Pixel peeping. How far?

Started Nov 4, 2012 | Discussions thread
jpdenk Contributing Member • Posts: 819
Re: Pixel peeping. How far?

I feel that "image quality" is different things to different people. If you're someone who wants to make needle-sharp, highly detailed, huge prints, then pixel count is extremely important.

I'm a sharpness nut, so I want to ideally see needle-sharp images, fine detail and no noise when viewed at 100% on my laptop running at 1366 x 768 or maybe bigger than 100% if I'm viewing on my desktop computer that's running at 1,600 x 1,200. Monitor resolution has a lot to do with what we see when viewing at 100%, as the lower the resolution, the uglier things look at full resolution.

If I'm shooting my beloved nature stuff, I'm willing to accept a little bit of noise (not much though) if the image is really sharp. I strongly dislike what happens with loss of fine detail at higher ISO's as a result of noise reduction, so I'm not a fan of really high resolutions on APS-C sensors, as I feel that I can see loss of fine detail on those models when you start turning the ISO up. I also have issues with diffraction softening being more of an issue at higher pixel counts.

Given my tastes, I feel that the 12MP of my current D90 is all I need, at least for now. IMO, going beyond 12MP on APS-C sees increasingly diminishing returns as the resolution goes up. I'd consider a D7000 for its features and its performance at low ISO's, but looking at its test results here on DPReview, I feel that I can see significant (for my tastes) loss of fine detail from noise reduction by ISO 800, so I'd stay at ISO 400 or lower with it if I'm needing big prints. For small prints (8X10 or smaller), then I wouldn't hesitate to crank up the ISO on the D7000 though.

I often need to stop down to the f/16-f/22 range for macro/closeup work, and higher resolution bodies can make diffraction softening more of an issue when stopped down that small, so that would be an issue with higher-res bodies as far as I'm concerned, although the diffraction vs. resolution tradeoff can sometimes be of little importance depending on the situation. See http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/diffraction-photography.htm for details.

So that's an idea of what I consider to be image quality issues, but others will have totally different issues and may consider the things I feel to be important are non-issues for them.


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