Are primes brighter and sharper than wide open zooms

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Siddhartha Jain, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. Siddhartha Jain

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    Yes, that one's taken quite a beating. Another that leaps to mind is
    "in lieu of", which people seem to have begun using to mean exactly the
    opposite of what it actually means.
    Jeremy Nixon, Oct 3, 2005
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  2. Siddhartha Jain

    Alan Meyer Guest


    Thank you for a very lucid explanation.

    Alan Meyer, Oct 3, 2005
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  3. Siddhartha Jain

    Nostrobino Guest

    [ . . . ]
    I don't know whether it's the earliest, but I have somewhere--can't find it
    at the moment--a book on the Minolta 600si by Thomas Maschke and Peter K.
    Burian that uses the term "prime" to mean FFL. The book is part of the Magic
    Lantern Guide series and (checking Amazon just now) was published in 1996.

    What is interesting is that a book on the 700si etc. by the same two
    authors, in the same series, published just a year or so previously,
    covering the same subjects including lenses, does not use "prime" at all. So
    from this I conclude that Maschke and Burian, who have written a number of
    books on cameras, only picked up this "prime lens" thing c. 1995. (Amazon
    gives only Burian as the author of the 1994 book, but I'm pretty sure my
    copy--which I also can't find at the moment--lists both authors.)

    Nostrobino, Oct 3, 2005
  4. Siddhartha Jain

    Frank ess Guest

    I've almost given up on derailing the new usage and soon-to-be
    standard meaning. Begs the question: "Have they stopped beating their
    Frank ess, Oct 3, 2005
  5. Siddhartha Jain

    Nostrobino Guest

    He sure could, and I'm embarrassed not to have known that source. (Sometimes
    it seems to me that about half of our common expressions, and practically
    all of the better ones, are from Shakespeare, so it doesn't surprise me.) I
    think I've read most of Shakespeare's plays and especially love the
    histories, but I guess I somehow missed King John. "Gilding the lily" is a
    well-understood expression here in the U.S. too, but I never knew it was a

    Your explanation is certainly far better than my dictionary's, which
    basically just says "beg the question" means "to reason badly" or some such
    thing. I doubt that most American dictionaries even mention the expression
    at all (my desk dictionary doesn't), which only makes it that much easier
    for the ignorant to get away with misusing it.

    Nostrobino, Oct 3, 2005
  6. It's not a popular play - the first of the English kings series (though
    I don't know whether it was written first - I mean John was the earliest
    king to be covered).
    Incidentally - and getting even more off topic - the bit about parallel
    lines never meeting is not an essential truth, it was merely one of the
    assumptions ("axioms") postulated by Euclid (another Greek philosopher,
    these guys got around) in devising the rules of geometry. Other systems
    of geometry exist in which it is not true at all, thus demonstrating the
    benefits of questioning the underlying assumptions.

    David Littlewood, Oct 3, 2005
  7. Siddhartha Jain

    nick c Guest

    No Jeremy, I think now, Floyd has a good prospective of the evolutionary
    process that has overtaken the English language. The language itself is
    no longer subject to exclusive overview by proponents of the Oxford
    dictionary, so to speak. Those that may be offended by the use of jargon
    as speaking aides may well find that to be a problem they have created
    unto themselves.

    "English is a pluricentric language, with marked differences in
    pronunciation and spelling between the UK and the US, and a variety of
    accents of those and other English-speaking countries. It is usually
    considered a symmetric case of a pluricentric language, because no
    variety clearly dominates culturally. Statistically, however, American
    English speakers comprise more than 70% of native English speakers, with
    British English a distant second at 16% and other varieties having less
    than 5% each."

    Within the US, communicative jargon is accepted. Should the word "Bucks"
    be substituted for "Dollars" the jargon would not be misunderstood. No
    more than "Howdy" would not be understood to mean "Hello." Consider
    also, Oxford English is not the English of Geoffrey Chaucer. Even in
    England, the English language has undergone considerable change.

    Though it serves to repeat: "... no variety clearly dominates
    culturally," the time to consider when extreme use of jargons have
    caused communicative problems is when a listener has to say ... eh?

    However, just having the ability to inquire about what is being said
    still leaves a listener with the ability to communicate. :)
    nick c, Oct 3, 2005
  8. Siddhartha Jain

    no_name Guest

    No, it's when things devolve too farr FROM that direction, or more
    precisely when "what did they mean" devolves too far from "what did they

    '"Words mean exactly what I want them to mean," the Red Queen informed
    Alice in Wonderland.'
    no_name, Oct 3, 2005
  9. Siddhartha Jain

    Jeremy Nixon Guest

    I have no problem at all with jargon; I'm a big fan of slang; and I think
    it's a good thing that the language is not set in stone. What I don't
    much like is the fact that I honestly, as I type this, don't know whether
    you meant "prospective" or "perspective", given that 9 times out of 10
    that you see the former, the person really meant the latter.
    Jeremy Nixon, Oct 3, 2005
  10. Show *show us* some words where the common use is "wrong".

    Note that that is different than words that are "commonly mis-used".

    You do have a real problem with understanding words, don't you.
    Floyd Davidson, Oct 4, 2005
  11. That simply is not true. That *is* the point of communications.
    Floyd Davidson, Oct 4, 2005
  12. Siddhartha Jain

    Peter Guest

    It is a handy term and people see others using it,
    that is enough. At least it is enough to make it
    useful as a handy term.

    I've been using the word "slang" for this kind
    of term. I think it applies, but since it isn't
    communicating quite what I want I'll have to go
    with a longer explanation.

    Amateur radio operators often use "c.w." as a kind
    of informal short form for radiotelegraphy. It isn't
    what it actually means. It actually means continuous
    wave transmission as opposed to damped wave, or spark
    transmission. Since damped vave transmission has
    been illegal for nearly 80 years, all radio transmissions
    of voice, data, television and everything else are c.w.
    and the correct use of the term mainly appears in
    historical discussions. If you use c.w. as a synonym
    for radiotelegraphy, hardly anyone is going to object,
    but if you try posting on a amateur radio newsgroup
    that c.w actually means that, you are going to be corrected.
    (And yes, it does happen.)

    The question, "when does improper terminology become
    correct?" is very interesting. While I might personally
    wish it never did, there is a perfect example of such
    a thing happening in photography. Photographic emulsions
    are not actually emulsions as chemists use the term,
    and yet it is the standard term in photography. I imagine
    that this must have annoyed more than a few chemists
    who went into photographic chemistry. But no one has
    managed to create a new word which conveys the same
    idea to photographers, and so it gets used in scientific
    papers where both the author(s) and the intended audience
    know that it doesn't conform to proper scientific

    So it can happen that a mistake becomes correct, but
    I'd personally like to set the bar pretty high
    for accepting this. If a term starts to be used regularly
    in a certain way in scientific papers or advanced
    technical discussions, then I think I have to agree
    that it has become correct.

    The afocal zoom attachment hypothesis seems to have got
    some support from BC, so I'm now inclined to take it fairly
    seriously as a possible origin of "prime lens" = "fixed focal
    length lens."
    Quite probably, but if the term grew out of the prime lens
    vs. supplementary lens use then very few people who use
    the term have any idea of its origins.
    I said the connection was obscure, not that there wasn't one.

    OK, I had the impression that you got new vocabulary all the
    time, but that the older terms had to have pretty much fixed
    meanings to avoid serious confusion. I'm aware of what
    happened in philosophy with "subjective" and "objective."
    You have to pay attention to this to avoid the mistake
    of thinking that an older writer is saying nearly the
    opposite of what he intended. This sort of thing where
    words very nearly switch places can happen, but it is
    really undesirable.
    But that's really about expectations within an industry:
    soldering irons for electronics were very much around,
    but fire control people were not expected to be using them.

    If you order Glycin from a general chemical supplier,
    you will get the kind which isn't a photographic
    developer; there are only a few sources for the stuff
    you want for your darkroom and you have to go to them
    if you want the right stuff. This comes up on a
    semi-regular basis on

    Are these the old carbon composition types from before they
    used stripes? I seem to recall that the colour code was
    the same even though the markings were different. I bet
    if they saw them in a radio they would figure out what
    they were pretty quickly. I know I did. I can see they
    would be a real puzzle out of context, but I don't
    think that you would often see them out of context:
    they would be in an old piece of electronic equipment.

    I wasted too many hours reading the radiation labs series
    to be puzzled by much from WWII. I suspect I'm unusual
    but not unique in that.

    Lenses can be much more complex and colour film is
    much improved from fifty years ago, but they still
    work the same way. Many photographers use fifty
    year old cameras on occasion, and it won't generally
    be obvious in the results. The better equipment
    from back then can still be above average by today's

    My 1958 edition of the Ilford Manual of Photography
    is actually a better book for the areas it covers
    than the 2000 edition. The 2000 edition does cover
    some things which didn't exist in 1958, but at least
    half of the book is a rewritten version of the
    1958 edition. The rewriting seems to be for the sake
    of rewriting; you can make paragraph by paragraph
    comparisons of surprising amounts of it and the
    new version of a paragraph is rarely an improvement.

    Elsewhere in this thread, I mentioned my delight
    as a child at reading "incredible" used in a literal
    way in The Time Machine. I think a certain amount
    of conservatism is part of my personality.

    Maybe my use of the word "slang" is a problem. It seems
    to have a lot of meanings. I think that most people
    are aware that some terms which are frequently used
    aren't strictly correct terminology. I began this
    discussion by noting that audio engineers often call
    cellulose nitrate lacquer disc records "acetates"
    even though they are not made from acetate. It is
    an informal term which appears to be the result
    of an error but is nonetheless frequently used to
    communicate. No one would think of calling them
    "acetates" in any kind of technical paper.

    We only get to find that out later. Sometimes the effort pays off.
    As you suppose, there are other examples. The word "focus"
    used to be frequently used when "focal length" was meant.
    This is preserved in "long-focus lens" which is now quite
    respectable, but for the most part this usage has vanished.

    One line is "would you expect to see the word used this way
    in a serious technical paper?" There may be problems with
    this, but it seems a reasonable dividing line between
    standard terminology and informal terminology.

    The first time I was aware of the word "hacker" was from
    a Psychology Today article that was in our school computer
    room around 1980. I think they got it pretty much right.
    The word "hacker" is interesting because it is informal
    terminology in both senses. The vast majority of people
    who think it applies to them use it in the old sense,
    while the majority of people who are not now and have
    never been hackers are primarily aware of it in the
    sense of "cracker." I'm not one now, but I might just
    have qualified or had aspirations in that direction when
    I was in high school. I haven't written a shell script
    for my Mac since I got it. I'm pretty sure I could, but
    I haven't. I think you could argue that "hacker" really
    does have both meanings, but one should be aware that
    a guy who does computer programing for fun probably has
    pretty strong views on the matter.

    OTOH when clear techical language and popular use
    conflict, I think it is reasonable to give preference
    to the technical use. For instance, people who are
    neither coin collectors nor involved in the making
    of coins often call the grained or reeded edges of
    coins "milled edges." This is even in some dictionaries.
    Coin people nearly always deprecate this use because
    it comes from a misunderstanding of the term
    "milled coinage" which has nothing to do with the
    edges of coins, but from the fact that they are
    made on a screw press or other machine.

    I've probably been guilty of trying to pay "slang" extra
    to mean what I want it to mean. Chambers's includes "the
    jargon of any class, profession or set" as well as "colloquial
    language with words and usages not accepted for dignified
    use." My use included elements of each, but perhaps this
    wasn't quite right.

    Obviously my use of "slang" has failed to communicate the right
    idea, I've tried to use other expressions this time round.
    I sometimes misspell words I use regularly too. I haven't run
    a spell check on this, so if I did it this time it will show.

    Peter, Oct 4, 2005
  13. Siddhartha Jain

    Nostrobino Guest

    Popular or not, I should read it I suppose. When I took Shakespeare in
    college, the professor had us read Titus Andronicus as an example of
    below-standard Shakespeare, just to show that he didn't always write great
    stuff. But I *liked* Titus Andronicus. Maybe I just have a depraved sense of
    humor (the stew, of course).
    Yes, I remember the recent discussion here about that. :-/

    Nostrobino, Oct 4, 2005
  14. Siddhartha Jain

    Nostrobino Guest

    That was Humpty Dumpty ("it means just what I choose it to mean"), not the
    Red Queen. And actually both were in "Through the Looking Glass," not "Alice
    in Wonderland," though the two books are usually printed together so it's
    easy to get them confused.

    Nostrobino, Oct 4, 2005
  15. Ahem... that is *precisely* what it means!
    Exactly, and that of course actually means you cannot
    modulate it...

    You were doing fine until you got to this point!
    Nope, that just ain't so. They all require some form of
    modulation that produces discontinuity of the carrier.
    I think you need to look up the actual meaning of c.w., rather
    than surmising on your own. You also need to realize that
    c.w. is not defined by or for amateur radio operators, hence
    references to what ham operators thing it does or does not mean
    is only trivia.

    I assure you the reason nobody (except perhaps a few ignorant
    ham operators) objects to others equating cw with radio
    telegraphy is because in fact it *is* a synonym for radio
    telegraphy. (And be warned that I held a commercial radio
    telegraph license 40 years ago, and still hold valid commercial
    radio telephone and amateur licenses.)

    Your statement that "all radio transmissions of voice, data,
    television and everything else are c.w." is simply *wrong*.

    Here is the technical definition of "continious wave", according
    to the FTC 1037C Standards, available at

    continuous wave (cw): A wave of constant amplitude and
    constant frequency.

    Clearly it means a transmission that is neither amplitude,
    frequency, nor phase modulated. Any such modulation necessarily
    must cause a discontinuity in the wave. The only thing you can
    do is turn it on and off... which is called radio telegraphy!
    My particular field of expertize is communications, not
    chemistry. Hence I have no comment on this example, other than
    hoping you know more about chemistry terms than you do about
    radio communications terminology!

    Floyd Davidson, Oct 4, 2005
  16. Siddhartha Jain

    nick c Guest

    "Perspective" is de word. :)
    nick c, Oct 4, 2005
  17. Siddhartha Jain

    Peter Guest

    I should have known better than":

    a) cite an example outside my own but in anothers'
    field of expertise.

    b) take position which is frequent result of flamewar
    as somehow authoritative

    Peter, Oct 4, 2005
  18. Well, cricketeers have for a very long time used the very common
    everyday word "silly" in a specialised, technical sense. Yet, it would
    seem that nobody who has ever been within four foot of a cricket bat,
    believes that the silly mid-off position is any more inherently stupid
    than plain old mid-off.

    With "google" there wouldn't be a theoretical chans to confuse the
    everyday sense with the technical one. So why would you think
    cricketeers would stop using it?

    Jan Böhme
    =?iso-8859-1?B?SmFuIEL2aG1l?=, Oct 4, 2005
  19. In the days before head protectors and boxes became universal, I think
    anyone fielding at silly mid-off, or silly mid-on, or silly point, would
    know exactly why the distinction was made.

    David Littlewood, Oct 4, 2005
  20. Cricketers even :)

    - Siddhartha
    Siddhartha Jain, Oct 4, 2005
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