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Author Topic: Is good good enough?  (Read 23415 times)

Rob C

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #40 on: November 06, 2015, 10:43:20 am »


Ask yourself, what is the point of huge prints? The reason is, so that the image can be viewed from a considerable distance. If you're viewing from a considerable distance, then you won't be able to see the pixels. If you stand very close to such a print, then of course you'll see technical 'problems' that would be invisible at more appropriate print sizes/viewing distances.

All that aside, I would make two points. First, I don't see how any professional photographer could really justify living in ignorance of technical image quality. I'll grant that the number of scenarios in which ultimate image quality might matter may be limited; but if you hire a pro, then you have a right to expect the practitioner to be capable of the best technical standards of the time. Second, and in contradiction to my last point, how many times have you heard of people standing with their noses pressed up against a great painting and moaned that they can see the brushstrokes?


In my own case, I find my A3+ black/whites from both the D200 and the D700 as well as from many more 135 Kodachromes perfectly good at that size.

In fact, when I have an image up on the monitor, I always tend to reduce it to about A5 when I make the initial adjustments to overall contrast, tone etc. Making the image larger makes my eyes wander around and lose the overall sense of the thing.

If people want huge prints, good for them; if not, no problem with that either.

As with most comparisons between photographs and paintings, they hold no water and are usually best not made. Brush strokes are very much part of the painter's identity, and though you could argue that grain is also a part of a photographer's identity, it's not, really, it's part of the film's identity, and zillions of photographers have used identical films.

Rob C

alexcarnes

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #41 on: November 06, 2015, 11:01:37 am »


If people want huge prints, good for them; if not, no problem with that either.

Quite so. I think what I was trying to tease out, though, is why print so big? If the actual image is what is of interest, then one can print quite big enough in a book. I sometimes wonder if really huge prints cause us to appreciate the wrong things, like music played too loudly. The superficial aspects of the presentation, the size, or loudness, brightness etc., distract from what it actually says. Not very much in a lot of cases!

I dunno. Scale means something. Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross is big, Rembrandt’s Entombment Sketch just across the road in the Hunterian is small. Is either of those masterpieces misrepresented by the smaller print? I don't think so, although I would never argue that they aren't at their best in their original sizes, large or small. Photographers should think twice before they try to argue that the biggest print must be the best!
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MarkL

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #42 on: November 06, 2015, 11:10:17 am »

Nicely said Alex.

People on here unsurprisingly tend to be pixel peepers and are the sort who do want to view images from a few centimeters away.
I prefer to look at the whole image myself.

I don't think it has anything to do with pixel peeping. When people look at an interesting object they will take in the whole of it first but then also get drawn into the details of the various elements. What you are suggesting is effectively putting a barrier Xft away to deliberately deny people this experience. Why shouldn't people experience prints from all sorts of distances?

Anyway, the viewing distance argument falls into the same unfortunate category as 'the camera doesn't matter' and the myriad of other topics no one can agree on.
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Ray

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #43 on: November 06, 2015, 11:25:06 am »

There are some strange concepts being expressd here. 'Good enough' only applies to situations where discernibly better results are not apparent from a particular viewing distance.

A large print made from a 12mp image, from a certain distance, may appear just as satisfying as the same size print from a 36mp  image, from the same distance, if that distance is great.

If the viewing distance is close, then the 36mp image provides more satisfying results.

If the print is small, then 12mp may be good enough.

What's the problem?
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mecrox

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #44 on: November 06, 2015, 01:04:47 pm »

There are some strange concepts being expressd here. 'Good enough' only applies to situations where discernibly better results are not apparent from a particular viewing distance.

A large print made from a 12mp image, from a certain distance, may appear just as satisfying as the same size print from a 36mp  image, from the same distance, if that distance is great.

If the viewing distance is close, then the 36mp image provides more satisfying results.

If the print is small, then 12mp may be good enough.

What's the problem?

I agree. In the past 2-3 weeks I've looked at exhibition prints at maybe 14" or 18" on the long side of images taken taken by Sebastião Salgado and Harry Gruyaert, presumably on 35mm film and dating from a good 20-30 years ago in both cases, and I can't see what the problem is with lower resolutions like 16 mpx in today's digital cameras. Unless someone wants to print pretty darn big, in which case I suspect one is into a different ballgame anyway. I think many images work better as images at smaller sizes; other need more expansive treatment - and maybe that is in the mind of the photographer at the time? As for viewing distances, don't we each find our own? Mine isn't 6" away. Besides, viewing distance varies with the kind of image one is looking at. Sometimes you have to step back, or forward, to "see" the whole picture.
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alexcarnes

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #45 on: November 06, 2015, 01:24:46 pm »

I don't think it has anything to do with pixel peeping. When people look at an interesting object they will take in the whole of it first but then also get drawn into the details of the various elements. What you are suggesting is effectively putting a barrier Xft away to deliberately deny people this experience. Why shouldn't people experience prints from all sorts of distances?
By all means look closely. At a certain distance/magnification, you'll start to see the aberrations, pixels, paper weave... molecules and atoms eventually! Is it necessarily a problem that you can see these things if you're looking so closely you can't see the whole image, i.e, what you're supposed to be looking at?

I'll have the best resolution possible please, all other things being equal, to make my images as scrutiny-proof as possible; but I'm still not sure they necessarily SHOULD withstand such scrutiny. Does anyone complain that they can see Picasso's brushstrokes if they stand 10cm from the canvass? Thought not!
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alexcarnes

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #46 on: November 06, 2015, 01:29:19 pm »

As for viewing distances, don't we each find our own?
Sort of. I think the idea is that you stand as close as you can so that you can view the entire image without having to move your eyes or head around.
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Rob C

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #47 on: November 06, 2015, 02:20:16 pm »

Quite so. I think what I was trying to tease out, though, is why print so big? If the actual image is what is of interest, then one can print quite big enough in a book. I sometimes wonder if really huge prints cause us to appreciate the wrong things, like music played too loudly. The superficial aspects of the presentation, the size, or loudness, brightness etc., distract from what it actually says. Not very much in a lot of cases!

I dunno. Scale means something. Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross is big, Rembrandt’s Entombment Sketch just across the road in the Hunterian is small. Is either of those masterpieces misrepresented by the smaller print? I don't think so, although I would never argue that they aren't at their best in their original sizes, large or small. Photographers should think twice before they try to argue that the biggest print must be the best!


That was funny: I remember standing in front of it quite often during my stay in Glasgow and trying to paint the damned thing at home from postcards bought at the Kelvingrove art gallery. It looked far better in life than on my titchy copies, but that's probably more to do with Dali than Rob C!

Some crazy attacked it there, as far as I remember.

Strange how memories come back... never imagined this type would be from a pixel-peepin' eyrie on the Internet!

Rob C

MarkL

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #48 on: November 06, 2015, 03:28:28 pm »

By all means look closely. At a certain distance/magnification, you'll start to see the aberrations, pixels, paper weave... molecules and atoms eventually! Is it necessarily a problem that you can see these things if you're looking so closely you can't see the whole image, i.e, what you're supposed to be looking at?

I'll have the best resolution possible please, all other things being equal, to make my images as scrutiny-proof as possible; but I'm still not sure they necessarily SHOULD withstand such scrutiny. Does anyone complain that they can see Picasso's brushstrokes if they stand 10cm from the canvass? Thought not!

I still don't understand why anyone thinks an audience isn't 'supposed' to look at areas of an image as well as the whole of it the same way as enjoying looking at anything else in the world but we each cater to our own for our own purposes.

Brush strokes in painting are hardly the same thing
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vjbelle

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #49 on: November 06, 2015, 03:49:41 pm »

I still don't understand why anyone thinks an audience isn't 'supposed' to look at areas of an image as well as the whole of it the same way as enjoying looking at anything else in the world but we each cater to our own for our own purposes.

Brush strokes in painting are hardly the same thing

You are being informed about 'how to view an image' by an expert!  Obviously everything you have done up to now has been incorrect.  I don't know how you're going to make it through life. 

Victor
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Telecaster

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #50 on: November 06, 2015, 04:02:35 pm »

…I would make two points. First, I don't see how any professional photographer could really justify living in ignorance of technical image quality. I'll grant that the number of scenarios in which ultimate image quality might matter may be limited; but if you hire a pro, then you have a right to expect the practitioner to be capable of the best technical standards of the time. Second, and in contradiction to my last point, how many times have you heard of people standing with their noses pressed up against a great painting and moaned that they can see the brushstrokes?

Both good points IMO. If I were ever to have a gallery showing I'd have barriers put up to keep people at my prefered viewing distance. After all, it's my show…you'll damn well look at my work the way I want you to.

OTOH when it comes to paintings I love getting up close and studying the brushstroke patterns and the texture of the canvas or board or even the paint itself. There's a particular van Gogh painting at the Detroit Institute of Arts, boats on the river Oise, that invites close study as he used a heavy impasto technique when creating it. Seeing the 3D nature of the paint along with fine brushstroke (and fingerprint!) details from just a few inches away is an emotional experience. These things say: A human being made this! Different medium, different way(s) of appreciation.

On a related note, some years ago there was a Winogrand exhibit—mainly color photos—at the International Center of Photography in New York. Many of the photos were printed quite large, large enough to easily see the grain textures & patterns of the films he was using. This I enjoyed very much. The key IMO is that there was no pixelating (the prints were photochemical/analog anyway)…the image detail blended seamlessly into the grain. OTOH when I look up close at a large, highly-detailed print from a high-res digital file I don't get much enjoyment from it. There's no visible substrate there, only the image itself. It wants to pretend it's showing me reality rather than an interpretation thereof, but I know better…and am put off. You could say it's too good for its own good. YMMV, of course.

-Dave-
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Rob C

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #51 on: November 06, 2015, 04:55:51 pm »


On a related note, some years ago there was a Winogrand exhibit—mainly color photos—at the International Center of Photography in New York. Many of the photos were printed quite large, large enough to easily see the grain textures & patterns of the films he was using. This I enjoyed very much. The key IMO is that there was no pixelating (the prints were photochemical/analog anyway)…the image detail blended seamlessly into the grain. OTOH when I look up close at a large, highly-detailed print from a high-res digital file I don't get much enjoyment from it. There's no visible substrate there, only the image itself. It wants to pretend it's showing me reality rather than an interpretation thereof, but I know better…and am put off. You could say it's too good for its own good. YMMV, of course.

-Dave-

That's the 'fine art' related problem with digital: it's still trying to pretend to be something that it's not. It just isn't visceral, organic; it's an illusion, a failure compounded by the knowledge that at the end of the day, you can't even hold an original in your hot little human hand. It belongs to the wrong end of science fiction. Or to professional end-user's output, where what you are given is all you must ever expect; hope for nothing beyond the present you are handed on a screen or on the printed page; think of owning it as you own a movie.

Remove the expectation of art, and digital is fine: it suits my modest, personally directed and internally motivated uses perfectly: if I like what I get, that's all that matters today when I no longer even print, just gaze in awe at my website and wonder why...

Should there be more if I am not hoping for a gallery?

Rob C

jjj

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #52 on: November 06, 2015, 05:40:08 pm »

Quite so. I think what I was trying to tease out, though, is why print so big? If the actual image is what is of interest, then one can print quite big enough in a book. I sometimes wonder if really huge prints cause us to appreciate the wrong things, like music played too loudly. The superficial aspects of the presentation, the size, or loudness, brightness etc., distract from what it actually says. Not very much in a lot of cases!

I dunno. Scale means something. Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross is big, Rembrandt’s Entombment Sketch just across the road in the Hunterian is small. Is either of those masterpieces misrepresented by the smaller print? I don't think so, although I would never argue that they aren't at their best in their original sizes, large or small. Photographers should think twice before they try to argue that the biggest print must be the best!
Size does matter. An image or film on your phone/tablet at close range may take up the same angle of view as looking at a much larger print at several feet away, but the smaller prints still look smaller [because they literally are] and less impressive as a result.
Have you ever seen Gursky or Gregory Crewdson's work in the flesh, they are so much better for seeing them as large prints or very large prints in Gursky's case. As opposed to looking at them in coffee table books or magazines. Let alone as small images on screens.
However some images work better as small images that demand you stand close to the print. Whatever suits the subject or artist's intent as your two examples illustrate nicely.

I also do not like to pass final judgement on artwork unless I've seen it in the flesh as the artist intended. One reason is that I sold posters around Universities for a while. Which was very educational regarding people's tastes and fashion in imagery. We sold a lot of very good quality reproductions of famous art works, but they paled when compared to times when I saw the real thing.

Another reason was that I'd seen this Philip Jones Griffiths photo of a napalm victim in magazines numerous times before I saw a print of it in Manchester Art Gallery. A good photo, but in the flesh it was a great shot as it was so much more powerful and moving. Surprisingly so.

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aaron

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #53 on: November 06, 2015, 05:44:51 pm »

One thing mentioned in the video is that with all the dynamic range available with digial you can make a better print than you could have from black & white film.
I don't think this is true. I've never seen an inkjet print that came close to a GOOD black & white analogue print, and I've looked and tried a lot!
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jjj

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #54 on: November 06, 2015, 05:46:59 pm »

That's the 'fine art' related problem with digital: it's still trying to pretend to be something that it's not. It just isn't visceral, organic; it's an illusion, a failure compounded by the knowledge that at the end of the day, you can't even hold an original in your hot little human hand.
A print skilfully made from a B+W negative is no more 'original' than a print rof a raw file carefully crafted and then printed by your digital darkroom.

I've fooled film purists on here with digital images, that according to them proved how much better film was than digital. Why? Apparently they had a certain something that digital lacked.  ;D
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jjj

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #55 on: November 06, 2015, 05:54:08 pm »

One thing mentioned in the video is that with all the dynamic range available with digial you can make a better print than you could have from black & white film.
I don't think this is true. I've never seen an inkjet print that came close to a GOOD black & white analogue print, and I've looked and tried a lot!
An interesting point. I often look at prints made at trade shows to demo how good the latest printers are and too often they look digital/video like.
However I recall seeing a B+W print some years back and thinking how very difficult that shot would have been to capture with film.
A good digital print is in fact as rare as a good darkroom print.

Now if you look at prints that paper manufacturers display at shows, as opposed to ones printer manufacturers put up they are far usually far, far better.
The impressive B+W print I mentioned above was done by a paper producer IIRC.
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Telecaster

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #56 on: November 06, 2015, 10:11:01 pm »

A print skilfully made from a B+W negative is no more 'original' than a print of a raw file carefully crafted and then printed by your digital darkroom.

Yes, I agree with this. You could even say the neg print is more "artificial" as it's more likely to contain at least some grain texture, whereas the digital file is likely to be relatively texture-less. I personally feel the texture is a plus but I know plenty of people who feel otherwise…and their æsthetic is likely to prevail long-term given the direction imaging tech is headed in. At least this gives me something to be a cranky old man about…once I'm an old man.  ;D

-Dave-
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Rob C

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #57 on: November 07, 2015, 04:37:01 am »

Yes, I agree with this. You could even say the neg print is more "artificial" as it's more likely to contain at least some grain texture, whereas the digital file is likely to be relatively texture-less. I personally feel the texture is a plus but I know plenty of people who feel otherwise…and their æsthetic is likely to prevail long-term given the direction imaging tech is headed in. At least this gives me something to be a cranky old man about…once I'm an old man.  ;D

-Dave-


That's the point I was trying to get across above, Dave: grain is part of the thing, can actually be a specific part of its visual identity; pixels are not. Not to use any of my own stuff as examples - just take a look at some of the very different pictures from Robert Frank, where grain plays a very large rôle in creating identity and emotional content, thus adding a huge part of the visual tension. The same applies in many other cases too. This doesn't make the film-derived image more artificial: it makes it more a photograph. What it means is what I originally indicated: the two are different mediums and can't really be compared beyond their specific function - commerce, and the final commercial use of the image suiting digital very well, and art being better served with film.

Rob C

Ray

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #58 on: November 07, 2015, 06:17:03 am »

There's another issue which hasn't been mentioned so far, and that's the effect that increased pixel quality and quantity has on lens performance and effective focal length range.

Let's take the example of someone who thinks that the 8 megapixels of the Canon 20D is good enough. That's a camera that I was very impressed with a few years ago. The pixel quality and high-ISO performance was a major upgrade from my 6mp D60, and the 8mp were certainly good enough for A3+ size prints.

Let's consider the case of someone who is still using the 20D today. He can afford to buy a 50mp 5DSR but sees no point. He thinks he doesn't need the extra resolution, and he's not interested in video, but he is interested in various type of photography, and has a variety of Canon lenses ranging from wide-angle primes to telephoto primes and zooms.

Now it so happens that the pixel quality of the 5DSR, according to DXOMark, is approximately as good as the 20D pixel, despite being smaller. Dynamic range at all ISOs is identical for both cameras at the pixel level. SNR at 18%, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity are just slightly worse for the 5DSR pixel, but not to a significant degree that would be of concern to someone who considers 8mp to be good enough.

The advantages of the 50mp 5DSR in relation to either a downsampled 8mp image or a crop to 8mp are just amazing. For example, a 50/f1.4 lens on the 20D is effectively a fixed 80/F1.4. You can't get wider without taking multiple shots for stitching, and you can't get narrower without sacrificing pixels. However, on the 5DSR, that same lens becomes a 50-125mm zoom with a constant maximum aperture of F1.4, in relation to that 'good enough' 8mp standard.

The 100-400mm zoom becomes a 160-640 zoom on the 20D, taking into consideration the crop factor. On the 5DSR the crop factor of 8mp taken from the centre of the frame is 2.5x. In relation to the 8mp standard, the 100-400 zoom becomes a 100-1000mm zoom. Wow! What a lens!  ;D

Which would you rather have? The extra weight is a mere 100gms or so, and if you're worried about being able to see the subject through a 400mm lens which is effectively 1000mm, there's the LiveView facility which the 20D doesn't have.
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jjj

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Re: Is good good enough?
« Reply #59 on: November 07, 2015, 07:53:16 am »

That's the point I was trying to get across above, Dave: grain is part of the thing, can actually be a specific part of its visual identity; pixels are not. Not to use any of my own stuff as examples - just take a look at some of the very different pictures from Robert Frank, where grain plays a very large rôle in creating identity and emotional content, thus adding a huge part of the visual tension. The same applies in many other cases too. This doesn't make the film-derived image more artificial: it makes it more a photograph. What it means is what I originally indicated: the two are different mediums and can't really be compared beyond their specific function - commerce, and the final commercial use of the image suiting digital very well, and art being better served with film.
Nonsense.
Grain can be also found in digital imagery, just as it can with film. It's called noise instead, which is what grain is too.
The fact that those who claim film is somehow intrinsically superior can be fooled by digital images undermines that whole argument.

B+W film and colour slide are also different mediums as are prints and slide shows.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 08:26:18 am by jjj »
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