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Brick Wall Tests: Valid or Relevant?

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thiefofpresence Contributing Member • Posts: 554
Brick Wall Tests: Valid or Relevant?

I'm a photographer that doesn't shoot brick walls.

Hey, occasionally I find one adorned with some lovely graffiti, but even then its highly unlikely that I am situated dead center and perpendicular to the wall.

I suppose some photographers do. I suppose some people shoot subjects that are composed of elements that all line up on some flat plane of focus.

But it seems most of us photograph people and subjects that are composed of elements that are not tidily on a flat surface.

If one of the endless lens reviewers that performs brick wall tests compares center to edge sharpness on a flat subject, and proves that the focal image surface is more spherical than planar, my question is — SO WHAT???

Perhaps if I were trying to make a painting reproduction (flat subject) this might be a deal killer for me.

But when I point a camera down the street at a subject, everything in the background is all at different distances anyway, and I wouldn't expect edge-to-edge image sharpness. Central subject sharpness is totally sufficient.

Even the landscape use case doesn't bear any resemblance to the brick wall test. How can the results of center versus edge sharpness at short studio focus distances have any bearing on infinity focus situations, and landscape compositions composed of elements at every imaginable distance including infinity.

I have maybe watched one too many Christopher Frost lens reviews, most recently his scathing review of Sony Vario-Tessar E 16-70 F/4 and his conclusion that this lens is terrible beyond recommendation.

it seems to hang on a test that while the most prevalent vehicle for measuring lens performance, seems to me to skew the assessment in favor of a kind of photographer that neither I nor any of the photographers I admire are.

And I am absolutely loving the sharpness of the 16-70 lens mentioned above, not that my copy is aware that according to a brick wall test, is a piece of junk that no one should buy.

My apologies in advance to brick wall photographers everywhere.

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Sony A7iii, Sony A6300 | Zeiss Batis FE 2/25, Sony Sonnar FE 1.8/55, Sony FE 1.4/85 GM | Sony FE 4/24-105 G, Sony FE 4/70-200, Sony E Vario-Tessar 4/16-70

 thiefofpresence's gear list:thiefofpresence's gear list
Sony a7 III Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony FE 70-200 F4 Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM +1 more
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