# It's all about the lens

1. Oct 26, 2015

### Andy Resnick

Sadly, my camera (Sony a850) is 'beyond repair'. It served with honor and distinction for 6 years, I took about 200k images with it.

Until I replace it, I've been sharing my kids' Canon 1100D (Rebel T3)- an entry level camera- so I got a Nikon-EF adapter. Well.

6 years ago, when I re-discovered 35mm photography, I made a choice to spend my cash on good lenses rather than a high-end camera body. At the time, this meant I needed a Nikon-Alpha adapter, and these have a lens inside. I knew that the adapter lens degraded the performance of the camera lens (both vignetting and aberrations), but I rationalized my choice of a Sony body and used Nikon manual-focus lenses due to the significant cost savings.

So now I'm using the Nikon lenses without a lensed adapter, and the difference is more than I guessed: here's a 400% crop (no interpolation, jpg straight out of the camera) of the moon, taken with the Sony:

The zoom makes it hard to tell, but this image is extremely sharp- this particular feature on the moon is one of the 'benchmarks' I use to judge atmospheric distortion, camera shake, etc. Now here's the same area taken with the Canon (also jpg, straight off the camera):

The difference is quite dramatic and results only from the lack of an intermediate lens- the pixel pitch is similar.

The moral of the story is clear- the lens matters more than the camera. When you are ready for a digital camera with interchangeable lenses, spend your money on the lenses rather than the camera- a good lens will last many generations of camera bodies. Unfortunately, newer lenses often omit the aperture ring, which potentially limits their ability to be used on future camera bodies (I'm looking at you, 85/1.4 G!).

Personally, since my lenses are all F-mount, I'm going to share the 1100D until the price of a Nikon D810 drops a bit more; I need the full-frame sensor to take full advantage of my wide angle lens. An attractive alternative (for me) is the D750, we'll see what mood Santa is in.

2. Oct 26, 2015

### DaveC426913

Does your cam shoot raw? I'd be curious to see a comparison there. That would eliminate jpeg compression as a confounding factor in your comparisons.

3. Oct 27, 2015

### Drakkith

Staff Emeritus
Is it just me, or does the bottom picture look more detailed than the top?

4. Oct 27, 2015

### phinds

It's just you. The bottom picture looks more detailed because it is more strongly pixelated and thus has sharper edges so looks more detailed but actually has lost some of the gradations. That is, it looks sharper, but that is not due to a correct representation of reality but rather an artifact of the pixelation.

5. Oct 27, 2015

### DaveC426913

I disagree. I know what you're getting at, and I examined this carefully for that very thing. Edge contrast is certainly a factor in making a picture appear more detailed than it is, I agree with that.

But I see finer gradients and more detail in the areas where it's not burned out. I would say these are bona fide details. .

6. Oct 27, 2015

### phinds

It's a tough call. You may be right. @Andy Resnick, what say you?

7. Oct 27, 2015

### Andy Resnick

I don't think the 1100D has RAW. It's a entry-level camera.

8. Oct 27, 2015

### Andy Resnick

I think the lack of an adapter lens results in a sharper image. Plus, there's no vignetting. The difference is even more dramatic off-center.

9. Oct 28, 2015

### davenn

agreed, the less glass in the path is always a good thing

over the last few years, I have gone all out, no expense spared, on good glass
The old adage, "Do it right, do it once"
so far has cost me over $6000 for 3 top lenses for my Canon 5D3 Dave 10. Oct 28, 2015 ### Andy Resnick Yep, I spent about the same. But we'll (probably) never have to buy another lens. Except I still want the 200/4 Micro-Nikkor, 12/5.6 Voigtlander, 85/1.4 Otus, 60mm and 7.45mm Coastal Optics lenses... :) Last edited: Oct 28, 2015 11. Oct 29, 2015 ### davenn my dream lens is the Canon EF 400mm f2.8, just a drop in the bucket at AU$12,500 hahaha
have a fellow tog that has one ... its awesome for low light event photography and would be awesome for astro work

Dave

12. Oct 29, 2015

### Andy Resnick

Exactly why I waited until a good used one appeared. Snagged it for \$2k. Patience pays off....

13. Oct 29, 2015

### davenn

lucky you :) ... yeah, I would happily pay 2 - 3k for one, but 12k+ it aint gonna happen haha

14. Nov 30, 2015

### Andy Resnick

More data showing the effect of a lensed adapter; these are images of Rupes Recta, both jpgs taken with identical settings (800/5.6, same shutter and ISO settings). This feature is about 2.5km across, with a height differential of only about 300m. The images are scaled 400%, no interpolation. If printed as displayed, the moon would be about 5 feet in diameter.

First, the Sony:

Next, the Nikon:

It's like a veil was lifted off the lens...

15. Nov 30, 2015

### DaveC426913

That is quite an improvement.