On Sharp Lenses and Fuzzy Brains ~

One of my all-time favorite maxims, from that wonderful compendium of T. Orland, is this: when man creates a sharper lens, nature will create a fuzzier subject.  I'm reminded of this every time I find myself in a conversation about cameras and lenses, which is pretty much all the time. Whether we deny it or not, deep inside we're all more-or-less gearheads.
I love reading Ken Rockwell's (kenrockwell.com) photography posts, one of which directly addressed the issue of lens sharpness with the somewhat alarming opening statement that "sharpness is the most over-rated aspect of lens performance." But he goes on to detail all the ways we measure, quantify, fuss over and generally over-think whatever the hell "sharpness" is. His message, and mine, has always been to properly use whatever lenses you have and not worry about coughing up a couple grand for that new lens that will supposedly make you a better photographer.

As for me, seems I mostly shoot for the web these days anyway, so I'm not as concerned about print quality as I used to be. When I do make prints they're just as rich and colorful (and sharp) as I  expect them to be.  Down here at the studio, both Whitney and I use our Canon cameras and lenses. For my aimless wandering now I rely on my trusty little mirrorless Fuji. In the old days, when I was shooting mostly medium format, I preferred lenses that were referred to as "long normals" or considered portrait lenses: the 150mm on the Hasselblad, and the 127mm on the RB 67.  Amazing lenses indeed. And expensive as hell.

And here's a recollection that just floors me: I spent a whole lot of money on Softar filters for the Hasselblad. I had both the Softar 0 and 1. Know what they were for? You guessed it, they softened the image slightly because the Zeiss lenses were too bloody sharp.  Life is funny that way.

So I think I'll live by an entirely new maxim:  Sharp lens, sharp mind.

Take your pick.