Quality issues

Started Jan 13, 2005 | Discussions thread
Paul Grupp
Paul Grupp Veteran Member • Posts: 6,149
You're thinking far too narrowly


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.


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

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