Matthew Gore has an interesting experiment going on over at Light & Matter. He set up a quiz with several images that were taken with one of three lenses: the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art, or the Canon 50mm f/1.2 L. The point of the quiz is to realize that the difference in image quality between these lenses may not be as significant as the price difference between them seems to suggest.
I took the quiz and got 7 out of 14 correct answers for a 50% score, with the average score being 45.24% so far among all people that have taken the quiz. But while I did slightly better than the average, I still felt like I was guessing my way through the quiz more often than not. Other than the easily recognizable bokeh balls of the Sigma Art lens, all images looked pretty much the same to me.
Taking this quiz was a great experience and at the end of the day, I consider Matthew’s point to be more than proved: if the differences between those three lenses are so small than I cannot reliably tell them apart, spending several hundred to a thousand dollars more for one of the fancier lenses seems hardly justifiable.
I wonder what the results would be like if someone were to make a similar quiz comparing, for example, the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Micro Four Thirds lens with the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 and the Panasonic Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2. Like with the Canon 50mm lenses, the price difference between these MFT lenses amounts to over a thousand dollars, and my gut tells me most people wouldn’t be able to reliably tell them apart.
Food for thought, indeed.