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Poll: Being honest, do you really need pin-sharp lenses?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by oldracer, Nov 26, 2015.

  1. Actually no. Virtually all of my photos are only seen on computer monitors.

    8 vote(s)
    8.7%
  2. Actually no. I print my images once in a while but 8" x 10" or so is about the maximum size.

    12 vote(s)
    13.0%
  3. Yes. I often print very large, more than 20" on one edge.

    14 vote(s)
    15.2%
  4. Yes. I often crop heavily and the lens resolution begins to show.

    27 vote(s)
    29.3%
  5. Yes. I'm a pro and I regularly sell my images. They have to be the best I can create.

    4 vote(s)
    4.3%
  6. Yes. I'm an unreformed pixel-peeper and want the best possible images regardless of practical need.

    12 vote(s)
    13.0%
  7. No. I have other reasons to be unconcerned about ultimate sharpness, explained in my post.

    8 vote(s)
    8.7%
  8. Yes. I have other reasons to need the best possible sharpness, explained in my post.

    7 vote(s)
    7.6%
  1. oldracer

    oldracer Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 1, 2010
    USA
    (Seems like a good day to throw a rock into the pond.)

    There is a lot of talk around here about the "best" lenses and concern about relatively small differences in sharpness. My suspicion has been that, although these are fun discussions, very few of us are using our images in a way that ultimate sharpness will even be seen.

    What say you?
     
  2. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Top Veteran

    767
    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    For me it is one of those things where I am not worried abut the ultimate sharpness but when some shots come out a tad soft, it does seem noticeable. But that said the subject matter of my shots are usually the most important and a few of my favorite shots have been not so sharp and even one or two a tad out of focus, but because I liked the over all shot so much I kept them despite their flaws.

    Regardless, if I buy one of the better lenses in the lineup and am doing so for its advertised image quality, then I expect sharp images from the lens when I don't screw up the shot. Otherwise, why ever buy anything but the kit lenses then?
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    Graham
    I'm a throwback to the film and print days. If I have an image I really like, I make a large print for the living room wall. 8x10 is small - something for a wall has to be in the 15x20 to 20x30 range. With these image sizes it's better to have very sharp lenses IMHO.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Gerard

    Gerard Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 12, 2015
    Vleuten, Utrecht
    When I take my glasses off, everything further than 20cm (2/3 feet) is blurry.
    When I put them on my vision is blurred by all kinds of dirt on my glasses. So ANY photo reveals more detail than I would EVER see.
     
    • Funny Funny x 6
    • Like Like x 4
  5. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    It depends on the subject matter - for most people photos, no, not necessarily. For landscape shots? Yes please. Because I want to have the option of printing big and getting up close to ogle the details. Fine detail on a portrait matters less because I'm not terribly interested in examining eyelashes or wrinkles individually. Details on a nice cityscape or landscape, yes, from time to time.
     
  6. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    It really does depend on the kind of photo. I enjoy landscape, wildlife, macro, and object / urban photography which are genres were sharpness is really noticeable, either because there's heavy cropping, a ton of texture and detail, lots of depth of field, or some combination of the above. I don't do a lot of family / portraiture shots, but for those that I do, I agree that sharpness is not my overriding priority.

    We just printed a 24x36 photo from our living room (from my girlfriend's 20MP Samsung NX210), and I printed 8 16x20s from my GX7 that are going to be rotating through frames. Those are big enough that you can notice sharpness, but I feel like I might be printer quality limited. These are from Costco, and they are decent, but not mindblowingly nice.

    I also pixel-peep on my 24" monitor which is a habit I try to rid myself of, but there is a real personal satisfaction that I get from a really nice capture, and it's nice when I can drown myself in the details...

    All of this may be a moot point though, because I'm not sure the lens that I do have are generally on many lists of sharpest lenses...the P20mm, 7.5 fisheye, O11-22mm and Sigma 90mm are definitely standouts, though.
     
  7. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    My lenses are limited by the idiot behind the camera :)
     
    • Funny Funny x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Who wouldn't want sharp lenses? With advanced computer aided designs, modern manufacturing and high resolution sensors there's no reason not to have affordable sharp glass. Quality photography is way more access to more people.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
  9. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    I voted as being unconcerned about sharpness, because for my photography its about getting an interesting (to me) image.. not a technically perfect image.


    I enjoy a sharp image, if that is what I want... but I have learned that to get the ultimate sharp image more often than not, requires plenty of light, a high shutter speed, a small aperture and a static subject.

    These are things that rarely all come into being at the same time and actually are not the kinds of things I like shooting.

    Stop down, put it on a tripod and give a lens light and it is often sharper than you think. Shoot wide open, hand held at a marginal shutter speed at high ISO and you are always going to be screwed unless you are really good or really lucky.

    Yes there are sharper and less sharp lenses.... there is an easy way to work this out.... look at the price tag :)

    K
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Agree Agree x 2
  10. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    There is nothing worse than a sharp image with a fuzzy concept.

    Or

    There is nothing worse than a fuzzy image with a sharp concept.

    Most consumer kit lenses today are pretty sharp to begin with and as long as you have good light and sturdy tripod support, you will get good shots.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  11. JanW

    JanW Mu-43 Regular

    I think other factors like good contrast, color rendition and the absense of all kinds of lens faults like CA, flare and distortions are perhaps more important than ultimate sharpness.
    But maybe I say this because I probably can't afford a lens that has no flaws and also has ultimate sharpness.

    Jan
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I remember the line in a movie where a female character is asked why she is taking a gun with her. Her response is that guns are like condoms, she'd rather have one and not need it than need one and not have it.

    Sharpness is a bit like that.

    There is a big problem with the question as asked, and that is what is meant by "pin sharp". I don't need the sharpest lenses available, but I do like sharp lenses. I can make them softer easily later in processing, or simply by stopping down to where diffraction is starting to be visible, or by using a UV filter smeared with vaseline, or by stretching a stocking over the front of the lens, or by using manual focus with my ageing eyes, or in any one of a number of other ways. I can't make a lens which isn't sharp deliver more sharpness, all I can do is minimise the impact of that lack of sharpness.

    The bottom line is that you have more options for what kind of result you get if you have a sharp lens rather than a lens which isn't sharp but there can be a point where, for the kind of photography you do, you can say of a lens that it is "sharp enough" and not want to pursue a sharper lens. You're the person who chooses where to draw that line in the sand.

    And whether or not you think you need pin sharp lenses, sharpness matters. You choose the lens you want to use and you're making a choice about how much sharpness means to you and what compromises you're prepared to accept in balancing sharpness against other lens characteristics. The softest lenses I can think of are pinhole lenses and no one chooses a pinhole lens simply because they don't care about sharpness. They choose a pinhole lens because it can deliver the softest image they can get, and that is a decision made because sharpness matters to them for that image, it's just that lack of sharpness is far more important for that image than clinical sharpness would be.

    Finally, the survey questions imply that the "best possible images" can only be achieved with "best possible sharpness". That is just so wrong in most cases. As I said, there's a point where sharp enough is good enough for a given image, and it can be a very different point for different images, but as an obvious matter of fact most photos aren't made with the sharpest lenses and a lot of the best images ever made weren't made with the sharpest lenses available at the time. Further, great images don't become less great over time because sharper lenses become available and the photographer could now do better if they had a sharper lens and could take the same shot again.
     
    • Agree Agree x 5
  13. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    Better modify that old advice to take into consideration diffraction limitations of 4:3 lenses. Best to find the sweet spot between stopping down and where diffraction kicks in. I'm thinking ~f8 max.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    It's almost 2016.. we are well past the 15" screens with 1024x768 resolution.
    I want my pics to look good on those retina displays and on 4k monitors it's hardly even needed to peep - full screen is close to 100% view of 16 mpx sensor.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015
    • Agree Agree x 2
  15. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    In his Olympus Anywhere videos, you can hear quite clearly that Jay Dickman sometimes shoots at f/16 with his lenses. Now, he may have fuzzy images from diffraction, but surely you can't be a Pulitzer Prize winner and National Geopgraphic shooter with a private jet provided by N.G unless some of his fuzzy images have a sharp concept behind it! And they do!
    Too many people are so fixated by not crossing the line of diffraction out of fear that their images aren't looking sharp. Well, to fix that, work really really hard in polishing the fuzzy concept first.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  16. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    guess?
    Sure, on a rare occasion I sometimes shoot at f16 too but not if f8 works. There is a noticeable difference between shots that I took at f11 and at f5.6.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015
    • Like Like x 1
  17. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Agree... though I think, from my experience and expectations, the diffraction thing is a little over emphasised... the only time I felt I perceived a difference was shooting a spider with macro at f22

    on the other hand the 75 at f11 still seemed well within its comfort zone

    9111573687_42bf94503c_b. P6220109 by kevinparis, on Flickr

    K
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 2
  18. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Why do you think camera sales keeps sinking with no bottom still? It's because not everyone uses a Retina, 4K and 5K monitors to view images. The majority of people today view images on iPads and smartphones where 2MP is more than adequate so buying a 16MP, 24, 36 and 50 or high MP means absolutely nothing to people viewing on the phones and iPads. So most of these nice sharp Zeiss Otus taken images with Sony A7r or D810 are exclusively reserved only for the wealthy rich and able while the rest of us are fine with 5-16MP cameras. If you look at Flickr sites and the cameras people use to shooting. Some of them are like 6-12MP of yesterday cameras. Why? Because they are so affordable and have plenty of pixels for phones and 2K HD screens.

    I know some of you may own a Mac Pro or a powerful MacBook Pro; but understand the majority of mortals souls have other family and urging obligations to deploy money elsewhere. Unlike some of us who can fully deploy all your disposable income to owning the best and enjoy the best screens, sharp lenses and high MP bodies and always print big as though they cost a few cents each print.
     
  19. Ramsey

    Ramsey Mu-43 Top Veteran

    719
    Jan 9, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    Do i need them? No. Do i like having them? Yes.

    The main reason is: i'd rather have sharpness then correct in post if not needed (portraits or similar). Others are: i enjoy macro, i am a pixel peeper, i crop a lot, and i print (usually 8x12, but sometimes larger).
     
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1