I don't like the new lens designs

gruhl28

Canon 70D
Jul 26, 2013
133
39
Nope, bokeh and falloff are impossible to 'fix' in post, as opposed to CA which is a simple fix. Funny how you can argue the opposite of both...
I guess in theory you could select the out of focus areas in PS and apply blur, but that is more difficult than fixing CA, and it would be difficult to get the gradations of softness/blur that you would get SOOC with a lens that has smooth bokeh.
 

stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
2,027
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Davidson, NC
Can you explain what was different about the look between the two lenses?

Are you referring to the 100mm macro L or non-L?
I have the non-L version (or as I call it, Noël). From what I've read, there is not a lot of difference between the two other than IS.

The difference is very subjective and hard to describe (hence the word "clinical"). Maybe the fact that a cat was baring her fangs in one shot (even though she wasn't unhappy or threatening in real life) made the picture look more in-your-face.
 
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gruhl28

Canon 70D
Jul 26, 2013
133
39
I have the non-L version (or as I call it, Noël). From what I've read, there is not a lot of difference between the two other than IS.

The difference is very subjective and hard to describe (hence the word "clinical"). Maybe the fact that a cat was baring her fangs in one shot (even though she wasn't unhappy or threatening in real life) made the picture look more in-your-face.
LOL, thanks. I have that lens and the 85 f/1.8 (hmm, just realized I didn't ask whether you meant the older EF or the new RF 85; I'd assumed you meant the older EF); I'll have to experiment a bit myself and see if I see a difference.
 

Dockland

EOS RP
Nov 14, 2019
223
529
Sweden
IMO clinical generally means an ultra sharp image combined with bokeh and/or color rendering that is less impressive than other options available. An example can be found in the bokeh section of this RF 85 1.2 analysis, the EF 85 1.2 II does notably better than this

Another example from my RF 85 f/1.2 @f/1.2

20210415_16_38_30_1120-3.jpg
 

stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
2,027
772
Davidson, NC
LOL, thanks. I have that lens and the 85 f/1.8 (hmm, just realized I didn't ask whether you meant the older EF or the new RF 85; I'd assumed you meant the older EF); I'll have to experiment a bit myself and see if I see a difference.
You are correct. I do not have any RF lenses, or a camera to put them on, and no plans to buy one any time soon.
 

stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
2,027
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Davidson, NC
LOL, thanks. I have that lens and the 85 f/1.8 (hmm, just realized I didn't ask whether you meant the older EF or the new RF 85; I'd assumed you meant the older EF); I'll have to experiment a bit myself and see if I see a difference.
I found the cat picture I had in mind. Not a great shot anyway, and I haven't photographed her with the EF 85 for comparison:

IMG_0529.jpg
 
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Ruined

EOS R
Aug 22, 2013
922
56
Thanks. I agree that the bokeh in the photo of the bird is not attractive, very "busy", not smooth. It's never been clear to me what causes this - I've heard it blamed on aspheric elements but I don't really know whether that has anything to do with the issue or not. If this is what people mean by "clinical" - sharp in focus but with busy bokeh - I wish they would say that, as I don't think the word clinical conveys that very well. But I'm not sure if some people mean more, or something else, by clinical.
Clinical almost always refers a lens that is measurably superior in some way yet with a visible end result that is not as pleasing compared to other alternatives for some other visual reason. It is not restricted to bokeh, it just means that *something* about the image subjectively is not pleasing despite it being technically astute in some way (i.e. sharp), but bokeh is often one of those somethings.

For instance, some of the non-L primes/zooms in Canon's lineup are referred to as "clinical" not necessarily because of just bad bokeh, but instead/also because the color and microcontrast is not as good as some of the L zooms/primes *despite* said non-L measuring well in sharpness. You can measure sharpness, but its hard to measure color rendering and bokeh quality, hence terms like clinical get tossed around when these non-measurable components are less desirable.

This term also is used for audio gear, by the way. When an amplifier or DAC is noted to be "clinical," it means it performs well on the test bench but for some reason the subjective output is not pleasing to the ears (most often referring to harsh treble). It seems "clinical" in both audio/photo cases is associated by users with output that is "sharp" but ultimately less pleasing in non-measurable components than other available alternatives.

Also, re: aspheric elements and over-correction impact on bokeh, Zeiss has a good article on it:

Note this passage:
"The more appealing the blurriness is in the background, the less appealing it is in the foreground. There it often seems harsh and disturbing. It generates swirls of small highlights and transforms lines into double lines... We must make use of this characteristic moderately with lenses intended for general use and have to limit the spherical under-correction. In any case, we should avoid spherical over-correction. This is not to say that the lens is now better than good - overcorrection just means that the spherical aberrations now have a different signature. The marginal rays then intersect far behind the focal point of the paraxial rays. The bokeh characteristics are then simply reversed. The foreground characteristics with under-correction are found in the background in case of overcorrection. And because background is almost always more important, it would be the less desired balancing of the lens."

If you go back to that optical limits bokeh review of the RF 85mm, you'll see the bolded Zeiss passage is exactly what is happening!
 
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stevelee

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Jul 6, 2017
2,027
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Davidson, NC
This term also is used for audio gear, by the way. When an amplifier or DAC is noted to be "clinical," it means it performs well on the test bench but for some reason the subjective output is not pleasing to the ears (most often referring to harsh treble). It seems "clinical" in both audio/photo cases is associated by users with output that is "sharp" but ultimately less pleasing in non-measurable components than other available alternatives.
Early CDs did sometimes sound rough in the treble until mastering and DAC technology matured a bit. But even when well done, people missed what they called “warmth,” especially in the strings. We got so used to the intermodulation distortion in analog recording that we missed it. People whose “golden ears” were unsullied by live performances seemed affected the most. Also, analog tape was forgiving of saturation and such, which digital recording isn’t. And a bit of tape hiss can add a nice sense of openness and clarity.

About the only part of that without rather obvious parallels in photography, is that photographers have more opportunities to see the real world than stereophiles to hear symphony concerts.
 

gruhl28

Canon 70D
Jul 26, 2013
133
39
Clinical almost always refers a lens that is measurably superior in some way yet with a visible end result that is not as pleasing compared to other alternatives for some other visual reason. It is not restricted to bokeh, it just means that *something* about the image subjectively is not pleasing despite it being technically astute in some way (i.e. sharp), but bokeh is often one of those somethings.

For instance, some of the non-L primes/zooms in Canon's lineup are referred to as "clinical" not necessarily because of just bad bokeh, but instead/also because the color and microcontrast is not as good as some of the L zooms/primes *despite* said non-L measuring well in sharpness. You can measure sharpness, but its hard to measure color rendering and bokeh quality, hence terms like clinical get tossed around when these non-measurable components are less desirable.

This term also is used for audio gear, by the way. When an amplifier or DAC is noted to be "clinical," it means it performs well on the test bench but for some reason the subjective output is not pleasing to the ears (most often referring to harsh treble). It seems "clinical" in both audio/photo cases is associated by users with output that is "sharp" but ultimately less pleasing in non-measurable components than other available alternatives.

Also, re: aspheric elements and over-correction impact on bokeh, Zeiss has a good article on it:

Note this passage:
"The more appealing the blurriness is in the background, the less appealing it is in the foreground. There it often seems harsh and disturbing. It generates swirls of small highlights and transforms lines into double lines... We must make use of this characteristic moderately with lenses intended for general use and have to limit the spherical under-correction. In any case, we should avoid spherical over-correction. This is not to say that the lens is now better than good - overcorrection just means that the spherical aberrations now have a different signature. The marginal rays then intersect far behind the focal point of the paraxial rays. The bokeh characteristics are then simply reversed. The foreground characteristics with under-correction are found in the background in case of overcorrection. And because background is almost always more important, it would be the less desired balancing of the lens."

If you go back to that optical limits bokeh review of the RF 85mm, you'll see the bolded Zeiss passage is exactly what is

Clinical almost always refers a lens that is measurably superior in some way yet with a visible end result that is not as pleasing compared to other alternatives for some other visual reason. It is not restricted to bokeh, it just means that *something* about the image subjectively is not pleasing despite it being technically astute in some way (i.e. sharp), but bokeh is often one of those somethings.

For instance, some of the non-L primes/zooms in Canon's lineup are referred to as "clinical" not necessarily because of just bad bokeh, but instead/also because the color and microcontrast is not as good as some of the L zooms/primes *despite* said non-L measuring well in sharpness. You can measure sharpness, but its hard to measure color rendering and bokeh quality, hence terms like clinical get tossed around when these non-measurable components are less desirable.

This term also is used for audio gear, by the way. When an amplifier or DAC is noted to be "clinical," it means it performs well on the test bench but for some reason the subjective output is not pleasing to the ears (most often referring to harsh treble). It seems "clinical" in both audio/photo cases is associated by users with output that is "sharp" but ultimately less pleasing in non-measurable components than other available alternatives.

Also, re: aspheric elements and over-correction impact on bokeh, Zeiss has a good article on it:

Note this passage:
"The more appealing the blurriness is in the background, the less appealing it is in the foreground. There it often seems harsh and disturbing. It generates swirls of small highlights and transforms lines into double lines... We must make use of this characteristic moderately with lenses intended for general use and have to limit the spherical under-correction. In any case, we should avoid spherical over-correction. This is not to say that the lens is now better than good - overcorrection just means that the spherical aberrations now have a different signature. The marginal rays then intersect far behind the focal point of the paraxial rays. The bokeh characteristics are then simply reversed. The foreground characteristics with under-correction are found in the background in case of overcorrection. And because background is almost always more important, it would be the less desired balancing of the lens."

If you go back to that optical limits bokeh review of the RF 85mm, you'll see the bolded Zeiss passage is exactly what is happening!
Thanks for the detailed reply. Saying a lens is sharp but has poor microcontrast, or is sharp but has poor color (or bokeh that isn't smooth), those things make sense and are clear. I guess I wish that people would say those things instead of just using the word clinical. I guess sometimes it isn't obvious what exactly is making one image look better than another, and so people fall back on the word clinical. I think your definition of clinical is a good one - "Clinical almost always refers a lens that is measurably superior in some way yet with a visible end result that is not as pleasing compared to other alternatives for some other visual reason."

I've also noticed the term being used in audio; I've seen it a lot in discussions of headphones.

Thanks for the link and that passage. I did not realize that making bokeh smoother behind or in front of the subject makes it less smooth on the other side (which I think is what that is saying).
 

gruhl28

Canon 70D
Jul 26, 2013
133
39
Early CDs did sometimes sound rough in the treble until mastering and DAC technology matured a bit. But even when well done, people missed what they called “warmth,” especially in the strings. We got so used to the intermodulation distortion in analog recording that we missed it. People whose “golden ears” were unsullied by live performances seemed affected the most. Also, analog tape was forgiving of saturation and such, which digital recording isn’t. And a bit of tape hiss can add a nice sense of openness and clarity.

About the only part of that without rather obvious parallels in photography, is that photographers have more opportunities to see the real world than stereophiles to hear symphony concerts.
I've always wondered why someone would complain about music not being rendered faithfully. I think you make good points about getting used to certain distortions, and ears being "unsullied by live performances". I'm curious about tape hiss adding a sense of openness and clarity -I don't quite understand that, but maybe it's similar to the way noise can add a sense of sharpness to a photo?
 

stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
2,027
772
Davidson, NC
I've always wondered why someone would complain about music not being rendered faithfully. I think you make good points about getting used to certain distortions, and ears being "unsullied by live performances". I'm curious about tape hiss adding a sense of openness and clarity -I don't quite understand that, but maybe it's similar to the way noise can add a sense of sharpness to a photo?
Yes, that is a pretty good parallel. At least some of the frequencies in the hiss are overtones/harmonics of sounds in the music. At a low level of hiss, the brain interprets it so. If you take away all the hiss, the music can sound rather bald. Even if the hiss is a bit loud, you can ignore it in part, but still hear some of it as clarity. I forget the name of the process, but there was a patented box that added sheen to pop recordings for years, and other processes that mimicked the effect. Some raise level of the existing treble in a small band of frequencies. Some added filtered noise. Some did an autocorrelation to add multiples of existing frequencies. There were also boxes that added the frequency an octave below the lowest note. All of these were analog, I think, at the time. I have an old autocorrelation box somewhere in the garage. I don’t recall exactly what it did. It has a knob that lets you dial in just the right amount.
 

Sporgon

5% of gear used 95% of the time
CR Pro
I'm not brave enough to have a stab at defining a 'clinical' lens. I have found that some lenses that have a reputation for beautiful rendering actually have very poor sharpness away from the centre of the image when at fast apertures and so this contributes to both the rendering in the centre of the frame and the bokeh elsewhere, and lenses that are not as greatly corrected for various CAs can have a smoother transition from in-focus to blur. But at the end of the day, to anyone other than the photographer who took the picture, it really is content that counts. We have some guys here on CR who are very competent photographers with a good understanding of composition and lighting, and wax lyrical about lenses such as the RF 85/1.2 and post examples to demonstrate the prowess of the lens, yet those images would have been good if they had been shot on any reasonably fast prime lens even if costing just a couple of hundred dollars.

I'll go get my tin hat.
 

StoicalEtcher

EOS RP
CR Pro
Jan 3, 2018
405
349
Yorkshire
For my part, I've always equated 'clinical' with 'sterile' - a very good thing if undergoing open surgery, but also suggestive in non-medical settings as lacking some warmth or character.

I'll now go and share Sporgon's tin hat ....
 
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stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
2,027
772
Davidson, NC
I'm not brave enough to have a stab at defining a 'clinical' lens. I have found that some lenses that have a reputation for beautiful rendering actually have very poor sharpness away from the centre of the image when at fast apertures and so this contributes to both the rendering in the centre of the frame and the bokeh elsewhere, and lenses that are not as greatly corrected for various CAs can have a smoother transition from in-focus to blur. But at the end of the day, to anyone other than the photographer who took the picture, it really is content that counts. We have some guys here on CR who are very competent photographers with a good understanding of composition and lighting, and wax lyrical about lenses such as the RF 85/1.2 and post examples to demonstrate the prowess of the lens, yet those images would have been good if they had been shot on any reasonably fast prime lens even if costing just a couple of hundred dollars.

I'll go get my tin hat.
As someone who found that using a wonderful macro lens of a perfect focal length to produce less than desirable portraits, I think that having a flat field is a likely factor.
 
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Ruined

EOS R
Aug 22, 2013
922
56
I've always wondered why someone would complain about music not being rendered faithfully. I think you make good points about getting used to certain distortions, and ears being "unsullied by live performances". I'm curious about tape hiss adding a sense of openness and clarity -I don't quite understand that, but maybe it's similar to the way noise can add a sense of sharpness to a photo?
On some headphones that are unforgiving wirh high frequencies but very rewarding if you get a good match (like Senn HD800S, Focal Utopia) the "clinical" component becomes very important NOT to have in the amp/dac. Meaning, you can take two amps that post the same flat frequency response and similar low distortion but one will sound noticably worse (sometimes to the point of discomfort) than the other with these specific headphones. Similarly, you don't want hardware that has the high frequencies rolled off or muted because that eliminates the point of the higher detailed headphone.

LIke bokeh, there are components of audio that cannot be effectively measured yet and these can make all the difference if the speaker/headphone reproduces them
 
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