• Monday , 25 May 2020


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Lensdays is back! This video is about sharpness in lens design and photography. Sharpness is something we actually measure. It is represented in MTF charts and its actually a very important element to understanding the characteristics of a lens. Sharpness is essentially contrast between areas of detail. More defined contrast indicates a sharper photo. If we understand the sharpness of a lens we can also see possibilities in bokeh, field curvature, astigmatism and some types of chromatic aberration.

Lensdays happen weekly and its where we talk about all aspects of lenses and optics in photography.

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Ted Forbes
The Art of Photography
2830 S. Hulen, Studio 133
Fort Worth, TX 76109
US of A

Original source

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  1. david neville
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    It is a tough subject to cover. In a forum that I am a member of, another user had an issue with one of their lenses calibration. They were sure it was fixable,and the repair agent suggest if they need a replacement, that the tamron 35 is the sharpest lens on the market currently. They returned to the forum asking for others experience with the lens.
    The tamron is M.T.F sharp..so if your planing on shooting black bulls eye's on white grounds, and carefully measuring the chromatic aberration and coma, it will excel. We ask her to return to the store and inquire about colour fidelity, colour saturation and shadow acquence (always spell that word wrong.) The sales person replied what we all knew he would. "We don't test that." To add more mud to the situation, when you look at Fuji, Canon, Nikon M.T.F charts..they aren't standarised. each uses their own testing. So a low M.T.F by one manufacture, maybe the a high score on another's. Just the same as the exposure value of 200 ISo on the fuji, canon, panasonic etc will not give the same exposure with exact settings…as the ISO/ASA for film was standardised..however it isn't standarised in digital.

  2. Robert Bruce
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    When dad bought me my first camera in 1978 a Yashica Electro 35 GSN he said what a luminous lens! Use it in the middle at F/8 or F/5.6 it’s where it will be at its sharpest! But what a great service this camera-lens gave to me: from high school all the way to my masters in the USA. And the pictures I made with her!

  3. Stuart Baines
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Great "find edges" tip 👍 will run this for my lenses even though i have a good
    Understanding of their weaknesses already.
    Happy Xmas from the UK 🎄

  4. Joshiewowa
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    If a lens is too sharp, just blur it in post. I'd rather have the data and throw it out later. Same rationale for shooting raw.

  5. [royal] Crown Cat [royal]
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    pls dont take picts of negros. thank you.

  6. Joseph Mancuso
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35


  7. Hey There
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Time for a year-end Nerd Off with Ted Forbes and Tony Northrup.

  8. neovirtuality
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Wow, lots of great information but maybe a few quick pauses in between could help digest and enjoy more.

  9. John Williams
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    BINGO! Thank you for the single BEST lens explanation I’ve ever encountered! Lenses are our paint brushes, thus it’s necessary to know what effect our instrument will have between us and what we desire to create. Brilliant +++!

  10. Arnar
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    If you are going to use chart and graphs, please label the axes next time. I had no idea what the graph was showing. Is the x axis distance from the center in mm? Is the y axis sharpness?

  11. Daniel Møller
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    best disclaimer

  12. c l
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Was that the FLE version of the 35mm Summilux?

  13. Radu Emil Nutiu
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Thank you!

  14. Matthew Mara
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    I don’t understand why people argue over lens brands. Grow up. Canon is objectively better.

  15. ZX7 -RR
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Lens sharpness and sensor MP count, probably the most misunderstood, over-hyped and least important things to good photography.
    I think your video makes that pretty clear, whilst doing a good job of explaining contrast "sharpness".
    Some of my favourite lenses are not rated as particularly sharp. A good example, I have a Tamron 70-300 f4-5.6 zoom. It's really cheap (even new). The expert reviews are extremely dismissive of this lens, the MTF charts are also not that impressive. But I get great images from mine, both on 35mm film and FF digital. In my experience, there are very few lenses out there you can't get great pictures form if you work to their strengths.

  16. Svorte X
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    I think it's silly to complain about a lens being too sharp! When they upgrade to bigger megapixel cameras they're going to appreciate the sharpness. It's much easier to unsharpen an image rather than the opposite.

  17. D B
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Without a doubt, the best explanation on this subject matter to date! You did a fantastic job on this complex/neurotic topic, Ted. For all the haters and trollers out there just remember, someday you`ll be as cool as these guys, that is, when you sharpen up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wRHBLwpASw

  18. Hammer10
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Thanks Ted. I think I’m turning into a lens nerd

  19. james clark
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Artist's series?

  20. turke 666
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    i like the vid but damn it took way too long to get into the topic. first 3 minutes is just waffle

  21. Edward Fielding
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    You can keep your charts, I just want to go out and find great subjects.

  22. Zach Fisher
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    really great video, fascinating.

  23. Eric Manten
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    A lot to digest here, but extremely valuable. Your video helped me to 'finally' get an understanding of what the MTF charts can show us and how to read them. Your most valuable comment, however, was to not let the MTF chart be your only reference when making a choice for a lens. Ideally, I always would like to shoot a lens before purchasing to see the actual images and decide what I like/don't like about them. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!!

  24. Mique Celli
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Never stop lensdays!!

  25. Brian Eliel
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    So Does Wine Country cover a lens like Sony 12-24mm?

  26. J
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Seems like Rokinon, Sigma, Sony, and Zeiss have some of the most consistent MTF charts across the spectrum. Nikon is all over the place in a bad way, and Canon has done magic with their telephoto lenses.
    All according to the lensrental blog. If I read all of that correctly that is.

  27. stacy6903
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Lately I've been looking at YouTube videos about MTF charts, and this one is one of the tops for me!

  28. Shepard
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    At least compared to DXOMark my tests on lenses I own vary vastly. So I don't know how I can trust them. I.e. my 8-16 is sharper than my 18-35 when both are absolutely perfectly 100% in focus at any setting. Yet DXOMark says 18-35 is 2 times sharper. That's just impossible. 18-35 is surely a very sharp lens but my 8-16 is just sharper. Any resource says otherwise will not be trustworthy to me. The-Digital-Picture, for example, matches my observation. I always seek for physical chart pictures to compare lenses and those are hard to find.

  29. Chee Seng, David Lim
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Some Japanese companies produce lenses of very high contrast some call hardness (eg: Olympus) to give impression they are even sharper than Zeiss. To some eyes, contrast does not equate sharpness. Zeiss and Exata have some low contrast lenses. Leica used to have lenses of lower contrast than Zeiss.

  30. George Stone
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Why don't lens mfgs tell you the FOV (Field of View)? Focal length is really a confusing, useless technical spec. For example 35mm can be a wide angle on a FF sensor or tele on a crop sensor.

  31. George Stone
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    There's no such thing as "too sharp" You can always de-sharp but you can sharpen to a very limited degree.

  32. jans
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Great technical video as usual 👍. You have a good weekend. 😎

  33. Salmon Run Studio
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    How people pronounce "Bokeh" is also variable! 🙂 Thanks for the great video!

  34. Steven Waldstein
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Simply thank you. A great new series I automatically subscribed to.

  35. James Lane
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    I wonder if there is a lens sharp enough to completely resolve Adox CMS 20 II

  36. AH Monon
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    You're great

  37. Cherry and Trevor
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    You are a well spoken young man.

  38. Pablo Gomez
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    This explanation was very useful, I found it very easy to understand. Thank you!

  39. Len Zielenski
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    I don't know shit about MTF charts, but in the good ol' days sharpness was determined or rated by how many lines of resolution could be successfully resolved at a given distance. Had nothing to do with contrast per se (ratio of light to dark).

  40. Zakna
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    I love my 135 1.8 GM :p

  41. Alex Lovell
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Great video. Very clear explanation. That summilux 35 is awesome.

  42. Nigel Cooke Photography
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Looking forward to getting into this series … challenge … can u get a different person called Len to do the sponsor link every episode 🙂

  43. Dennis W
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    It is easy to soften a sharp image than it is to sharpen a soft image

  44. Diy extravaganza
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Thanks for the video, I always wondered what those charts meant.

  45. Matt Hooker
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    I think the physical design of apertures would make a good video topic, particularly the count and shape of blades. not just because I'm a fan of vintage lenses with lots of blades, but also because the blade count seems to be coming back up with new lenses engineered for mirrorless bodies, and I haven't really seen that advertised other than included in the specs

  46. Adrian Lee
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Great Video! One question: What does the dashed line in the chart represent? Im guessing the sagital ones, am I right?

  47. Virginia Hoffman
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Really good talk, thank you.

  48. George French
    December 26, 2019 at 16:35

    Good information, but given the generally excellent quality of virtually all lenses from leading manufacturers these days — including kit lenses — the chief causes of unsharpness are more likely to be camera shake, imprecise focusing, low-quality filters and the like than the contrast and resolution of the lens itself, IMO.

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