There is no person more virtuous than a reformed sinner. Such is my case, a self-professed bokeh slut. Here is proof: Why am I such a bokeh slut?
As you know, in my Last Post for the year (2018), I proclaimed that the Lens Of The Year 2018 was “the super-fast lens.” Since then new announcements have come think and fast, as already mentioned last week (the Mitakon-Zongyi 50mm f:0,95). This week, the Sony 135mm f:1.8. The Voigtländer 24mm f1,4, and 50mm f:1.2. In the interim, Canon has gifted its EOS-R with a 50mm f:1.2. Etc…
My question is: why? Why such ridiculousness -or is it ridiculosity-? (to describe something ridiculous, one needs a ridiculous-sounding word, don’t you think? “Ridicule” alone doesn’t cut it, IMHO). Super-fast lenses offer the possibility to deliver shots in very dark lighting, and with half-an-eyelash deep DOF. How many such shots do we actually wish to take? How many of us live and shoot underground? Or are refugees in churches, a la Assange in the Ecuadoran embassy? Or live to shoot ill-lit stage shows? Or desperately want to out-shoot the late Stanley Kubrick, who had f:0,7 lenses made specially for him to shoot Barry Lyndon?
The answer is: not many. Not many at all. Fact is, in exchange for hyperspeed, lenses are (a) anywhere from not cheap (Mitakon et al from China) to hyper expensive (Noctilux from Leica), and (b) not well corrected, making them suitable primarily for wide-open-or close use only. No-one would seriously buy such a lens to shoot at f:5.6, right?
The answer to this question why? lies in a couple of directions IMHO. First, because, to the uninitiated, and/or to the having-more-money-than-sense-crowd, faster intuitively means better. A faster car is a better car, so a faster lens has got to be a better lens, right? Then because, just as “more megapixels” have been primarily a marketing tool to indicate “better camera body”, “faster lens” works great for marketing, so much more at ease with raw numbers than with anything as subtle and hard to pin down as image quality.
There are two fatal flaws to this faster-is-better theory, even beyond the under-corrected nature of such beasts. One is that minimal depth-of-field makes autofocus almost impossible. For example, the 58mm f:0,95 Z-mount Noct-Nikkor is actually manual focus only when it is wide open, ’cause the AF just can’t deal with the thin DOF. The other #FakeNews is that you need high speed for bokeh. Modern lens design allows high-quality lenses to offer great bokeh even at moderate speeds, like my lovely Zeiss Loxia 25mm f:2,4. But not everyone can design for bokeh the way Zeiss do…
So, tell me, people of DearSusan, who among you are willing to join my former cult of Bokeh Sluts, and who will let marketing “experts” who have never held a camera in awe, love or anger score a(nother) resounding fail?
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