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Saturday, 04 August 2018


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As they say around the 'net: "well, that escalates quickly."

Just imagine the firework if you were to say something political (I keep my FB an echo chamber because the alternatives are far worse).

Remember the ancient Chinese saying: "A bad day photographing is better than a bad day."

Maybe it's the heath, but I think the time is ripe to start an official organization for the shallow depth of field adepts. Similar to the Flat Earth Society. Circle of Confusion seems a god-given name for them.

The Pillars of Confusionism are:
- Shallow depth of field is synonym for quality. The less depth, the better the picture.
- Only full frame or larger will give sufficient depth of field.
- f/1.4 on Micro Four Thirds is in fact f/2.8.
- When the aperture number on full frame and a smaller format lens are the same, the full frame lens gathers more light and thus it is faster.
- Micro Four Thirds and smaller formats are inferior and do not deserve high quality lenses.

Membership only for full frame photographers. There will be an official website that will be accessible for affiliated Confusionist only.
Contribution fees are unknown yet, but new members get a welcome gift. A zoomlens that isn’t sharp at any focal lenght and at any distance so it will always provide zero shallow depth of field. Full frame of course, since smaller formats cannot reproduce such an ultimate blur.

Someone hopes your whole enterprise fails because of a disagreement about f-stops? As Charlie Brown used to say, good grief.

Re: Incensed Reader …

Illegitimi non carborundum
"Don't let the bastards grind you down"


Maybe he/she is just having a bad day.

But there's a flat earth "equivalency".

For every vocal reader who wishes TOP would fail, there are a thousand silent readers (like me) for whom TOP is an irreplaceable resource and remedy and reward. I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be to heed this advice in the face of such baseless abuse, but: please ignore it.

Hang in there Mike we always have to face off the other side at some point ... even if at times we are facing off ourself ... & there is most likely a Tao saying somewhere regarding “water off a duck’s back” ...

Frothy-eight years ago, as a geology major in college (my bachelor’s degree is in geology), we were taught the earth was an “oblate spheroid.” Now I find out the basis for everything I leaned evidently has changed! You have just “rocked” my “world!” (Of course, pun intended.). ;-)

Hey Mike,

I love your stories and your opinions, because they are yours.

I had a whole Corporate thing happen to me once in my life, it made me question my worth, but ultimately made me stronger.

Sunsets are lovely, but I think I like dawns better 😉

Hello Mike,

Regarding the rude commenter, it made me think automatically of this title: https://www.amazon.com/What-Care-Other-People-Think/dp/0393320928

This is your property on the Internet. You can care about others as much as you want, but not in excess of that. By now you may have a pretty good idea of what a regular reader looks like. You can spend time to see how low other people can get (especially when hiding behind anonymity), but do you need that? Your regular readers may like you to focus on your own unadulterated thinking.

Just a thought. Thank you for your articles!

Don't feel so bad about negative blogger opinions. Just imagine if someone really important had wrong opinions, about EVERYTHING..... like a President. Balance that with the opinion that all dogs will go to heaven.

Honestly, Mike, anyone truly offended by anything you wrote in the previous post has to look deep down inside themselves and ask where such venom is really coming from.

It would be interesting to know if the person who wants TOP to fail used his or her real name. I can't help but suspect this might have been yet another emotional adolescent hiding behind the digital veil of the Internet.

You shouldn't apologize, Mike. There was nothing you wrote that could be considered offensive.

Ansel Adams greatest contribution to photography may have been the car platform, (not the Zone System).

"he wishes TOP would fail altogether and go out of business."

Say what? That's insane!

Maybe it's the times? I have two brothers and two brothers-in-law who are impossible to have a civil conversation with.

Regardless ... I got a lot out of that post, and the comments, and your responses.

Did I miss a snooker reference?

You're a better man than me, that's for sure - you have to wonder what drives some people. I love your work and look forward to it every day. Thanks and all the best.

Mike, I'm really sorry to hear about that reader...

I think many of us are experiencing the same behaviors in other places, and not just restricted to photography.

You make a statement of fact and folks jump in to try to cut your throat.

I posted on a well-known audio forum an entire Design of Experiments (DOE) with full statistical analysis I did some years ago for integrating my REL sub into my 2-channel stereo system, and some wag jumped in said that it was just a "model of mental masturb*tion"

Another Six Sigma Black Belt replied, and said, "No, you don't understand at all. Stephen's DOE is based on actual, measured data in his room." The guy still did not get it and continued to be belligerent.

Unfortunately, it seems we live in an age where FACTS and DATA are insufficient to effectively influence people's thinking anymore. This aligns with your recent post about the "Flat-Earthers". Its like we're going back to an intellectual Dark Ages.


Its for just this reason that I've dialed my involvement in social meda WAY BACK. I just can't deal with the acrimoniousness anymore.

While I’ve enjoyed a lot of stuff from DPReview over the years, their devotion to “equivalency” is probably one of the worst contributions to internet photographic culture ever. As you mentioned, it’s become something of a holy war. Personally, I just don’t understand it. Every lens lives within the confines of its own ecosystem. Understanding that is paramount to understanding that or any lens.

When I started shooting large format with a 4x5 camera, I spent too much time trying to figure out equivalents to my 35mm gear. After awhile, I learned what every other multiformat photographer must: you can’t really figure out equivalents between formats. Beyond everything you discussed just with regards to depth of field, there’s a difference between the aspect ratio that would also apply to the m43 crowd. Also, I learned that camera movements made any one lens far, far more useful than it’s supposed 35mm equivalent. That last fact really surprised me at the time. Now that I shoot 8x10, I find that I’m quite satisfied with my old 12” commercial Ektar and have yet to feel the need to add any other lenses.

I wish the same would happen in the digital realm. The Oly 25mm f1.2 is no more equivalent to a FF 50mm f2.4 than the latter would be to my 12” Ektar. Each lens is tied to the constraints of its own system and it’s far easier just to learn how each fits into an ecosystem than it is to develop rules for equivalency between them.

No apology necessary.

It's a sad reflection of how intolerant the world has become that personal opinions are the "truth", almost to a religious extent. And let the religious war begin unto death with those who would not share that "truth."

These are polarized and difficult times to say the least when we cease to treat our fellow human beings as human beings but rather as symbols of evil because they do not share an opinion.

Sometimes I can tell, I read something you wrote and think "Mike is going to hear about this one"
But I just read the post twice, and have no idea what could provoke someone to that extent.
Nor do I understand how people miss the fact that a (Prime) lens has a fixed measurable focal length and a mathematical derived focal ratio.
Or that T/stops (or Transmission stops) grew from Cinematographers need to account for the differences in Actual transmitted light vs Theoretical transmitted light (F/stop) so that footage shot with different lenses would match exposure wise.
Anyone who grew up using view cameras and learned to use an 8 1/4" Dagor on 2x3, 4x5, & 8x10 has had a good primer on "The Lens doesn't change, formats and uses do.
Everyone who wants to argue about this stuff should read Kingslake first.
I feel badly that someone would react that way, it's kind of like a 10 year old telling you to "Eat Dirt and die" ....It just means they have run out of intellectual muscle and substituted the meanest thing they could think of.
You could ask If I used a fancy hand held meter would it recommend a different F/stop for FF vs tiny sensor? No it wouldn't, and both exposures would be correct.
Sometimes all you can say is 'Oh Well' and move on.

Funny how it goes. Well if that reader is giving you a gift, you don't have to accept it.

Mike, I don't think that reader's response was in any way justified, but a recent post in which you corrected a comment did come across to me as somewhat snarky. You are absolutely correct in pointing out that "equivalent aperture' is used incorrectly, but I knew immediately that the comment probably referred to depth of field. Your comment came across a little like a school teacher embarrassing a student. Now, especially since you recently posted that you have been in a little bit of a funk, I would personally cut you some slack on this, but I'm just pointing out that you are in a position of power since it is your blog, and you also have to be gentle and considerate with your readers. I don't even know whether your argument was about the comment I mentioned and with that particular reader, and I am sure that the argument would not have been elevated to such a point if you had an in-person conversation. I also don't suggest you censor yourself, but I always recommend going back and trying to look at things from the other person's point of view to find my mistakes in how things went down. I find that it never feels good to leave things on bad terms, and doing your best to resolve a conflict usually feels better than letting any hostility fester.

Well you can tell Mr whoever he is that earth is an oblate spheroid, not an oblate ellipsoid.

Don't apologise. Or rather: do, but only for things you have said or done which are wrong, which this was not.

Wait. I looked at the previous post, and unless you deleted one, it was generally about depth of field matters and the meaning of f-stop. You're not seriously saying that somebody wants you to fail in your business because of a disagreement about DOF of f-stops?

With regards to inflamed opinions, it seems to be the natural way with certain people who have made bad choices but are unwilling to admit that their major financial or life investment was based on a lack of understanding.

The deeper they dig their hole, the harder they resist, until the hole becomes a nuclear bunker, impenetrable to any reasoning.

It goes back to your definition of intelligence the other day. It's hard to learn anything unless you can admit that you might be wrong.

Illegitimi non carborundum! Anyone who would go to the trouble of telling you that isn't worth giving a thought to. He or she is pathetic. If I don't like what you write, I'll stop reading. There is no reason to impart hateful wishes. The guy in your office was lucky that you didn't kick his posterior through the parking lot. The world is full of really sorry specimens.

... I have always been very puzzled by people who seriously think that they can hurt you and then make it okay by claiming it is “nothing personal”!

Mike, I am totally confused. Some reader got mad at you and told you that you and TOP should die because of what? They believe the earth IS flat? Or they believe the doodoo about equivalence? If the latter, then they really would be happier on Dpreview, where the "experts" (I am trying to be polite) think they have it all figured out. I consider TOP as the place where real photographers come to learn about photographic trends, the world, and reflections on life.

Will someone please tell me where on my Sekonic light meter I enter the sensor size to get the proper exposure.

The world right now is too full of extremism of all kinds. It divides people in nefarious ways, whether intended or not. And the assault on critical, reasoned, scientific thinking is just plain shameful. Propaganda of the worst sort.

I was once told (half-jokingly) of an old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." We certainly are...

The one thing I continually forget to bring with me on road trips out West is a step ladder. I bring a tripod, which I never end up using, but always forget the step ladder- which I most definitely have needed.

Of course, I blame YOU for forgetting- and wish every conceivable ill upon you for making me forget!!!

Aside from joining the others in disbelief at the venomous comments you received regarding "depth of field equivalence, I'll just add a few other comments:

1. No matter how many nice comments one receives, the very few negatives are the ones that stick in the mind. I am a university professor, and each semester we receive course evaluations from students. Although mine are pretty positive overall, its the few really nasty ones that I remember. I don't think that anyone has wished that I die, but it's probably coming. If you figure out how to beat this psychological phenomenon, please let us know.

2. I think that there is an aspect of comparing f-stops across formats that is actually rather subtle (my way of saying that it took me a while to get it), and this may contribute to some of the confusion.

If you look at the front of a 25mm f 1.4 lens (for any format) and compare it to a 50 mm f 1.4 lens (for any format), it is obvious that the aperture for the 50 mm lens has twice the diameter as that of the 25 mm lens. So how can it be that they transmit the same amount of light when wide open? (I think that even you have made this statement)

In fact the two lenses don't transmit the same amount of light wide open (or at any common aperture): The 50 mm lens transmits four times as much light (4 times as many photons), because the area of the opening is four times as large. So, why do the two lenses call for the same exposure, when set at the same aperture.

The reason is that the photons that come from a given area of the subject get spread over four-times the area of the sensor (chemical or digital) with the longer lens. What really determines exposure is the number of photons per unit of area on the sensor. If one were to increase the focal length without increasing the diameter of the aperture, the exposure would decrease because the same number of photons would be spread out over a larger area. The f ratio keeps everything right.

In this very limited sense, the area of the aperture, a 25mm f1.2 lens really is "equivalent" to a 50mm f2.4 lens! They are even equivalent in the amount of light that they collect, but they aren't equivalent where the rubber hits the road (where photons hit the sensor)!

3. In the "early days", when manufacturers of 35mm cameras were trying to make inroads with professional photographers used to Speed Graphics, etc., one of the selling points was that 35mm gave *greater* depth of field with an equivalent angle of view. I'm sure that I have read that in old Leica literature, and I presume that other manufacturers used the same argument. Personally, I think that they had it right!

Don't lose sleep over it!

You don’t need a roof rack for a ladder these days there are plenty of telescopic 2.5 metre step ladders that wil go inside the car.

Funny that on one has ever proposed Field of View (in degrees of arc) as a lens descriptor instead of focal length. Why do we need to know focal length anyway other than as a way to know what the field of view is of a lens.

As for f-stop, all I can say is that I preferred aperture rings that clicked, not crazy about these modern D-SLRs where you twiddle a dial, and where you can redefine the meaning of the dial at will. It works well enough but I just don't like it.

I'm surprised the firmware writers haven't devised a way to ask for a specific DoF via a menu, and have the camera decide which f-stop and shutter speed to use.

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