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Author Topic: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?  (Read 44190 times)

Mosccol

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #60 on: February 05, 2009, 04:01:07 am »

Quote from: Ray
I think I've made a similar comment in this thread or perhaps another one. I call it the placebo effect. But what is interesting about this effect is that it's actually real, in a sense. The brain and body can actually respond as though the performance claims are true. When audiophiles spend $200 on a couple of short lengths of copper wire to attach the amplifier to the loudspeakers, they can actually experience more pleasure when listening to their favourite music. They imagine the sound quality is improved and (presumably) as a consequence of such imaginings, there is change in the brain that registers this effect.

Sure. In medical terms, placebo can happen as much as in 30% of the cases. This is why good hifi testing is done in blind comparisons.



Quote from: Ray
Another example that I read about recently was in regard to wine tasting. People who are not wine connoisseurs can actually experience more pleasure when drinking the cheap wine, than they will when drinking the expensive wine, if they are told beforehand that the cheap wine is the expensive wine. Experimenters have verified this by placing electrodes on the subjects' brains and measuring the response in the taste/pleasure centres, to confirm that the subjects are not lying to create the impression that they are connoissers.

Electrodes, hmm yummy!

The wine story could be driven by other factors: people who are not regular wine drinkers will typically appreciate wines with wore obvious and direct qualities: lighter, frutier or more alcoholic for example. And these are typically cheaper too...
« Last Edit: February 05, 2009, 04:01:57 am by Mosccol »
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Ray

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #61 on: February 05, 2009, 04:46:48 am »

Quote from: Mosccol
Sure. In medical terms, placebo can happen as much as in 30% of the cases. This is why good hifi testing is done in blind comparisons.

The wine story could be driven by other factors: people who are not regular wine drinkers will typically appreciate wines with wore obvious and direct qualities: lighter, frutier or more alcoholic for example. And these are typically cheaper too...

Quote
Sure. In medical terms, placebo can happen as much as in 30% of the cases. This is why good hifi testing is done in blind comparisons.

The placebo effect is associated with a medical situation, but in reality a similar effect applies across the whole spectrum of human activity. When hi fi testing is done in a blind comparison, the valve amplifiers with a measured higher distortion are the only amplifiers which can be distinguished from the others, however expensive the others. Whether or not the sound of those valve amplifiers is preferred, is another question. I read one report of a blind test where a $400 Pioneer transistor amp was confused with a $10,000 Mark-Levinson hybrid valve amplifier. With the other amps in the test, the results were no better than tossing a coin. However, about 60% of the 'golden ears' attributed a slightly better quality of sound to the Pioneer in preference to the valve/hybrid amp. In other words, there was a subtle difference to be discerned, but only a few could discern it, and then they got it the wrong way round    .

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The wine story could be driven by other factors: people who are not regular wine drinkers will typically appreciate wines with wore obvious and direct qualities: lighter, frutier or more alcoholic for example. And these are typically cheaper too...

When you go to the trouble of placing electrodes on people's heads, you don't just stop at one comparison. The message is, whatever the quality of the wine, the non-connoisseur will accept what he's told. If he/she is told that the inferior wine is the high quality wine, then the brain's pleasure centres record the experience of greater pleasure when drinking the inferior wine. The reverse is also true. When the expensive wine is correctly identified as the better quality wine, to the subjects, they experience the greater pleasure when drinking the expensive wine.
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jani

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #62 on: February 05, 2009, 05:41:27 am »

Quote from: NikosR
Supply and demand principle still is very much applicable in the world of trade. Please take a look at what's happening around you these days. You are referring to macroeconomic theories but that's another discussion altogether.

Market perception and the rest you're discussing are simply factors which influence demand.
The phrase used was "simple supply and demand".

When you take a look at the more modern representations of supply and demand, which don't merely look at simple factors, then it has a higher degree of relevance.

While I'd love to get into a discussion about how this does and doesn't relate to what's happening around me these days, I fear that this is a bit too off-topic, so I'll stop here.
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Ray

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #63 on: February 05, 2009, 07:39:15 am »

Quote from: jani
The phrase used was "simple supply and demand".

I'll rephrase that. Simply put, it's a sometimes complex equation of supply and demand. Happy?  
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barryfitzgerald

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #64 on: February 08, 2009, 03:48:57 pm »

I feel another "your camera does not matter" thread coming on very shortly ;-)
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jjj

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #65 on: February 09, 2009, 03:04:48 am »

Quote from: Ray
I think I've made a similar comment in this thread or perhaps another one. I call it the placebo effect. But what is interesting about this effect is that it's actually real, in a sense. The brain and body can actually respond as though the performance claims are true. When audiophiles spend $200 on a couple of short lengths of copper wire to attach the amplifier to the loudspeakers, they can actually experience more pleasure when listening to their favourite music. They imagine the sound quality is improved and (presumably) as a consequence of such imaginings, there is change in the brain that registers this effect.
A while back, a friend of mine asked to listen to some music and his hifi sounded noticably better. He then revealed after I had noticed and commented on the improvement, than he had used better quality phono leads. No placebo. No imagining.
Other people may say that there is no difference between a 50D and a Phase 65+ back and the differences are simply the imagination of the  deluded fool who paid for the way more expensive MFD back.
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jjj

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #66 on: February 09, 2009, 03:17:02 am »

Quote from: Ray
The placebo effect is associated with a medical situation, but in reality a similar effect applies across the whole spectrum of human activity. When hi fi testing is done in a blind comparison, the valve amplifiers with a measured higher distortion are the only amplifiers which can be distinguished from the others, however expensive the others. Whether or not the sound of those valve amplifiers is preferred, is another question. I read one report of a blind test where a $400 Pioneer transistor amp was confused with a $10,000 Mark-Levinson hybrid valve amplifier. With the other amps in the test, the results were no better than tossing a coin. However, about 60% of the 'golden ears' attributed a slightly better quality of sound to the Pioneer in preference to the valve/hybrid amp. In other words, there was a subtle difference to be discerned, but only a few could discern it, and then they got it the wrong way round    .
Why is that the wrong way around? More expensive is not necessarily the best. I saw a review of TVs a while back and the cheapest was thought to have the best picture quality.
I've spent time listening to different hifis and different kit can cetainly sound markedly different.
Anyone who claims that you cannot hear any difference between amps is a cloth eared muppet akin to a blind man denying that green cannot be more that one shade or hue. If you really believe that, then surely all cameras must take the same quality image.
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Mosccol

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #67 on: February 09, 2009, 03:39:41 am »

Quote from: jjj
Anyone who claims that you cannot hear any difference between amps is a cloth eared muppet akin to a blind man denying that green cannot be more that one shade or hue. If you really believe that, then surely all cameras must take the same quality image.

Hmm not sure what your point is jjj - unless your view is another angle agreeing on the same story - and I agree too!

My story about HiFi had a slightly different angle: it was about very sharp diminishing returns as well as a minimum level of quality. So to go back to SLRs I would argue that any camera with decent individual pixel size (for low light performance), 12MPx and any form of image stabilisation has the potential to give you very very good photographs most of the time (all other things being equal, including the photographer). After that (the Good Enough threshold - the equivalent of your $400 Pioneer amp) you are into rapidly diminishing returns and personal preferences...

I would be interested in other examples of what constitutes Good Enough. As I said before, I think that Canon EOS 450D seems to be a modern threshold for me.
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barryfitzgerald

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #68 on: February 09, 2009, 05:20:22 am »

So 12mp is good enough for most..

But are we getting caught up in the "resolution" trap here. I won't say it's bad to have it..but really, I think unless you have a habit of making door sized prints..it's overstated.


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Mark D Segal

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #69 on: February 09, 2009, 09:07:36 am »

Quote from: Ray
What is puzzling to me is why these other attributes of image quality; dynamic range, noise and tonal range, did not stand out in the print from the P45 image to the extent that experienced photographers could recognise them. Such differences seem very significant on the DXOMark website even at the smaller print size of 8x12", and even when the G10 is compared with a lesser sensor than the P45, the A900. Got my point?

Ray, I think this observation gets to the nub of the issue at play here - there is a visual disconnect between differences of test results and differences you see with your eyes, and how/whether the one can be systematically correlated with the other.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #70 on: February 09, 2009, 09:15:28 am »

Quote from: Ray
However, I find it surprising that modern inkjet printers might not be capable of reproducing the greater subtlety and smoothness of tonal variation that are suggested on those DXO charts.

OK, you're suggesting that if the printer is on the critical path of image quality, its capabilities may set the boundaries of comparison below the lowest common denominator of the compared cameras. BUT that still raises an issue of how you translate visual impressions of image quality to a set of DxO numbers and vice versa. If it's hard to do this, which I think it is, it's also hard to tell whether the printer is the binding constraint. I'm using an Epson 3800 and I continue to be very impressed with the subtilities of tonal gradation and detail it reproduces.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 10:04:20 am by MarkDS »
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Ray

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #71 on: February 09, 2009, 09:35:17 am »

Quote from: jjj
A while back, a friend of mine asked to listen to some music and his hifi sounded noticably better. He then revealed after I had noticed and commented on the improvement, than he had used better quality phono leads. No placebo. No imagining.

Dear me! jjj. Have you been smoking something again??

It's widely recognised, if there is any credence to the benefits of oxygen-free copper interconnects, and other exotic formulations that cost an obscene amount of money, the audible improvements in sound quality are very, very subtle indeed.

Anecdotal evidence such as you've provided above is basically worthless without full details of the circumstances. People who specialise in getting objective assessments of the audible differences between hi fi equipment, arrange the listening environment very carefully. The comparisons have to be made within a small time frame, to avoid as much as possible changes in mood of the listener. It also helps to use a recording with which the listener is very familiar, is aware of every nuance. It is also essential of course that the listener is not aware of which equipment is in use at any given time.

Visiting your friend on one occasion and listening to a piece of music whilst in a particular mood, and having smoked a certain number of joints, then visiting your friend a few days or a few weeks later, and listening to a different (or even the same) piece of music, having smoked a different number of joints and being in a different mood, and declaring that the music sounds better, is fine. I'm happy for you.

But to declare that difference is due to the upgraded phono cables is just farcical   .  Unless the original phono cables were defective in some way. It's always possible that the plugs had become corroded to some extent, or that the original cables were just very cheap and inadequately shielded and never gave the sort of performance that one would expect from a properly designed pair of phono cables.

I don't think anyone is saying, and I'm certainly not, that there is no audible difference between very cheap and inadequate equipment, and properly designed equipment at a reasonable price.

Quote
Other people may say that there is no difference between a 50D and a Phase 65+ back and the differences are simply the imagination of the  deluded fool who paid for the way more expensive MFD back.

Never heard that before. Where did you see that? On this forum? I know that Michael did a comparison between the Canon G10 and the Phase P45+ and made A3+ size prints which he showed to a number of experienced photographers who couldn't tell the difference. Is this what you are referring to?

I think we all understand that at a size larger than A3+, the P45+ would identify itself, and if the nature of the subject were different, the smoother tonality of the P45 would have probably been apparent even at the the A3+ size, with icebergs at the Antartic, for example, or creamy smooth-skinned models.

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Ray

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #72 on: February 09, 2009, 09:39:47 am »

Quote from: jjj
Why is that the wrong way around? More expensive is not necessarily the best. I saw a review of TVs a while back and the cheapest was thought to have the best picture quality.
I've spent time listening to different hifis and different kit can cetainly sound markedly different.
Anyone who claims that you cannot hear any difference between amps is a cloth eared muppet akin to a blind man denying that green cannot be more that one shade or hue. If you really believe that, then surely all cameras must take the same quality image.

Cloth-eared muppets and blind people generally cannot tell the difference between well-designed, average-priced amplifiers and very expensive, exotic designs of amplifiers.

To hear the difference, you have to have good eyesight. At least good enough to recognize the brand name of the amplifier in use.
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Ray

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #73 on: February 09, 2009, 06:59:27 pm »

Quote from: MarkDS
Ray, I think this observation gets to the nub of the issue at play here - there is a visual disconnect between differences of test results and differences you see with your eyes, and how/whether the one can be systematically correlated with the other.

Mark,
Is it a disconnect or is it simply a matter of the characteristics of the photographed subject not being ideal to show up the differences that may exist? It's quite clear, for example, if you want to demonstrate the dynamic range differences between two cameras, you need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness. Likewise, if you want to demonstrate resolution differences, you need to photograph a subject that contains fine detail.

Why should it be any different for the other image quality characteristics, such as noise, tonal range and color sensitivity?
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Mark D Segal

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #74 on: February 09, 2009, 07:09:07 pm »

Ray. I agree that if one is using images in order to test for differences of any variable, there needs to be enough "range" of that variable in the images so that the differentials one is testing for would be able to show. But that is a different matter from being able to draw systematic inferences from variances in numbers to variances in visual impact - for example to be able to predict with any confidence that if you had a difference of 10 on a test between camera A and camera B, and a difference of 15 between camera A and Camera C that you would see an impact you could somehow say makes the print from C 50% better than the print from B in respect of that variable. That's where I think one runs into problems.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mosccol

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #75 on: February 09, 2009, 07:11:38 pm »

Quote from: Ray
Dear me! jjj. Have you been smoking something again??

It's widely recognised, if there is any credence to the benefits of oxygen-free copper interconnects, and other exotic formulations that cost an obscene amount of money, the audible improvements in sound quality are very, very subtle indeed.

Anecdotal evidence such as you've provided above is basically worthless without full details of the circumstances. People who specialise in getting objective assessments of the audible differences between hi fi equipment, arrange the listening environment very carefully. The comparisons have to be made within a small time frame, to avoid as much as possible changes in mood of the listener. It also helps to use a recording with which the listener is very familiar, is aware of every nuance. It is also essential of course that the listener is not aware of which equipment is in use at any given time.

Visiting your friend on one occasion and listening to a piece of music whilst in a particular mood, and having smoked a certain number of joints, then visiting your friend a few days or a few weeks later, and listening to a different (or even the same) piece of music, having smoked a different number of joints and being in a different mood, and declaring that the music sounds better, is fine. I'm happy for you.

But to declare that difference is due to the upgraded phono cables is just farcical   .  Unless the original phono cables were defective in some way. It's always possible that the plugs had become corroded to some extent, or that the original cables were just very cheap and inadequately shielded and never gave the sort of performance that one would expect from a properly designed pair of phono cables.

A bit of a side discussion this, but when I was a lot more into HiFi (and before I hit the age when male hearing accuracy in the highs start to diminish i.e. 35) I always refused to pay over the odds for cabling. Typically I would ask my dealer to supply me with 3 or 4 cables and then pick the one or two down from the top. One thing made a big difference though: cleaning/deoxydising all contacts in the chain about once a year wouldmake a tremendous difference for a very low cost.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 07:12:29 pm by Mosccol »
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Ray

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #76 on: February 09, 2009, 07:13:24 pm »

Quote from: MarkDS
OK, you're suggesting that if the printer is on the critical path of image quality, its capabilities may set the boundaries of comparison below the lowest common denominator of the compared cameras. BUT that still raises an issue of how you translate visual impressions of image quality to a set of DxO numbers and vice versa. If it's hard to do this, which I think it is, it's also hard to tell whether the printer is the binding constraint. I'm using an Epson 3800 and I continue to be very impressed with the subtilities of tonal gradation and detail it reproduces.

Mark,
I think it was someone else who suggested that subtle differences as seen on screen might get lost at the printing stage. I've never found that to be the case myself, provided the on-screen version is viewed at the same size as the print, and provided the monitor calibration and paper/ink profile is in order.
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Mark D Segal

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #77 on: February 09, 2009, 07:29:51 pm »

OK - same here.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Panopeeper

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #78 on: February 09, 2009, 07:36:42 pm »

Quote from: Ray
Is it a disconnect or is it simply a matter of the characteristics of the photographed subject not being ideal to show up the differences that may exist? It's quite clear, for example, if you want to demonstrate the dynamic range differences between two cameras, you need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness
It is absolutely clear, that if someone wants to measure or demonstrate the DR of a camera, one does not need to photograph something with a wide range of subject brightness.

It is the demonstration of the lack of understanding of the principles of digital photography, when someone requires such scenarios for comparison. The fact is, that exclusively the darkest shadows are interesting.
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Ray

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1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?
« Reply #79 on: February 09, 2009, 07:46:18 pm »

Quote from: MarkDS
Ray. I agree that if one is using images in order to test for differences of any variable, there needs to be enough "range" of that variable in the images so that the differentials one is testing for would be able to show. But that is a different matter from being able to draw systematic inferences from variances in numbers to variances in visual impact - for example to be able to predict with any confidence that if you had a difference of 10 on a test between camera A and camera B, and a difference of 15 between camera A and Camera C that you would see an impact you could somehow say makes the print from C 50% better than the print from B in respect of that variable. That's where I think one runs into problems.

Mark,
It's been mentioned a few times that the over all DXOMark score represents a 'weighted' assessment of a number of variables bundled into a single figure. One really needs to study the graphs under the various headings, such as SNR, DR etc, to get an idea of what to expect when comparing cameras.

One might find, for example, that at a normalised size of 8x12", camera A has 3dB less noise than camera B, at ISO 200, but the same DR. You would have to choose your subject carefully to get a visual confirmation of that one stop noise difference, especially bearing in mind the differences in the way converters handle noise, and the unavoidable manufacturing variations in equipment due to less than perfect quality control.

When I recently compared Bibble with ACR, I found that Bibble was indeed able to extract slightly more detail from a raw image than ACR, as some people had suggested, but only at the expense of greater noise. There was an implication to me that ACR might be applying a certain level of default noise reduction which one cannot turn off.
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