The Worst Lens You Own

The Worst Lens You Own

Or, if that is too confronting, ” The Worst Lens Own “. Time for soul-searching, pixel-peeping, and test shooting.

If you own only one lens – the one on the front of your compact camera – you can change the title to ” The Best Lens I Own “, and go off contented. No sense beating yourself up about something you cannot change. And the actual optic may, like some of the Fujinon or Zeiss lenses, be specifically formulated for your sensor and processor and thus be really the best one you could have. Try not to be too smug .

For the rest – the people who have interchangeable mount cameras and who can choose different lenses, the problem can be real. Of course if they  have only one lens for the body and cannot afford to change it, then the question is still academic and it would be cruel to mock the situation. And some, like Henri Cartier-Bresson, could hardly be beaten with anything we might try to do, and however many different lenses we might try. Maddening, these geniuses, eh?

But back to you, with a small bag full of interchangeable lenses. No matter how prestigious the maker might be, nor how new the purchase, one of the lenses is not going to be as good as the others. It might miss due to resolution, or distortion, or chromatic aberration, or coma, or flare, or rattley aperture, or slow focus or any number of factors that the photographic press will call to your attention. They’ll do this with diagrams, colour charts, MTF statistics, mystical references*, and downright sarcasm. And the funny thing is…

Until they do, and you read it, and believe it…you will probably never have seen it yourself. It is only once someone points out flaws that they become that. And some of them exist only in numerical comparison…you read about discomfort before you see it…and then you actually cannot see it.

I treasure the worst lens I own – the one that everyone says needs to be re-designed by the manufacturer. It makes beautiful pictures. I daresay it makes bad numbers, but I was always poor at maths…

*  I love mysticism. Particularly the advertising variety that presents lenses swathed in the mists of time and the sand pit they have sprung from. My most treasured wish is to be asked to name a line of lenses  – I would pick mythological heroes and famous monsters as the basis. And the advertisements would have damsels in flimsy costumes armed with big swords. Hugh Hefner discovered that you can do a lot with a flimsy costume.

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