Digital photography had given us the ability to shoot a sharp image easily and this has become part of our definition of a good photograph. You cannot read a lens review without referring to its sharpness. But is a sharp image necessary? If you look at the work of Saul Leiter, HCB or Sally Mann you will see that sharpness is not really necessary to create a wonderful picture.
When going through some pictures I took in January 1st of this year in Kew Gardens, I was amazed at the number of photographs that I find marvelous that I had thought were missed images. The one above is an example of this. You can see that the image has a ton of noise, no face is clearly visible and the image is not particularly sharp. But if you ask me my memory of that night, this matches what I remember perfectly.
Above is another image that I did not think was worth its megabytes. Here we have a wonderful stripped umbrella, a fence and a young kid in a raincoat with nice bright lights in the background. Again this will not win any sharpness awards, the noise of the OM-D is fairly high but after shooting with film, I like it.
Here I thought I had a hodgepodge of shadows, slight movement and some very unsharp details. Taking a closer look however, I see a cold, wet January 1st day spent in Kew Gardens.
Our memories are not sharp, our eyes are used to seeing shadows and our minds are happy to fill in for loss of detail. So why do we demand such perfection from our images? Ok I love sharp lenses, but this just gives me the ability to shoot sharp if this is what I am going for. In the majority of my shooting, I prefer the softer images which are less exacting.