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Are lens tests useless?
#11
Well, we don't rate according to a lens class. We have a global rating.

A lens class rating is sort of  incorporated in the "price/performance" rating.
#12
You also need to know the personality, style and expectations of reviewer to make sense of any review.

 

For example, Ken Rockwell will almost always test the JPEG performance, which means auto-corrected CA, fringing etc. He will also dumb down most of the results and won't split hairs. If he says a lens is excellently sharp, it is almost always more than adequate. He puts much more emphasis on the ergonomics and will list a lot of features almost every other reviewer passes on.

 

I find his approach quite useful, to be honest. That way you can easily find out that a particular lens has a useless zoom ring (Wide end crummed together) or a rangefinder lens that has an odd filter size. He even lists the weight, filter size and a ballpark price in the first few lines, making him one of my top sources when I simply want to know the basic info about a lens.

 

On the other end of the scale, is Lensrentals. Roger Cicala can write the book about splitting hairs and he would do it in such a fashion that you'd want to read it just for the obscure references he'd put in between. He will tell you nobody else in the world can right now. If he says a zoom barrel wobbles and most other reviewers and users don't, that means the barrel will wobble if you mishandle the lens a lot. 

 

Also, most reviewers have different standards. If you grew up using old manual focus Olympus lenses, new Zeiss ZF/ZE lenses won't appear smooth focusing at all. What some people call built-like-a-tank will be toy-like to a keen eyed person who notices that the mount is screwed into plastics, which is also what the inner barrel is made of. A good example is the Zony 55/1.8. Many people just notice the metal exterior and call it amazingly well built. It's not. Even Samyang 14/2.8 has been called solid a few times here and there. Well, they are. For 6 weeks tops.

#13
Most reviews I read are good (Photozone first and foremost; DPReview - when they decide to test a lens once in a blue moon; EPhotozine; Lenstip; and yes, SLRGear/IR - I don't find their tests any worse inherently than the next site's). Ken Rockwell would be the one whose stuff I'd be taking with a grain of salt - actually, I do - because he's odd, opinionated and sometimes obnoxious... Like in his crusade against what he calls "mud / junk brands" - Sigma and Tamron, whereby he would spit forth ridiculous claims based on nothing but his own hate. Oddly enough, once in a while he snaps out of this mode and reviews something like the Tamron 150-600 without any of that nonsense seeping in, and gives it glowing praise; at other times he grudgingly acknowledges the goodness of - say - the Sigma 35/1.4 while doing his best to water the praise down with some contrived nitpicking.

 

Sometimes I also find the reviews useful to turn me off something that really shouldn't be desirable - say, there was a time when I was very interested in the Canon 28/1.8 lens but the multitude of reviews I've seen back then proved that my (superficial) infatuation was unfounded. Later I managed to get ahold of it and found it to be nothing special; maybe not an abomination but definitely not a memorable lens either.

#14
"Many people just notice the metal exterior and call it amazingly well built. It's not. Even Samyang 14/2.8 has been called solid a few times here and there. Well, they are. For 6 weeks tops"

 

   Somewhat erroneous view of the Samyang there I would have said, born out by the fact that I've had mine 9 weeks ,....just had a quick peek and guess what? ........it's in perfect health!
Dave's clichés
#15
@TO ... you did read this http://www.opticallimits.com/product-ratings ... did you?
#16
Quote:"Many people just notice the metal exterior and call it amazingly well built. It's not. Even Samyang 14/2.8 has been called solid a few times here and there. Well, they are. For 6 weeks tops"

 

   Somewhat erroneous view of the Samyang there I would have said, born out by the fact that I've had mine 9 weeks ,....just had a quick peek and guess what? ........it's in perfect health!
 

Wink 
#17
Klaus,

 

What are your thoughts on Lenstip/optyczne comparing results across different systems? e.g. they test one lens on a 5D iii and another on a A7r II and suggest the 5D tested lens is "better" as it has a lower disparity between centre and corner resolutions. This does not seem like a robust conclusion. 

Also some of their tests seem to differ significantly from other sources. e.g. Sony 55mm 1.8 ZA and 85mm 1.4 GM tests suggest that these lenses are underperforming, yet Lensrentals and DXO suggest very high performance. 

 

Lens rentals seems to be the real benchmark test for resolution testing since the results are truly comparable and account for manufacturing variation. However they do not evaluate other characteristics (bokeh, flare, AF etc..)

#18
On the 14-42mm, I can remember all too clearly having to use non-exchangeable lenses, both "all-in-one" cameras, and point and shoot zooms that included zooming with a W-T.  The worst of the breed would have its snout slowly, and noisily protrude when the camera was switched on.  In the case of point and shoots this is how the cameras would typically die.  The lens starts unfolding when a speck of dust in the camera would lock it up, then like a scared turtle it would withdraw its head, never to expose it again.  It sounds like nothing has been learned from the past.

         Try untangling, "We must honestly admit that, for a „kit” lens you deal here with a very solid construction which build quality would be hard to blame.  Is it your habit to blame build quality for very solid construction? Is solid construction blameworthy?  And why do people insist that we must heap blame on kit lenses.  Everybody knows that the EF 18-55mm is a damn good lens.  I laugh at people who trash it.  I have three different versions and if you can't do good work with those lenses find another hobby!

 

I love Ken Rockwell reviews!  You could probably get from my above rant that we are kindred spirits.  He does use superlatives to an extraordinary extent.  But if you read him enough, you actually get the benefit of his extensive knowledge.  I admit It can annoy when he calls MFT a junk format, or he claims that sharpness is not important, and then tells you how come it makes sense to spend $11,000 on a Leica lens.  Or if you want to cut corners get a Zeiss Otus for $4,000!  Remember when everyone including Ken was laughing at Sigma's 200-500mm f/2.8?  A lens that is big, green colored, and weighs 35 pounds.  But then Ken kind of hands it to Sigma, saying that in the day, if someone was going to make a lens that had no real point other than showing off talent, it would have been Nikon, not Sigma.  Yes, Ken the old champion of Nikon now at best refers to them as the redheaded stepchild of Canon.  Has heaped praise on Sigma and pointed to outdated Canon designs that the the new Sigma and Tamron primes are walking all over.  Ken also shares a soft spot for good quality lenses that are ergonomic and not over spec'd.  EF 50/1.8 mk I, especially (the one I use) EF 85 f/1.8, EF 100/2.0, ect.

 

Much the same way I like "The Digital Picture" with Bryan Carnathan.  Like most professionals Bryan has been seduced by the zoom.  It makes sense.  You have versatility.  You don't miss shots  I don't doubt Bryan likes EF 16-35, EF 24-70, EF 70-200, EF 70-300, EF 100-400 II.  But you have to see he is in love with the white primes.  Bryan spent like $8,000 to buy the discontinued EF 200/1.8.  He did so right before they released the superior EF 200/2.0.  I like a guy who chases the holy grail!

 

Reviewer Bob Atkins has been know to say at the end of a review:  "I think I'll keep this one."  There is your lens test!  He does know tech stuff.  But a statement like that, if you respect the guy, and are considering the lens is what I like to see.  Bob tries to explain things like how you can simply and easily calculate the actual focal length of a macro lens at 1:1.  Also, how to simply calculate the diopter value of a close-up lens.  Sadly, they weren't simple enough for me.  But I appreciate the effort! 

 

Klaus, Ken, Bryan, and Bob have all made extraordinary observations.  So they can interpret test results in context.  But sorry if you have to understand what they are saying

 

Dxo sort of cracks me up, personally.  I think the OP will use this site as prove that tests and reviews mean nothing.  While it is fun to rate all lenses from best to worst, lets face it.  It's nonsense.  It is fun to look for hidden gems by going down the list.  Also, I feel like I won when one of my lenses is highly rated.  It's a guilty pleasure! 

 

DPReview strikes me as the worst, perhaps.  Why?  Because they provide all the specs, but seem completely incapable of telling the difference between a good photo and a bad one.  Still, where do I go for the specs?  DPReview of course!  The forum members love to go on the attack.  What gives?  If someone wants to prove they know more than I do, they can't know that much.

 

Luminous Landscape?  Could somebody please inform them that a 2 or 3 inch figurine does not qualify as a macro!!!  Still, they know their nature and landscape stuff.  Also processing and printing.  They produce a product beyond just producing an image.

 

I have lots more opinions on lots more sites.  LOL - But I would be the last person I'd advise anyone to listen to.  It's just a hobby for me.  And by the time I finally get good results with little effort, I won't need any advice!  The fact is, I like a lot of the reviewers, the ones that really want to help you get the most of what you want to do. 

#19
Quote:Klaus,

 

What are your thoughts on Lenstip/optyczne comparing results across different systems? e.g. they test one lens on a 5D iii and another on a A7r II and suggest the 5D tested lens is "better" as it has a lower disparity between centre and corner resolutions. This does not seem like a robust conclusion. 

Also some of their tests seem to differ significantly from other sources. e.g. Sony 55mm 1.8 ZA and 85mm 1.4 GM tests suggest that these lenses are underperforming, yet Lensrentals and DXO suggest very high performance. 

 

Lens rentals seems to be the real benchmark test for resolution testing since the results are truly comparable and account for manufacturing variation. However they do not evaluate other characteristics (bokeh, flare, AF etc..)
 

Honestly I never had a serious look what Lenstip is doing so I can't comment really.

Lens rentals is awesome but they are pure players - in real life you just don't take images with a lens alone. Their sample variation charts fascinate me the most and, of course, their insights into lens internals.

 

Generally I think there's always useful information in reviews with content that illustrates that a certain effort has been made. That also applies to non-technical reviews.


Unfortunately there are many reviews which are just a sloppy assembly of manufacturer information combined with a few snapshots (I could name that guy but I wouldn't ...). Technical sites with a high inflation of ****-***** reviews are also suspicious - such sites just care about ad revenues and NOTHING else.

 

Of course, we also care about our revenues but at least I like to think of our work as a community service as well. The other day that there was a funny Facebook message in one of our reviews - it said "you don't respect lenses! I'll leave and will not come back.". I thought that we probably did a great job there ;-) It is not our mission statement to please.
#20
Wish you had access to the toys, money and grand arsenal of lenses to review. That'd be perfection. Even without them, you guys pretty much hit the sweet spot between technical aspects, actual image quality, systematic approach, repeatability, giving useful and sometimes trivial insights and ease of access to all those information. I (like pretty much everyone else) love what Lensrentals delivers but if I need to know how a lens actually performs compared to other lenses that I know of, you are my go-to address.

  


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