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Author Topic: Resolutio versus Image Quality  (Read 7106 times)

Harry

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Resolutio versus Image Quality
« on: February 16, 2017, 09:00:11 AM »


An old friend who is a Leica chauvinist claims that the Leica S2 makes far better images than the Nikon d800 because despite the same pixel count Leica images have greater and more subtle gradations of tones.

This point generalizes to tonal quality versus resolution.

I wonder what the experts here think of this controversy and if it is valid which cameras solver the best tonal continuum.
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Bo_Dez

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2017, 09:08:48 AM »

it's true. Also, in the case of the S, it is the lens quality too. But there comes a point where resolution matters also.
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aaronleitz

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2017, 10:35:24 AM »

Cameras don't make images. People do.
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hogloff

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2017, 10:50:27 AM »

Cameras don't make images. People do.

I've never seen a person without using a camera actually make a photo. Along with the person, the camera, lens and most importantly the image processing all make the photo. If any of these are compromised, the final photo is compromised.
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pegelli

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2017, 11:00:53 AM »

..... the Leica S2 makes far better images than the Nikon d800 because ........
Define far better.

But using my own idea of what far better means I think this is a gross exaggeration. A trained photographer might see the difference in a side by side test, but in a blind test with random images I doubt many people can spot the difference between a Leica S2 image and an D800 image (assuming both are technically taken/processed correctly) 
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hogloff

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2017, 12:19:24 PM »

One can certainly make an image without a camera.

Define image.
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Harry

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2017, 12:46:21 PM »

Truisms like "Cameras don't make images people do" don't address the question. This one reminds me go "Guns don't kill people, people do." Stiil if you shoot someone with a 50 caliber machine gun he is more likely to die than if you shoot him with a 28 gauge shot gun.

This nonsense aside, it seems that subtlety of tone is a factor little talked about and possibly something to consider in a camera. It is a factor in painting so why not in digital images? For instance,Leonardo Da Vinci's portraits have greater subtlety of shading of skin tones when compared to his peers e.g. Botticell. IMO this makes a big difference in the way his portraits look.
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razrblck

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2017, 01:24:31 PM »

Cameras can be very different in how they render tones, highlight rolloffs, shadows, how noise is handled and what characteristics it has. Then you have the lenses that can make a world of difference when it comes to contrast, color rendition, out of focus quality, sharpness, etc.

I would say they are different. Maybe what you see is the result of larger pixels and different image processing.
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aaronleitz

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2017, 02:40:55 PM »

Truisms like "Cameras don't make images people do" don't address the question. This one reminds me go "Guns don't kill people, people do." Stiil if you shoot someone with a 50 caliber machine gun he is more likely to die than if you shoot him with a 28 gauge shot gun.

This nonsense aside...

Haha ya got me! Sorry I've been reading too many "14 bit vs 16bit" threads lately and should have just logged off rather than post and muck up your thread. Apologies.

However - To carry on with your gun analogy: Your original question compares a Leica S2 to a Nikon D800. So are you saying that the S2 is the 50 cal and the D800 is the 28 gauge shotgun? Because that would be nonsense.
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NancyP

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2017, 06:06:55 PM »

Pinholes!
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2017, 07:10:56 PM »

it's true. Also, in the case of the S, it is the lens quality too. But there comes a point where resolution matters also.

Put an Otus on a D810... and I swear the results are going to be identical or the Nikon will come on top... at any ISO.

Cheers,
Bernard
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RobertJ

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2017, 10:32:11 PM »

The Leica S2, with its lenses that are literally riddled with chromatic aberration, along with the low DR of the sensor, does not come even CLOSE to a Nikon D810 with Zeiss Otus lenses in terms of absolute technical quality. 
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2017, 10:43:40 PM »

Hi,

Technically speaking nothing of that is true.

The pixel count really decides how large you can print with good detail. Present displays cannot reproduce more than 8MP (for 4K). So anything you see on screen is downsized, with downsizing adding a lot of artifacting of it's own. Or you can look at a picture at actual pixels which results in obscene magnifications.


Regarding the number of different tones a system can reproduce, that is limited by what is known as full well capacity. At full well capacity any sensor clips. That applies to S2, Nikn D810 or essentially every camera ever made with the exception of some early dual pixel Fuji models.

So all this talk about highlight roll off is pure nonsense, technically speaking. On the other hand, a camera system may underexpose and create headroom and different camera profiles may give different compression of highlights.

Check the image below (or this link for full size: https://4.img-dpreview.com/files/p/E~forums/58984278/2ae5eacd49d34b248c71368a4a313844 )


The image shows a print white text over a grey gradient going from Lab (100, 0, 0) to Lab(80, 100, 100). The mage here is a print, so paper white limits white to around Lab (95, 0, 0). The text begins with Lorem ipsum and the first separable letter in the original image is the 'm' in Lorem. It is also the first letter separable in both images. Top one is Sony A7rII and close relative of the Sony Exmoor sensor used in the Nikon D810, the one at the bottom is from a P45+ back using a Kodak CCD based sensor very similar to the the one used in the S2.

So what this illustrates is that old or new sensors, the highlight handling is virtually identical. Now, raw processors can add highlight roll off, but that is not related to a camera. The profiles are supplied with the raw converter (*).

The same posting contains an extremely high contrast  image covering a luminance rage > 13EV, with some controlled and contained higlight clipping. Here is the highlight part:
(Here is the link to full size: https://2.img-dpreview.com/files/p/E~forums/58984278/7ca61b80d0494593a586be910e162a8c )



The crops are from P45+ (Kodak sensor similar to the one used in the S2), Sony A7rII (present generation Sony Exmoor) and Sony A900 (using first generation Sony Exmoor, same age as  the P45+). Not a lot of difference.

Now, what has happened in the last ten years is that pixels went smaller while Full Well Capacity was maintained. But with modern CMOS the readout noise has been much reduced. So we had a hike in resolution while highlight capacity was maintained, but darks got much cleaner.  Lets look at the dark side of the previous image:
https://4.img-dpreview.com/files/p/E~forums/58991988/9b2c3bf485cc41e69d5c5c448c7287da


Here you can see that the Sony A900 and P45+ images have real problems while the Sony A7rII still has clean darks. That means that the Sony A7rII is significantly superior to the older cameras in simultaneous handling highlights and deeps darks, it has more dynamic range.

Smaller pixels reproduce better detail. Large pixels cannot resolve fine detail, so the fine detail the pixels cannot handle is converted into artefacts.

Check the images below. They are shot from the same position, both using the same Hasselblad Planar 100/3.5 lens. The image on the left is small pixels (4.5 micron pitch) while the one on the right is larger pitch (6.8 microns). The small pixel sensor resolves the image much better.
(https://3.img-dpreview.com/files/p/E~forums/58656097/6bf08a08d72e470faf3ea8993ab7d0ec )


Downressing the 4.5 micron pitch image to lower resolution of the 6.8 micron sensor still results in a much cleaner image:
(https://3.img-dpreview.com/files/p/E~forums/58656097/313cbbac87a442679b634149c5e99a1e)


A high resolution lens combined with a low resolution sensor is not a great combination, as it will produce a lot of fake detail, a phenomenon called aliasing. The fake detail is an alias of the real detail that is not resolved.

So, your friend is wrong, technically speaking, and I think Leica needs to reconsider their pixel sizes. Just to say, bad technique can mask the disadvantages of large pixels. Shoot handheld, stop down to f/16 and don't focus properly and there will be no fake detail, as a matter of fact there will be barely any fine detail at all…

Here are the links to the original postings:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/58984278
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/58656097

(*) The Leica S2 uses DNG as file format. So the image can have an embedded DCP profile that will yield Leica's preferred rendition. The few Leica S2 images I have do have an embedded profile.

Best regards
Erik




An old friend who is a Leica chauvinist claims that the Leica S2 makes far better images than the Nikon d800 because despite the same pixel count Leica images have greater and more subtle gradations of tones.

This point generalizes to tonal quality versus resolution.

I wonder what the experts here think of this controversy and if it is valid which cameras solver the best tonal continuum.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2017, 11:55:44 PM by ErikKaffehr »
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Colorado David

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2017, 11:03:55 PM »

Truisms like "Cameras don't make images people do" don't address the question. This one reminds me go "Guns don't kill people, people do." Stiil if you shoot someone with a 50 caliber machine gun he is more likely to die than if you shoot him with a 28 gauge shot gun. . .

Your analogy requires more specificity. At a range of five yards, the shot load from a 28 gauge and the bullet from a .50 would be roughly the same size and would make the same devastating wound in the victim. At that range there would be no difference. Both target victims die from their wounds. I know that's not what you wanted, but there is the problem with analogies.

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2017, 12:03:10 AM »

Hi,

I was at a Leica shop a couple of years ago and were looking at a bunch of images shot with the Leica. They were like images, you know… something like decent size prints, say 50x70 cm or a bit larger. We were told to talk about with guy who shot them. So we pointed to the one we liked best and said it is really nice picture. The guy said, that one was taken with a Canon 5DIII actually.

Most gear can produce decent quality images today, subject, lighting, photographer and technique matters far more than camera gear in most cases.

Best regards
Erik

Define far better.

But using my own idea of what far better means I think this is a gross exaggeration. A trained photographer might see the difference in a side by side test, but in a blind test with random images I doubt many people can spot the difference between a Leica S2 image and an D800 image (assuming both are technically taken/processed correctly)

razrblck

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2017, 02:09:16 AM »

Thanks Erik for the more technical explanation!

Most gear can produce decent quality images today, subject, lighting, photographer and technique matters far more than camera gear in most cases.

Indeed!
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Bo_Dez

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2017, 08:34:03 AM »

Put an Otus on a D810... and I swear the results are going to be identical or the Nikon will come on top... at any ISO.

Cheers,
Bernard

I would actually really like to see a proper comparison like this. Personally these two systems are two i am considering carefully.

The S with S lenses really does have a very high quality look that I think might be tricky to top and from what I have seen from various samples I think it might have the edge. It's the smoothness of tone and colour that I have not seen in 135 cameras.

Then there is also talk of a new S at 60MP which I think will be very interesting.
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David Eichler

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2017, 04:13:15 AM »

An old friend who is a Leica chauvinist claims that the Leica S2 makes far better images than the Nikon d800 because despite the same pixel count Leica images have greater and more subtle gradations of tones.

This point generalizes to tonal quality versus resolution.

I wonder what the experts here think of this controversy and if it is valid which cameras solver the best tonal continuum.

There is a huge range of Leica equipment if you count all the film-era stuff, and even now Leica makes cameras in a variety of formats and levels of quality. The closest comparison with a top-of-the-line Nikon would be a current Leica of the same format. Even then, different lenses have different characteristics. So, are you comparing just lenses or just sensors or the combination?

As far as comparing formats, all other things being equal, and assuming proper technique and the same viewing conditions (size of print, viewing distance, etc.), the larger format images will generally exhibit a greater range of subtle tonalities than smaller format ones. However, in practice, all other things are seldom equal, so it is rarely as simple as you are trying to make it out to be.

Oh, and image quality is highly subjective.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 04:21:03 AM by David Eichler »
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TonyVentourisPhotography

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Re: Resolutio versus Image Quality
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2017, 09:53:14 AM »

I thought to an extent this still goes back to the old adage "no replacement for displacement" or in the camera world...sensor size.  Imagine drawing an image on a postage stamp and an 8x10 canvas.  Which one will have the ability to show more variations of tone, subtle detail, and finer variation?  Obviously the larger working space.  It's just straight forward. 

Does the Leica S2 show more...yes probably, it has a somewhat larger sensor surface area.  (30% is it?)

The difference now a days is that tech has gotten really good.  Lenses have gotten really good.  Resolution shrinks the gap between the extremes. 


If you have ever seen an original 11x14 contact print that was masterfully made it is breathtaking.  Nothing we have compares in my opinion.  Though technically it may not be as clinical, the subtlety is amazing.  Talk about surface area! 

Image quality is subjective.  And everything now a days can create excellent prints and visual content.  There is still a difference is fine variation and tonal gradation between sensor sizes.  I use m43 and a 49mm my sensor daily together.  The gap is not huge, but there's is a difference.  There is a difference between this and my 36mm sensors going either way.  But the gap has gotten inconsequential for most images for most general uses.  In my opinion. 

I notice the subtle tone differences mostly in skin and twighlight images..at least in the work that I do.  There is more complexity and "truth to the scene" in the larger sensors.  However, that doesn't necessarily make it any better. 
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