A Favorite Lens Reveals Its Achilles’ Heel

Just when I had finally talked myself into keeping my old 85mm f/1.8, this happened:

I've been working hard on my portrait lighting to make sure I get nice soft shadow transitions and lovely catchlights. But what's this? Why are the catchlights that magenta color?

What we got here is not failure to communicate, but failure of the lens to focus different colors on the same plane. It’s called chromatic aberration, and it’s breaking my heart.

This image was shot with a more modern lens (and a different camera and lighting configuration), but as you can see, the catchlights are free of color fringing.

I can accept that the 85mm f/1.8 lacks an internal motor and a “D” chip for integrating distance information into exposure calculations. I can accept that it is noisy and a little temperamental about focusing. But I cannot accept that my primary portrait lens adds color fringing to the most important part of a portrait. Looks like I’ve got some homework to do.

1 Comment

Filed under Camera Gear, Portraiture

One response to “A Favorite Lens Reveals Its Achilles’ Heel

  1. Gail

    Okay. I have a new quote that I hope I can attribute to Dean Z: “As we age, a passion for something like music or photography is the real Fountain of Youth”. Nothing ages us quicker than boredom.

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