Driving Miss Digital

The Eye Checkup

In a town where everyone’s eyes were on you, it was strange that there was only one eye doctor. His name was Dr. Optoglass, and he was horizontally challenged.

And Dr. Optoglass was also very busy. So busy that he had five nurses with ten eyes and 20/20 vision keeping an eye on his patients. Two hours went by in excruciating detail before Bob and his father were honored with the doctor’s undivided four-eyed attention.
The Snellen Chart

“Ah, you’ll need glasses now, Paul,” the fat doctor whispered in his raspy voice.

“I was hoping to avoid it. Damn those cheap viewfinders.”

“You already have three lenses between you and the world, another one won’t hurt.”

Bob always found eye tests strange. He hated reading the same letters he had been reading for the last ten years. But with his father watching him, he decided to play good boy. Dr. Optoglass wasn’t impressed,

“Good job, Bob. But now I’m going to have to use eye drops.”

Bob hated eye drops more than he hated reading the eye chart. But how did the doctor know he had just repeated the last line from memory?

The mirror. The damn mirror. “It was the mirror, right?”

Dr. Optoglass took a deep breath, which took a full minute to fill his lung bags. The others waited with bated breath. There was only enough air for one large person.

Paul responded first: “Good thinking, doctor. It definitely makes your room look bigger.”

“That’s not why it’s there. The test chart is ten feet from where you are sitting. The mirror makes it twenty.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

“So your eyes are roughly focusing on infinity.”

“Just like the infinity focus on a camera lens?”

“Exactly like that. The mirror reduces the rent.”

“And what do you need infinity focus for?”

“I’m sure in your line of work you take great pains to ensure a lens can focus at infinity. People need that too.”

Bob just had to blurt out: “Is this also true of digital systems?”

“Bob!” His father was shocked. “Where did you hear about digital systems? Was it Professor Sampler?”

“He told me to stay away from digital systems.”

“And you should,” replied Dr. Optoglass. But he was watching Bob closely. “It’s true of any system, Bob, including your eyes, which are pure analog I assure you. Digital cannot exist without analog.”

“I think Dr. Optoglass is very busy, and we’ve taken up enough time, Bob. Once I’ve got my glasses made everything will be sharp again.”

“Doctor, what makes something sharp?”

“That’s enough, Bob.” Paul stood up. “All things are sharp. Our eye just has to focus to see it like it is, right doctor?”

Dr. Optoglass coughed. “Not exactly.”

“Oh, I’m sure there are scientific reasons that we videographers don’t need to know. Let’s go, Bob.”

At that instant a nurse steps in, as if on cue.

“A few more minutes, nurse. Thank you.” She looks surprised, but knows better than to question her boss. She quietly disappears.

Dr. Optoglass cleared his throat. “Have a seat, Paul. I think I can clear up a few misconceptions you lensmen have.”

Next: Defining Sharpness
Previous: The Challenge