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Shutterbug review of Nikon PC-E 45/2.8

The August 2008 Shutterbug has a “review” of the Nikon PC-E Micro-Nikkor 45/2.8 by George Schaub. Be sure to understand what a review means!

A “review” in many magazines these days means a rehashed press release and specifications along with a few snapshots. It must not offend the manufacturer in any way, and certainly can’t offer anything stronger than wet-noodle criticism. Reviews in most “rags” these days are really paid advertisements, with the quid-pro-quo coming from the ads found elsewhere in the publication.

While greased palms are a fact of life, misleading readers on key concepts is a journalistic sin which is intolerable. In this case, Mr. Schaub seems clueless about how a tilt/shift lens actually works, stating:

“Don’t have enough depth of field even at f/22 to keep a receding stone wall or fence sharp from near to far? Simply shift the lens to match or closely match the angle at which it recedes...

Someone who has never used a view camera or a tilt/shift lens will take this advice at face value and be very confused. In fact, shifting the lens does nothing to affect the plane of focus or depth of field. It’s the tilting of the lens that makes the magic happen; the tilt alters the plane of focus relative to the sensor (or film). One also wonders whether Mr. Schaub has evaluated the reduction in image quality at f/22 from diffraction.

The shift/tilt error might be understandable in the context of a wider article, but in an article about a tilt/shift lens, it’s offensive. You see, it’s nice for readers to be able to pretend it’s a review, but when key factual errors are made, that convenient illusion vanishes, along with the credibility of the author.

My suggestion: subscribe to a magazine that offers accurate and informative articles such as Photo Techniques. It’s why I write for it—look for my articles on digital infrared and diffraction in upcoming issues. (Part 1 of my Digital Infrared series is in the July/August issue).

Update: several readers have emailed to basically say “What do you expect from Shutterbug anyway”? Fair enough. :)

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