This Lens is Soft

category: Photographers • 2 min read

Canon Rumors in conjunction with Lens Rentals have written a long article on:

Lens Rental, like their name says, rent lenses for Canon, Nikon… They have a fairly high traffic and a big turnover. People rent the lens for the weekend or a few days… and inevitably, people complain that the lens, they just rented, is a dude. Why is it soft?

The article is fairly long, so let me go the “important” part:

The conclusion:

It is a bad time to be a pixel-peeper. If you look closely enough on a high resolution full-frame camera, chances are you’ll find some minor flaw with every lens you own. If you go through 13 copies and get one that’s just perfect, remember to never, ever upgrade your camera body, because it probably won’t be perfect on the next one. That’s just how it is: manufacturing processes are not up to the lens design and sensor resolution we have at the moment.

Canon Rumors

In summary in my own words:

The new high-res cameras with 18 megapixels and higher are too good for the lenses. So don’t pixel-peep and get a life!

  1. Canon, Sony and Nikon, all have much higher resolution cameras in the 30 megapixels range ready or almost ready to go1. The problem is the lack of lenses that can resolve the 30 megapixels. That’s why both Canon and Nikon are refreshing/renewing their professional lenses.
  2. This year, I made the resolution, actually a goal, of not pixel-peeping anymore. But:
    • I need to pixel-peep at 100% to check the focus. It has to be accurate and crisp.
    • I only check the focus at 1:1, all the rest is usually done at 1:2 or 1:3 depending on the complexity of the photo. I do the close-ups at 1:2 and the more complicated landscapes… at 1:3
    • I almost always use 1:1 or even 2:1 when I use the localized brushes.

Am I cheating when I say that I don’t pixel-peep anymore? I have convinced myself that I’m not cheating on my goal. It’s only for the focus. It’s true, I don’t even look at the fringing… I don’t have to, Lightroom 3.3, now, has all my lenses in its database and corrects them, so I don’t even see these problems anymore. I don’t bother with noise anymore. If the photo is too noisy when I’m finished, then I just convert it to black and white.

What’s the secret for having ISO 3200 without having “too much” noise? The correct exposure. Under exposure will kill the photo and will multiply the noise exponentially.

  1. That was before the Japanese earth quake and the devastating tsunami