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Illustrations in Product Tests

Discussion in 'AP Magazine Feedback & Suggestions' started by PhotoEcosse, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    As promised in the "Wasted Adverts and Mad Uncles" discussion, I will not hijack that thread but will start another to revisit a problem with illustrations in AP that I have aired before.

    I think the current issue of the magazine brought the matter back to mind more strenuously because the product under test was a very high quality lens. (Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 Asph.). With such a high quality lens, I suggest that any review has to be illustrated in a way that addresses the very fine details - either to confirm or to question the manufacturer's quality claims. Or don't use illustrations at all - words always print at a readable resolution!

    In that particular test the offending picture was one that was captioned "Closed to f/5.6 the lens produces really sharp images that are filled with detail." Yet the picture, as printed in the magazine is far from sharp and much of the detail was simply not reproduced. I would love, for example, to have been able to see all the detail in the sailor's cap badge. I do not doubt that the lens could resolve it and that a good quality print of the photograph would reveal it - but with the paper quality and printing processes of a magazine like AP, the photo is simply a waste or space. Or worse - who would buy a lens that produces photos like that one?.

    That is a specific example but it is a general problem. Often camera tests are illustrated by pictures which purport to show sensor resolution at various ISO settings by means of striated diagrams - but no difference is clear in the low-res magazine.

    I suspect that, in such cases, when the writer or sub-editor looks at the page mock-up on a good quality monitor, the qualities that the illustrations are intended to show are, indeed, fairly clear. But that clarity is not carried on to the printed page.

    It can also be a problem with "normal" photographs. I don't know how often, in the "Appraisal" feature, we are shown "Before" and "After" versions of the same image - but, once printed on the page, both look essentially the same. In fact, sometimes the "before" is shown in a smaller size than the "after" and, as a consequence, actually looks better than the re-processed version.

    Is there a case for re-thinking the use of illustrations in AP?
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Eric,

    In most of the reviews I've ever written, and most of the good ones I've ever read, the pictures are mostly there to break up a grey page. That, and to fire the reader to go out and take pics, whether with the new lens (camera, whatever) or what they already have. Photomechanical repro in magazines is unlikely ever to tell you much about image quality. Trust the words!


  3. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    For those of us who remember the many, many lens tests showing the good ship Wellington, it's perhaps worth commenting that the detail in the ship's guard rails was a clear guide to the lens's performance, even on the relatively cheap newsprint employed.

    I'm looking at a review of the 135mm Hexanon and the Hexanon 47~100mm zoom in the 10th August 1966 issue. The progressive improvement in the 135's sharpness as it was closed down from f3.5 to f8 is actually quite clear, as is the relatively poor performance at the same apertures of the zoom.

    If they could achieve that sort of result in the 'sixties, it's technically possible to do the same now. So what's preventing it?
  4. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Ah, the good ship Wellington.

    I had forgotten all about those tests. Thanks for the reminder. (Actually I could not have told you the name of the ship, but I do remember the images.)

    Nostalgia ain't wot it used to be.


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