02 Apr Why Sharpness is Overrated

Source: Fujifilm Insider

“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson


1. Softer lenses often have more soul

I remember when I started digital photography; the sharper the photo, the better.

In reality, a sharper photo is not a better photo. Often, a softer photograph gives you a more pleasing, soft, warm, and emotional aesthetic.

For example, I love the photos of Junku Nishimura, who shoots with a 35mm-film camera, with an old 50mm f/2.8 lens. The photos are softer; and evoke a more dreamy, nostalgic feel. His photos would not feel the same if he shot with a high-end digital camera, with a very sharp lens.

Also, the softer aesthetic of film looks aesthetically nicer, than overly sharp digital photos. This is why I see a lot of digital photographers flocking to film.

Often digital photos feel too perfect. Too sharp. Too clinical, too much like a surgeon.

Rather, film photos feel imperfect — which feel more nostalgic, and reminiscent of our childhoods.

I know that I prefer the nostalgic film photos that my mom shot of me as a kid; than any modern super-sharp photo I get today on my smartphone.

2. Art doesn’t care about sharpness

A lot of us photographers who get started in photography, are gadget-nerds or geeks. I myself have always been obsessed with technology. Photography was a perfect marriage between my interest in technology and art.

So of course, we are going to get fascinated with the technology (gear) behind photography.

First of all, I think the biggest misguidance from the internet is ‘sharpness tests.’ The problem is that a lot of us nerdy photographers come from sciences, engineering, or computer-programming. We think we can quantify the ‘quality’ or the ‘goodness’ of a photograph by the technical settings– the sharpness or resolution of an image….

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