On the far left is a bokeh test rig and next to it is Picture Instruments’ novel test target setup
As someone whose life revolves around evaluating cameras and lenses, test gear is very interesting. Here at Photokina 2016 I came across a German a company, Picture Instruments, that was new to me and their work revolves around some novel test philosophies. They have also applied this philosophy to a photographers buyers guide and they also sell a suite of image software tools.
Most test modern strategies involve shooting quite abstract technical test targets and then applying complex mathematical analysis. There is no doubt that this kind of testing is valuable but increasingly I am hearing that technical tests can sometimes be misleading or confusing. Picture Instruments’ test gear is branded ‘Trust Your Eyes’; the message is that to discover the most pertinent information about how well a camera or lens works you need to photograph natural subjects with real textures and colours.
On the Picture Instruments booth there was a bokeh test rig, and the most unusual test target setup I have ever seen. I had a play with the bokeh tester and you can see some examples in the gallery above. The test target on display features natural textures and details like wood grain, paint brushes and their bristles positioned in a variety of angles and other objects that represent real-life detailing. There isn’t a complete rejection of technical resources so there are also a couple of standard colour swatches on the board, too. The version of the test set up on display is complemented by a custom engineered camera mount that ensures the camera and lens being tested is aligned perfectly with the target. It also extends far enough for medium telephoto lenses to be used.
The buyers guide, or ‘shoppingguide’ on their website, invites you to evaluate a series of anonymous test shots selected automatically based on your personal equipment requirement details. Based on this ‘blind’ test you are presented with a range of products with your own personal ratings. You then have the option of purchasing a set of test images for the products that interest you.
I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on Picture Controls and hope to have a look at their software tools in the future.