The eighty-nine dollar wonder . . .

No, it’s not perfect. It’s not as high-resolving as most modern lenses. But it’s excellent at what it purports to be: (according to the manufacturer) “a good balance between the pursuit of large aperture and image quality.”

Stuff like this is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes it very affordable to take good quality images that can easily be printed at 8″x10″ or maybe even larger with some adjustments. On the other hand, when lenses at this level of decency can be made so inexpensively, it’s a signal that the medium is reaching the end of the line.

Already there are people claiming that handphone image quality will eventually surpass that of standalone cameras. That wouldn’t surprise me at all. When Dr. Mandler started using computers to design lenses, it cracked the door open for what we see following now, things like replacing a whole sky in an image with the click of a button.

Don’t like that artificial kind of stuff, you say? Well, for me it depends on how much of it is used and what it’s used for. Real life scenes don’t have chromatic aberration in them, and we’ve been using software to correct that for years now.

I’ve often said that I like my photos to end up looking like what I saw with my eyes, without any surreal sunsets, etc. But at the same time, I’ve acquired Mandler lenses (among others) because I liked their “look,” which may have slightly augmented or differed from what I saw with my eyes.

Computational imaging with perfect bokeh, accurate shadows and light, etc., in a palm-sized device? Bring it on! But don’t expect me to actually switch to a handphone for photography until I see an optical 600mm f/4 in one!

R7/TTartisan 50mm f1.2