Sharpness, resolution and (micro) contrast

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fferreres Senior Member • Posts: 1,883
Sharpness, resolution and (micro) contrast

I was researching some else and came upon a few Zeiss references, from 1960s to 2017.

The first such is a 1960s article that argues that higher resolution is not a good indicator of image quality, and that generally a most important factor will be at what distance or magnification it will be appreciated. It’s a very simple article but ultimately it argues a better image should have higher contrast around the smallest detail you can notice. Any additional resolution shouldn’t matter much, and the way the lens and sensor (film) render it May be even more important than resolution.

http://www.zeisscamera.com/doc_ResContrast.shtml

A second one, from 2017, featured Dr. Bertram Hönlinger. He talks about focus, and what makes an image seem better. In summary, it’s the resolution and at the same time the contrast...or rather the MICRO CONTRAST, where if it is low, your still have resolution, but not lol sharp or clean.

High micro contrast -> appears sharp and clean

Low micro contrast -> ?

“If I can recognize finer details in an image, such as skin textures in a portrait, the image appears clear to me – but only if the second factor also comes into play: the contrast – or, more specifically, the micro contrast. The details will then be visible, but with just a low contrast between the light and dark structures I will see an image as not being completely sharp, despite the high resolution.”

https://lenspire.zeiss.com/photo/en/article/focus-demands-resolution-and-contrast

Combining the two articles, one from over 50 years ago, and one 2 years old, seems they have always favored image rendition over pure resolution and the idea that high micro contrast is desirable so long as it can be appreciated, for an image to look clear and in focus, sharp. Of course, that level of detail may also be undesirable for example in portrait where at lower frequencies we might want high contrast, but lower at higher frequency to not emphasis pored, etc.

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