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Author Topic: Where does pixel peeping start?  (Read 5164 times)
BernardLanguillier
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« on: December 18, 2006, 07:22:09 PM »
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Pixel peeping has been around for a few years, but what is it exactly?

Why do we accept not to discuss some issues of our cameras, but focus on others?

Why are we sometimes willing to invest in top of the notch next generation digital equipment, but do not necessarily bother evaluating how much we have gained compared to what we used before? Are these gains not inherently of pixel peeing nature?

Should relevant camera image quality evaluation focus on colors, noise and DR, but put less emphasis on image uniformity, absence/presence of painterly effect on small details,...?

In other words, where does pixel peeping start? Considering the very high level of performance already achieved by digital cameras, does it still make sense to discuss camera's image quality without turning into pixel peepers?

Cheers,
Bernard
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2006, 08:25:46 PM »
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In other words, where does pixel peeping start?

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I suspect it largely starts at the point where someone discovers some small detail in Camera A which is better than Camera B when you own Camera B.
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Jay Kaplan
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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2006, 09:56:37 PM »
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In other words, where does pixel peeping start?

Cheers,
Bernard
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My observation is that sometimes people can't see the forest for the trees. They are so caught up in the minutia that they cannot see the camera. That is why Michael's reports are so interesting. He comments on the camera and it's usability as a camera and the sum of it's parts not the parts themselves.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2006, 11:18:12 PM »
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I would say when the differences observed cease to make a visible difference in a print when shooting in real-world conditions. Nitpicking about a white imbalance of 2-3 levels would be a good example. It's measurable, but not likely someone will be able to see without an extremely well-profiled monitor or a perfectly-profiled print in a viewing booth, if then.
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Steve Kerman
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« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2006, 11:36:48 PM »
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I'm in pretty much the same camp as Jonathan.  Pixel peeping starts when you can't reasonably see the difference in prints of the size you want to make with the equipment.
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2006, 12:18:36 AM »
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In other words, where does pixel peeping start? Considering the very high level of performance already achieved by digital cameras, does it still make sense to discuss camera's image quality without turning into pixel peepers?

Cheers,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91283\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Pixel Peeping is a consequence of a. digital cameras and b. the Internet.

Before these arrived, say mid to late 90s, we photographers were mostly concerned about different films and their characteristics, as well as how sharp lenses were. 'Film peeping' was common but it was harder to discuss this with the whole world as one can do now.

Additionally, the rate of change was less, each new film was a tiny increment better than its predecessor and lenses hardly changed at all. Now the rate of change is much faster and anxieties about making informed choices when spending large amounts of dough are on the rise. Too many choices and fast changing camera specs make it inevitable that pixel peeping will be important to many.

One persons 'pixel peeping' is another's 'careful choice'.
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Nick Rains
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Paul Kay
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2006, 02:58:52 AM »
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I specialise in temperate underwater photography and use Canon EOS1DS cameras in housings. I now find that the optics of underwater ports are impinging on photo quality (chromatic problems due to shooting through a flat glass plate when shooting macro, and corner issues due to image field curvature when shooting through dome ports). Whilst some degree of correction can be made through technique and Photoshop, residual problems still exist which I cannot fully resolve, so I've made the decision not to upgrade to a MkII as all I am likely to do is to see more optical flaws. Interestingly, when I look back at my transparencies I can also see the same faults to some degree but these were somehow accepted in film days (underwater photography has embraced digital dramatically and has it has undoubtedly been changed substantially by the advent of digital technology).

Pixel peeping is, IMHO, usefulo in allowing for improvement to technique up to the point where this improvement ends - in my own case this has probably occurred as factors limit improvement which are not currently addressable. It will probably take better underwater optics to make a substantial pixel count increase worthwhile, and in a relatively small high-end marketplace this may take some time.

For me pixel peeping started when the 10MPixel barrier was broken, and for the moment it has ended around there too. Its a useful tool to extract the best out of the equipment available, but like any other tool it has to be wielded effectively and is often used for rather too esoteric purposes altogether. Lastly, the files produced by the 1DS are bigger than required by clients in the vast majority of cases - I'd rather present a high quality file at a viable size than a larger file.
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colourperfect
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2006, 04:08:08 AM »
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Pixel peeping starts when the marketing dept's decide that seeding insecurities in your mind will make you more likely to upgrade your equipment to the newer versions.

The whole industry feeds off this process.

See the constant upgrade's from 5 to 6 to 7 to 8 ..... mega pixel compact digicam's for people who never print above 6"x4"

Jo consumer is kidded by marketing dept that they need to upgrade.

Just dont let your insecurities manifest themselves in comparisons between your camera and the next guy's.

Focus on the atmosphere in the image and other details and you will be happier in the long run.

Ian

http://images.colourperfect.co.uk
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Ray
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2006, 05:04:46 AM »
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In other words, where does pixel peeping start? Considering the very high level of performance already achieved by digital cameras, does it still make sense to discuss camera's image quality without turning into pixel peepers?
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Bernard,
We should not forget that the term 'pixel peeper' is derogatory. I fist saw it used by Michael to defend his opinions that were under attack by the noisy rabble on other forums. I don't know who is the originator of this term, but it's a very catchy phrase with the sort of alliteration that makes it pure poetry, but as with all good poetry it has strong connotations; in this case associations with 'peeping Tom', furtiveness and secrecy.

I've been trying to think of a term that has the same fundamental meaning but with opposite connotations, but can't come up with anything so neat.

However, if we rephrase the term 'pixel peeper' along the lines, 'connoiseur of pixel excellence', do we get the same answer to your question?  
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2006, 05:37:17 AM »
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However, if we rephrase the term 'pixel peeper' along the lines, 'connoiseur of pixel excellence', do we get the same answer to your question? 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91556\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Are you trying to compare the professional photographer who understands and optimises the capabilities of all of their equipment balanced up against both the needs of the situation and the customer requirements, versus, the Pixel Peeper who considers the deficiencies of the minutae at the expense of the overall solution?
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Ray
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2006, 06:24:18 AM »
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.... the Pixel Peeper who considers the deficiencies of the minutae at the expense of the overall solution?
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Now there's an interesting concept. How does one consider minutae at the expense of an over all solution? This implies it's difficult to do both. One either directs one attention towards major issues that have a major effect on the outcome, or one ignores such issues and concerns oneself only with minutae.

The pixel is the fundamental buiding block of all our digital images. The people who would fit your description of only considering the deficiences of minutae (or pixels) might be the engineers who design and build the sensors.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2006, 07:45:03 AM »
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However, if we rephrase the term 'pixel peeper' along the lines, 'connoiseur of pixel excellence', do we get the same answer to your question?
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

There you go...

[a href=\"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22pixel_peeper%22]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22pixel_peeper%22[/url]

Feel free to edit at will...

Breaking news: as of Dec-21st, the article appears to have been deleted from Wikipedia because it didn't match various obscure criterias. A black day in the history of pixel peepingology for sure.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: December 20, 2006, 10:04:23 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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plugsnpixels
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2006, 09:02:02 PM »
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"Pixel Peeper"--that would be a great name for an ezine! However, I see both variations (-er and -ing) have already been registered as domains, though neither has a site up.
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Ray
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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2006, 10:26:10 PM »
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I would have to agree that David Plummer's definition of 'pixel peeper' as one who concerns him/herself with the minutae of pixel quality whilst ignoring other more major factors which have a much greater influence on the final outcome, is really spot on.

I think this is the context in which Michael has used the term, which is why I find it puzzling that both Jonathan and Michael have come out so strongly in favour of the inclusion of a RAW mode in the G7 which, it would seem to me (and of course I always admit I could be wrong   ) would provide improvements of pixel-peeping proportions whilst at the same time providing disadvantages of major significance.

I'm referring to the typically long delay between RAW mode or Tiff shots with P&S cameras. An image that captures the best moment but has a degree of posterization, is better than a clean image that has failed to capture the best moment (which might have occurred 1 or 2 seconds after you pressed the shutter in RAW mode).

Of course one could argue that all P&S cameras should include faster processors and larger buffers in addition to RAW mode, but then you really are talking about a more expensive and perhaps bulkier camera, and I think there could be a legitimate counter argument that a more efficient and cost effective way for a manufacturer to provide an improved image in a P&S camera is simply to provide a larger sensor, as Sony has done with their DSC T30. The original T1 was a 1/2.7" sensor with 5mp. The T30 is a 1/2.5" with 7.2mp.

I'd be very surprised if an upgraded 5mp T1 with RAW capability could have bettered the 7.2mp T30 without RAW capability. But let's presume you could get equal image quality from a smaller sensor with fewer pixels, using RAW mode. Which would you prefer? The one that had less delay between shots, of course.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2006, 10:29:17 PM by Ray » Logged
Ray
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« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2006, 11:53:35 PM »
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Breaking news: as of Dec-21st, the article appears to have been deleted from Wikipedia because it didn't match various obscure criterias. A black day in the history of pixel peepingology for sure.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91580\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well, it certainly wasn't me, Bernard, who made a botched attempt ot provide a definition to Wikipedia   .
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kitalight
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« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2006, 09:49:45 PM »
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Are you trying to compare the professional photographer who understands and optimises the capabilities of all of their equipment balanced up against both the needs of the situation and the customer requirements, versus, the Pixel Peeper who considers the deficiencies of the minutae at the expense of the overall solution?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91560\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yup...
Ergonomics aside a camera/lens is a static machine that users believe can be/ must be optimally matched to the requirements of the output and work environment without which it cannot fully fulfill the input potential of the user...

I am a golfer...not great but good enough to recognize that clubs are a dynamic machine directly responsive to the input of the user...and so it seems, while golfers do critique the arrow, they full well know that the archer must be optimized to see the full potential of the bow...and on the photo forums I tend to see more, much more critical analysis of mechanical minutae rather than the the mechanics of the user...too bad because, I think anyway, the ability to "picture light" takes as much systematic practice as does athletics' ...
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2006, 10:55:16 PM »
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...and on the photo forums I tend to see more, much more critical analysis of mechanical minutae rather than the the mechanics of the user...too bad because, I think anyway, the ability to "picture light" takes as much systematic practice as does athletics' ...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91857\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I think it might be helpful to consider what has happened in the field of photography in the last very few years.  Less than a decade ago film reigned supreme.

Lots of us have been caught up in the rapid advances of digital cameras, waiting and figuring when we could make the switch from one medium to another and wondering what we would gain (and possibly) lose by doing so.

What other field can you think of that's experienced such a drastic switch of equipment in such a brief period?
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2006, 06:34:19 AM »
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I think this is the context in which Michael has used the term, which is why I find it puzzling that both Jonathan and Michael have come out so strongly in favour of the inclusion of a RAW mode in the G7 which, it would seem to me (and of course I always admit I could be wrong   ) would provide improvements of pixel-peeping proportions whilst at the same time providing disadvantages of major significance.

I'm referring to the typically long delay between RAW mode or Tiff shots with P&S cameras. An image that captures the best moment but has a degree of posterization, is better than a clean image that has failed to capture the best moment (which might have occurred 1 or 2 seconds after you pressed the shutter in RAW mode).

First of all, it should be up to the photographer, not the camera manufacturer, to decide which set of tradeoffs best fits the shooting situation at hand. While RAW takes longer to clear from the buffer, the first shot in a series has no greater shutter lag with RAW than JPEG. Including RAW as an option does not force the photographer to use RAW in all situaions, it simply gives him another choice. Michael and I simply want to have that choice.
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kitalight
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2006, 07:04:28 AM »
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I think it might be helpful to consider what has happened in the field of photography in the last very few years.  Less than a decade ago film reigned supreme.

Lots of us have been caught up in the rapid advances of digital cameras, waiting and figuring when we could make the switch from one medium to another and wondering what we would gain (and possibly) lose by doing so.

What other field can you think of that's experienced such a drastic switch of equipment in such a brief period?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91860\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I understand comPLETEly...truthis, I found the d30 EASIER to adjust to after 1 day, than had been my A95 which I've had for more than a year.

Still, all I'm trying to say is that more photographers think they can buy a good shot with their a bow...more than golfers believe that they can with theirs...without practice, systematic and regular practice...I mean, gheez, there's a golf tv channel with hours and hours spent on teaching and practices...interestingly, one lesson I've learned after hearing it so often, is that you have to SEE the shot you want (before you even begin to swing the club) if you want to get it...
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Ray
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2006, 08:01:15 AM »
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First of all, it should be up to the photographer, not the camera manufacturer, to decide which set of tradeoffs best fits the shooting situation at hand. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91901\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Jonathan,
I'm assuming that by 'up to the photographer' you mean up to the end user, whatever his/her skills as a photographer are.

I would agree that a manufacturer who does not carefully consider the requirements of the end user, is likely to get into trouble by failing to provide a product that satisfies or that competes successfully for the consumers' dollar.

I would still like to see your comparison between a RAW image from the SP-350 and a jpeg of the same scene with contrast, saturation and sharpening set at a minimum.

To make the comparison fair, you should also spend the same amount of time processing the jpeg capture (after converting to 16 bit mode) as you spend processing the RAW image.

Furthermore, whilst processing, tweaking and adjusting the jpeg, try real hard to do a better job with the jpeg in oder to overcome (or counteract) your bias in favour of RAW which I think has already led you to overestimate the true benefits of RAW mode with tiny pixels and sensors.  
« Last Edit: December 22, 2006, 08:03:51 AM by Ray » Logged
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