous data into the set, it's impossible to improve the results. Also, in case of focus-numerique.com, the data will introduce a consistent bias reducing center sharpness at medium apertures, but only for those lenses tested on that website (!). This will make comparisons between lenses in your combined dataset more difficult / less meaningful.

I hope this is a helpful suggestion.

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PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,775
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

Thanks for your effort.

I just received CV 65/2.0 APO-Lanthar macro yesterday and going to do side by side test against Loxia 85 in the coming weekend at my standard test sites, by trying to adjust to the same AOV. It's a very sharp lenses from I have heard.

As shorter vs longer FL, hard to judge as they have very different AOV. Tele lens magnifies on a narrower area. Short FL lenses also can be very sharp if we judge on entire photos.

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SQLGuy Veteran Member • Posts: 9,852
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)

Thanks for this.

I've been quite happy with the little Samyang 35/2.8, and, it looks from this, like it really does compare pretty well to the Zony.

For my Zony (the 24-70/4), I guess I should just try to leave it at F8 all the time.

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OP JohnNEX Senior Member • Posts: 2,342
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)
1

VLreviews wrote:

JohnNEX wrote:

[...]

The test data comes from these websites:

camerastuffreview.com

Ephotozine

photographylife.com

Optical limits (was photozone.de)

dxomark

traumflieger.de

focus-numerique.com

SonyAlphaBlog

PCMag

Lenstip

Amateur Photographer UK

The big solid dots on some of the charts shows the Lens Rentals tests, which are only done wide open rather than across the aperture range.

First of all: Thanks for putting in the work and compiling all the data!

I have one suggestion for the next iteration: I would recommend to remove all older tests done by focus-numerique.com / lesnumeriques.com from the pool. If you look at their older data, they seem to have some problem with the Imatest setup or evaluation. Their resolution numbers for the center are typically "flattened" between f/4 or f/5.6 and f/11 (examples: [1] , [2] , [3]). This is just not plausible, especially for the high-end modern lenses tested there.

Their mid-point and corner measurements are also sometimes janky, but I couldn't say with certainty that those are incorrect. The center measurements definitely are. They have also seemingly changed their test methods recently and current results (see [4] , [5]) do not show the sharpness plateau anymore. So those may be fine to include.

I know that removing the data from this site would reduce the number of samples and I know that by increasing your sample size, you hope to reduce noise/errors by averaging them out. But I think it's also worth to consider that by including clearly erroneous data into the set, it's impossible to improve the results. Also, in case of focus-numerique.com, the data will introduce a consistent bias reducing center sharpness at medium apertures, but only for those lenses tested on that website (!). This will make comparisons between lenses in your combined dataset more difficult / less meaningful.

I hope this is a helpful suggestion.

Thanks - good to see others are looking closely at the data out there!

Yes, I am aware of the quirks of the focus-numerique data. All the testing websites have their own quirks, but this one is more obvious.

The differences are why I do not simply combine the scores of the tests. If I did, then the lenses tested by focus-numerique would be at a disadvantage compared to other lenses, as you rightly point out.

Instead, the test results get a scaling factor - a different factor for centre, mid and edge - in order to standardise the results. The factors are not arbitrary - they are calculated in a kind of regression system in order to 'normalise' the test results between different web sites. So, it does not really matter what the actual scores are for focus-numerique, just that the relativities between their tested lenses are still sound.

The results look pretty much in line with other test sites:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62463155

I agree that their sharpness test curves look different to the other test sites, but they still end up with very similar relativities between lenses.

The problem with focus-numerique is that they have now clearly changed their testing methodology, as you observe, which makes the new results incompatible with the old, so I have not so far included their last two tests (the Tamron prime and the Sony 20/1.8).

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OP JohnNEX Senior Member • Posts: 2,342
Re: Sharpness scores for most FE lenses (including LR)
4

Unum sed Leonem wrote:

Strange… I keep hearing the Sony 85mm F1.8 was among the sharpest Sony lenses until relatively recently, and now the 135mm F1.8 GM apparently surpasses every other extant Sony lens.

Yet, from your charts, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 is sharper than either Sony. Everyone waxes lyrical about the 135mm F1.8 GM's optical properties (and AF), especially the sharpness of its output.

Also, from David Abbott's tests, the Samyang 85mm F1.4 appears to be slightly less sharp than its competition (although it's close). There is an obvious incongruence between the data online and your findings.

My 'findings' simply reflect all of the quantified data online, so there is no incongruence.  Dustin Abbott's excellent reviews do not attempt to quantify the sharpness - this is not a criticism, since his reviews are great, just an obvious observation.

The Samyang 85/1.4 does come out somewhat sharper in the centre than the Sony 135/1.8, but less sharp mid-frame and at the edges.  Across the frame, I would assess the Sony as the sharper lens.

Anyway, my combined scores do not represent the one true measure of sharpness.  You should consider them as one more piece of information for your decision making.

All I claim is that the combined scores will be more reliable than any one test result, because all of those individual results (including Dustin Abbott's) are of one sample of the lens, and combining lots of results together will reduce the impact of sample variation.  Combining the data together is not without its challenges, however, so I would not be too caught up in relatively minor differences between results for different lenses.  The 135/1.8 and the Samyang 85/1.4 are both among the very sharpest lenses for the system.

On the Sony 85/1.8, it is also a nice sharp lens, but its performance has probably been slightly overstated owing to its low price point - reviewers tend to be more enthusiastic about performance when the price is low, and conflate absolute performance with value-for-money.  That said, the 85/1.8 is a very sharp lens, just not as sharp as the 85/1.4 GM or the Samyang.

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chironNYC Senior Member • Posts: 2,471
how to download his?
1

This looks quite interesting and well done, and I appreciate how informed your discussion is . Thank you for all the good work!

Is there an easy way to download all the results in a form that makes them easier to read?

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