On Facebook and on photography forum sites, I constantly hear “information” which is incorrect or totally irrelevant to the way other photographers work.
Let’s take a couple of examples.
Sigma 35mm Art
This lens is the darling of the industry right now. However, have you actually tested it’s performance against the alternatives? I tested it against my Canon 35L and found that, while the Sigma is definitely sharper, auto focus is not as consistent, especially in continuous focus.
Having a sharp image is great, but if it’s out of focus, the extra sharpness is meaningless.
I tested this by walking towards an object in a variety of lighting conditions with continuous focus on. I always took a shot at the same point during my stride and the shutter speed was high enough to avoid any blur. I repeated the test 5 times for each lens and in several different lighting conditions. I then counted the keepers. (some people may say this isn’t test conditions, and I’d agree; it’s meant to be real world conditions).
Why is everyone saying it’s an amazing lens then?
Well, it comes down to testing they don’t do and possibly what they consider to be acceptable focus. I’m known for being a real stickler when it comes to focus and check every image at 100%. Nothing is included unless it’s really sharp and in focus. I know for certain that many photographers don’t check their images at 100% and some don’t care that much if the focus is a bit out (or in some cases quite a lot out).
So really the difference is a combination of:
- Not testing it against an alternative at all, but just “thinking it’s great” compared to whatever you had previously.
- Not testing it in equivalent conditions to other lenses, which creates bias.
- Not caring that much whether it’s totally in focus anyway but just liking it.
All of this is said without any judgement on how people choose to shoot, but it does demonstrate why it’s important to test a lens in conditions which match how you shoot and to ensure it does what you need.
Canon sensor dynamic range
Something I hear all over the place is that Canon hasn’t improved their dynamic range for ten years.
What does this mean? Well, if you need to lift the exposure, or brighten the shadows, of a photo in post production, you’ll notice noise appearing. Nikon (or more specifically Sony who make their sensors) have improved this massively over the past 5 years.
How about Canon then? Have they improved the usable dynamic range? Yes! Not anywhere near as much as Sony, but they have done.
The camera which came after the 5d3 was the 6d and below you can see images showing a photograph which has had 3 stops of exposure added to it in Lightroom.
Canon 5d3 with +3 EV added in Lightroom
Canon 6d with +3 EV added in Lightroom
And the original file, without being brightened
As you can see, the 6d has better controlled deep, dark shadows than the 5d3, but photographers believe what they hear online instead of checking for themselves.
And before you quip that Canon have just added more noise reduction, I can say for certain that the 6d files are sharper in the shadows. I know this because … yes … I tested it!
Is this just about Canon?
No. I shoot Canon so I see a lot more about Canon, but Nikon suffers from similar issues, as do Sony, Fuji, Olympus and so on.
What else is said online?
There’s loads of misinformation out there. These are just two examples. There are plenty more to be had, from believing that the 6d has metering linked to AF points (it doesn’t) to claiming the canon 24-70 V1 was every bit as good as the 24-70 V2 (it isn’t).
You can only believe so much of what you read online.
There are some fantastic reviewers out there but there is also a lot of bias too. There are photographers who are paid by manufacturers, photographers who deliberately try to mislead for their own (possibly brand-led) reasons and there are those who just love to try to be helpful and are honest. Working out who is who can be hard.
So the answer is always the same; work out what you need and build your kit around your own needs. Rent equipment to test it out yourself in your circumstances and use it a little on a shoot before buying it and taking it into the field.
Because believing the masses may lead to some costly mistakes.