Chasing the perfect imperfection.
I once own two Sigma Art lens (the 35mm f1.4 ART and the 85mm f1.4 ART (a bazooka)). They are among the sharpest and affordable third party lens available on the market for modern-day photographers. Still, somehow I found their rendering to be too clinical and sterile for my liking. The extra sharpness from the centre to the corner makes photos look flat, and it tend to lose the aesthetic appeal that I look for. The apparent weight is not really a problem for a short duration shoot, but on a long shoot day, the 85 Art for my camera with a battery grip tend to hurt my wrist.
Apart from the weight which I think is more like a hindrance to my creative composition, I found that sharpness doesn’t make for good photographs at all. This is true when photographing people’s portrait, especially when it makes every pore of a person’s face visible. But, a soft blurry lens won’t make you artistically better either.
So the sharpness debate is overrated, and I found myself in the camp for more sharpness is better until I realize it is not. It has to strike a balance between an acceptable sharpness but not being overly intense. At least for me.
We, photographers, know that client doesn’t really notice the difference between the different lens that we use. However, they will appreciate the quality of lighting, it’s direction, colours combination, and compositions in our photographs. Those factors are far more critical than having the sharpest lens in your arsenal.
What’s the function of a luxurious, expensive pen if one can’t write a good poem with it? That is something that I will stick to my mind every time a new gear pops out with their marketing gimmickry.
And I am happy to just bring my little Fuji X100S around the city of Oxford, doing street photography or just taking a picture of the beautiful buildings like a tourist would.
I have been taking photographs since 2008. I wish I found these revelations when I started 12 years ago, and the less is more approach works well for my creativity these days: one camera, one lens. A smaller combination is preferred.
As a photographer who provide services in creative photography for brands and businesses in Oxford, events photography, and portraits, I believe in my creativity more than relying on gears to execute the job.
Gear matters, until it is not anymore.