Many years ago, a talented and iconoclastic engineer named Bob Carver issued a challenge to the staff of a “golden ear” hi-fi magazine. They could pick any amplifier, and he would attempt to make his distinctly mid-fi $700 amp sound so much like it that the staff couldn’t tell them apart. They hemmed and hawed, and finally accepted. Carver won.
You can read about it here: http://www.stereophile.com/content/carver-challenge
That got me thinking. Not about making an optical silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but about using software to take images from very good lenses with few departures from perfection – attractive or otherwise — and make them look like they were taken with lenses that leave distinctive fingerprints on images made with them.
It’s not an entirely original thought. You can buy iPhone apps and Photoshop plugins that simulate a Holga camera image, lens distortion, flare, light leaks and all. But has anyone done it for lenses that photographers cherish for their character? And are there lenses good enough to serve to make the original image? Does anyone want to write the program to do the modification?
And, if done, does anyone want to try and tell which image was made by the real famous characterful lens and which was massaged into loveliness with software?
I don’t know if this is going anywhere, but it’s fun to think about. Does someone want to nominate a legendary full-of-character lens to be our target? We need to be able to find one copy of whatever it turns out to be.