When a lens is bad

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by alaios, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Hi all,
    I wanted to ask you what do you consider as a bad lens or unacceptable to use lens?
    I have seen you many times lens reviews but hardly I can understand when a lens can render a picture unacceptable.

    Have you ever took a so nice shot that the lens performance rendered it very bad?

    I would like to thank you in advance for your reply

  2. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    There could be many reasons that a lens might be considered "bad". Man of those reasons may vary from one individual to another e.g.- your "bad" might be my "acceptable" etc.

    But some things that might make a lens "bad" are:

    1) Decentering- one whole side of a pic is out of focus.
    2) Front/back focus- for autofocus lenses. If you're using a manual focus lens and it front/back focuses the lens isn't the problem. ;) 
    3) Smearing in the corners of the pic.
    4) Color shift along edge/corners of pic.
    5) Vignetting
    6) Excessive lens flare. Some might be ok, a lot usually is not.

    There are more to be sure, but this is an example of some things that might make a lens "bad".
  3. Gandalf

    Gandalf TalkEmount Regular

    Sep 5, 2013
    On the other hand, some lenses are just dreck by design.

    Here's a shot I took with a Canon FD 500mm f/8 Reflex lens (a mirror lens.)
    This was the image that convinced me that I really hated that lens, despite it being (to this day)
    one of the sharpest telephotos I've ever used. I sold the mirror lens and put the dough toward my 300/2.8.

    Heron by APD Photo, on Flickr

    All was not lost; after an undocumented but extremely long amount of time spent editing (before I had Photoshop) I got something I thought a bit more acceptable:

    Great Blue Heron by APD Photo, on Flickr

    Every now and again, I start thinking that maybe I overreacted when I $hi+canned the mirror lens, a couple of times I've even gone onto EvilBay and looked a prices. Then I remind myself to look at this image (the top one!) and I lose the desire to punish myself.
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  4. Vidar

    Vidar TalkEmount Regular

    Apr 25, 2013
    Bergen, Norway
    In my experience (in my photos at least) it is not the lens that is bad, it is the photographer :) 

    Try to use whatever lens you own in the best way and have fun.
  5. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Yep, you hardly can buy any lenses nowadays which are so bad that any image would be 'unusable' or even much worse than with a supposedly better lens. It all comes down to the luxury of owning a lens with a perfectly weighted focus ring, a nice metal barrel, a better close focus distance, sharper, higher resolving edges, a larger maximum aperture and so on. Could you take the same pictures with a lens 1/10th the price? Probably. But it may have some more limitations, it may be less perfect, and - depending on your preferences - it may be less inspiring to use.

    That said, there are of course lenses that are defect (Bimjos list up there is quite comprehensive) and there are lenses that are bad by design, like the one below - the Fujian 35mm f/1.7. It was so bad, I only used it once (still, a nice special effect lens, especially for video use).


    [offtopic]Man, it always shocks me when suddenly a german word appears in an english sentence ... Sounds so strange.[/offtopic]
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