Buy The Best Lenses Possible

This past week, I’ve been going through some of my old images from 2008 when I visited the US. I like doing this as it’s always interesting to see how well the latest software will process these old RAW files.

Here’s a good example.

Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona

This is Horseshoe Bend near to Page in Arizona.

It was taken using a Canon 400D and Sigma 10-20 lens and reminded me a little of last week’s discussion about sensor size. The 400D was a crop sensor 10Mpixel DSLR. In good light (as this was), it could produce excellent images. At least it did when paired with a good lens. Unfortunately, the Sigma 10-20 that I had wasn’t a good example.

When I bought it, I realised it wasn’t very good, but I also didn’t want to admit it. It also wasn’t easy to see which areas of the image were sharp and which weren’t. The RAW processing software at the time wasn’t great, so most of the image looked a little soft compared to what we can achieve today. Ultimately, I persevered with the lens and even managed to get some shots taken with it into the Landscape Photographer of the Year exhibitions.

So let me show you an example of the problem.

Click to enlarge the image

Here are two sections from the image at 200% magnification. The area on the left is from the centre of the frame whilst the area on the right is from the right side. It’s this right side (but also all corners) of the lens that are the problem. They were soft to the point of being out of focus, even when stopped down.

Now, you might look at this and say that it’s acceptable and could even be corrected with software. If you’re thinking this, you should also know that this was the best image I could find, with the least blurring. It’s also been processed using DxO DeepPRIME XD and sharpened with Topaz Sharpen AI.

This really supports something that most photographers have known all along. If you want to produce high quality, sharp images, invest in the best lenses you can afford, not the camera. Perhaps this will change in the future, but for now, if I want to improve the quality of this image, I need to head back to America to shoot it again.

And finally, talking of image quality, did you see that DxO PureRAW 3 launched this week? If you haven’t seen it already, you can watch my review on YouTube.

Have a great weekend.

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