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Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by duceditor, Sep 6, 2018.
"Another One in the Wet"
"New Growth in the Early Morning Light"
My Image of the Day 2 - June 1, 2021
"Just Growing There"
My Image of the Day - June 2, 2021
"The Bird Bath"
My Image of the Day 2 - June 2, 2021
"Out Back, Early"
Choosing "Glass" (i.e., Lenses)
This post will not be image rich, but it is something I thought both appropriate, and (I expect), useful to regular participants in this thread.
When we think images we think cameras, and a key -- indeed, I think, the key -- part of the camera when it comes to the images produced is the 'glass.' The lens.
How can get what we need? How should we choose?
There is here, as there is on almost any topic, room for many different experiences and opinions. Mine are based on a lifetime of imaging. It is how I earned my bread, as well as one of the deepest joys in my life.
So my "opinions" are here experiencial. -Based on years and years of making choices. For a good many of them basically without cost concerns, but that was not, and that is especially so today, entirely so.
As with my guitars, what they "cost" was just one factor among many. "Cheap" is good. "Expensive," though, is sometimes worth the pain. -Doing without other things because of what it can add to one's life; one's capabilities. Here as an imager.
To those who have just sort'a 'used' cameras -- just as for some players (some very good!) who simply "use" guitars, lenses may just be what is. But here even a little knowledge is worth a great deal, so I'll touch on some of it. That to hopefully spread some understanding of use even among those of us with limited means and interest.
A good lens is a very, very, difficult thing to make. Computers have helped -- somewhat taking the place of individual geniuses -- those people who once made a Leica or a Nikon lens something a league above less expensive models. But that is only to a limited degree because of, yes, what makes a lens "good."
Basically a lens is a way to bend and focus light. Light passes thru glass and is bent by it. That is in the most basic terms how a lens does what it does. But then start the "buts." Lots and lots of them.
When light passes thru glass it bends, but it does so to different degrees depending on the color of the light. Violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red -- each is bent differently. And the more you ask the light to bend that bigger those differences become.
This is why so-so lenses show what we call "color fringing." -Edge os the images with a bit of color seeming to leak out.
Too, when light is bent its focus point changes unevenly. Straight lines no longer look straight. Sharp edges are no longer clearly defined. And even the amount of light that 'gets through' changes so brightness is uneven and contrast -- the difference between "bright" and "dark" blurs. And put altogether you get a mirky, distorted, largely uncontrolled image. -In guitar terms it is out of tune. Distorted. Sharp. Flat. Wavering.
Now here is where the choices come in -- and the fun! For "out of tune," "distorted," "sharp," "flat"and "wavering" can all sound good. Great 'art' can be made with these things. But only if the artist -- the guitarist or the imager -- uses them by intent and design.
Thus great images can be made with a pretty 'crappy' lens, just as great music can be made with a pretty crappy guitar and/or amplifier.
But only certain types. Types of music. Types of images. And types of crappy this and that.
And unlike guitars the difference between good and not too good is hard to cross over without investing a lot of money.
Most glass -- even so-called "optical quality" glass -- does what a prism does. But rare and expensive to make glass largely doesn't.
Clever design using several pieces of carefully chosen and shaped glass allow one piece of glass to correct the distortion created by a previous piece of glass that the light passed thru. And with careful and informed design and very accurate physical construction these various pieces of glass can do a lot of work with ever changing demands and purposes. -Focus near, focus far, gather light from a wide field of view to a far narrower one. (I.e, it can "zoom".)
Try to do that with "cheap" glass of mediocre mechanical precision and you simply cannot get truly good, clear, undistorted, images.
When one buys a big name lens one is buying that name, yes. But one is also buying a level of excellence in all the above -- things that must be skipped over to make a lens cheaper.
"Tone wood" may be a dream more than a reality. But what we might call 'tone glass' is not.
Rough fret edges on a guitars may be tolerable -- and we may be able to hone them down ourselves. But such cannot be done with a lens. It is either fine (in design and materials and execution) or it is not. Period.
But there are less expensive ways to get the 'good glass' we need. Let me focus (pun intended) a bit on that.
One is to know what glass you really need.
Do you tend to shoot 'wide' angle? Tele?
Do you tend to shoot in low light? Or very fast moving subjects?
Much of what makes a lens hard to make "fine" depends on the degree the above is true.
A "fast" lens -- one that takes in a lot of light -- is far more costly to make with excellent image quality than one that only can take in a moderate amount of light.
Camera makers and dealers pretend that "fast" means "good." Thus a F1.4 (a "fast" lens) is said to be far "better" than an F2.8 or f3.5 or "slower" one.
That can be true. But it is not necessarily true. The slower and far less costly to make lens can be just as good, or even better, for general subjects in less difficult lighting.
What we need depends on how and what we shoot. Or, alternatively, we can change what we 'shoot' to match the quality of our gear. (Don't have a big amp? Just play in smaller venues!)
Too, many imagers -- especially "pros" -- want the newest and the "best." Thus used pro glass can be a bargain, and 'new old stock' can often be bought at a considerable saving if you know what to look for and where to look.
Sometimes, though, one can buy expensive at full price and still save money.
How? By buying with care so that that one 'piece of glass' does lots and lots for years and years and thus allows you to not have to buy more and more 'stuff" as time passes.
Such was the case with my favorite lens. This one:
Even a brief perusal of my images will reveal that I generally prefer a wide point of view. This one lens -- far from cheap (it cost 3 times as much as my recently purchased camera body that it regularly sits on) -- is used almost daily. And it replaces 3 or more lenses that I'd otherwise have to own. And most of all its quality in every way is exceptional.
But another of my most oft used lens cost me a fraction of what this one did. It by design fits my Canon EF-S lens using camera bodies, matching them perfectly. But it was built by Sigma.
I chose it, not because it was less than half the price of the Canon lens with the closest match in capabilities (which it was), but because it was better. And it has served me flawlessly for now already 6 years.
Sigma lenses, mind you, are not "cheap." But many cost half of what Canon's own would cost. And bought used... Well, again with careful choices, one could save yet more.
In general terms knowledge is often said to be a "dangerous" thing.
My own experience says otherwise. That its danger, for its owner, is solely when it is false, incomplete, and based on popular conceptions. Its real danger is to those who wish to remain over us, benignly or otherwise.
My experience with lenses is, I think, a great proof of this!
I really enjoy seeing the contributions in this thread.
I've been wanting to buy a new camera for a while. And seeing as it was my 50th birthday yesterday, I've decided it's time to treat myself to something. I've narrowed the field to three choices at the moment, but that varies based on reviews/time of day/planetary alignment/moon phase...
Three candidates at the moment:
Fujifilm X100V - the advantage here is a very compact unit and limited options for add-ons ($$$)
Fujifilm X-T4 - still relatively compact but a future money pit in lens options to which I'm vulnerable
Nikon Z50 - I was actually thinking of the Z6 at first but the appeal here, while giving up the full sized sensor (that neither Fujifilm has anyway), is the compact size compared to the Z6 but of course the obvious lens/bank account battles
For both mirrorless options I'd skip the kit lens and go with a fast 35mm equivalent prime (23mm, 1.8 or 1.4).
The other thing I'm a little obsessed with is macro photography. With Nikon announcing Z mount macro lenses this week the Nikon is looking more and more appealing. There is an adapter for N mount lenses but the supposed advantages of the Z mount are rather seducing.
Anyone used the the Z mount stuff yet? Or tried the X100 series?
Edit: Part of the reason for the lens choice and desire for a compact option is travel. Once this pandemic stuff is over and international travel ramps up again, I expect I'll be out and about world wise for a long time if possible.
My Image of the Day - June 4, 2021
"The Bench and the Azalea Bushes"
My Image of the Day - June 5, 2021
"Roots, Stump and Bath"
Middleham, Wensleydale, UK
"Jan's Marvelous, Magic, Healing Lilies"
Graffiti has it's place: