Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/12/28

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Subject: Re: [Leica] SHARPNESS
From: (Ted Grant)
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 14:55:25 -0800

Paul Schiemer wrote:

>When I first became interested in photography a mentor taught me to evaluate
>lenses not on reputation’ but on proven fact (results).  In all this time, in
>all the directions imaging has taken me, that standard of proof has been a
>constant.  It does not change with whimsy or get modified by marketing
>jingoism.  [Although I’ll admit to falling for some whoppers!]

Hi Paul,

Damn son all that testing must have taken up a tremendous amount of good
picture taking time, when all you needed to do was ask Erwin and or read
his technical information. :)

>Subjective qualifiers about specific camera lenses which have no basis, no
>constant, and no reference are bandied here on LUG as easily as shelling

Well I guess we've got a few good nut crackers here, :) but we have the
best of the breed in the world on the LUG when it comes to lens
information, testing, evaluating and passing that information on in an
understandable manner for dummies like me.

None other than Erwin Puts, he's the best of the lens technical breed as
far as I'm concerened. I've learned more about lenses from Erwin in the few
years I've been aboard the LUG, than the previous 40 years. He makes the
results understandable and interesting. Quite frankly I bet Erwin can at
the moment, give you exactly what you are alluding to as he has already
done it all and probably published..

>It is all homogenized by personal preference, and -in consideration of the
>very diverse results general photography can produce- infinitely variable.
>While Joe over here may refer to an image he took of a stand of trees as
>sharp as a tack’, and Bill over there may refer to a shot he got of a peacock
>in full strut as sharp as a tack’-  those two tacks are as different as night
>and day. >>>>>>>>

But isn't that part of what photography is all about? Does every picture
have to be so all blazing "sharp" it looks almost too sharp, to the extent
it takes the warmth and feeling out of the image?

Yep they can be absolutely "tack sharp" through the analytical process you
speak of, but as cold as a dead fish on the beach. Technically nice sharp
frame but what does it tell you? The shooter has a sharp lens or what?

Please, I'm not putting this down, as I'm sure there are folks who have
kinky ideas about things techie as you point out. However, when someone
like myself buys Leica glass I don't even look at this kind of information,
as I just want to know how fast it is? That is different today due to
learning many technical things from the LUG family, certainly being aware
of the great value of aspherical lenses wide open over non aspherical. Or
Apo or not.

So now when I look at a lens the purchase is determined on, how fast and
aspherical or Apo. And I have to honestly say, I still don't care what
aperture, mm per line, focal point relationship to focal length the
"ultimate sharpness" happens.

You see 99.9% of the time I'm far too busy having fun and earning a few
dollars to concern myself with things of his nature. If it actually made me
produce "better pictures" not just "sharper pictures," I'd give it a whirl.
However, I don't believe knowing this kind of stuff is going to make me a
better photographer. and when it comes to people who buy photographers and
an awful bunch of them wouldn't even notice the difference one way nor
another. Unfortunately.

So I'm going to go back to what I always say,   " Grab your camera, get
your butt out the door and have fun taking pictures! Isn't that why you
have a camera and film?" :) Or do you have them to make truly sharp
ultimate sharp images?

I would think that what you have proposed would be a great idea for a high
tech group of folks, but it is my understanding and feelings of what I've
read on the LUG, the majority of folks like taking pictures far more than
heavy duty analysis documentation as you suggest.


Ted Grant
This is Our Work. The Legacy of Sir William Osler.