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| p.1 #5 · The Lens is Not More Important Than the Camera |
IMO, the author of the article in the link is missing the point of what is meant when one says "the lens is more important than the camera."
At least, when I think of this familiar phrase, I am thinking of how the choice of lens dictates the various qualities of the images it produces; i.e., not just its overall sharpness or contrast, but the way it presents the angle of view, its color rendition, vignetting characteristics, f-number, and blur characteristics of objects not lying within the DOF.
In other words, I'm not thinking, "what are all the ways in which I can fsck up the image, and is the lens the most critical component that must function optimally?" That is how the author interpreted the implied meaning of the statement--i.e., "which component is most important to getting the shot"--but that is obviously a pointless question to ask and the answer is of course that every component is equally necessary. You need skill to previsualize and determine the proper settings. You need to be able to push the button at the proper moment. You need a functioning camera body. You need a functioning lens.
So the author, in my view, is really saying nothing of value; at least, nothing that one doesn't already know. Of course the camera is necessary. We don't take photos by holding up our "more important" bare lenses and peering through them.
But what the author does do--albeit perhaps unintentionally--is lead us to think about what we really do mean when we say "the lens is more important than the camera (body)." Are we making a statement about the relative value (monetary? rarity? frequency of replacement?) of these components? Or are we saying something more? I, for one, interpret this saying as being about how the lens is the "heart" of the image. Yes, one might modify the scene or choose the composition or even manipulate the result in post, but the lens invariably is the first place we turn to when we want to understand the way light was projected onto the recording medium. Its flaws become the image's flaws.
By contrast, the body, for all its sophistication, really amounts to one and only one purpose--to facilitate the recording of the light projected through the lens. For the most part, the body doesn't change how the scene will appear--it is the lens that does this.
So when we say the lens is more important, that's what I think is meant--that the choice of lens is critical because it is the determinant of the way the scene is represented; and knowing which lens to use, and which particular lens gives an optimal result for the desired shooting conditions and budget, is one of the most fundamental skills a photographer must cultivate.
Edited on Aug 13, 2010 at 08:12 AM · View previous versions