Quality issues

Started Jan 13, 2005 | Discussions
Dirk Rieke-Zapp
New MemberPosts: 8
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Quality issues
Jan 13, 2005

I am wondering for a long time why consumers are still happy with the decline in image quality especially in digital cameras. 30 years ago the majority of people switched from rangefinder to SLR cameras. We gained more flexibility for the price of large distortion due to retrofocus wide angle lenses and ended up with bigger more expensive cameras. APS format died before it really started and now the mid range Digital SLR cameras are pushing through a APS format sensor as STANDARD- my DCS 1 had a sensor that size long long ago, no improvement here in 10 years. Even worse we are putting super retrofocus constructions infront of a camera that has a APS size chip, but use the mirror and light path of a 35mm camera - THIS IS STUPID. The earth starts curving in your images for no better reason but inferior optics or huge lens distorion. Olympus is right now the only camera system besides Kodak that sells full frame cameras only. The review about the E300 is wrong to state a 2x conversion factor, this camera gives 1:1 wide angle - still parallel light rays mean a retrofocus construction, but at least Olympus is honest. It apperas impossible for many people to think in any other standrad then 35mm, because they own 35mm equipment. The same group of people makes up the majority of camera buyers and since most of them own 35mm gear already it makes sense to keep the mount, but hey there is more than 35mm format...
Anyone rememebr the old Olympus Pen series, these guys like small formats.

Steven Lott
Contributing MemberPosts: 638
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Re: Quality issues
In reply to Dirk Rieke-Zapp, Jan 13, 2005

The world of Photography is full of compromise
if you want great DOF you must slow your shutter speed.

Canon makes a full frame digital camera as well

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Dirk Rieke-Zapp
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Re: Quality issues
In reply to Steven Lott, Jan 13, 2005

Canon makes a full frame digital camera as well

but only 1 and 3-4 with smaller sensors

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Paul Grupp
Veteran MemberPosts: 6,146
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You're thinking far too narrowly
In reply to Dirk Rieke-Zapp, Jan 13, 2005

Dirk,

I'm 47 years old, and have been a photographer since I was 5, so I think I'm qualified, at least as a consumer, to answer your question.

I think the error in your logic is you are thinking purely of the camera when you evaluate quality. But there are so many other variables in the equation. For example, the films we had back in the 40s, 50s. 60s and 70s were extremely primitive compared to film today, or digital today. Color in particular was garishly colored, oversaturated, and grainy. Doesn't matter how fine a camera you use -- if the film is cr*p, the image quality is cr*p.

Then look at the distribution media -- the quality of pictures that appeared in print. Same issues as above -- the reproduction quality in magazines and newspapers today is staggeringly better than what we saw in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Even things like how the wire services transmit pictures have improved markedly, resulting in pictures that make it through the processing and distribution change in much better shape than they did even 10 years ago.

Today, the average consumer taking pictures with a Canon Elph or a Nikon Coolpix or a Kodak digital gets pretty darn good results. Now compare them to the abysmal quality that came out of the cheap point and shoot 35mms amd roll film cameras of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, or better yet, the Brownies and the 110 cameras. 110 ruled as the family shooter in the late 60s and through the 70s, and the average camera phone produces similar results today.

In terms of the higher end digital you mention, I'm not sure it matters. I'll put the results from a Canon 1DMkII up against what comes out of a "full-frame" Nikon or Canon 35mm film SLR any time you like. Again, I think overall, image quality has gone UP since the advent of digital, not down.

Finally, consider the area of high ISO. I remember pushing both Tri-X and Ektachrome in the 70s, and the results were pretty grim. You could shoot at ISO 1200 back then, but the results were an ocean of huge grain, limited tonality, and with the Ektachrome, absolutely silly color. Now compare this to what comes out of the Canon 1D series at ISO 1600, and tell me that there hasn't been significant technical progress in raw image quality!

In short, you do yourself a disservice by isolating down to the single factor of sensor size. There are too many other variables impacting photographic image quality, and I think at both consumer and professional levels, we are all FAR better off today than we were 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

Regards,
Paul
http://www.bangbangphoto.com

Dirk Rieke-Zapp wrote:

I am wondering for a long time why consumers are still happy with
the decline in image quality especially in digital cameras. 30
years ago the majority of people switched from rangefinder to SLR
cameras. We gained more flexibility for the price of large
distortion due to retrofocus wide angle lenses and ended up with
bigger more expensive cameras. APS format died before it really
started and now the mid range Digital SLR cameras are pushing
through a APS format sensor as STANDARD- my DCS 1 had a sensor that
size long long ago, no improvement here in 10 years. Even worse we
are putting super retrofocus constructions infront of a camera that
has a APS size chip, but use the mirror and light path of a 35mm
camera - THIS IS STUPID. The earth starts curving in your images
for no better reason but inferior optics or huge lens distorion.
Olympus is right now the only camera system besides Kodak that
sells full frame cameras only. The review about the E300 is wrong
to state a 2x conversion factor, this camera gives 1:1 wide angle -
still parallel light rays mean a retrofocus construction, but at
least Olympus is honest. It apperas impossible for many people to
think in any other standrad then 35mm, because they own 35mm
equipment. The same group of people makes up the majority of
camera buyers and since most of them own 35mm gear already it makes
sense to keep the mount, but hey there is more than 35mm format...
Anyone rememebr the old Olympus Pen series, these guys like small
formats.

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cmyk
Regular MemberPosts: 105
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Re: We demand too little
In reply to Paul Grupp, Jan 13, 2005

I think the point is yes, we have 'better' equipment today than there was in the past. But is it that much better. Open to debate.

One thing is as consumers we do not demand vendors to produce better equipment. The sensors, well, are really junk overall. So are the lenses. Apologies on losing the link, but there was one posted a day or so ago on what NASA uses for their imagers. Right at 1MP. Big sensor. No flaws. Perfectly ground optics. Fantastic images. Even the old voyager pictures were only 800x800 with a color depth of 1-255 (640,000b/image). The difference is perfection.

Granted--this is all hand built, and when you ramp up production, flaws tend to creep in, as not as much attention can be given to each individual element. However, the technology remains and is is available today. We just need to demand more. Its not really about a pixel race or an image size. The end result is the pictures produced. The only way to better pictures is a better system (including optics and sensors and software and all of the bits and pieces).

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Skipper494
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Re: Quality issues
In reply to Dirk Rieke-Zapp, Jan 14, 2005

Dirk Rieke-Zapp wrote:

I am wondering for a long time why consumers are still happy with
the decline in image quality especially in digital cameras.

What decline? Our S2 Pro takes fabulous shots. Our 1999 MX600Z still does its job perfectly. Practically all digitals are capable of great 8 x 10s, though most people want only 6 x 4, so where's the problem? Perhaps you should try a Box Brownie and see what it really used to be like.
Skipper494.

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MikeDitz
Contributing MemberPosts: 941
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Re: We demand too little
In reply to cmyk, Jan 14, 2005

cmyk wrote:

One thing is as consumers we do not demand vendors to produce
better equipment. The sensors, well, are really junk overall. So
are the lenses.

Could you please expand on this theory?

All sensors?
All lenses?

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cmyk
Regular MemberPosts: 105
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Re: We demand too little
In reply to MikeDitz, Jan 14, 2005

MikeDitz wrote:

cmyk wrote:

One thing is as consumers we do not demand vendors to produce
better equipment. The sensors, well, are really junk overall. So
are the lenses.

Could you please expand on this theory?

All sensors?
All lenses?

All lenses...all sensors. What we buy--even 'pro' equipment is mass producted to some extent, so there are inherent compromises in quality. Same goes for the silicon--and how the imager is not only optimized but manufactured. We as consumers--the one's giving the vendors the profit--need to get together and send home the message to make better products (not the somewhat incremental improvements that we see today).

Here is the link I was referring to... (NOTE: I did not find the original one, but it was posted by someone else here on DPR, but was easier to fish out of my browser history than find the message here)....

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/pancam_techwed_040114.html

All of the space pictures you see, especially from the early days of voyager were all 800x800 pixels by 255 color depth (everything grey scale), but looks like today's sensors are slightly bigger.

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stephenmelvin
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Three years too late?
In reply to Dirk Rieke-Zapp, Jan 14, 2005

This reads like it was written in 2001 or so, because it's hopelessly out of date.

Dirk Rieke-Zapp wrote:

I am wondering for a long time why consumers are still happy with
the decline in image quality especially in digital cameras.

Digital cameras are improving at a dramatic rate.

30 years ago the majority of people switched from rangefinder to SLR

cameras. We gained more flexibility for the price of large
distortion due to retrofocus wide angle lenses and ended up with
bigger more expensive cameras.

Modern retrofocus lenses have remarkably little distortion. What are you talking about?

APS format died before it really

started and now the mid range Digital SLR cameras are pushing
through a APS format sensor as STANDARD- my DCS 1 had a sensor that
size long long ago, no improvement here in 10 years.

Silicon is still expensive, so if you want an affordable dSLR, cutting down the size of the silicon is the only way to do it.

Even worse we

are putting super retrofocus constructions infront of a camera that
has a APS size chip, but use the mirror and light path of a 35mm
camera - THIS IS STUPID. The earth starts curving in your images
for no better reason but inferior optics or huge lens distorion.

HUGE lens distortion? Again, what are you talking about? Conventional optics are simpler to make, but I hardly think a lens such as the 40mm Zeiss Distagon on a Hasselblad suffers from huge distortion.

Olympus is right now the only camera system besides Kodak that
sells full frame cameras only.

The sensor is smaller than APS size. What is your point here?

The review about the E300 is wrong

to state a 2x conversion factor, this camera gives 1:1 wide angle -
still parallel light rays mean a retrofocus construction, but at
least Olympus is honest.

1:1 wide angle? Do you mean macro performance? This makes no sense to me.

It apperas impossible for many people to

think in any other standrad then 35mm, because they own 35mm
equipment. The same group of people makes up the majority of
camera buyers and since most of them own 35mm gear already it makes
sense to keep the mount, but hey there is more than 35mm format...
Anyone rememebr the old Olympus Pen series, these guys like small
formats.

So you're complaining because the sensors are too big, or too small? It's hard to follow your train of thought here. I think a comparison of the print quality from a modern dSLR, such as a Canon 20D, to any 35mm film camera at, say, a 20X enlargement will put to rest your quibbles with image quality.

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RogM
Senior MemberPosts: 2,289
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I see this all quite differently..
In reply to Dirk Rieke-Zapp, Jan 14, 2005

Having been involved in photography for well over 40 years, my perspective on this is quite different. In the 50's and 60's we had box and folding cameras that rendered relatively fine images, but as manufacturers sought to cheapen the cameras and lessen the film costs, negative sizes shrunk from postcard-sized to postage-stamp size and even to sizes considerably smaller, with quality suffering all the way. Quality to me at least seemed to be something the American consumer had completely forgotten--only a memory recalled when thumbing through old dusty family photo albums.

With the advent of digital we have seen a complete reversal of this trend, with higher resolution sensors pushing quality standards higher with each generation of cameras. In fact, public expectations for image quality seem to me higher than they have ever been.
-RogM

Dirk Rieke-Zapp wrote:

I am wondering for a long time why consumers are still happy with
the decline in image quality especially in digital cameras. 30
years ago the majority of people switched from rangefinder to SLR
cameras. We gained more flexibility for the price of large
distortion due to retrofocus wide angle lenses and ended up with
bigger more expensive cameras. APS format died before it really
started and now the mid range Digital SLR cameras are pushing
through a APS format sensor as STANDARD- my DCS 1 had a sensor that
size long long ago, no improvement here in 10 years. Even worse we
are putting super retrofocus constructions infront of a camera that
has a APS size chip, but use the mirror and light path of a 35mm
camera - THIS IS STUPID. The earth starts curving in your images
for no better reason but inferior optics or huge lens distorion.
Olympus is right now the only camera system besides Kodak that
sells full frame cameras only. The review about the E300 is wrong
to state a 2x conversion factor, this camera gives 1:1 wide angle -
still parallel light rays mean a retrofocus construction, but at
least Olympus is honest. It apperas impossible for many people to
think in any other standrad then 35mm, because they own 35mm
equipment. The same group of people makes up the majority of
camera buyers and since most of them own 35mm gear already it makes
sense to keep the mount, but hey there is more than 35mm format...
Anyone rememebr the old Olympus Pen series, these guys like small
formats.

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thebardteacher
Regular MemberPosts: 337
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Re: Quality issues
In reply to Dirk Rieke-Zapp, Jan 14, 2005

Dirk,

Your statements are really unbelievable. The opposite of what you state most of your post is actually true. Comparing similar sensor/film sizes, the digital revolution has improved the sharpness, tonality and color saturation, while allowing large prints to be made at a fraction of the cost. Lens technology has improved greatly and today's lenses can do more, are faster, lighter, more distortion free, many have image stabilization, and are cheaper than comparative lenses 20-30 years ago. The great competition amongst the camera manufacturers is giving us camera technology that is improving at a rate comparable to Moore's Law in computers.

Far from being stupid, the camera companies were smart to allow their current SLR users to retain their same lenses, without sacrificing quality. The new 4/3 design set forth by Olympus is qualitatively inferior (mostly in the noise arena) to the APS size and the full frame size sensors, especially considering the improvements in CMOS technology relative to CCD technology. I don't blame Olympus for attempting to garner its share of the market by coming up with something inovative, but the size of their chip is just smaller and about eighteen months to two years behind in development.

We are living in a Golden Age of photography. Your post makes it sound like we are regressing or something. However the results and the amount of pros who are getting better than ever performance from their equipment differ sharply with your assumption.

Ciao,

Don

Dirk Rieke-Zapp wrote:

I am wondering for a long time why consumers are still happy with
the decline in image quality especially in digital cameras. 30
years ago the majority of people switched from rangefinder to SLR
cameras. We gained more flexibility for the price of large
distortion due to retrofocus wide angle lenses and ended up with
bigger more expensive cameras. APS format died before it really
started and now the mid range Digital SLR cameras are pushing
through a APS format sensor as STANDARD- my DCS 1 had a sensor that
size long long ago, no improvement here in 10 years. Even worse we
are putting super retrofocus constructions infront of a camera that
has a APS size chip, but use the mirror and light path of a 35mm
camera - THIS IS STUPID. The earth starts curving in your images
for no better reason but inferior optics or huge lens distorion.
Olympus is right now the only camera system besides Kodak that
sells full frame cameras only. The review about the E300 is wrong
to state a 2x conversion factor, this camera gives 1:1 wide angle -
still parallel light rays mean a retrofocus construction, but at
least Olympus is honest. It apperas impossible for many people to
think in any other standrad then 35mm, because they own 35mm
equipment. The same group of people makes up the majority of
camera buyers and since most of them own 35mm gear already it makes
sense to keep the mount, but hey there is more than 35mm format...
Anyone rememebr the old Olympus Pen series, these guys like small
formats.

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Jean Valentin
Senior MemberPosts: 1,294
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Cost
In reply to cmyk, Jan 14, 2005

cmyk wrote:

One thing is as consumers we do not demand vendors to produce
better equipment. The sensors, well, are really junk overall. So
are the lenses. Apologies on losing the link, but there was one
posted a day or so ago on what NASA uses for their imagers. Right
at 1MP. Big sensor. No flaws. Perfectly ground optics. Fantastic
images. Even the old voyager pictures were only 800x800 with a
color depth of 1-255 (640,000b/image). The difference is perfection.

Can you afford that camera? I doubt it.

There will always be a compromise betweein price and quality.

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Regards,
Val

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