Can shooting film help you get girls?

At the forums, a guy writes:

“Photographers” who shoot film because it’s “cool” and the “film look” adds a quality to their photos that makes up for their lack of compositional and technical skill. Mainly it seems that they shoot film because it makes them cool and get them girls.

I was all in agreement with the poster about the silly pretentiousness of people who shoot film, until I got to the part about getting girls. I mean, the whole purpose of photography is to help you get girls. If film does that better, then I want film!

If someone knows the secret of using film photography to get girls, please explain in the comments!

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For those with a poor sense of humor detector, this post is written tongue-in-cheek. And there’s a warning right under the title of the blog that you shouldn’t take anything here too seriously.

Are Micro Four Thirds lenses sharp enough?

ATMX observed this his high-res photo taken with the E-M5 II has soft corners (although exactly how soft is not specified).

There is no lens I have used that has corners as perfectly good as in the center of the photo, but if there is one lens I’ve used that comes close to perfection, it’s the lens on the Ricoh GR. Of course the Ricoh GR is a rather limited camera. You have only a single focal length (equivalent to 28mm), there’s no viewfinder, there are “only” 16 megapixels, and I also find it kind of hard get the perfect exposure (although you can use exposure bracketing).

As far as I can tell, the sharpest Micro Four Thirds lens for center-to-corner image quality is, believe it or not, the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8. I say believe it or not because most people would assume prime lenses would outperform a zoom lens, but that’s not the case here. The 12-40 is definitely sharper than the 12mm f/2.0 and the 14mm f/2.5, it’s a close call with the 17mm. I have not carefully compared the corner quality with other prime lenses that I have (25mm and 45mm), so it’s possible that one of those lenses might outperform the 12-40mm.

Even with the sharp 12-40mm, I can tell that the corners don’t quite have the same quality as the center, and I am sure that would be even more obvious if I used the high-res shot mode on the Pen-F which creates an 80MP raw file, although I have not experimented with the high-res shot mode.

It would certainly be very interesting to compare the 12-40mm with images from various full-frame systems like Canon, Nikon, Sony and even Leica, but I don’t have any of those other systems.

Even though Henri Cartier-Bresson said that sharpness is a bourgeois concept, if you are going to be doing bourgeois stuff like making really large landscape prints, then you need the sharpest lens if you want your really large bourgeois prints to be “superior” to other people’s really large bourgeois prints.

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When comparing lenses, it should always be noted that there’s a lot of sample variation, and my 12-40mm might be better or worse than someone else’s 12-40mm. I think that the 14mm f/2.5 and the 17mm f/1.8 are especially prone to sample variation and that I have a good copy of the 17mm and a bad copy of the 14mm. My opinion of my 14mm is that the quality is unacceptable for landscape photos.

Should you own a 70-200mm lens?

That’s the question asked by Stephen F. Dennstedt.

And the answer is, “no.” You should not own a lens like that, not if you’re an amateur photographer anyway. No great amateur photos have ever been taken with a telephoto zoom lens. (OK, I am sure that of the billions of photos posted on the web, you can find at least one great amateur photo taken with a telephoto zoom lens, but the point is that it’s a rarity.)

If you’re a wedding photographer and need a telephoto zoom to take pictures of the wedding ceremony, then sure, go for it. But if you’re a “professional” photographer, then you probably aren’t reading my website for equipment advice, and honestly I don’t have any good advice for you anyway. The only thing I know about wedding photography is that my sister overpaid for mediocre photos (but she doesn’t realize the photos are mediocre).

Somewhere out there, someone may ask, “but maybe I ‘need’ this lens to photograph my kid playing sports or something like that.” No, you’re kid doesn’t want the embarrassment of their parent carrying around a massively huge lens while every other parent is just snapping pictures with their iPhone.

Still don’t agree with me? That’s why at the top of the blog it says “For entertainment purposes only. Don’t take anything in here too seriously.”

Hyperfocal distance is bogus

I’m not sure I follow 100% everything in the article, but I know for a fact that hyperfocal distance charts are wrong, if you use them, everything at infinity will be unsharp.

Therefore, my advice for landscape photography is to focus on infinity, and use the highest f-stop you can get away with. You only need to focus closer than infinity if there’s something in the foreground that’s especially important to the composition and it’s not sharp if you use the infinity focus method (in that case the “double the distance” method in the article sounds reasonable).

Are eggs the secret to photography?

Successful photography blogger Eric Kim writes, “when I get home in the evening I will cook myself an ‘egg snack’ of 8-10 eggs to satisfy my hunger.”

That sounds like a pretty weird dinner. But then I read manly blogger Brett’s advice on increasing testosterone. He says that the secret is to eat lots of cholesterol, and he eats three eggs and bacon for breakfast every day.

So maybe the trick here is that Eric Kim has increased his testosterone by eating so many eggs, and the extra “T” makes him a more aggressive photographer and blogger.

I think that I’m going to have to eat more eggs in order to improve my photography.

An unanswered question: does this testosterone-boosting effect of cholesterol work on women?

Don’t use a telephoto lens

This photo was taken at 12mm on a Micro Four Thirds camera (which is equivalent to 25mm on a full-frame camera; see my blog post about the correct Micro Four Thirds focal length multiplier). You need a wide angle to capture New York City, or any other city full of tall buildings or narrow streets.

The gearhead types who frequent the message boards at dpreview love telephoto lenses. I read so many posts about people going on a vacation and not being able to leave their telephoto lenses at home.

But the truth is that telephoto lenses take ugly photos. Robert Capa is famous for saying, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” He meant that you need to get physically close using a wide-angle lens, he didn’t mean that you should get close from a distance with a telephoto zoom. Very few great photos are taken with telephoto focal lengths. If you visit a display of fine-art photography, you probably won’t see any photos with a telephoto look. Assuming you’re not a birder (which I consider to be a hobby distinct from photography) or a professional portrait photographer (I don’t dispute the value of using a short telephoto lens for a tight head and shoulders portrait), you don’t ever need more telephoto than what you get with a standard zoom lens, and I recommend avoiding any focal lengths longer than the “normal” (which is 50mm on a full-frame camera).

The camera companies won’t tell you this, because they make money selling telephoto lenses. They want you to think that to be like a “pro,” ready to take any possible picture at any time, you must buy expensive telephoto zooms. Don’t fall for the marketing.

A good take on the benefits of wide angle lenses is found in Rafi Letzter’s article at Business Insider, except that he confuses telephoto with zoom. Zoom means that a lens changes its focal length, it doesn’t say whether you are shooting at wide-angle or telephoto. You don’t need to buy prime lenses to get the wide-angle look, you just need to refrain from using the long end of a standard zoom, or you can buy a wide-angle zoom. (Although some people have the belief that zoom makes you lazy and less creative, and maybe even there’s some truth in that belief.)

Photography advice for my younger self

I was looking through some of my older photos taken with digital cameras before 2005, and boy were they bad. From the perspective of subject, composition, focal length, lighting, etc, they were pretty bad.

I also noticed how few photos I took. How was I going to get any better if I hardly ever photographed anything? I spent more effort acquiring gear than I did taking pictures.

And technically, they were also pretty bad. Old digital cameras (tiny sensor cameras, back then I couldn’t justify buying an APS-C digital camera, and full-frame digital didn’t exist or was insanely expensive) were pretty awful compared to modern digital cameras.

But if I had any advice for my old self, it would be:

1. Take lots and lots of pictures. Every week, as many as possible, of as many different subjects as possible.

2. Look at a lot of photos taken by other people, and learn to distinguish the good from the crappy pictures, because if you can’t identify those qualities in other people’s photos, then you probably can’t make your own good pictures. (But don’t tell someone who posts a crappy picture how crappy it is, that just gets people pissed off and doesn’t help you.)

3. Don’t worry about whether the quality of your gear is good or bad. Until you spend at least a year or two taking a lot of photos, you won’t take any good photos anyway, so it doesn’t matter if they have digital noise or aren’t sharp or have low resolution. A lousy photo taken with the best gear is still a lousy photo.

Especially don’t worry about gear in 2017. Even the cheapest Canon DSLR that sells for less than $400 has far better quality than 35mm film.