I am always asking myself if manual focus lenses on digital bodies are actually a good idea? This leads me to the question of how far this accuracy can also be achieved using modern (D)SLR cameras, most of which suffer from the limitations in comparison to “old” models without AF. What they generally lack, however, are optical focusing aids (e.g. split image rangefinder and microprisms) making it hard for the eye to clearly check the focus.
I am currently using Zeiss lenses and they are incredibly sharp when used at their ‘sweet spot’ that is one or two stops from the maximum aperture. So instead of shooting with the lens wide open I pull it back a stop or two. I know that one of the things that makes photography frustrating, is softness and blur in pictures. Sharp photos are much more appealing than soft images (or not?). It may be disappointing when you take a picture at a special moment and images come out soft/blurry or out of focus.
Actually there are quite some factors like ISO, shutter speed, Hand-holding rule, tripod, etc… but normally I know what I am doing (well most of the time)
What’s all this about sharpness anyhow?
There are photographers who love to test and compare things. When they make prints they examine them under a loupe, they are not looking to see if they have properly captured a special location, light or subject. Amplifying the image to 400% so they are first and foremost concerned with technical quality rather than image quality.
As if sharper images would somehow improve their photography… Ok I admit there isn’t a photographer alive who doesn’t care about how sharp his or her images are. It’s one of the primary manias of a lot of photographers.
But after several years as an assistant photographer as well as an ardent amateur, as a teacher and as a profesional freelance, I’ve learned certain things about photography and photographic equipment, and specific to this topic‚ about sharpness, its importance as well as, frequently, its lack of importance.
First Communion – basic shot with the Carl Zeiss Planar T 50mm f/1.4 ZE – the most important aspect was that the parents should know my modus operandi and since this was a last minute request I wasn’t able to speak personally with the family so I explained it simple and with some other examples with the result that I was hired for some more family shooting.