Paul Was Able To “Eat Meat”

There are some things which are sin, with no gray area. No one will be excused if he believes Jesus is not the way to Heaven. Most all of us will acknowledge killing someone with no good reason is wrong. To the Puritans, showing an ankle was sin . . . but here and now, we have women in short dresses in our churches without condemnation because to us it is (arguably) not sin.

Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.”

Brother Paul was able in good conscience toward God to eat meat sacrificed to idols; it was no sin. So the question then becomes “It’s not sin so why should Paul not eat” and the answer is another guy was offended in his conscience. Seeing the example of Paul could cause someone else to sin, is the idea of “I will eat no flesh“. Some people would eat the same meat from the same plate and commit sin because their faith was weak. It is not charitable in some contexts for “Paul” to “eat meat”. So we stop when it is plain it offends someone else in this way.

Did Paul owe an explanation to anyone as to why he stopped? In context, I think not, but he would have been happy to explain . . .

. . . if . . .

. . . someone would try to have a conversation about it specifically.

Horses for Courses: A comparison of general-purpose zoom and macro prime lenses

I went into the garden a few days ago to photograph some flowers. I ended up disappointed because some bug or other is eating the petals of the flowers I wanted to take pictures of, so they were ugly. I took some pictures of grass instead.

It was early in the morning and the dew was pretty on the grass, eh? It reminded me of the description in the Bible of how the plants were watered before the flood in Noah’s day. Then I thought, “hey I have my fancy new lens DW bought me for Christmas, lemme see what it can do with this dew” so I took some pictures and . . . ran into a limitation. The zoom in question is Nikon’s 18-140mm 3.5-5.6G DX and it is an outstanding walking-around lens. I have satisfied myself that in some situations when carefully applied it can beat a good prime lens. This was not one of those times.

Here is a nifty picture of a blade of grass with two little marbles of dewdrops on the edge. Very nice. Okay what else can I shoot this morning?

Oh, that’s very nice! Except . . . the little white smudges on the bottom of the flowers, those are dewdrops also! If you zoom in here, you’ll see they are legit droplets of water and look pretty okay actually because this zoom lens is a cracking good one! on my camera’s LCD screen, they looked like smudges. I was dissatisfied. So I went and got an old reliable friend of min to help out: This guy. Except he can only focus to about a meter and a half or so, not very close. I have a DIY extension tube that lets it focus MUCH closer, and converts it into a prime manual macro lens. And I went back into the garden.

Yes, very nice. Proper visible drops here as well as loads of fine detail. I was unable to find a different blade of grass I had also shot, but I did find this one again. So here’s this:

Very nice. Not only do I have good detail on the subject I want to show, but the background is completely blown out of focus! This is what I had really wanted, and it makes me want to buy some (much much) more epensive autofocusing, vibration-controlling, wide-aperture-having modern macro lenses. But that’s for another day! Anyway, I mentioned this to a friend (Hi there NB!) and thought it would be informative and interesting as a standalone post, so here’s a comparison set.

These are the full frame shots from my D7000. All these shots were using the auto white balance setting and no editing has been done unless I mention it specifically. The Nikon zoom is always going to be shown on the left, the Canon prime on the right in all these. The zoom was shot at 140mm (210mm equivalent) at f/7.1 without flash. For this, the zoom had a 1/50th second exposure time and the image stabilization really saved my bacon. It works GREAT on this lens! ISO 400 equivalent. The prime was used at ISO800 and with flash, and I still had to crank it to 1/200 sec. to get what I wanted to see. Both are very nice pictures, but I was going for something specific here so the one on the left wasn’t what I wanted.

Here is a screenshot of both pictures as big as they would fit on my monitor. In the top-left of each, you can see the zoom level I had to use to get them on screen at the same size: 140% vs. 57%. At 140% the picture from the zoom lens is starting to look less great but the one from the macro lens is still shining brightly. Dig this:

Here the macro lens is at 100% zoom, looking at the level of individual pixels. To get the zoom lens’ image the same size, it’s at 250% and really not looking as good. I will say it is quite good performance still, but not really much of a comparison at this level of detail. THIS is what I wanted. I was happy with this. Photography is a hobby involving self-challenge and much fiddling with settings to get the technical result I want and this was what I wanted. For the win!…now on to the grass.

This whole thing is an apples-to-oranges comparison and here’s another example. These are the full frame images from the zoom lens all the way zoomed in and the macro lens at whatever distance worked. The extension tube, as they do, prevents this lens focusing very far away, but up close it is excellent. Both of these, again, are good pictures, but what I wanted, again, was what I got on the right from my macro lens.

These again used the auto white balance, and again the zoom was at 140mm, f/7.1, with no flash used. the vibration reduction probably helped again at 1/125sec but wasn’t as completely crucial this time, maybe. ISO 400 equivalent was used with the zoom but again with the prime to get it brighter I used ISO 800 because I was shooting at 1/250sec. No flash, this time, this is all ambient light from early in the day.

Here these are zoomed in to show about the same scene. Note that the zoom lens is zoomed in a bit more at 50% and the macro lens here is only zoomed in to 25% – there’s a lot more pixels to work with on the macro shot! Also note the level of detail in the background. This will vary with every lens and even with the choice of settings for your lens, but here I got what I wanted: bokeh on the right (vs. details on the left).

Here we are, zoomed in on what I actually was interested in, just the drops, as big as I could get them on my computer screen side-by-side for a screenshot. The macro lens is at 100%, actual-pixel level here and the zoom is at 200% to get them about the same size onscreen. The level of detail from the macro lens is really starting to show through, now! Look at the striations on the blade of grass. Notice how the smaller dew drops are actually dew drops instead of white blobs. Finally, look at the quality of the water marbles on the side. Look at the detail! The ISO800 on the right is showing up in the form of slightly increased noise, but the picture is still better at the level I care about so that’s okay.

Hold on there.

VFD, you are saying now, can’t you edit the picture from the zoom lens to get it sharper? Photoshop is magic, you know.

Yes I know. I am a certifiable wizard in Photoshop, but there’s only so much you can do. Let me unsharp mask both of these:

The zoom is definitely benefiting from the sharpening filter applied. The macro didn’t seem to benefit much if it has helped at all. It’s a little bit sharper but a lot noisier, so I call it about a wash there. Let’s look closer.

The zoom is zoomed in as far as it will go before Photoshop starts showing a giant gridline around each pixel (500%) and it looks pretty bad now. The macro is only at 300%, displayed larger onscreen, and you can see even MORE detail. Crazy. This is crazy sharpness. Remember, these drops of dew on this blade of grass were maybe ~2mm in diameter.

Each of these images had about a half-dozen rejects before I got the picture I wanted. I’ve taken LOTS of pictures in my time here, and it still involves trial and error and lots of shots, even with fancy modern lenses. But it’s fun though!