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Thread: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by pegelli View Post
    Let me try: A photographer will (or might) call a lens clinical when it gives a rendering that doesn't emotionally express what he had in mind when taking the picture due to the fact it's "too clean" or "too perfect".

    Since this is an opinion and subject to personal taste this cannot be exactly defined, measured or tested.

    It's the same with bokeh. You can have harsh bokeh, swirly bokeh, nervous bokeh, smooth bokeh and most people will recognize these in a picture.
    However there is no definition of bad or good bokeh, since this depends on the preference and taste of the observer.

    So the parallel to the degree of clinicalness (new word?) is similar, you can recognize a clinical capture from one with a lens with more aberrations, however whether that is good or bad is a matter of taste and is entirely up to the observer (incl. the photographer)

    Thank you. Great points. I think we are making progress. The more we can flesh this out the better. Thank you again.

    Anybody else ready to chime in? TIA.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    To add, I think we as creative people have the option to make the most of our lenses by changing the way we shoot or the way we frame an image to reflect what we want from the shot, regardless of the lens characteristics, here are some examples, not art, just from my garden.

    I can position myself to get a less busy background and isolate the subject for example..



    I can shoot in to the sun to create a busy background..



    Or I can go somewhere between the two..



    My point being that with the same lens I can create what I want, I find this lens fairly neutral, I can bring in what I want. Now obviously these are just messing around, I'm not producing for a client I'm just learning how my lenses work so I'm not making a statement here, I'm just experimenting. I happen to love that I can shoot old people and increase the texture and depth and I can shoot young people and give a soft glow, a lot is just down to how you want to make use of it.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Annna T View Post
    Personally, I think that art is strongly influenced by the tools used. It doesn't make much sense trying to mimick oil painting with a digital camera or postprocessing. Innovative art is the one that takes full advantage if the new tools, not the one that tries to mimick the past.
    Agree with you. I was merely putting up some quick examples of the limitations of computer modeling. My point was that PP is not necessarily able to produce any effect at all and that certain effects that are possible would be prohibitively expensive in time or other resources.

    The idea being that grabbing a certain lens, for instance, may immediately give an effect that would take enormous effort to delicate.

    -Bill

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    For me, it's a lack of subtlety or a lot of unnaturalness.
    As the resolution increases and lenses become more perfect and inevitably all the same, my feeling is that photos tend to look like computer renditions. Beautiful perhaps, but lifeless. It depends on the subject, of course.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Sorry to keep posting images but I feel there's a point to it, sort of!

    This is shot with a Zeiss 135 f2 on a D800, I often read how clinical this lens is but shoot in the right conditions and it's beautiful, soft but sharp, let it flare slightly and overall I like what it produces. Shoot it under strobes in the studio and you can see every pore but that's the choice of the photographer.



    This portrait is the same 180mm lens as above garden shots, I can increase contrast slightly, reduce saturation a touch and I have masses of detail and a 'hard" portrait. In both of these shots I'm controlling the light, position and subject to make what I want from the shot. Obviously I have to work within what the sensor and lens combination give me but I honestly feel I have control to a large extent rather than the lens being regarded as clinical, having character or anything in between. Could be wrong though, wouldn't be the first time!

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Annna T View Post
    I don't agree : I think that a neutral lens (what you name "clinical") would offer more flexibility than one with character : the character is there, not easy to make it disappear in PP.
    I did not suggest which lens offers more or fewer possibilities.

    If I use a lens that has strong 'character ' then it is because I have made an artistic choice to do so. That is the essence of being an artist, along with technical command of ones tools.

    The last thing I would want to do with a 'character' lens is wipe out it's unique qualities. But, I often use PP to then build on that base image and achieve a final image that I visualize.

    Trying to imitate the qualities of every possible lens by starting with a so-called clinical lens is neither possible nor, for me, desirable to attempt.

    Handing me a lens and telling me it has numerically greater processing options may put me much further from the image I want than handing me a lens and saying it does a smash up job on the two or three things I really do want.

    In other words, I am not prioritizing flexibility. I am prioritizing getting to the end point I desire.

    -Bill
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by mjr View Post
    Sorry to keep posting images but I feel there's a point to it, sort of!

    This is shot with a Zeiss 135 f2 on a D800, I often read how clinical this lens is but shoot in the right conditions and it's beautiful, soft but sharp, let it flare slightly and overall I like what it produces. Shoot it under strobes in the studio and you can see every pore but that's the choice of the photographer.



    This portrait is the same 180mm lens as above garden shots, I can increase contrast slightly, reduce saturation a touch and I have masses of detail and a 'hard" portrait. In both of these shots I'm controlling the light, position and subject to make what I want from the shot. Obviously I have to work within what the sensor and lens combination give me but I honestly feel I have control to a large extent rather than the lens being regarded as clinical, having character or anything in between. Could be wrong though, wouldn't be the first time!


    Great images, Mat. Thanks for sharing.

    I was talking about a related topic elsewhere. I quite like the old Zeiss ZF.2 50 f/1.4 for its rendering. It is nowhere as sharp as modern day 50s and DXO probably has rated it in the third page of rankings (Don't know, don't care), but the way it transitions from in focus to out of focus areas is amazing.


    I'd pick this over some MTF record setter any day.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Personally I would ban all those words : clinical, analytical, surgical. They are all very pejoratively connoted. For a good example of this read Ulysses Bowman who wrote that clinical lenses show an "utterly boring perfection".

    I prefer to speak of the neutrality and the directness of a lens (from Turtle's interesting analysis above).

    I have to recognize that I tend to like boring pictures, like those of Gabriele Basilico, or some of the 'new landscapists' (aka photographers interested by unremarkable places).
    Last edited by Annna T; 19th October 2015 at 06:32.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by mjr View Post
    Sorry to keep posting images but I feel there's a point to it, sort of!

    This is shot with a Zeiss 135 f2 on a D800, I often read how clinical this lens is but shoot in the right conditions and it's beautiful, soft but sharp, let it flare slightly and overall I like what it produces. Shoot it under strobes in the studio and you can see every pore but that's the choice of the photographer.



    This portrait is the same 180mm lens as above garden shots, I can increase contrast slightly, reduce saturation a touch and I have masses of detail and a 'hard" portrait. In both of these shots I'm controlling the light, position and subject to make what I want from the shot. Obviously I have to work within what the sensor and lens combination give me but I honestly feel I have control to a large extent rather than the lens being regarded as clinical, having character or anything in between. Could be wrong though, wouldn't be the first time!

    Nice portraits.

    I like the way you exploited the character of the Zeiss 135/2 in the first image to get the effect you wanted.

    A lovely example of knowing how to use your tools, the lens being among the most important, to achieve your desired result.

    Character, Smaracter, I just want the result I want. Some lenses get me there and others don't.

    -Bill
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by synn View Post
    I'd pick this over some MTF record setter any day.
    Loxia 50/2. Same stuff but smaller and in the right mount.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post
    Nice portraits.

    I like the way you exploited the character of the Zeiss 135/2 in the first image to get the effect you wanted.

    A lovely example of knowing how to use your tools, the lens being among the most important, to achieve your desired result.

    Character, Smaracter, I just want the result I want. Some lenses get me there and others don't.

    -Bill
    I think you hit on an interesting point here Bill, knowing your equipment is key in my opinion, it's why I never read reviews from people who have had a camera or lens for an afternoon and looking to be the first to get a review out, they mean nothing! I'm probably slow but it can take a month or more for me to understand how to get the best from a piece of equipment, a lens handles differently in lots of situations, there's no way around it, we need to know as much about how they work as possible to get the most from them.

    Sorry, bit off topic there.

    Mat

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    I often describe these kind of lenses being "too analytical".

    What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?
    For me: dead ugly (read: very unnatural) bokeh! By far an ideal lens.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Loxia 50/2. Same stuff but smaller and in the right mount.
    Do you feel the bokeh is similar between the Loxia 50/2 and the Zeiss 50/1.4 ZF.2?

    As the ZF.2 is cheaper and one stop faster would you consider it or does the automatic focus engagement, size and exif data make the Loxia the obvious choice?

    Thanks,

    Bill

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Milvus for F mount: http://lenspire.zeiss.com/en/zeiss-m...new-lens-line/

    Check out the boket (front and back) at f/8! Absolutely gorgeous!

    The E mount cam is better off with the Loxia.

    Are we talking about rendering or price? If price is an issue, I would strongly suggest something in M42 mount.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by k-hawinkler View Post
    Now, is there anybody willing to propose a draft definition for "Clinical" that we then could iterate and hopefully come to a common use of the term?.
    OK, here goes:

    Like a hospital, without the smell! Come to think more about my comment, some might say a lens stinks!

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Milvus for F mount: http://lenspire.zeiss.com/en/zeiss-m...new-lens-line/

    Check out the boket (front and back) at f/8! Absolutely gorgeous!

    The E mount cam is better off with the Loxia.

    Are we talking about rendering or price? If price is an issue, I would strongly suggest something in M42 mount.
    Price aside, would you prefer the Milvus 50 or the Loxia 50 for the A7r2?

    -Bill

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Thanks for your excellent contributions.
    I am trying to sort through these and separate the wheat from the chaff.
    Also, if we could just ignore for the moment our personal preferences and focus on defining the term "clinical".
    I don't particularly like this word, but so be it. Maybe we can find a better word later or find it's not needed at all.
    A friend, reading through this thread, thought that the poster who defined

    "clinical" as "lack of uncorrected spherical aberrations"

    got it right. Could it be as simple as this? Your feedback please. TIA.
    With best regards, K-H.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by ohnri View Post
    Price aside, would you prefer the Milvus 50 or the Loxia 50 for the A7r2?

    -Bill
    Bill, I would prefer the 50/2 for various reasons and not in the context of this thread.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Yes I think that was what I was saying way back in the beginning. Basically a lens with correct aberrations that is more detailed wide open than a uncorrected lens.

    As far as personal preferences go that's a different subject all together. Nice to hear but it muddies the waters . We got a little off topic as far as the definition . Which we always tend to do and that's fine. We could even expand the definition to include typically a clinical lens is very sharp and has less falloff of OOF areas.

    I still don't refer it in my mind as a bad thing it's just the way a lens draws or its character. I like having both in my bag or in many cases a 1.4 lens has more character wide open but when stopped down is more clinical in look. Many 1.4 lenses are like that our Sony 35 1.4 for instance
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by k-hawinkler View Post
    Thanks for your excellent contributions.
    I am trying to sort through these and separate the wheat from the chaff.
    Also, if we could just ignore for the moment our personal preferences and focus on defining the term "clinical".
    I don't particularly like this word, but so be it. Maybe we can find a better word later or find it's not needed at all.
    A friend, reading through this thread, thought that the poster who defined

    "clinical" as "lack of uncorrected spherical aberrations"

    got it right. Could it be as simple as this? Your feedback please. TIA.
    I'm not sure. The Cron 50 APO's spherical aberrations (SA) is intentionally slightly under-corrected, and it's often associated as a "clinical" lens. How do I know it has some SA? Simply taking an astro shot and looking at the corner at WO, there is noticeable bat-wing which is mainly caused by SA.

    However, most of the beloved character lenses (like Mandler) have more SA (veiling haze) than most. Their global contrast is moderate as well. Micro-contrast (5 to 10 lpmm on the MTF charts) should be relative high to help the subject standing out from the background. I think moderate resolution (30 to 40 lpmm on the MTF charts) is expected to go with the veiling haze. Drop-off in contrast/resolution from the outer third (either due to field curvature or simply a drop in contrast) is a must for most of these beloved lenses to create somewhat lower contrast in the background with diffused blur.

    Again, I doubt that anyone would speak highly of the lens I used for the fence shot (at least for people photography), even though they would not classify it as a "clinical" lens either.

    So from that, I still stand by my definition: clinical lens = flat field curvature + good to excellent sharpness + good to excellent aberrations control. It's the combination of a clean look (from sharpness and aberrations control) and the somewhat neutral bokeh (flat field curvature) that would lead to such conclusion. And most only talk about magical property of a lens at WO. As you stop it down, some of that magics diminish. Though, ironically, Leica's King of Bokeh needs to be stopped down a stop to get its famed smooth bokeh profile.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I would not read into folks comments on clinical either it's not a bad thing. It's just a way a lens draws. I like having a few lenses that are actually. To me it's about smoothness of tonal areas or less glowing, veiling kind of look which is caused really by a imperfect lens and aberrations. A clinical lens maybe a good description is a lens that's techinically correct that does not have that veiling or glowing look and sometimes the transition areas are more detailed than a none clinical lens. In Leica almost ever sumilux in R mount was a Mandler design and at 1.4 it has that glow and is not considered clinical at all but more with defects in the lens. I just bought the 55 1.8 comes Monday but I had this lens already. Now it's a brilliant lens and would be considered clinical because it's so well corrected but I use the description a little clinical because it does have a very nice look to it and the transition areas are smoother than let's say some other highly corrected lenses but for me on either side of the 55 I have the 35 1.4 and Batis 85 so having the 55 is actually a good thing being a little clinical over the other two. So if I need the highest detail I'll grap that 55.

    I agree though Annna some folks use the word clinical in not the best way. Just tossing that word around and viewing it as a bad thing. Quite the opposite it's a good thing and IMHO we should all have at least one in our bag that is.

    Here is what Guy posted. It seems to me Guy nailed it. Thank you, Guy!
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Thanks.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by hiepphotog View Post
    I'm not sure. The Cron 50 APO's spherical aberrations (SA) is intentionally slightly under-corrected, and it's often associated as a "clinical" lens. How do I know it has some SA? Simply taking an astro shot and looking at the corner at WO, there is noticeable bat-wing which is mainly caused by SA.

    However, most of the beloved character lenses (like Mandler) have more SA (veiling haze) than most. Their global contrast is moderate as well. Micro-contrast (5 to 10 lpmm on the MTF charts) should be relative high to help the subject standing out from the background. I think moderate resolution (30 to 40 lpmm on the MTF charts) is expected to go with the veiling haze. Drop-off in contrast/resolution from the outer third (either due to field curvature or simply a drop in contrast) is a must for most of these beloved lenses to create somewhat lower contrast in the background with diffused blur.

    Again, I doubt that anyone would speak highly of the lens I used for the fence shot (at least for people photography), even though they would not classify it as a "clinical" lens either.

    So from that, I still stand by my definition: clinical lens = flat field curvature + good to excellent sharpness + good to excellent aberrations control. It's the combination of a clean look (from sharpness and aberrations control) and the somewhat neutral bokeh (flat field curvature) that would lead to such conclusion. And most only talk about magical property of a lens at WO. As you stop it down, some of that magics diminish. Though, ironically, Leica's King of Bokeh needs to be stopped down a stop to get its famed smooth bokeh profile.
    Thanks indeed! It seems to me you spell out the next level of detail.
    Question: What do you consider the first order effect(s), what are the higher order ones? TIA.
    With best regards, K-H.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by hiepphotog View Post
    I'm not sure. The Cron 50 APO's spherical aberrations (SA) is intentionally slightly under-corrected, and it's often associated as a "clinical" lens. How do I know it has some SA? Simply taking an astro shot and looking at the corner at WO, there is noticeable bat-wing which is mainly caused by SA.

    However, most of the beloved character lenses (like Mandler) have more SA (veiling haze) than most. Their global contrast is moderate as well. Micro-contrast (5 to 10 lpmm on the MTF charts) should be relative high to help the subject standing out from the background. I think moderate resolution (30 to 40 lpmm on the MTF charts) is expected to go with the veiling haze. Drop-off in contrast/resolution from the outer third (either due to field curvature or simply a drop in contrast) is a must for most of these beloved lenses to create somewhat lower contrast in the background with diffused blur.

    Again, I doubt that anyone would speak highly of the lens I used for the fence shot (at least for people photography), even though they would not classify it as a "clinical" lens either.

    So from that, I still stand by my definition: clinical lens = flat field curvature + good to excellent sharpness + good to excellent aberrations control. It's the combination of a clean look (from sharpness and aberrations control) and the somewhat neutral bokeh (flat field curvature) that would lead to such conclusion. And most only talk about magical property of a lens at WO. As you stop it down, some of that magics diminish. Though, ironically, Leica's King of Bokeh needs to be stopped down a stop to get its famed smooth bokeh profile.
    Sounds good but I do wonder about the flat field curvature if that should be included
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Well, I asked my last question in light of people using the term "Too clinical".
    I don't think they object to having, quote: "flat field curvature + good to excellent sharpness"
    It seems to me they object to: "good to excellent aberrations control"
    No?

    I certainly agree that

    flat field curvature + good to excellent sharpness + good to excellent aberrations control

    describes what I would expect in a state of the art lens.
    With best regards, K-H.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by k-hawinkler View Post
    Well, I asked my last question in light of people using the term "Too clinical".
    I don't think they object to having, quote: "flat field curvature + good to excellent sharpness"
    It seems to me they object to: "good to excellent aberrations control"
    No?
    I think it is futile to define an offensive terminology which has no meaning whatsoever.

    A few of my 85mm lenses (snapped with the 55/1.8- excellent lens ). All are great with excellent boket. Make use of the movements on the PC Nikkor and all the Mandler related arguments go out the window.

    Untitled by Vivek Iyer, on Flickr
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Don't know if it's been mentioned but the sensor and resolution has an effect on perceived sharpness as well. Many lenses aren't up to resolving the newest sensors but even still a high resolution sensor can make any lens seem "sharper."
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    For me this was a useful exercise by putting terms used into sharper focus.
    I learned a bit. Thanks again.
    With best regards, K-H.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by k-hawinkler View Post
    Well, I asked my last question in light of people using the term "Too clinical".
    I don't think they object to having, quote: "flat field curvature + good to excellent sharpness"
    It seems to me they object to: "good to excellent aberrations control"
    No?

    I certainly agree that

    flat field curvature + good to excellent sharpness + good to excellent aberrations control

    describes what I would expect in a state of the art lens.
    Aberrations is readily associated with that "Leica glow" that people refer about. However, it certainly does intermingle with sharpness; low aberrations would automatically boost contrast at all frequencies; I'm sure there is a way to selectively pick out a certain frequency to. However, without the additional flat field curvature, a lens can be viewed by many as a non-clinical lens. The most obvious example, IMO, is the Lux 50 ASPH. It might be considered to be more "sterile" than the non-ASPH (one of Mandler's favorites?), but you would offend a fellow Leica shooter if you call his Lux 50 ASPH "clinical" . This lens has a very noticeable mid-zone dip, and the curvature is inward toward the camera. This dip is responsible for most bokeh in the centre-framing paradigm in rangefinder.

    This is from my observation, but I think the under-lining causes are these three. I have not seen a lens with low aberrations and has low sharpness as well, but I could be wrong. Or we can list some of the notorious "clinical" lenses and see what they have in common.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    I agree with Vivek, the term has no meaning in this context, even though it is most often meant as a negative.

    The ironic thing - there is no such thing as a "perfect" lens. All exhibit unique "flaws", some more than others . I suspect when someone says "lens is too clinical", they are simply saying "I don't like the imperfections of this lens", and then fail to describe exactly what they mean. Very unhelpful. It gets a bit annoying when these so-called critiques get parroted by others ("I've heard it's too clinical") and gets repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.

    We might be running into experienced photographers who have lots of older lenses. Some of those lenses are favorites which have been used with great success and great memories. Along comes a "new kid" that is supposedly sharper, and with fewer distortions. Naturally, there will be resistance. I get that. We learn to love and embrace lens imperfections... just like we do with friends and family .
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    And maybe these will illustrate a compromise, a lens that can be either a 'fondler' or 'clinical.' I got it out because of the discussion in this thread.

    They're not great pictures; juste quick shots of some architectural details inside a small Frank Lloyd Wright house that I visited this weekend.

    They're taken with a 50mm Sonnar-C, which renders like a 'classic' lens at wide apertures but is sharp and contrasty at f8 (see the chair). You just have to avoid the middle apertures, because of focus shift!

    Kirk

    1. Clerestory:

    Attachment 113356

    2. Recurrent/echoing motif:

    Attachment 113357

    3. Illumination imbedded in fireplace (how do you change the bulbs?):

    Attachment 113353

    4. Chair (original furniture, curtains, and rugs designed by FLW):

    Attachment 113355

    5. External gate (painted red, of course):

    Attachment 113354

    Only the gate has been sharpened.
    Last edited by thompsonkirk; 19th October 2015 at 21:06.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Re What's a lens designer/manufacturers to do? Purposely muck up something in the lens so it isn't judged perfect? If I was a designer, this sort of comment would drive me bonkers.

    With product design it does not work like this. You can design for various kinds of specifications. It necessarily does not have to be on ultimate sharpness. It could also be on cost, vignetting, low chromatic abberations, etc. But also on Bokeh.

    I think the Nikon 58mm is a good example here as this recent design is not developed for ultimate sharpness, more on a good blend of sufficient sharpness, vignetting and a very nice bokeh. Another example is with the Sigma ART lenses: ONLY designed for sharpness, at the expense of other image qualities such as bokeh.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    the first time i saw such description was probably back in early 2000s when nikon moving their manufacturing process away from lead-containing glass and start introducing nano-coating. 24-85 F2.8-4, 105mm micro, 60mm micro are some of them. so i dont think it's unique to recent sony lens.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by f64 View Post
    I do not have the 55 FE, nor I plan to buy it, but I feel some discomfort with some images I see. I would not use the term too clinical, I feel that these images are as artificial as most HDR images are.

    Let me take a different angle. When the first CD player came out, I rushed to buy a few discs to replace the classical music releases I had. Well, I was less than overwhelmed. And I was not alone: lifeless, too analytical, etc. were the keywords. Sounds familiar? Bullshit, engineers said, this is a faithful reproduction and sampling is more than adequate, given that that nobody can hear frequencies higher than 20 kH. It turned out that engineers were wrong (as they often are; I know, I am a member of IEEE). Though very few can hear a pure tone at that frequency, sampling clips harmonics that we perceive even if they are way above 20KH. A few decades later, digital converters use oversampling to smooth the signal. Nice, but I found out many years ago that the way to go was to use Conrad Johnson tube amplifiers rather than solid state. Tubes smooth the signal.

    So, in short, the perceptual aspects of listening to the music were ignored and the outcome was bad.
    My question is: is the same thing happening to digital photography? Are we ignoring important perceptual aspects? B&W on film is way different from digital. Overdetailed color images are not as satisfactory as 4x5 transparencies. Or, at least this is my feeling. Personally I resorted to the analog of a tube amplifier, and I use old lenses (sometimes really old) and I often add grain.
    This analogy with the transition to digital music is what immediately comes to my mind. Early digital was argued to be more revealing than vinyl but it was decidedly unmusical, not to mention that massed strings were unbearable. Well said 64! I like my "glowy" lenses.

    On the other hand I also like my Jeff Rowland electronics - solid state can be very good. I condition the digital signal pre DAC with a Meridian 518 DSP. Very musical. I expect that some day aspheric lens design will also mature to regain some of the richness that is now in the ditch.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    To add fire to the flame I personally find it more offensive when people make claims about something being a "real camera" or a camera for "real photographers." Who makes the delineation to decide what's a real camera or who is a real photographer? Do the real pictures I take on my "fake" or "toy" camera not make them pictures? Does your photographic history have to exceed 50 years to be considered "real?" I see the "Fun With..." threads in every sub forum which suggests that all cameras are real cameras but some prefer to use one or another for various reasons but I digress... The elitism is getting a little old for me these days although I've been guilty of it myself in subjective terms as it applies to optical qualities.

    I think that's the point though - all claims can be caveated from a subjective standpoint. For instance many love the M240 but I upgraded my M9 to an A7 and A7R because I hated the color. That doesn't mean the M240 was terrible but it didn't fit into my plans as I found better options for me. Going back to Sony I HATE the 35/2.8 unapologetically for reason discussed previously but love the 35/1.4 that some others will refuse to try due to size. We all have to keep opinion in perspective for what it is. The 35 Sigma Art I owned was terribly clinical but is one of the best lenses I've ever used on any system to the point if I was still a Canon user I'd buy EVERY Sigma Art prime on reputation/performance alone.

    Clinical doesn't have to have a negative connotation but more of description to the look it gives as many pointed out.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Muse View Post
    This analogy with the transition to digital music is what immediately comes to my mind. Early digital was argued to be more revealing than vinyl but it was decidedly unmusical, not to mention that massed strings were unbearable. Well said 64! I like my "glowy" lenses.

    On the other hand I also like my Jeff Rowland electronics - solid state can be very good. I condition the digital signal pre DAC with a Meridian 518 DSP. Very musical. I expect that some day aspheric lens design will also mature to regain some of the richness that is now in the ditch.
    I'll have to disagree here, the analogy doesn't apply. Early CDs were terrible because most of them where "shovel-ware", where the record company took the analogue tapes, without remixing, and sampled at small rate, resulting in all sorts of quantizing and artificial sound. It wasn't an issue of digital music per se, but rather crappy digital music. The mass produced vinyl albums weren't very pleasing either.

    Nowadays, recordings are all digital - from the original studio capture to the mixing and gold masters. The sampling rates have increased as well. However, a 32 kbps mp3 is still a 32 kbps mp3.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Too clinical is not about a lens at all, it is about its use.
    A lens that renders something on image plane that is absolutely just like the subject may be too clinical for some subjects but not for others.
    Older women, for example, prefer lenses that are far from clinical (think the new Petzval or the Lensbaby velvet 56)
    Crime scene photos, well there is no such thing as too clinical.
    I have heard some folks, particularly those who shoot a bunch of older lenses wide-open and prefer vignetting call anything without it too clinical.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by dandrewk View Post
    I'll have to disagree here, the analogy doesn't apply. Early CDs were terrible because most of them where "shovel-ware", where the record company took the analogue tapes, without remixing, and sampled at small rate, resulting in all sorts of quantizing and artificial sound. It wasn't an issue of digital music per se, but rather crappy digital music. The mass produced vinyl albums weren't very pleasing either.

    Nowadays, recordings are all digital - from the original studio capture to the mixing and gold masters. The sampling rates have increased as well. However, a 32 kbps mp3 is still a 32 kbps mp3.
    Not entirely true. Sure there were analog tape > CD conversions that were poorly done. But there were also a LOT of digital recordings that were poorly done as well. And god-awful they were too. What has changed is we learned how to do better digital recordings, proper conversions from analog tape to digital, and the technology (hardware and software) improved considerably. Likewise, CD playback (or any digital source) has improved very much over the years.

    Lens design is always choices about where to compromise and by how much, based on the design goal. This is where the character comes from, be it the character we wish for or not.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Sony FE 55/1.8 (new sample, no grease on it!) on Sony A7s, f/2.2, earlier today.

    Untitled by Vivek Iyer, on Flickr

    The performance is strikingly similar to that of Leica M Apo Summicron 75/2 (incidentally it was widely criticized by old Leica reviewers during the film era for having "harsh" boket).

    I like it.
    It still has a crappy bokeh. The 75 Summicron I mean.
    Last edited by Lars; 29th October 2015 at 21:03.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    It still has a crappy bokeh. The 75 Summicron I mean.
    Less crappy than any Nikkor i have come across.

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Less crappy than any Nikkor i have come across.
    You must of course refer to the 85/1.8D, worst Nikkor bokeh of all time?
    It's of course subjective but to me the Leica is much worse. It's simply a failed lens design.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Less crappy than any Nikkor i have come across.
    I'm delighted to contradict you:


    Bo Peep by unoh7, on Flickr


    Black Ears by unoh7, on Flickr

    No Leica lens on earth has better bokeh than the nikkor 300/2.8 EDIF (yes I got a nice 75 Lux). It's legendary for this reason among several.

    OK, Vivek, I confess I never even heard of the lens until a month ago But I read alot about it since and bought one (625 shipped). My shorter SLR nikkors have nasty bokeh. But I do enjoy the Nikkor RF bokeh from some lenses.

    Well, some others might ask, is it "clinically sharp"?

    ahem...

    Formation by unoh7, Body: A7.mod

    the 500/4 P might even be better bokeh. Meant to be sharper. If I was rich, I would get a Leica SL just for these two lenses.

    PS, Matt, really superb portrait, #2, with 135/2 Zeiss
    Last edited by uhoh7; 29th October 2015 at 22:23.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
    I'm delighted to contradict you:
    You know, it's possible that I was thinking of the 75/1.4 Summilux. Massive internal vignetting, hot edge rear defocus.
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    It's simply a failed lens design.
    Why do you say that? Any personal experience or you are just trying to sound cute?

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
    My shorter SLR nikkors have nasty bokeh.
    Lovely, samples, Charlie!

    That is what I was comparing. The shorter SLR Nikkors.

    Here is one from the lens that reminds me of APO Summicron 75/2, the Zony 55/1.8 (on A7s):

    Untitled by Vivek Iyer, on Flickr
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Why do you say that? Any personal experience or you are just trying to sound cute?
    Who doesn't want to sound cute? Seriously though - the level of internal vignetting creates a very far from uniform background defocus. Especially when focused very close the background defocus gets quite disturbing - I know, this is partly subjective. There was a thread here some years ago but most images posted in old threads seem to have disappeared.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    I'd like to volunteer to relieve any photographer burdened by "clinically sharp" lenses of their heavy load. I offer to set up a Clinical Lens Foundation so that these lenses can be put out to pasture in my home. I will even give them exercise occasionally!

    Seriously, though. I completely support photographers whose creativity is enhanced by particular lenses, no matter what their "flaws" as perceived by others. Lenses are tools, and we need lots of different tools. Whatever works.

    I think there are differences in visual strategy that underly the discussion here. Some photographers are more expressionistic, and want to directly convey emotion using specific qualities of blur, bokeh, aberrations, etc. Others wish to emphasize the hyper-realistic potential of photography, which can evoke emotion in other ways. Some people use a combination approach. And finally, there are those who see a digital capture as a sort of negative, to be shaped in post-processing. Ansel Adams said, "the negative is the score; the print is the performance." Today, for some, the RAW file is the score; the TIFF (or PSD) is the performance!

    These are all valid ways of using photography to be creative. I don't think we should make a cult out of any of them, or be derogatory about any of them either. Wouldn't it be useless for people who like one style of painting to make fun of people who like another style? The main thing, IMO, is to be as clear as possible about what we are trying to accomplish. When we use a lens, we should generally try to look at the world as that lens sees it.

    Of course, even that can't be a hard and fast rule. Some people might want to add randomness or surprise to their technique. One of the members of my gallery in Brooklyn recently exhibited a group of work shot with a Diana camera with a plastic lens in a location she had never been before. In many ways, she didn't know what she'd get until she processed the film. Unexpected results were a built-in part of that process.

    Anyhow, the value I see in this thread is that it helps me to be more aware about the particular characteristics of a variety of lenses.

    --d

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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    You know, it's possible that I was thinking of the 75/1.4 Summilux. Massive internal vignetting, hot edge rear defocus.
    Oh yes, 75 Lux and Cron. Two of the worst lenses ever.

    The lux is especially offensive:


    Puberty by unoh7, on Flickr

    Txt Pro by unoh7, on Flickr

    really soft in general:

    Blue and Silver by unoh7, on Flickr

    And useless at F/1.4:

    Mini in Snow by unoh7, on Flickr

    Just another massive "Leica Fail" I'm not surprised nobody wants one.


    Bliss Not Butts by unoh7, on Flickr
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  49. #149
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    Re: Mild Rant - What the $%&^ Does "Lens is Too Clinical" Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post

    No Leica lens on earth has better bokeh than the nikkor 300/2.8 EDIF (yes I got a nice 75 Lux). It's legendary for this reason among several.
    I gotta disagree, the Olympus OM Zuiko 250mm f2 and 350mm f2.8 win my vote.
    Tough to find online sample image but some of the Olympus books I have feature them.
    I just wish I could afford either.

    Not my image from here - Zuiko AUTO-T 250mm f/2.0 ED-IF super-telephoto lense

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