What is Image Quality? What is a high quality image?

Started Jan 8, 2014 | Discussions thread
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What is Image Quality? What is a high quality image?
Jan 8, 2014

Loads of threads contain the term "image quality".

While quality alone is easy to understand as "degree of fulfillment of requirements" the combination is used in strange ways most of the time.

So I would like to ask which attributes make a high quality picture for you? And how important are they to you? What are your requirements?

I start off with my own little opinion:

Good image quality to me is a photo that makes my day a little nicer or richer.

Important attributes:

  1. First and foremost: the subject and the moment captured
  2. reminds me of good things
  3. makes me smile
  4. tells a story
  5. If a person is part of the subject: not just someone (even famous), but someone I know personally and like
  6. visually impressive (not technically) by using great or unusual viewing angles, perspectives etc.
  7. no or little postprocessing applied / "natural look"
  8. mostly: not obviously staged or in-studio (if not really artsy)
  9. okish sharpness for screen viewing at typical distance
  10. avoiding "cheapo" standard effects (Instagram; ultrashallow DoF portraits; anything where the background is completely uniform or blurred beyond recognition; toylens/tilt/shift effects, cat/dog/baby/wedding/car pictures; ooC JPG vibrant colors; b/w pictures; anything you get in the billions from any Joe Plumber)
  11. avoiding light reflections in the eyes which suggest artificial light / flash equipment was used (worst: multiple reflections); pictures with obvious flash use (e.g. very light portraits in front of dark backgrounds)

Nice-to-have attributes:

  1. soft bokeh
  2. very good center of attention sharpness
  3. tonality
  4. contrast

Nearly irrelevant attributes:

  1. degree of CAs
  2. form of bokeh highlights
  3. non-massive distortion
  4. coma
  5. noise
  6. pixelcount in excess of 8 MPx
  7. corner sharpness

Yes, to me a blurry, noise smartphone picture can be one that has a lot more picture quality than that PhaseOne professional star portrait which makes me yawn.

This is a very personal opinion question and is not intended to find any "truth" as everyone is free to enjoy other things. Every opinion is true and none is better than the other.

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