Micro contrast ?

Hey guys.

I have in the last couple of days read about it and to looked at some sample photos to see the difference (good vs bad lens ). I must say I have hard time spotting the difference. If you have some links on the subject, its welcome.

What do you think about micro contrast ? And is it something you can add in lightroom ?



  • flipflip Posts: 139Member
    You might inquire at Ming Thein's blog as he is a pro and speaks of microcontrast often in relation to MF and Zeiss Otus type lenses.

    I would interpret as a combination of resolution and higher (cleaner more delineated) contrast of line pairs at the pixel level.
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,135Member
    I never understood micro-contrast, seems like a subjective category to me and something that Leica enthusiasts all gush about.
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • SamkoSamko Posts: 101Member
    ok thank you. Im going to search some more then. Im very intrested in subject isolation even with wide DOF f8/11 ( some say 3D or pop ). But my search have become complicated with this micro contrast thing.
  • Its an interesting attribute, but it is much like pixel-peeping for resolution: don't agonize over it too much for choosing a lens. If you're spending the money on a Zeiss Otus, "micro-contrast" probably wasn't one of the deciding factors inducing you to write that check (that's a "cheque" for you, SprayNPray).
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,223Member
    edited February 2017
    Micro contrast is one of the most overhyped phrases in the photo community. Unless you look at, or your images or crop at 100% all the time you'll likely never notice it.

    The key word in it is micro, and that tell you all you need to know. It is superfine contrast, and if that is important for you, by all means buy a lens based on how much micro contrast it has. If you don't, don't worry about.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • decentristdecentrist Posts: 33Member
    PM_PM, your post indicates you don't know what micro contrast is.
  • snakebunksnakebunk Posts: 922Member
    Can we conclude that micro contrast is just another word for sharpness?
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,223Member
    edited March 2017

    PM_PM, your post indicates you don't know what micro contrast is.

    Maybe it's your understand that is wrong?


    Higher contrast = higher perceived sharpness. Micro contrast is just that, micro level contrast that leads to a higher perception of sharpness.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    I like this later article from Thom:


    "You can get yourself tied up in a knot about micro contrast. Yes, if the lens is better at moving the light through without veiling anything, it’s a better lens, all else equal. But that doesn’t necessarily rule out using a lens with lower micro contrast. These days, most lenses are very good at all types of contrast, and a few are excellent at it. But there’s generally not enough difference there that I’d get over obsessed with it. As I’ve tried to show here, post processing most certainly has an impact on what you see in the finished image in terms of small detail and tonal ramp contrast.

    You’ll note that in my lens reviews I rarely mention micro contrast. I think you know why now. Trying to distinguish between what was the lens’ contribution and what was the demosaic’s contribution (or deduction) is a fool’s errand. I do sometimes mention micro contrast with a lens when it is so exceptional that it can’t be ignored and must be an attribute of the lens, though. The Zeiss Otus lenses are one good example of that."
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    @Samko if you read the whole article that I posted the link to above, you will find that the answer to your question. Yes, it is something that be added/controlled in post.
  • SamkoSamko Posts: 101Member
    I see and thank you. But it still dont make no sense that you can add something in post that the lens/sensor dont get in first place.
    If the lens bend light in a way that it ''remove'' some of the shadows, than how can a sensor ( photoshop ) know that its there.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    If you blow your highlights or shadows, sure it's gone for good. If you have the info, esp. in a RAW format you have the ability to tone-map and pull that out of the shadows.
  • AmericanLoonieAmericanLoonie Posts: 99Member
    There is a difference between strict resolution and what many call micro contrast.

  • SamkoSamko Posts: 101Member
    @Ironheart if a lens have bad or minimum micro contras, it must mean that its unable to get many levels of shaddow thru the glass elements. = only a "small" part of the shaddow levels ever hit the sensor, the rest never hit the sensor and therefor lost inside the elements. so how recover something that has never hit the sensor?

    sry for my bad eng :)
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