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
  • Les

    We should see a whole new crop of third graders around the time Photokina starts in September. I wouldn’t get one right now.

  • Ahahaha, awesome Roger, you just made my day 🙂

  • obican

    Roger from Lensrentals tested a third grader who has a Playstation made by Sony!

  • Eliana Cooper

    oww wow..nice post…i have a great news for you all if you are looking for the best Video Equipment Rental Washington DC then AV Universal
    is the place for you.

  • obican

    Photozone: Our first sample of thid grader had a decentering problem.

  • Lee


  • Lee

    This is gold.

  • obican

    Sony to release ninth grader (SR5)

  • Carl Eberhart

    Lensrentals has the nicest lens testing toys of them ALL though, do they not? It’s important to have a nice toy and know how to play with it. My nephews have taught me this over time. If you get bored with a toy, just buy another !!

  • obican

    Sony Alpha Rumors: Third grader comes in Sony E-Mount!! (SR-5)

  • Andy Seward

    Matt Granger –
    *points 3rd grader at semi-naked model

    “It’s not bad folks”

  • Alexander Mosquera

    Spot on!

  • J.M. Stearns

    So awesome

  • donpedro

    The Camera Store TV

    Chris: This third grader doesn’t have stabilization, so it’s a bit too twitchy for general use.
    Jordan: This third grader breathes too much. If they could get this third grader to stop breathing as much, it’d be perfect.

  • Christopher J. May

    Inquiring minds want to know if DigitalRev kicked their third grader down a set of stairs and then lit him on fire…

  • Kristian Wannebo

    So true!
    And I have sadly seen enough examples of such overinterpretation even in science, sigh ..

    The third grader you measured, eh.. photographed seems to have humor too.
    Good for him!

  • Ravi Bindra

    VisualScienceLab: When Ben was a third grader, he was an Otus.
    TheOnlinePhotograper: Dogs were never in third grade. At least Buttons not.
    Leica Forum: Do they make an Apo 3gLux or do they only come in ‘crons?
    APUG: They do best in Rodinol for 12 mins at 21C

  • cnccnc

    FroKnowsPhoto: I’ve had enough of Ken Rockwell’s opinion on third graders! He has never seen a third grader, doesn’t know anything about third graders and is dangerous to the knowledge of raising third graders!

  • H. Jones Photo

    Posts like this remind me why I’d never rent anywhere else. Always fantastic Roger.

  • Christopher J. May

    Thom has been urging for better communication with third graders for years and has repeatedly stated that they really should have a more thought out set of clothes (buzz buzz).

  • Paul Russell

    If only having a lens with twice the measured performance meant your average photographer would get photographs twice as good (or should that be four times as good, squared and all that?..)

  • Christopher J. May

    And now I must explain to my co-workers why I’m rolling on the floor guffawing. Well done, Roger.

  • Absolutely correct.

  • Agree, Sean, but there is some sample variation, too. 🙂

  • To be fair, we have taken a lot of pictures of third graders, and it can be interesting to see how they stack up against the third, fourth and fifth graders. Regardless of grade-level, there are definitely some sharp students out there. 🙂

  • Carleton Foxx

    You sir, are a genius.

  • I knew I was forgetting someone 🙂

  • kirbysdl

    Great article! Perhaps you’re going for subtlety, but I’d suggest the word “all” to drive the point home: “A single lens analysis is like measuring a third-grader and then publishing that all third-graders are 157 cm tall.”

    Also relevant:

  • Mat

    By any chance – do you know what Thom Hogan thinks about third-graders? I’m particularily interested whether it makes sense to take them to Botswana or Galapagos and who is making decisions in Japan for the future development of third-graders.

  • Hao Ye

    LOL. Sick burns all the way around. Keep it up! 🙂

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