DSLR v Consumer Image quality

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by oink, Feb 22, 2005.

  1. oink

    Stacey Guest

    I shot a picture of one of my Dad's roses with a 2MP nikon 2100 P&S and made
    him an 8X10 print for him since it came out pretty good. I never intended
    to make prints this large from this camera, bought it for taking Ebay
    snaps. He loves the picture and has it hanging in his den. I'm sure the
    pixel peepers would have said it was "junk" and would never have even
    printed it looking at 100% on screen crops. It isn't the most detailed
    floral shot I've ever seen, but it is a nice looking photograph, more to do
    with that I caught it in the right light rather than the technical specs of
    the camera.
    Stacey, Feb 26, 2005
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  2. oink

    Stacey Guest

    Because instead of comenting on the image itself, you blew it up 100% in PS
    and started nitpicking the "image quality". That's all people here seem
    capable of doing?

    No one EVER says something like "That just doesn't work together" or "I like
    the way those elements fit", it's always "Look at the jaggies at 100%" or
    "I blew it up 200% and the noise in the sky is too much" etc etc etc.
    Stacey, Feb 26, 2005
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  3. oink

    Larry Guest

    Yeah! but its been done with Angels (I think)
    Larry, Feb 26, 2005
  4. So I guess you think people who buy 8MP dSLRs are really stupid?

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Feb 26, 2005
  5. I guess I just don't get the attitude that says that image quality doesn't
    matter. Obviously, if it's not an interesting photograph, no one's going to
    look at it. But if I'm going to go to the bother of taking an interesting
    photograph, I'd like it to be as good as possible.

    In showing A4 prints to friends, they look closely. Very closely. People in
    galleries do walk up and look at larger prints at distances closer than
    arm's length. I'd like my images to stand up under those conditions. And I
    don't think that's an unreasonable desire.

    Other things being equal, sharper prints look better than fuzzy ones, clean
    prints look better than blotchy noisy ones. So I just don't see why there's
    a problem with being concerned with image quality. Good prints really do
    look better.

    So this whole corner of this thread seems completely nuts.

    It seems to me that every time someone gets on the wrong side of a technical
    discussion, they pull out the "just stand back and admire" line to make
    themselves seem morally superior, when really all they are is technically

    I find that trick seriously obnoxious, sleazy, and downright rude.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Feb 26, 2005
  6. oink

    Skip M Guest

    I'm sorry you feel that way, David. I don't feel it's a trick, sleazy,
    rude, obnoxious or otherwise. There comes a point that, no matter what the
    technical details of how an image was acquired, people will just look at the
    image and say, "wow," or words to that effect. Yes, an image that is
    technically poor is less likely to elicit that response, and one taken with
    an inferior device, film, digital, or paint, for that matter, will not
    elicit that response, either. But, frankly, the difference between a 3.4mp
    Foveon, 6mp Nikon, 8mp Canon, 14mp Kodak or whatever matters little to the
    Besides, I wasn't on the wrong side of the discussion...
    Skip M, Feb 26, 2005
  7. oink

    Scott W Guest

    I think you have somewhat missed the point being made. Yes technically
    good photos are a good thing to have, but there are some people who
    dissect photos on the computer screen in such detail that what they
    end up complaining about things that do not show up in the prints. The
    main question of the thread is, is there enough difference in quality
    between the image quality of a DSLR and a Consumer camera to make
    buying the DSLR worth while? Right off let me say that I did buy a
    DSLR, a 20D in fact, but for a lot more then image quality.

    What many of us object to is the attitude that the consumer digital
    cameras are not fit for use and that to tell this you only need to look
    at the pixels on the screen. More over it has been stated by a number
    of people that they don't need to see a print from a photo to tell if
    it is good or not, they can tell looking at their screen. I then asked
    who looks at their photo with a loupe and one of the pixel police was
    rather proud that he did.

    There are those of us who feel that the print is the objective and that
    if the print looks good then the photo is good. We also feel that
    looking at photo at 100% on a computer screen is a poor predictor of
    how the photo will look as say an 8 x 10 print.

    I posted two photos both of the same scene, one using my F828 and one
    using my 20D, at the pixel level the 20D is clearly the "better"
    photo but when printed out at 8 x 10 most people would not be able to
    tell the difference. So is it sleazy to say that for printing 8 x 10
    the F828 is good enough? Is it technically incorrect to say that the
    print is good. I could argue that the 20D is no good for 8 x 10 prints
    because there is a camera with a large sensor yet, the 1Ds. So I am
    going to post the link to my photos again and the challenge to you is
    to not just look at the pixel but print both out and shot them to other
    people, with out telling people which is which and ask them what they
    http://www.sewcon.com/photos/compare/20D with 50mm lens.jpg
    http://www.sewcon.com/photos/compare/Sony F828.jpg

    Anybody can look at these photos on the computer screen and say which
    looks best, that is not the issue, the question is whether the one from
    the F828 makes as good a looking print as the one from the 20D. Note
    that the one from the F828 is an extreme case, it was converted from a
    raw file with lots of sharpening and no luminance smoothing, which is
    what it has so much noise, even so the print from it looks very good.

    Nobody is say that a larger sensor is will not make better photos, what
    we are saying is that for many photos it will not matter.

    I like the 8 x 10 prints I get from my F828, I think they look sharper
    then the 8 x 10 prints I got from my Nikon 995, but you know what? Most
    people can't tell the difference.

    So print out the photos I have put links to and show them to your
    fiends, I can just see you handing them a loupe when they done say that
    the photo from the 20D is obviously better. Or maybe you will show
    them on your computer screen, so that they will understand that that
    the photo from the 20D is better.

    Scott W, Feb 26, 2005
  8. Then think again. The question at hand was: is there an advantage to DSLRs
    in image quality. Saying "it's not the quality of the image, it's the art
    that matters" is seriously obnoxous and sleazy in the context of that

    Of course the art matters, but it's irrelevant to the question at hand.

    For example, if one needs to boost the shadows in an ISO 100 image, you may
    not be able to do that with a current consumer dcam (or a film scan) without
    introducing unacceptable noise. The good photographer will simply pass on
    those images and go look for images that don't require that boosting, and
    get great images from the consumer dcam. That doesn't mean that the consumer
    dcam is just as good as the dSLR, it means that the photographer was smart
    enough to work around the limitations.

    If seen amazing shots taken with the FZ10. At ISO 50 and f/5.6 in bright
    light, it's quite a good camera. But what happens when things get a bit
    darker? Look just at the ISO 50 and f/5.6 in bright light shots, and you
    think don't need a DSLR. Wrong answer.
    For almost any technology, there's an artist who can elicit a "wow".
    Pinhole, pushed Tri-X in a Leica, whatever.

    The "wow" factor comes in before the technology. The question of making good
    images from a given technology is orthogonal to the question of what's a
    better technology.
    If you are doing landscape photography and making 16x24 prints, anyone and
    everyone will be able to tell the difference between the Kodak and those
    other cameras.

    User's of the other cameras will be able to get a "wow", but they won't be
    able to get the same wow.

    So of course the observer doesn't know the difference.

    I used to work in a violin repair shop, and some of the better players would
    buy the most god-awful instruments and ask us to fix them. These blokes were
    so good, they could make serious music on any instrument. But when they
    played auditions, the folks who rented a good instrument for the day would
    get the job; the better instruments really are better.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Feb 26, 2005
  9. oink

    Stacey Guest

    The main reason I bought a dSLR was to have more control (this cheap nikon
    P&S is auto everything) and to also get a wider lens. In 8X10 prints at
    what I'd consider normal viewing distances (15" or so) that 2MP print looks
    nice. I'm sure it would look even better from scanned medium format film,
    but that wouldn't have happend because I didn't have one with me to shoot
    with that day. I have plenty of shots like his done with medium format, but
    I just happened to catch the lighting just right that day on this one and
    it's a better image than the technically better medium format ones. There
    is more to "Image quality" than lpmm of resolution and sensor noise on 100%
    on screen crops.

    But as I said, the technoheads just can't get past this because the other
    parts of "image quality" are subjective and they can only deal with hard
    numbers and thing they can chart on a graph.. Looking at a print to
    determine "Image quality" is something they can't measure so it can't be
    judged that way.
    Stacey, Feb 26, 2005
  10. Just to be picky - area is properly defined as sq. mm, or some similar

    Olin McDaniel
    Olin K. McDaniel, Feb 26, 2005

  11. Just a suggestion of recognizing what C.A. is. Take a standard glass
    version of a Spotting Scope, attach your digital camera to the
    eyepiece and take some contrasty shots. Then take the same type of
    Spotting Scope with either H.D., E.D. or Fluorite glass (depends on
    the mfg.) and repeat the shots. You'll clearly see the C.A. with the
    standard (cheaper) scope, and hopefully not with the higher end one.

    Olin McDaniel
    Olin K. McDaniel, Feb 26, 2005
  12. oink

    bob Guest

    You're confusing your dots with your pixels. At 200 dpi the screen size
    would be really crappy, like 30 ppi or something. If they have 2400 dpi
    and if they use a 150 lpi screen, then thier pixels will have 256 levels
    of color (24 bit).
    I haven't doen any tests, but it probably beats all 4 color inkjets.
    What's really amazing is the speed.

    It doesn't matter what the Mk II has, because there are no printers that
    can render detail as finely.
    I tend to agree.

    That's for sure. It would be a poor choice for a photo printer. We
    bought it because it can print 17ppm.

    But what I was getting at is the way they measure dot's for inkjets is
    different than the way they measure dots for lasers. The laser places
    it's dots in the same location. The inkjet spreads its dots. If the
    laser offset it's dots by a quarter dot each (the way an inkjet does)
    then you would count them all individually instead of only once, so a
    600dpi laser addresses as many dots as a 2400dpi 4 color inkjet, or a
    4800 dpi 8 color inkjet.

    In reality, inkjets and lasers are really different enough that direct
    comparisons are kind of pointless. I will say though that my wife finds
    the print quality just fine for snapshots.

    bob, Feb 26, 2005
  13. oink

    bob Guest

    I think that's my point exactly.

    If you want to be an artist, you need to master the technique. It might
    be true that most of us will not make many large photos, but I think
    it's better to explore the possibilites and learn to understand both the
    goods and the bads of whatever gear one is using, so one can know the
    limits ahead of trying to push them.

    bob, Feb 26, 2005
  14. oink

    bob Guest

    Stacey wrote:

    I think you misunderstand the technoheads.

    It's kind of like gearheads. They care a lot about the measured specs of
    cars -- the horsepower, the torque, etc. But what really matters is when
    the rubber hits the road.

    Same thing works with cameras. I want to prod, poke and examine the
    camera and it's output so that I can learn what it's capable of, and
    what it's not. That way I can make the best possible images.

    A good artist *must* be a good technician first.

    bob, Feb 26, 2005
  15. oink

    Scott W Guest

    I have to point out that the OP was talking about A4 prints, so then
    the main question come down to what quality camera do you need to
    produce a good A4 print? From the test I have don't there is very
    little difference in an A4 print between my F828 and my 20D, on the
    screen there are big differences but if what I am after is a A4 print
    then I should be judging the quality of the photo based on looking at a
    A4 print.

    I am not arguing that there are not other advantages to a DSLR, I did
    buy one after all, but when looking a the quality of a A4 print the 20D
    does not produce a noticeably better print then the F828.

    Scott W, Feb 26, 2005
  16. oink

    bob Guest

    That's going to be an individual skill, assuming your printer works like
    most computer hardware and doesn't produce random effects ;-)

    Assuming that for a given input, the printer will produce a given
    output, with enough experience you (well, mabye not you, but I) will be
    able to accurately predict what output you will get from a given image

    Why can I do that? Because I print a lot of stuff every day and after a
    while you get used to how it works.
    That would be me. But don't get me wrong. I have some photos I took with
    disposable cameras that I'm partial to. Get the best from whatever you
    have to work with is what I say.

    To me, it doesn't matter if other people can tell the difference or not.
    If I was selling photos, or trying to do some kind of studio
    business, then my *primary* concern would be what other people can see.
    All I care about is what I can see.

    bob, Feb 26, 2005
  17. oink

    bob Guest

    If you're referring to me, you're attributing both intention and
    interpretation that I did not express.

    I never said I was either pleased or displeased with what I saw with the
    loupe, merely that I sometimes use one!

    But I certainly want to get the most detail possible from my camera, and
    the only way that I know of to do that is to examine (in detail) what it
    I dont' know who those people are. I would be more likely to try to
    figure out what it is in one set of prints that makes people prefer them
    than to try to change their minds.
    Don't include me in that "us"! Just because I know *how* to see subtle
    detail that most people don't know exists doesn't mean I can't see the
    composition, the emotion, and everything else.

    bob, Feb 26, 2005
  18. You've said that several times, and it still doesn't match the experience
    here: I see large differences between the F828 samples I've downloaded and
    printed and the 20D samples I've downloaded and printed. All at A4. I find
    it _really_ hard to believe that you can't see the difference. The F828 is
    _way_ behind the 20D in smoothness and clarity.
    Yep. That's (one of the reasons) why I didn't upgrade my F707 to an F828.
    Again, that's not the experience here: 20D A4s are seriously amazing, and
    828 A4s are quite uninspired. And the 828 at anything other than ISO 64 is
    not just uninspired, but downright bad at A4.

    We may be using different printers: I'm using the Epson R800 (PX-G900 as
    it's called here), and it does an excellent job of rendering detail (and

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Feb 26, 2005
  19. David J. Littleboy wrote:
    When did a little noise at a normal print size harm anything, perhaps even
    add some character on low-light shots? I do tire of the repeated "Only
    Canon is good enough" mantra.

    David J Taylor, Feb 26, 2005
  20. oink

    bob Guest

    You're nature photos don't include things like bare trees that have
    finely articulated edges?

    The current topic has come to be printing technology and it's limits. In
    that context, comparing two prints is relevant, even if one is made
    through contact printing a negative and the other through painting with
    a laser.

    You don't seem to understand what I'm saying: It doesn't matter how much
    detail you capture with the digital sensor. You can't print it dense
    enough on the printing paper with any current printers.

    Very true, and both of them will have finer detail rendered than any
    digital printer is capable of. Today.

    Nah. The 35mm negatives don't have the detail present to print.
    Especially when you you add in film grain.

    God is in the details, or so they say. You seem to treat the digital
    file as a "black box," not caring what's in side it, provided that it
    works. I, otoh, want to learn in as much detail as possible what's
    inside, in a belief that the more I learn about the process, the more
    likely I am to be able to produce what I want with it.

    Agreed. As far as the 8x10 print goes, I think the caveot is being able
    to crop more with the dSLR.
    Black box.... Vs. Knowledge is power.
    I never said I was normal ;-)
    Try this experiment: Make up some 4x6 prints and some 8x10 prints. Hand
    them to those "normal" people and see how many of them *actually* look
    at the 4x6 prints from a different distance.

    6" for a 4x6?

    A source I trust for all my photographic technique.
    /sarcasm mode off/

    Even Ansel Adams remained a student until his death. If you don't have
    aspirations to be a good artist, then all this is irrelevent.
    I'm working on the example but I haven't been home with daylight to
    photograph it. Since we're making comparisions between what's visable on
    my monitor vs. what's visable in my prints, I think the best
    demonstration will be to make photographic comparisons between them.
    Funny how usenet threads have a way of getting away from the original
    question, eh?

    But mostly I only print 8x10, and the Fuji Frontier has enough
    resolution to print my 5 Mp images with full detail at that size.
    I didn't say they were in shadow -- I said they were close in tonality.
    They could be highlights or midtones. True you can make them easy to see
    by making radical alterations to the levels, but that doesn't help me to
    see what they're going to look like in the print.


    bob, Feb 26, 2005
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