DSLR v Consumer Image quality

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

  1. Before commenting on the stuff below, I would like to say that
    if you have good light, plenty of light, no extremes in light,
    then the small sensor P&S cameras take excellent high quality
    pictures. But as the light gets tough, then the difference
    becomes great. It all comes down to what kind of light you
    photograph in.
    There are many who would say this is complete crap, and I would
    agree with them. For examples, a 3 MP image gives maximum of
    about 200 dpi. Normal eyes can resolve 2 to 3 times this. Large
    format photographers easily demonstrate that an 8x10 inch film
    contact print beats out a 4x5 enlarged to 8x10. Everyone I've
    seen view this demonstration and have normal eyes, agreed there is a
    difference, and I do too.
    Something that is true, but irrelevant to the OPs question.
    Incorrect. Modern sensors are photon noise limited. The marketing
    departments don't even know this, nor hype it. It is a demonstrated
    fact. See:

    and check the references for additional data if the above doesn't\
    proved it to you.
    And not factual either. The human eye with normal vision has a image
    resolution equivalent over 500 megapixels. See:
    Not at all; the photon limit has been reached. See:

    Photos at http://clarkvision.com
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Feb 23, 2005
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  2. oink

    Bruce Graham Guest

    macro with my P&S is a doddle compared to my 35mm film stuff.

    (not to detract from your argument which I agree with)
    Bruce Graham, Feb 23, 2005
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  3. oink

    Scott W Guest

    I have to say that from what I have seen a cheap 3 MP is not up to
    making great looking 8 x 10 prints, but then I am near sighted and can
    see pretty small detail. It was the slightly fuzzy feel to my 8 x 10
    prints from my Nikon 995 that made me upgrade to the Sony F828.

    I will say that I have found a lot of people who can't see the
    difference between a print made from my 995 and the F828, but to me it
    is the difference between night and day.

    Now enter the 20D, in the tests that I have done between it and the
    F828 the 20D captures a lot more detail, and in prints at 8 x 10 fine
    detail that can be seen at the pixel level on the computer screen can
    not be seen in the print, at least not by me.

    The point being is that not all pixels contain the same level of

    The other tests that I have done is to take the output from the 20D and
    resize it to 3 MP and print from both the original photo and the
    resized one, both at 8 x 10 a casual view of them and they look pretty
    much the same, a closer look and the original is clearly sharper
    looking. But then this is with my near sighted eyes, others I have
    shown then to can not tell them apart. The 3 MP from the resized photo
    prints much sharper then any camera that is 3 MP native, again not all
    pixels are the same

    In the end how much resolution is need for an 8 x 10 print depends on
    who is looking at it, the young and near sighted will need more
    resolution, the old and far sighted less.

    I have done tests in terns of at what point does increasing the dpi
    feed to the printer stop making a difference , clearly this depends on
    the printer. The Fuji Frontier prints at 300 dpi so feeding it higher
    resolution will not buy you anything, assuming that the pixels are
    sharp. For my printer and my eyes the limits is a bit higher, I can
    tell the difference between a print make with an input of 300 dpi and
    400 dpi, higher then 400 and I can not tell any difference. Having
    said that the difference between 300 and 400 is so small that is take
    very careful study to tell them apart, at least by me.

    Now someone reading this might think they have found an inconsistency,
    I stated that there was detail in the 20D photos that could be seen on
    the computer screen but not in the print, this print was made at very
    close to 300 dpi, and yet I said that a print made at 400 dpi looks
    just a little bit sharper then one at 300 dpi. What is happening is
    that the detail that can be seen on the screen but not the print is low
    contrast detail, a spider web thread for instance, the eye has much
    worst resolving power for low contrast detail then high. But if there
    is some high contrast detail in the 400 dpi print at say 200 light
    pairs per inch then this will be visible.

    Scott W, Feb 23, 2005
  4. oink

    Mark² Guest

    Often it is not until your image is enlarged and in PRINT that you notice it's
    Mark², Feb 23, 2005
  5. oink

    Mark² Guest

    You won't be always grabbing a lens.
    80% of my quickie grab-shots are with my basic all-around lens, which sits on the camera
    in my bag. DSLRs work like point-and-shoots if you want them to.
    It's just that when you WANT the control, flexibility, and speed...you have it available
    to you.
    Mark², Feb 23, 2005
  6. oink

    Mark² Guest

    I think you make some good points above.
    What I would quibble with is the idea of starting with the most simple cameras to assess
    your needs. In my opinion, many people never really discover how much they "needed"
    something until they had it available to them.

    This is why the phrase, "I didn't know what I was missing!" comes from.
    Often times, it isn't until a person has a new capability avaiable to them (like lack of
    shutter lag, or major depth of field adjustments--like with a DSLR) that they suddenly
    realize what all the fuss is about.

    This is why I think anyone considering spending with a few hundred dollars of the 300D or
    D70 on a lesser...but sizable camera...should REALLY consider teh DSLR.
    It really can open new visions for people when they experience the difference...without
    having to magically "miss things" they have never even experienced.

    How does one know what one needs when they don't really understand what's out thre first
    hand? -This doesn't mean buying a 1Ds Mark II, but it might mean it's worth a low-end

    Mark², Feb 23, 2005
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    Mark² Guest

    Wow! Lots of typos up there...sorry.

    I would like to add to the above that although I owned a crummy film camera for years, it
    wasn't until my dad gave me my first SLR film camera that photography really took off for
    me. Real control breeds real interest in ways that you just can't foster without it.

    Mark², Feb 23, 2005
  8. oink

    Stacey Guest

    Stop looking at 200% crops and make some real prints from full size files.
    Stacey, Feb 23, 2005
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    Stacey Guest

    bob wrote:

    Exactly, that's why you have to look at prints, not 200% crops to determine
    image quality. Color saturation, fringing, balance between color chanels
    etc etc all have an effect on final "quality".
    Stacey, Feb 23, 2005
  10. oink

    Stacey Guest

    When you're fighting DOF?
    Stacey, Feb 23, 2005
  11. oink

    Stacey Guest

    The main reason I got one, I wanted something the had the 35mm equiv of a
    ~21mm-50mm zoom and no P&S goes that wide.
    Stacey, Feb 23, 2005
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    chrlz Guest

    Roger, while I normally agree with your work, I'm not at all sure about
    this bit..
    Your website seems to argue that you simply multiply the ability of the
    eye to resolve detail, by its angle of view.

    But hang on a tick!!! The eye is only sharp in a *very* small angle -
    I would guess less than a 5 degree cone! It fills in the rest with
    memory and 'false' resolution by assumption. To prove that, I use the
    following `party trick` when I take photography classes, and I would
    invite you to do the same. You will need an assistant.

    Get the assistant to write a sentence, out of your sight, on a piece of
    paper, in thick black letters about an inch high. Then, stand about 20
    feet away from a blackboard, upon which is a dot or cross. Stare
    *fixedly* at that point, and then invite your assistant to slowly bring
    the paper towards that point on the board. Note how close it has to be
    before you can actually read it...

    Similarly, stare fixedly at these words. Can you read a sentence that
    is, say, just four lines above it without moving your eye? No cheating
    from memory!

    If you are claiming that we have 500 megapixels, then you must be
    allowing the eye to wander off in all directions, gathering data as it
    goes. By that definition, I reckon the angle of view is therefore a
    360 degree sphere, and by moving sideways... well on the way to
    infinite resolution!!

    I don't think a value for the eye's 'resolution' is of any use. Visual
    acuity, and our ability to resolve detail *when staring right at it!*,
    is something quite different.

    Maybe it is just semantics, but I think it is an interesting concept,
    and most folk who are confronted by the `party trick` are quite
    surprised by it...
    chrlz, Feb 23, 2005
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    andrew29 Guest

    It says "The maximum signal-to-noise is then (52000/(square root
    52000) = 228... The only way to improve on the signal-to-noise is to
    acquire more photons."

    But surely the relevant signal-to-noise ratio is the maximum signal
    (for white) divided by the dark noise level (for black). What people
    notice is noise in the shadows, whereas noise in the highlights is far
    less interesting. There is much to be gained by reducing read noise
    even without increasing full well capacity.

    andrew29, Feb 23, 2005
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    Ron Guest


    I like and appreciate the logic of your argument. Ultimately, it will
    be some rather obvious and simple truths that move people forward, not
    simply what somebody with especially good eyesight or a keen
    understanding of the pixel world can explain in engineering terms. I
    get beautiful 8x10s out of my old Oly 2020z, which has great optics,
    with some PS tweaking. Once behind glass and on a wall they can look
    stunning. And, nobody has yet approached them with a loupe and said "My
    God, I can tell these are only 2 megapix!" Of course, I can get even
    better ones with my 5060 and so it goes. Frankly, for my purposes, the
    main advantage of the 5060 is the cropping I can do and a few of the
    camera's control features and swiveling lcd (a tremendous plus that
    would be useless on a dslr). But then I am not an avid printer. 95% of
    what I do is ultimately for the web, including work I do in my
    side-business for customers.

    Sunday I will be taking the train to New York to photograph the Cristo
    Gates Central Park fandango. Lots of walking, subways, etc. I'll have
    one very, very small bag with my camera, lenses, extra batteries and
    cards, MP3 player, etc. Inconspicuous and light. The way I like it.

    I remember all of this in the earlier days of the hi-fi industry. My
    local stereo shop was always trying to sell me the cd player that cost
    $1500 instead of the one that cost $200 and allowed me to buy,
    theoretically at least, $1200 worth of cd's from someone else. The
    salesman drove me nuts with technical jargon until I demanded that we
    do a blind test with him on the other end. Guess what? You know the
    rest of the story. And there is my friend with $5,000 cables. He would
    get down on the floor a few feet from one of his speakers and swear
    that were I to do the same I could, even with my somewhat ordinary
    hearing, tell the difference. Were I somewhat unmoved by this bit of
    testing he would show me technical articles. I tried to explain that
    for the kind of music I like (primarily jazz from the 40s-60s) $5000
    cables and even $15000 speakers might not make much difference. In
    fact, I might just hear imperfections I didn't want to hear.

    As a long time user of standard SLR's I know the value of the genre. I
    just don't think that right now, early 2005, is the time for one to
    take the plunge unless one has extra money to burn, or has some very
    specific demands like low light shooting or very large prints. This is
    not to say that one should go with the most simple, and the decling
    prices of dslr's may make them all but irresistable to many. But, ask
    me six or eight months from now...:)

    Ron, Feb 23, 2005
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    Skip M Guest

    It depends upon which direction you're fighting it... More is not
    necessarily better.
    Skip M, Feb 23, 2005
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    Larry Guest

    I agree with YOU!

    I have 3 "top of the line" consumer cameras and Though I'm sorely tempted to
    run out and buy/order/get the new DRebel Im holding off until at LEAST April,
    maybe longer.

    The ONLY thing I need to improve is "shutter lag" (even with the Sony 828,
    once aware of its foibles, you can avoid them) and I dont want to "waste" a
    thousand on a camera and another 500 to 1000 on a lens to give me the same
    coverage I get with the Sony 828 or even the Sony 717.

    My Fuji S7000 has turned out to be the work-horse of the 3 cameras I use, as
    it can be relied upon to come up with the "same" quality photo under most
    circumstances..ie no worse with backlighting than without, as long as the
    exposure is correct.

    PS: I only use the Fuji as a 6mp most of the time.
    That is after all what it really is.
    Larry, Feb 23, 2005
  17. oink

    rafe bustin Guest

    I do both. But there's not much use looking
    beyond 100% on the monitor, except for fine
    spotting or retouching work on film scans.

    I disagree that you need a print to properly see or
    judge a digital image. There have only been a few
    situations (in my experience) where a print revealed
    flaws that were not evident on-screen.

    But that does presume a decent monitor that's
    properly calibrated. You've done that, right?

    When you introduce a printer -- even a Fuji or
    a LightJet -- you introduce another huge set
    of variables, issues, and technologies.

    For me, the prints are the ultimate goal, but
    not every image makes it to print. And not
    every print makes it past the scrap bin.

    rafe b.
    rafe bustin, Feb 23, 2005
  18. oink

    Owamanga Guest

    But many where a screen preview can reveal an irrelevant quality
    difference because it's one that *won't* show on the print.

    That's the point. The destination of any good photo is to be printed,
    surely? So, that's *all* that matters.

    When you enlarge a 3000x2000 pixel image at 200% on your monitor, you
    are comparing it in size to a 60" x 40" print. This is *insane*. So
    what if you can see an imperfection at that magnification? most people
    are never going to *dream* about ever printing a 35mm image image that
    size, so imperfections that only show up now are *irrelevant*.

    Lets just put this in perspective, that's like saying I want to print
    a poster that's 5ft wide, 3ft high and it's got to look good when
    viewed from 15 inches? Ha!

    Print test pictures from any two cameras you are comparing on the
    *same equipment* and then see if there are any problems.
    Not relevant.
    So use the same equipment to print the comparisons. That way you keep
    it a constant.
    If you are binning stuff just because it won't look good at 5ft by 3ft
    when viewed from 15inches then you need to get your head tested.

    At the very least, you should be using a large format film camera.
    Owamanga, Feb 23, 2005
  19. oink

    Ron Guest

    The ONLY thing I need to improve is "shutter lag" (even with the Sony
    once aware of its foibles, you can avoid them)>


    You prove two important points, and that is to get to know your camera
    and then push it to the max, and to work at taking good photos. Over
    the weekend I stood on a train platform with my 5060 and did incredibly
    fast firing in the HQ mode at fast oncoming trains. I shut down all
    the auto exposure features and bang, bang, bang. I suppose a dslr
    would have been faster, but not so much so that it would have made a
    difference. And, even though it takes a second or two for my camera to
    'warm up' after it decides to rest I've learned over the years that an
    occasional tap on the zoom control (which is now done almost
    sub-consciously) suffices. As for good photos, I suspect that a very
    high percentage of problems with small prosumer cameras can be
    attributed to things like miserable knowledge of backlighting, camera
    shake, and, sad to say, poor optics.

    Incidentally, I think we do need to make some distictions between those
    who are first time investors and those who have already invested in
    very good prosumers. But by and large I want to use my money to travel,
    get extras, upgrade software, etc. When Pentax gets a good dust
    cleaning system and goes back to CF cards I may take the plunge (I have
    some beautiful top of the line K mount lenses which I can still use on
    my SLR), but right now I can think of very few reasons to do so.
    Ron, Feb 23, 2005
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    andrew29 Guest

    Indeed not. To print, you almost always have to compress the gamut
    and/or the dynamic rnage.

    andrew29, Feb 23, 2005
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