This Lens is Soft

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 on both cameras and lens. 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 current cameras with 24 megapixels and higher are too good for many lenses. So don’t pixel-peep and get a life!

  1. Canon, Sony and Nikon, all have much higher resolution cameras in the 40+ megapixels range. The problem is that even is their new lenses, the Canon RF mount, the Nikon Z mount and all the Sony GMaster lenses, the images don’t look any sharper than the “good old days” of the Nikon D3 from 2007.

    • On paper, with all the lens testing, all these new lenses are so much sharper than the previous generation (and a lot more expensive).
    • In real life, the sharpness is tied to the contrast between two adjacent pixels. The higher the camera resolution, the more pixels in between the bright point and the dark point. This makes it appear as less sharp…
  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.
    • 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, all of my various processing software have all of my lenses in their databases and correct them, so I don’t even see these problems anymore. Also, I don’t bother much with noise anymore. If the photo is a black and white photo then I usually like it (I often add grain to my black and white images). If the photo is a color photo, many processing software have excellent noise reducing tools.

Tip

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.