Humor and Sarcasm

My Third Grader Analogy for Lens Reviews and Testing

Published August 1, 2016

I make a joke about this sometimes, but I think it’s more and more appropriate. Every day, I see more and more people take some single bit of data published on a lens and extrapolate the entire meaning of the photographic universe from that bit of data. My joke has always gone, “a single lens analysis is like measuring a third-grader and then publishing that third-graders are 157 cm tall.”



Almost every online resource gives you some useful information. At the same time, absolutely every resource only provides you part of the picture (pun intended). Oh, and that includes pictures (another pun intended). So without further ado, I will proceed to make fun of every type of online lens analysis, because they are interesting and fun, but really not worth getting so upset about.

Forum Comments:

My third grader isn’t very tall.

Mine is amazingly, awesomely tall. You must have a bad copy.

I think your tape measure isn’t lined up correctly.

Just take your third grader out to the park and stop measuring him. If you like the way he acts, you’ve got a good third grader.

Summarized Customer Review

139 people have commented on third-graders.

About 3 feet: 8%

Between 3 and 4 feet: 22%

Between 4 and 5 feet: 41%

Between 5 and 6 feet: 21%

Over 6 feet: 8%

Computer Target Analysis Testing 1

Our third grader is 153 cm tall at the head, 121 cm tall at the shoulder, 61 cm from waist to floor.

Computer Target Analysis Testing 2

Our third grader is 159 cm tall at the head, 128 cm tall at the shoulder, and 68 cm from waist to floor.

Computer Target Analysis Testing 3

Our third grader is 111 cm tall at the head and 115 cm tall at the shoulder, but we think his head may have been tilted.


We measured 10 third graders and they are 3mm tall at the head and 2.7mm tall at the shoulder. Sample variation was unacceptably high, with a range +/- 0.18 mm. Remember our measurements are different because the third graders are at infinity when we measure them. And we aren’t certain if we calculated the sensor glass thickness correctly.


The Digital Picture

Here are pictures of third graders measured on our standard test pattern. You can use our comparison tool to see how they stack up against fourth, fifth or sixth graders.

Imaging Resource / SLRGear

Here is our cool graph of the size of third graders at all the various measurement differences. You can move the slider on the left to see how the proportions change as it grows. You can see that the larger head that is apparent at the start position smooths proportion nicely as time passes.




Things we like:

  • Funny most of the time.
  • Very weather resistant, actually performs well in a downpour.
  • Small and portable, easy to carry around.
  • High levels of enthusiasm over almost everything.

Things we don’t like:

  • Emotionally labile; difficult to reason with.
  • Eats constantly.
  • Short attention span, requires a lot of entertainment.


Third graders rate 82.4 on our child rating scale.


Third graders have a beautiful, smooth out-of-focus blur as you can see from the multiple samples below. And since they’re constantly moving, this is important.


Here’s how much a third grader flares if you hold him up in direct sunlight, and over here is how distorted he looks in the corner.


Ken Rockwell

I’ve never actually had a third grader, but here’s what I think of them.


Here are crops of the corners of third graders, compared to corner crops of fourth graders.

Steve Huff

Here are amazing pictures of third graders that will make you want one.



Way Too Many Sites

Hey, somebody else reviewed this lens and here’s a screaming controversial extremist headline that says they concluded something that actually they just sort of hinted might be possible.



</end sarcasm>

OK, I’ve had my fun for today. In a couple of days, I’ll put up a post sharing how I use online reviews and tests when I’m deciding about a lens. A subtle hint here; that means I read a lot of reviewers and testers because they are showing lots of things about lenses that my testing doesn’t show, but that I want to know about.

Roger Cicala


Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

Posted in Humor and Sarcasm
  • There was no telling what thoughts would come from the machine.

  • dslr pundit

    Quite a post, with so many review websites it gets frustrated to be able to find dslr photography info we need. I personally haven’t been a fan of digitalrev ever.

  • Michael Clark

    Many of us remember it! But I like the coat hanger one better.

  • David Wegiel Jr

    We don’t want to see FroKnowsPhoto do the sniff test of the third grader

  • banpreso

    DigitalRev: this third grader did not survive soccer ball kick to the head, did not survive falling down stairs, and did not survive being lit on fire. better spend your money on a Gitzo.

    Lensrental: watch us open up and dissect this third grader and see what makes him tick. don’t worry, we won’t loose any parts and will put him through the optic bench before letting him go back to school.

    Fredmiranda: third grader shows unacceptable corner smear on my A7, i need the sensor stack modification.

    ebay: buy it now $3,000 (28 watching)

  • l_d_allan
  • You are one of the few who remember my favorite blog post ever 🙂

  • Mike Gordon

    This made me snort coffee through my nose laughing. 🙂

  • Mike Gordon


  • Caerolle

    I keep thinking of the hour-long video the Northrups would make…but I won’t go there.

  • Caerolle

    Thom looks like one seriously grumpy dude (pic on SansMirror site, at least). I would not want to be his third grader. And I bet he would have a LOT of things that god did wrong with the design of third graders, and OMG, CONTINUES to do wrong, in spite of all his attempts at telling god how to do them THE RIGHT WAY!!!!!

  • bdbender4

    Why didn’t you mention what hammers a third grader should use? Given the proclivity to smack their fingers, a 12oz would be best to start with. Only later should they progress to a 16oz, and there is really no need for 20oz unless you are a professional framer.

  • bdbender4

    Recently released CIPA figures show that as fertility decreases in developed nations, the market for third graders continues to decline. Yet N***n, with their heads buried deep in sophisticated engineering, are not aware of this trend and proceed merrily on their way as always.

  • grm070

    Kelby: I took my new Third Grader to the sidelines of the Panthers game, and I found a really neat trick you can do if you simultaneously hold his nose while pressing his belly button.

  • dragos

    You can clearly see that he was right in his predictions from last year: second graders passed into third grade. He has strong sources in the industry.

  • Edna Bambrick

    What!!!??? Nobody compared the 3rd grader to the Otus? What is this world coming to?

  • Thom Hogan:

    Here’s my predictions of what third graders will do in 2017…

    Here’s what I think third graders OUGHT to do in the next year or two…

    Here’s why, despite all the terrible quality control and lack of apparent direction, I’ll continue favoring third graders…

  • DigitalRev:
    “Let’s spend the entire video talking about hot chicks and birth control, and at the end just casually mention that if we had to pick, we’d rather adopt a fully grown adult instead of a third grader.”

    “Somewhere buried in this pile of disgusting clickbait trash is a highly un-qualified opinion about something vaguely related to photography, and absolutely zero worthwhile sample images or useful statements of fact.”

    SLR Lounge:
    “Third graders are like the Kardashian of youngsters. They sound like a great idea at first, and probably feel awesome in your hands, but at the end of the day you’ll hate yourself for spending that much money on one…”

    “I’m a landscape/portrait photographer, but let me tell you all about this piece of kit (that’s British for camera gear) that is a specialty tool mostly suited for portrait/landscape photography.”

    “Sit back and relax while I take 49 minutes to deliver 49 seconds worth of useful information.”

  • Mark Rustad

    Lloyd Chamber’s is often sent to the Guidance Office with warnings never to rat out 3rd Grade pretenders again…not to mention charge for the carnage his deep thought generates.

  • James Thomson

    Yes, the ones available now are all last years model. Wait for the new features and the reviews.

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