Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?

Started May 19, 2012 | Discussions
Najinsky
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Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
May 19, 2012

Rumours are hotting up that Apple will begin using retina displays in new Macs, and the rumour sites have shown that developer builds of Mountain Lion include higher resolution Icons in support of this.

For those who aren't familiar with the term, a 'retina' display is a display where the pixel density is so high that individual pixels are indistinguishable at normal viewing distance.

This has implications for photographers, as shown by the recent mis-understandings surrounding the Retina iPad. Assuming Mac Retina displays double the resolution:

  • In order for images to occupy the same area, they need to be four times the size (twice as high, twice as wide).

  • Four times the size means four times the memory and processing power needed to handle them.

  • So Aperture screen sized previews will need to be 4 times bigger, taking up much more space.

  • Ditto for Aperture Thumbnails.

  • Older images, especially on your photo websites, will either appear at 1/4 of their current size, or will need to be scaled up by the browser, possibly impacting display quality.

  • New retina sized photos you load to your website (assuming websites support larger files) will look huge for visitors with non-retina displays, or will need to be scaled down by the browser, again potentially impacting quality. There is also a bandwidth implication.

  • Any retina sized photos you load to your website will be of sufficient quality that they could be stolen for printing and used without your knowledge.

  • And obviously, if individual pixels are indistinguishable at normal viewing distance, pixel peeping will only be possible using a > 100% zoom feature.

The web industry is aware that retina style displays have begun, and technologies are being explored to help make the transition smooth, at least for those sites being actively maintained by knowledgeable developers, but there will also be some carnage and as Apple seem likely to be the pioneer here, expect a new level of Battle Royale in the Mac v PC chimps tea party.

-Najinsky

Jen Yates
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Najinsky, May 19, 2012

Najinsky wrote:

Rumours are hotting up that Apple will begin using retina displays in new Macs, and the rumour sites have shown that developer builds of Mountain Lion include higher resolution Icons in support of this.

For those who aren't familiar with the term, a 'retina' display is a display where the pixel density is so high that individual pixels are indistinguishable at normal viewing distance.

This has implications for photographers, as shown by the recent mis-understandings surrounding the Retina iPad. Assuming Mac Retina displays double the resolution:

  • In order for images to occupy the same area, they need to be four times the size (twice as high, twice as wide).

Correct

  • Four times the size means four times the memory and processing power needed to handle them.

Not always correct. There isn't a direct 1:1 relationship between pixels and processing time. It varies depending on the operation being performed.

  • So Aperture screen sized previews will need to be 4 times bigger, taking up much more space.

Correct.

  • Ditto for Aperture Thumbnails.

Correct.

  • Older images, especially on your photo websites, will either appear at 1/4 of their current size,

Not correct, most images are embedded at a certain size.

or will need to be scaled up by the browser, possibly impacting display quality.

Correct.

  • New retina sized photos you load to your website (assuming websites support larger files) will look huge for visitors with non-retina displays,

Not correct.

or will need to be scaled down by the browser, again potentially impacting quality. There is also a bandwidth implication.

Correct, Debatable and correct.

  • Any retina sized photos you load to your website will be of sufficient quality that they could be stolen for printing and used without your knowledge.

It's up to the individual to decide on the quality, size and watermark of their own images. It always has been.

  • And obviously, if individual pixels are indistinguishable at normal viewing distance, pixel peeping will only be possible using a > 100% zoom feature.

I'm getting bored now.

The web industry is aware that retina style displays have begun, and technologies are being explored to help make the transition smooth, at least for those sites being actively maintained by knowledgeable developers, but there will also be some carnage and as Apple seem likely to be the pioneer here, expect a new level of Battle Royale in the Mac v PC chimps tea party.

That does it, now I'm really really bored of you trying to scare people. Carnage? Battle Royale? Really???

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Miquel Mola
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Najinsky, May 19, 2012

I am under the impression that you think that nowadays when you fill the screen with a photo all the pixels of the photo file are being used. That is NOT the truth.

Currently I have a K10, which has less than 11 MP, and yet filling the screen of my i24 inches iMac uses approximately 50% of the pixels; some times I go for 100% view and then the screen show only a fourth of the photo.

In other words; in my case if I were to buy one of the rumored new iMac with Retina display I still would see the screen filled with the (nowadays meager) 11Mp of my camera.

If the screen size is smaller than 24 inches or the camera sensor has a larger capacity (quite likely) the problem is even more remote.

M. Mola

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Marco S Hyman
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Jen Yates, May 19, 2012

Jen Yates wrote:

Najinsky wrote:

  • Older images, especially on your photo websites, will either appear at 1/4 of their current size,

Not correct, most images are embedded at a certain size.

May be correct. It depends upon the meaning of the word "size". If you mean "number of pixels" then the size will remain the same. If you mean "inches (or mm) of screen real estate" than it depends upon the DPI of the screen (and has nothing to do with any DPI label that happens to be in the image metadata". A 1024 pixel wide image will take up over 10 inches in a 100 DPI screen but only a bit more than 5" on a 200 DPI screen. That may have a negative impact upon the look of some web pages.

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Edvinas
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Marco S Hyman, May 21, 2012

Marco S Hyman wrote:

May be correct. It depends upon the meaning of the word "size". If you mean "number of pixels" then the size will remain the same. If you mean "inches (or mm) of screen real estate" than it depends upon the DPI of the screen (and has nothing to do with any DPI label that happens to be in the image metadata". A 1024 pixel wide image will take up over 10 inches in a 100 DPI screen but only a bit more than 5" on a 200 DPI screen. That may have a negative impact upon the look of some web pages.

Then we will be able to detect bad made websites

Correctly designed website should not rely on sizes specified by pixels - in HTML there are units, which are independent from both screen dpi and resolution.

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Najinsky
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Miquel Mola, May 21, 2012

Miquel Mola wrote:

I am under the impression that you think that nowadays when you fill the screen with a photo all the pixels of the photo file are being used. That is NOT the truth.

I am under a lot of impressions but that is not one of them.

I'm not referring to your original photos, I'm talking about how those images get used for display via different workflows. For example, many in this forum use iPhoto, Aperture or Lightroom. All three of those Apps create multiple copies (mostly called thumbnails and previews, but other names are used too) which are optimised for displaying quickly, especially when you are scrolling through collections containing thousands of images.

Also the most common size for web images is 800 or 1024 pixels wide, because they can be viewed at a reasonable size on a wide range of screens. But as screen widths of 2800+ pixels become more commonplace, images at 800 or 1024 will look tiny and will either need to be scaled, or replaced with higher resolution versions.

I just moved from iPad 2 to the new iPad, and my iPad optimised images (versions of my images I create for viewing on the iPad) are now 12MP up from 3MP on the iPad2.

They look fantastic (absolutely stunning) but at a cost of 4 times the space.

-Najinsky

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Najinsky
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Jen Yates, May 21, 2012

Jen Yates wrote:

That does it, now I'm really really bored of you trying to scare people. Carnage? Battle Royale? Really???

Helping people understand the implications of emerging technologies is not intended to scare them. Just prepare them for those coming changes.

There have been plenty of threads here and in the tablet forums where people use technical confusion (and FUD) to attack Apple to try to spread the misinformation. I've participated in several and have seen it first hand. I predict with extreme confidence we will see the same sort of mis-understanding exploited again by these people. It's what they do when they're bored, or working.

Having now seen first hand how superior the new iPad's screen is to any competitor, I find it a little sad that such a useful (for photographers) innovation is being mis-represented.

In order to get the best out of it I have had to recreate my viewing sized images, and people may choose to do the same with images they share via websites. Advanced warning can surely only be a benefit.

Najinsky wrote:

  • Four times the size means four times the memory and processing power needed to handle them.

Not always correct. There isn't a direct 1:1 relationship between pixels and processing time. It varies depending on the operation being performed.

Not really. The in memory structures used to hold image data are directly related to resolution and bit depth (baring some small header overheads). And most processing of that memory structure is linear (for a given operation).

It may also have a special importance to Aperture users (perhaps Lightroom too) in that previews and thumbnails are updated when adjustments are made, and these updates will take longer which can impact the responsiveness of the UI (currently an issue on slower hardware that leads some users to turn off automatic previews). Obviously any extra processing power the new machines also get will help offset this, but it's unlikely new machines will be 4 x more powerful. However, until we see the new machines, and to some degree a new version of Aperture, it's not worth stressing over.

-Najinsky

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Jen Yates
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Marco S Hyman, May 21, 2012

Marco S Hyman wrote:

May be correct. It depends upon the meaning of the word "size". If you mean "number of pixels" then the size will remain the same. If you mean "inches (or mm) of screen real estate" than it depends upon the DPI of the screen (and has nothing to do with any DPI label that happens to be in the image metadata". A 1024 pixel wide image will take up over 10 inches in a 100 DPI screen but only a bit more than 5" on a 200 DPI screen. That may have a negative impact upon the look of some web pages.

Have you used OSX's HiDPI mode? Are you familiar with how Apple have handled Retina images in iOS? Are you familiar with what web developers have to do to get their images to display correctly on Retina and 'normal' displays?

If not get yourself an iPad 3, a copy of Air Display, enable HiDPI mode and do some experimenting.

Only once you've done this will you understand that your warnings are little more than unwarranted scaremongering... and a bit factually incorrect.

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pluton
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Najinsky, May 21, 2012

You can obviate the whole issue by obtaining a good color-correct external monitor...which you'll probably want to do anyway. It is very likely that the Retina Displays supplied by Apple will have the same poor color/tonal accuracy(for photo editing work) as their current displays.
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Najinsky
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to pluton, May 21, 2012

pluton wrote:

You can obviate the whole issue by obtaining a good color-correct external monitor...which you'll probably want to do anyway. It is very likely that the Retina Displays supplied by Apple will have the same poor color/tonal accuracy(for photo editing work) as their current displays.

http://www.displaymate.com/iPad_ShootOut_1.htm

"Apple has taken the very good display on the iPad 2 and dramatically improved two of its major weak points: sharpness and color saturation – they are now state-of-the-art. Our lab tests and visual tests agree with Apple’s claim that the new iPad has “the best display ever on a mobile device” so we have awarded the new iPad the Best Mobile Display Award in DisplayMate’s Best Video Hardware Guide.

But there’s more… the new iPad’s picture quality, color accuracy, and gray scale are not only much better than any other Tablet or Smartphone, it’s also much better than most HDTVs, laptops, and monitors. In fact with some minor calibration tweaks the new iPad would qualify as a studio reference monitor.
"

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Edvinas
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Jen Yates, May 21, 2012

Jen Yates wrote:

Have you used OSX's HiDPI mode? Are you familiar with how Apple have handled Retina images in iOS? Are you familiar with what web developers have to do to get their images to display correctly on Retina and 'normal' displays?

Well, apple did some, let's say, tricks in their Webkit engine in iOS. They do not follow picture sizes set in pixels.

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probert500
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to pluton, May 21, 2012

pluton wrote:

You can obviate the whole issue by obtaining a good color-correct external monitor...which you'll probably want to do anyway. It is very likely that the Retina Displays supplied by Apple will have the same poor color/tonal accuracy(for photo editing work) as their current displays.
--
-KB-

Apple uses some of the best s-ipspanels available on their imacs. Their laptop screens are on par with the best in that niche.

I'm not sure where you're coming from on this. They may not have the most comprehensive OSDs but that has nothing to do with the panel quality. Any panel you get will need careful calibration depending on your usage so that's a given.

If you're using a laptop screen for critical work that would certainly be a mistake.

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Najinsky
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Jen Yates, May 22, 2012

Jen Yates wrote:

Have you used OSX's HiDPI mode? Are you familiar with how Apple have handled Retina images in iOS? Are you familiar with what web developers have to do to get their images to display correctly on Retina and 'normal' displays?

If not get yourself an iPad 3, a copy of Air Display, enable HiDPI mode and do some experimenting.

Only once you've done this will you understand that your warnings are little more than unwarranted scaremongering... and a bit factually incorrect.

Not sure where you're wandering with all that. We were discussing websites on this point. What Apple do at apple.com is:

1) In the parent container they specify data-hires="true"

2) In Javascript, implement an image replacer which tries to detect if it isn't needed.

3) The low res image is download as part of normal page loading

4) If needed, the Javascript checks for an equivalent resource (same name but ending _2x), and if available it downloads it and replaces the low res version.

In other words for their images they have two versions, an original, and a high res one four times the size (like wot I sed). Apples site is a little inefficient in that it downloads both the low res and the hi res, but that was probably just for the new iPad launch to make sure they could show some hi res content.

The take away for users, is when retina style display become common, you might want to create higher resolution web images if you want them to appear the same size on screen using a higher quality DPI.

-Najinsky

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Edvinas
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Najinsky, May 22, 2012

Najinsky wrote:

The take away for users, is when retina style display become common, you might want to create higher resolution web images if you want them to appear the same size on screen using a higher quality DPI.

No, web browsers will resize them automatically.

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Edvinas
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Edvinas, May 22, 2012

Disregard my previous post.

I did not realize that HTML pixel isn't the pixel of the monitor

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Najinsky
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Edvinas, May 22, 2012

Edvinas wrote:

Najinsky wrote:

The take away for users, is when retina style display become common, you might want to create higher resolution web images if you want them to appear the same size on screen using a higher quality DPI .

No, web browsers will resize them automatically.

It's a miracle! The megapixel war is over!

-Najinsky

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Edvinas
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Najinsky, May 22, 2012

Najinsky wrote:

It's a miracle! The megapixel war is over!

Why is this sarcasm?

Those lower resolution pictures will not be as good quality as hi-res pictures, however they will appear the same size on both regular and HiDPI screens.

You don't specify image size in device pixels, HTML pixel is 1/96 of inch.

If you want, I can code HTML for you with hi and low res pictures in it and you'll see that they are going to be the same size. Both on low and on high DPI devices.

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Najinsky
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Edvinas, May 22, 2012

Edvinas wrote:

Najinsky wrote:

It's a miracle! The megapixel war is over!

Why is this sarcasm?

Those lower resolution pictures will not be as good quality as hi-res pictures, however they will appear the same size on both regular and HiDPI screens.

You don't specify image size in device pixels, HTML pixel is 1/96 of inch.

If you want, I can code HTML for you with hi and low res pictures in it and you'll see that they are going to be the same size. Both on low and on high DPI devices.

What I originally wrote was:

Older images, especially on your photo websites, will either appear at 1/4 of their current size, or will need to be scaled up by the browser, possibly impacting display quality.

In other words, referring to Websites and EITHER / OR .

For whatever reason, Jen decided to split it and take it out of context. Yes, the better written (and even mediocre) websites frame images in a proportional context relative to the page, but it hasn't always been and still isn't always the case. Hence either/or.

Also, there are no retina display computers at the moment, I'm projecting ahead based on the rumoured retina displays, and the Mountain Lion artwork which is 4 times the size.

Further, the only current retina browsers are for the iPad (webkit based), which are scaling browsers because they have a fixed window size. Desktop browsers don't work this way (by default) because the user (and browser) can control the window size. A browser designed to run on both standard resolution and retina (computer) displays will need to make decisions about how to display low res sites sensibly on a retina display. Regardless of how they go about that, if you want your photos to display in the best possible quality on retina displays, you are going to need to host higher resolution images on the website. That's all I was saying.

-Najinsky

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Marco S Hyman
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Jen Yates, May 25, 2012

Only once you've done this will you understand that your warnings are little more than unwarranted scaremongering... and a bit factually incorrect.

What scare mongering? Stating that an image that is x pixels wide will display at different widths depending upon the dpi of the output device is scare mongering?

Of course the application can always increase or decrease the size. I see that as separate. When I'm using an image editor, for example, and I hit the key that is supposed to give me a 100% "full crop" view the size of that view (in inches or mm of screen space) will depend upon the DPI of the viewing device. That is not scare mongering. That is how it works.

I suppose apple tweaking their icons to look good on hidpi devices is scare mongering, too.

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Najinsky
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Re: Retina displays, theft, and the death of pixel peeping?
In reply to Marco S Hyman, May 26, 2012

Marco S Hyman wrote:

Only once you've done this will you understand that your warnings are little more than unwarranted scaremongering... and a bit factually incorrect.

What scare mongering? Stating that an image that is x pixels wide will display at different widths depending upon the dpi of the output device is scare mongering?

Of course the application can always increase or decrease the size. I see that as separate. When I'm using an image editor, for example, and I hit the key that is supposed to give me a 100% "full crop" view the size of that view (in inches or mm of screen space) will depend upon the DPI of the viewing device. That is not scare mongering. That is how it works.

I suppose apple tweaking their icons to look good on hidpi devices is scare mongering, too.

I think Jen is picking up on resolution independence which will take care of the size things are displayed at.

However, this is really only a side issue because first, RI/HiDPI is optional, users can choose real estate over rendering size/quality, second, not everyone will be viewing using RI capable OS's, and third, when RI is in use, your photographs will be scaled, creating jaggies, unless you supply high resolution versions of your images, like Mountain Lion is doing.

All I said is low res images will either be displayed small or scaled.

I respect Jens opinions, but on this point, I don't think there is an argument to be made.

It's also an unknown how websites will handle this. They will need to distinguish between hiDPI small images and 'loDPI' large images, both of which could be the same physical resolution.

-Najinsky

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