more pixels are better!

Started Dec 14, 2008 | Discussions thread
bobn2 Forum Pro • Posts: 72,009
Re: Arguing against photography

Iliah Borg wrote:

He is in fact arguing not against me, but against photographic use of
the image. Not an isolated attempt to isolate an issue or a parameter
to the point where it become totally irrelevant. Can't see forest for
a tree.

Deep and widening gap between photography practice (and photography
needs) and pixel peeping is very discouraging. Noise is one of the
parameters that are easiest to measure, may be even the easiest one
given current level of expertise of the peepers. Now that
calibrationists can't even make a decent shot of a brick wall to
compare resolution (and even less so - a decent shot of a decent
resolution target) all we hear is noise. Noise, dynamic range,
headroom in highlights is mostly all that we have here, and I'm yet
to see any dissertation comparing current status of raw converters
even in that regards, because needs for the output is totally
ignored. Quality of midtones - they are not interested to find ways
to describe and measure it. Plasticity of the image? - no. Same,
colour is ignored. Same, artefacts, like moire, maze, are not
evaluated. And even when they are discussing their pet peeve, noise,
very little practical advice can be gathered from those boring
discussions. Practical value of such discussions is dangerously close
to a zero.

That is the nature of the review industry as a whole, cameras or any other commodity. If I read a review of a motor cycle, it will tell me how much power it puts out, how fast it accelerates, how long it takes to stop,everything that is easily quantified. It doesn't tell me anything about the riding experience, which is subjective and endlessly debatable. Anyone with any sense will use the quantitative measure to help draw up a shortlist, and then make the final selection by testing each themselves, and reputable dealers will let you test both cameras and motorcycles to help along your decision. People who don't have access to such a dealer or don't want to pay the inevitable price premium will substitute personal experience for the proffered 'expert' view of the reviewer.

Where the problem comes is when these 'experts' start proffering views which are in contradiction to the science and the evidence, for instance if motorcycle reviewers suggested that making the brake pads out of cheese improved 'stopping quality', even though it was obvious that measured stopping distance was far worse. This happened in high end audio, where the reviewers started suggesting that the measurements were meaningless, and only their ears could determine good sound quality and I would contend that it is beginning to happen in photography also, with DPR being amongst the prime culprits (although their approach is more subtle, they selectively present bogus measurements to support their subjective opinions - leading the naive to believe that they are just choosing between alternative sciences).

So, while I fully support your contention that there is much, much, more to it than just the theory and easily quantified parameters of image quality, that theory and those parameters do form the baseline from which more subjective evaluation must build. In particular, if the subjective evaluation appears to tell you something different from the quantitative evaluation, you need to be fully cognisant of its subjectivity before extending it to a sweeping generalisation.

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