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Friday, 08 November 2013


I can't agree with the quote more. I was held back to buy the SEL30f35 lens for my sony nex-5 due to the negative reviews. Finally I decided to take the plunge and bought the lens (it was really cheap). I'm very happy with the real life photos taken with it. I even decided to write my own review focusing more on the real applicability of this wonderful lens (most of the reviews missed to test it in macro or close-up range). Here you can find my review without mtf charts:

I have yet to come across a lens that pleases me as much as the Pentax 43mm Limited, and I have a fair bit of other decent 35mm format glass. Yet nothing you will read about its technical attributes is likely to compel you to get it.

Sadly it is just a little too long for me in general use on a crop sensor (great for portraits though). Wish I could afford one of the new Sony A7 cameras (with adapter) just for that lens.

Actually, Mike, your quality doesn't come at all cheap, given the number of purchases I make through your site, telling myself I'm only doing for a good cause.

I think I deserve a medal. And another bookshelf.

[You are hereby awarded the TOP Legion d'Bookcase, for heroic book-buying. Richly deserved! --Generalissimo Mike]

Your TOP reference brings to mind apps for the iPhone etc. Some very valuable apps are sold for the price of coffee or in rare cases the price of a cheap meal.

If you were to find out how much TOP is worth in your readers mind, comparing to how much they would be willing to pay for a magazine subscription pre-internet for a publication like yours, and work out the average I think that it would be one comparable to the subscription for the high quality magazines we used to subscribe to in those days.

Have to agree with you and Lloyd. The only way to really know what a lens can do is to make pictures. The first thing I do with a new lens (or camera) is go out and photograph the kind of subjects I like to work with. I can learn more about a lens in an afternoon of photography than in a year of looking at charts and reading reviews.

The few reviewers I trust base their conclusions on photos, not charts, though I guess the charts-and-graphs guys can help weed out any real losers. (Are there any real loser lenses today? Very few, I'd guess.)

BTW, I bought the Heisler book yesterday through your link. Not a huge fan of his photos but do want to read more about his thinking.

"I have yet to come across a lens that pleases me as much as the Pentax 43mm Limited, and I have a fair bit of other decent 35mm format glass. Yet nothing you will read about its technical attributes is likely to compel you to get it."

I have to agree on the Pentax FA43 Limited lens. Such gorgeous rendering. I could not care less about what lab bench tests may say about its performance. On an APS-C cropped sensor, it makes a good portrait and landscape lens. I, too, may be interested in using it on an A7, but there is no adaptor that enables electronic connections to the camera, as far as I know.

(I was going to add something about quality not coming cheap, but then I remembered what I charge for TOP and figured maybe that's a road I'd better not go down. Makin' myself laugh again.)

But you can always say that TOP is worth infinitely more than it costs! ;-)


There really is an astounding amount of material in DigLloyd. Almost overwhelming.

As a fellow successful (not humble, but it's a fact) web entrepreneur, I'd recommend Lloyd to make a real Sales page for the subscriptions, and promote them more visibly on his free pages (which also have a great amount of content.) There's a book, free now, which boosted my sales by over 50%, permanently:

I think those hours of study ten years ago have earned at least deep into five digits since.

My first evaluation of a lens is the mtf chart. Mtf charts can tell me if a lens will be well corrected for landscape or have characteristics better aimed at portraiture. Will it be contrasty, will it have field curavature, astigmatism. Do I want a lens that will provide ideal portraits wide open and ideal landscapes closed down...the mtf charts will reveal this. It's quite easy to use mtf to evaluate lenses without aberrations, more difficult to evaluate as the lens develops more character. Often times the dual type (portraiture wide open, landscape lens closed down) lens that Zeiss and Leica excel is misunderstood by many evaluators who downgrade the portraiture benefit. Fortunately many photographers appreciate the benefits and we see such lenses as the highly sought after 75mm Summilux selling for $3000 and up. Lloyd Chambers gives preliminary opinions on lenses as they're announced based on mtf, so he certainly see's the value. In addition in his field evaluation if the lens underperforms based on mtf he then suspects an issue with his sample. Mtf is a good starting point. One last thing....there is variation in sharpness and aberrations with any manufacturers lenses including Leica's costing thousands of dollars. My copy of a lens might be superb however the next purchase from the same store same lens could be horrible. Mtf tells me what is possible from a lens, not necessarily what I will receive, that's a big difference.

I suggest the same sort of thing applies to sensors. Even if you are making small display images, there are differences in what comes out of the sensors that affect the final image.

The most obvious difference, to many, may be color, but there are other significant differences.

For me, it takes quite a lot of images, shot of different subjects, in different light, with different lenses, with different levels of micro detail, etc., and all processed with attention. Then a clear idea of how the sensor system renders what the lens presents to it starts to emerge.

As details emerge, I can start to develop ways to capitalize on the strengths and correct for the deficiencies.

Once, it was just not a match between me and the sensor system, and I had to go elsewhere.


Rob: " I have to agree on the Pentax FA43 Limited lens. Such gorgeous rendering. I could not care less about what lab bench tests may say about its performance."

[A Pentax rep once told me that some people within Pentax considered it the single best lens the company ever made. --Mike]


For me the 35mm f/2.8 C-Biogon is one such lens. Sold one, missed it, bought another. I suspect the 23/2 on the Fuji X100/100S is another one. That remains to be seen…

I think Lloyd's point about lenses is very well taken. Apropos your recent "Do You Really Need FF?" post, however, I must say that I've been unimpressed by his analysis of m4/3 in a series of posts:
Lloyd's thinking in these comparisons seems to miss the point and be deliberately tendentious at the same time.

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