Look away from the resolution tests for a second and read this:
Camera companies release a new lens. Suddenly, 10 pages of charts, 15 reviewers are the first to post their hands-on impressions, 20 scientists have measured its optical performance on a teddy bear. You’ve filled your head with every part of the science. So much so that you built your own lens-testing laboratory, but instead used it to bring a person back from the dead and now we can’t talk about ‘the incident’ anymore. It’s okay, for many of us (myself included) every dollar counts – and we have to get right the purchases we make. Maybe the particular job requires knowing optical strengths and weaknesses of the aperture, right down to the last pixel. It becomes a practice in itself, endless hours spent agonizing over corner sharpness. But when it comes down to it: we have to remind ourselves that blurry pictures are not a crime.
The digital age, with all of the control in both hardware and software that it has afforded us, has made addressing technical issues so accessible, that we suffocate ourselves from it.
As I write this, Nikon has just released a relatively minor (for most people) update to their popular D800. Yet, no one in the world will suddenly be a better photographer after purchasing it over the previous D800. Granted, it’s a great time to be a photographer, with the advances made daily. But we can’t forget the story we’re really trying to tell with our images. We can’t allow ourselves to obsess so much over our brushes that we forget what we’re painting.
Ultimately, it’s okay to have a shot out of focus, to have a shot full of grain, to have a shot that didn’t turn out the way you expected. In music, it’s called improvising, and a lot of great pictures were taken that way. When we shoot, let’s forget about the charts. Does it communicate what you’re feeling, is it expressive? Is it you?* I know, I know. Gear is very important. It can act as an impediment at worst, or at best serve as a a mere extension of your own hand. But when it comes time to shoot, the tech mumbo should fade away softly – like the bokeh you spent the past year worrying over.