With every new lens release we get bombarded with wild claims of “sharpest lens ever” and “bokeh so soft you’ll want to lie down in it.” A barrage of MTF charts and comparisons flood the web and debates rage in forums about which lens is better than which. Opinions fly and the knowledgeable and no so knowledgeable lock horns. But what if there were something other than sharpness that we could be looking at to discover a lens’ optical quality. Just what does a high element count with a few ED elements do to the resulting images?
In a couple of blog posts (linked below), Yannick Khong goes through some of the fundamentals behind the additional optical results of using modern lens designs (warning: it’s not nearly as technical and nerdy as it might sound). He discusses the topic in terms of “3D pop” and “flat” resulting images. Regardless of your stance on how much the technical qualities of a lens actually matter, these are both great reads and the linked videos are also interesting extensions of the writing. One of particular interest is Shane Hurlbut’s comparison between newer and older cinema primes. He shows side by side just what the difference is, and although it may seem subtle at first, keep watching. Here are Khong’s original posts on the “Death of 3D Pop” and some “Depth versus Flat Lens Comparisons.”
Personally, I found this read fascinating and am looking forward to reading more on the topic. If you have any other resources on this topic, please share them in the comments so we can all benefit from knowing a little more about how our tools work.
Check out Khong's website for additional deep dives into photographic theory. It is a source of excellent knowledge and one well worth spending some time with.
[via Yannick Khong]