Is sharpness over-rated ?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Minniesmum, May 10, 2013.

  1. Minniesmum

    Minniesmum Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 2, 2012
    I've just about got over dropping my Oly 45mm f1.8. As someone kindly pointed out " it's just a piece of glass ":rolleyes: other than buying the PL 25mm f1.4 or Pana 20mm f1.7, my options with the lens are: send it back to Olympus UK for assessment/repair, use it as is with it's limitations.
    The lens still does focus just slightly out- so nothing is really sharp. The dof effect is still good. I use it a lot for ICM which doesn't require sharpness at all....
    I use the fast manual primes for much low-light work.
    So perhaps I should just use it for what it works for best now. The repair assessment will cost £ 15. plus registered shipping both ways. Who knows what the repair will cost ? Think I will initiate that anyway.
    I've had a great full year out of it whatever happens :)

  2. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Real Name:
    Yes IMO sharpness is over-rated.
    It is an important charcteristic for some types of photography, but many people treat it as more of the essential element of lens design.
    For many atmospheric shots (dreamy portraiture, LOMO as well as your ICM) sharpness is relatively irrelevant or even undesirable.

    I freely admit I've had thousands of pictures fail because they're not sharp enough, due to misfocus, camera/subject movement, as well as cheap lenses. But I've also seen super sharp images that would benefit from added blur, especially away from the main subject, or where the Bokeh totally ruins the shot.

    Sorry to hear about the dropped lens, at least there are loads of cheap legacy lenses of similar FOV, which could be used while you investigate repairs. I've got at least 3 Pentax M50mm F1.7 so if you've got a suitable adapter I can lend you one for the cost of postage. They'd limit you to MF & Av/M mode but they're pretty sharp with good bokeh :)
  3. drewbot

    drewbot Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 21, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Sharpness is overrated to a point.

    The incremental sharpness over one modern lens vs. another typically is small enough you don't notice unless you love pixel peeping.

    Take the most compared m43 lenses, and the hundreds of threads titled "Which lens to buy? P20, O17/1.7 or PL25?"

    All of them are sharp, but some are more sharp than others. All of them will do just fine.
  4. Iansky

    Iansky Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    The Cotswolds, UK

    Regardless of the frustration and sharpness issues, it has given good service for over a year and that satisfaction may be enough to justify a repair providing of course it does not exceed the cost of a good quality used one.

    Good luck, it is too nice a lens not to use to it's full capacity.
  5. Minniesmum

    Minniesmum Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 2, 2012
    Thanks all for your thoughts on this :) I have several old primes including the Zuiko and Canon 50mm f1.4's so not short of fast quality glass but manual focus of course. The Oly 45 has lived on my E-PL3 since buying it a year ago. It had become an indispensible lens for my style/uses.
    I'm going to send it to Olympus UK for a repair estimate. I believe it may just be a loose/dislodged glass element because there is no obvious sign of damage and it still does focus just not sharp. I've tried manually focussing and on 2 different bodies and nothing helps.
    If it cannot be fixed for a reasonable cost then I will have it back and use it for ICM , and more artistic endeavours !

  6. Minniesmum

    Minniesmum Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 2, 2012
    That's very kind thanks ! but I have 2 x 50mm f1.4 primes and at least 3 x f1.8's all old lenses, so plenty to get that dof and to practice my mf skills on ;)
  7. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sharpness is overrated....

    But what you talk about is different. A possible mis-focus condition due to possible damage. To be honest, I'd be obsessing over it. I dropped my Summarit and it survived. I still sent it in for repair because the aperture ring no longer "felt" right.
  8. Minniesmum

    Minniesmum Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 2, 2012
    I totally agree. I could use this lens as it is but I'd never be happy- irrespective of whether it still " works"....the person who commented on my original topic about this ( which I deleted ) who said " it's just a piece of glass- get over it " has no freakin' idea....:(
    And yes tho I'm not obsessing, it's bugging the heck out of me. And for that reason it's going back for repair/a check....
  9. caimi

    caimi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2012
    middle US
    Real Name:
    I know how helpless you feel in the seconds your lens is falling to the ground and you can't stop it from happening. I have just recently dropped my P14, P100-300 and O45. Someone's angels must be looking out for me because none of them suffered so much as a scratch. But I feel for you. If mine had been damaged I would send them in for repair.
  10. Minniesmum

    Minniesmum Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 2, 2012
    thanks :)
    My Oly 45 was attached to my E-PL3 when it hit a tiled floor in Sainsbury's- from a height... camera totally ruined as well. Have replaced that with an E-P3.... still debating about the lens...
  11. Jay86

    Jay86 Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 26, 2012
    To answer your question... yes absolutely sharpness is over-rated (these days anyways). I think most lenses out there are sharp "enough", its just that some are a bit sharper than others leading to comparisons that go wild. But thats just my opinion.

    That being said I would get that lens fixed if you use it that much. If its your main lens I would want it to be a "pleasure" to use instead of something I wasn't "satisfied" with.
  12. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Well it certainly is much easier to tone down an image with too much sharpness than it is to sharpen up something too soft and mushy.
  13. cmpatti

    cmpatti Mu-43 Veteran

    May 8, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    I generally agree that the minutia of sharpness comparisons often strays into irrelevance, but it does depend on what you are trying to do with your photography. In other words, there is always the question of sharp "enough" for what? Some of us are trying to use MFT for landscape work to produce fairly large prints (in my case, routinely 15x20 inches, sometimes larger), and given the magnification that prints of this size involve, lens sharpness is more, not less important than when I shot with larger formats.
  14. noohoggin1

    noohoggin1 Instagram: @tomnguyenstudio

    May 21, 2012
    Real Name:
    I'm going to agree with this. Although sharpness is just one factor of image/lens quality, I am of the belief that a lens can never be too sharp.
  15. arad85

    arad85 Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 16, 2012