Roger Cicala: the difference between sample variation and a ‘bad copy’ (Part 1): Digital Photography Review

We fix a lot of lenses, but not all lenses can be fixed.
With the next two posts, I hope to end the seventh most common forum war; the ‘lens variation is a big problem!’ vs ‘I don’t believe it exists!’ argument. Like a lot of forum wars, it comes down to semantics: Variation and bad copies aren’t the same thing (actually they’re not really related at all), but people tend to use the terms interchangeably.
Even $2,000 lenses must have variation
Note that I said ‘must’. I didn’t say ‘might’ or ‘could’. I certainly didn’t say ‘shouldn’t at this price’. If you expect every copy of a lens to be perfect, then a dose of reality is in order – unreasonable expectations are a down payment on disappointment.
The key point is what amount of variation is acceptable.
Of…


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