Sharp lens, blurry photo.

Having recently added a Canon 70-200 f/4L IS lens to my camera bag, I needed to go out as soon as I could to test it. Reported to be one of, if not the, sharpest zoom lens Canon has ever made, you might think I’d be out shooting trying to see just how sharp it really is. You’d only be partly right.

While I did come away with a good hand-held shot of a favorite wildflower, the purple trillium

Closeup photo of a purple trillium flower


…my favorite photo of the day is this abstract reflection titled “Water Colors.”

the rippled reflection of several birch trees on the surface of a river. The slow shutter speed and the rippled surface of the water give the image the look of a watercolor painting.

Sometimes you want it sharp, sometimes you don’t.

Sharpness does not make a photograph, there is so much more. And in the case of “Water Colors,” capturing a tack sharp image was the furthest thing from my mind.

42 thoughts on “It’s Not Always About Sharpness.

    1. Thank you Edith. So far I love it! This weekend will be another, better test for me. Last weekend I was hiking with my daughter, and having way more fun with her than I would have taking photos.

      I know one thing, even if the photos aren’t any better/sharper than the ones I got through the 70-200 f/2.8L non-IS that this replaced, my back is going to thank me while backpacking this summer. I don’t know if you’ve ever handled the 2.8 version, but the f/4’s are like little toys when it comes to size and weight.

  1. Oh, I forgot to mention. Your “Water Colors” could have been painted by Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, or one of those famous impressionists. I’d be proud hanging that on my living room wall.

    1. Yes and no. The internet is an amazing tool. I’ve only been photographing for just about 5 years, through the use of the internet I knew my first camera, a Canon 40D, inside and out before I even had it in my hands.

      There is also w wealth of information on the basics, aperture, shutter speed, ISO. As well as composition, the best times of day. The only thing you can’t find online or in a book is your artistic eye. That you need to develop all by yourself 🙂

    1. Thank you Barbara. Exactly the look I was going for. Abstracts are a heck of a lot of fun. I spent an entire day shooting abstract reflections like this one day last fall. I was in the White Mountains in New Hampshire on the busiest tourest weekend of the fall foliage season, Columbus Day weekend, and you looks and questions I got were pretty comical. While all the tourists were photographing the great fall color, I was the only one pointing my camera at the water. Got a lot of questions about fish 😉

        1. I like the watermark, but YIKES on the flooding! The paranoid photographer in me would make the watermark a little larger. Too easy to crop out of the photo. But watermarks are definitely personal preferences, and I’ve had people mention they thought mine is too big.

          1. I like yours, I don’t think it’s too big.
            I’m too vain to make mine any bigger! I think they sometimes take away from the photo & I don’t like when they take over the whole picture & I want to show off my photographs!
            I just have to trust that people won’t steal my photos!

            1. Me too, within reason. I’ve had way more positive comments on my watermark anyway. Plus it uses my actual signature, about the only thing I like about my handwriting 🙂 I’m all for people sharing my photos with their friends, on Facebook, where ever they want. But there isn’t going to be any mistake who’s they are 😉

  2. Hi Jeff, I am thinking about buying a lens like this. I was thinking of getting the f/2.8 version though because I take a lot of indoor ice hockey photos. I will be renting it first, but I was just wondering if you have taken that lens indoors to take any photos and what did you think of the results? I’m just concerned that f/4 will not be good enough for hockey, but the f/2.8 will be too heavy.

    1. If you can afford the f/2.8 IS that is the one I would choose for indoor sports. The only reason I complain about the weight of the 2.8 is because I’ll be doing a lot of hiking and backpacking this summer, and there is a big difference in both the size and weight of the f/4 vs f/2.8. It’s not like you need to be a body builder to hold it, but if I can save a good bit of weight, the f/4L IS weighs half as much as the current f/2.8L IS MkII, I’m going to. Also, I’m primarily a landscape photographer, 2.8 is all but useless to me.

      Hope that helps.

      1. Yes, it does, so thanks for getting back to me. I had rented a 70-300 IS 4.5-5.6 but I was doing some nature shots, so I wasn’t really needing to be below 4.5. I am concerned about the weight of the 2.8 so I will be renting it first, just to think through the decision of purchasing it.

  3. Beautiful reflection Jeff! Monsieur Monet would be jealous! Love both images you show here this time. The colour of the trillium is amazing!

    1. “This time?” What do you mean “this time?” You don’t love every image I ever posted since the beginning of time? I think I may cry 😀

      Thank you so much Lucy! I still think I have a long way to go to catch up to you on the reflections though.

      1. Sorry Jeff, now you’ve got a proof that my English is simply terrible… 😦
        YOU ARE AN EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHER, no doubt about it! And… let’s be honest, my reflections are not extraordinary…

        1. Don’t worry about your English. I appreciate every one of your comments. What you do need to worry about is my extreme sarcasm 😛

          And don’t be modest. Your reflections are quite extraordinary. Definitely an inspiration for mine.

          1. No problem, I can handle sarcasm quite well, I’m a big “girl” living with a man who loves sarcasm 🙂

            No false modesty from my side, trust me Jeff, but thanks for your appreciation!

Comments and thoughtful critiques are always welcome.

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