A quest for the ultimate, beautiful, meaningful picture


Researchers Develop Method for Getting High-Quality Photos from Crappy Lenses

It’s a research result for the moment, far from being ready for the market, but once such a plug-in became available for LightRoom and similar apps, I’d certainly go for it! It promises to sharpen images based on knowing the sharpness errors of lenses (‘point-spread functions’ of PSFs). You find a more extended piece, with further links, under:

Researchers Develop Method for Getting High-Quality Photos from Crappy Lenses.

Does that mean we don’t have to buy expensive lenses anymore? Not quite, I think. For one thing, It still takes a lot of glass to make lenses with large apertures, which are needed for the selective focus and nice bokeh that so often distinguish good pictures.


Tilt, shift, click!

Tilt-shift lenses are ideal for getting straight-lined architecture pictures, but also for creative playing with the plane of focus and depth-of-field. Normally, they are very expensive objectives, but price-breaker Samyang is about to release a tilt-shift-lens (Samyang T-S 24mm f/3.5 ED AS USM), rumoured to cost around $ 1,1000 (€ 900?). Hope it does not only come in the Nikon and Canon versions, but for Sony too. I’d put it on my wish list immediately!
The news is from the website FStoppers, who also give a picture of the new lens.

Arabian conference –“And now for something completely different”

A conference room in an Arabian country. The contrast with the pictures shown here in the last couple of months could hardly be bigger. Monty Python’s famous phrase “And now for something completely different!” certainly applies!

Plenary session in ANQAHE's first conference

For the photo camera fans: this is the first picture I enter here taken with the new Sony A77 camera and the equally new 16-50 f/2.8 objective, and that is something completely different, too! The electronic viewfinder takes some getting used to, but has some great pluses: it shows the actual brightness of the picture you are going to take, so you see if in the conference room some exposure compensation is necessary; it gives 100% of the picture so there are no surprising heads entering the edge of the picture, etc. Besides, the camera is incredibly silent and fast, since there is no flapping mirror. The 2.8 lens is a joy to work with, as well: with the large amount of light that it picks up you need the flash less often (in combination with the camera’s 24 megapixel sensor, making ISO1600 a very acceptable high speed to work with), and the lens also seems to have very little distortion compared with my previous Sony 16-105 one.

Another technical advance of the A77 over the Sony A700 is that the RAW mode seems to interpret colour temperature much better in the automatic white balance mode, making post-processing a much lighter and faster exercise too.

Quality or Compromise?

When I bought my new camera, a few months ago, I had the firm plan to go for quality. No compromises! So I ordered a standard zoom lens with the camera that would give maximum quality. All of the web said so (for one example: click here). The shop where I had bought the body did not have the lens immediately. ‘Next week’, they said, and later it was ‘In two week’s time’. In this way, more than two months have now passed and still they did not have it. ‘In a month from now’, they promised today after another phone call. I had enough of them and decided to try another shop; all over the net you could find this lens, and quite a few shops said they had it available–not quite for the price of my first shop, but they had it. Well, they said they had it. I called a shop or two, but discovered that the web sites had been too optimistic and in fact they had run out of stock. The third shop did not answer the phone. But that one was not too far from my home, so after dinner I just drove there, à la bonne foi. Lo and behold! Konijnenberg had four of them on their shelves: bigh & beautiful Carl Zeiss 2.8/24-70 lenses! And would I like to try? No, I did not want to try, I wanted to run home with this rare beauty at once. Still, I did give it a try in the shop.
Two quick examples, made inside the shop give some impression of its quality. The first is in the wide-angle setting (24 mm), the second in tele (70 mm). For your inspection they are uploaded full-size (though in jpeg). Of course these are not real test pictures, but still: there is not even a hint of barrel or cushion type distortions in the lines near the margins of the picture. There is no chromatic aberration around the lamps on the ceiling and above the counter, in the corners of the picture. In short: all the high expectations from the rave reviews were made true.
But what the reviews had not told, was that this uncompromising beauty also did not make compromises on size–and especially not on weight! Of course when you look up the specs you can see that weighs nearly 1 kg. But you only realise what that means once you hold it in your hands. This baby completely undid all the good of my camera body’s built-in stabiliser! I could not hold it still for a long time. And I imagined how it would feel on a day-long hike with a backpack on my back and the camera hanging in front. Or what an outing with the family would be like: ‘Don’t say a word to daddy, he’s busy carrying his lens!’ It took a couple of minutes to say goodbye to a dream of quality, but I clearly felt–literally!–that I must make a compromise here. So I went home with a mid-class Sony lens instead of the Carl Zeiss one. Not a bad one, but visibly in a different class. See the third example–I still was not able to hold my camera horizontal, apparently… Yet I’ll be in a much better mood to take pictures, so if the technical quality of the photos may be a little less, my (and my family’s!) quality of life is optimised by this decision.