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Author Topic: Everything Matters. It's All About The "Small Details" by Mark Dubovoy Jan 2012  (Read 46535 times)

david_duffin

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LOL -- personal opinion is what the best writing is all about.

It could be that the article needs a modicum of white balance applied, but one cannot say that it has insufficient contrast.
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Photo Op

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The OP seems to be a photographic 1%er, no disrespect intended. When he wrote-

".......because there are lots of self proclaimed "experts" that are, in reality, far from being true experts and do not understand either the craft or the science beyond a very cursory lay person superficial level......"

I understood I as the "lay person" was going to be lectured by the "expert" who understood the craft and science of photography.

Nice photos, :(


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David

Eric Myrvaagnes

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While I want high quality also, in the end the emotional impact of photographic images is what is most important to me personally. Eleanor

Thank you, Eleanor.

Your single sentence contains more essential substance than Mark's entire essay.

Eric
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Dohmnuill

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Mark D. surely should become a painter if he worried about controlling "small details".

It is impossible to control most detail in any photograph. Instead, we try to group together some chosen details into an arrangement we call a composition.
 
Some might make use of the clone or healing brush to remove or alter details that don't "fit". Even then, we're not always aware of what all the details might be - someone will come along and point out something in a print about which we were completely unaware.

I agree with Mark about his ideas on what we can sense and how that relates to seeing something new or different in a print.
Much of the horrendous HDR seen on photo sites might be an attempt to create something "new", but our senses are immediately jarred by its incongruity, falseness or unreality. The glowing radioactive foreground of a shot which has almost no natural light source remaining is a typical incongruity that detracts from other aspects of a shot.
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Isaac

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LOL -- personal opinion is what the best writing is all about.
That's a rather sweeping personal opinion. While you may have found the article entertaining, others - justifiably - found the article unconvincing.
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Rob C

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That's a rather sweeping personal opinion. While you may have found the article entertaining, others - justifiably - found the article unconvincing.


Trouble is, Isaac, take away personal opinion and there's only catechism.

Rob C

eleanorbrown

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Thanks Eric.  In this discussion I am reminded of Voltaire's famous quote: "the perfect is the enemy of the good".  Perfection is unattainable and when someone...any one of us, gets too caught up in the compulsive pursuit  of perfection in anything, it is so easy to loose track of what in the end  is really important or good or beautiful or moving, or whatever.   No camera or system or sensor size should ever become the holy grail in photography.  Eleanor

Thank you, Eleanor.

Your single sentence contains more essential substance than Mark's entire essay.

Eric

"While I want high quality also, in the end the emotional impact of photographic images is what is most important to me personally." Eleanor
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feppe

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So I read the audiophile paragraph, explaining how CDs have unbearable sound, and how there is a "pretty much universal consensus that analog still sounds better than digital." Mark is known for hyperbolic statements (re: the infamous dynamic range of prints seen across a room), and I guess one needs to make such claims to drive traffic these days. Fine. It's free, so I'll take some bs with the rest of the content.

But then it went to crazy town with the claim that you have to break in power cables for optimum sound. I just couldn't read further, as I was going back and forth between physical revulsion and giggling laughter.

Is there any sanity in the rest of the article?

bartfrassee

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This article simply should not have been published as it is. Comparing an iPhone 4S shot to a Phase One Alpha IQ180 shot is plain silly. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Those two cameras and their image processing have been optimized for different use cases and for different kinds of users. In addition, it most probably is also a comparison between "all auto" (iPhone) and "all manual" (MF).

For part two of this article I expect the author to prove his point with a sound comparison. I would even accept a comparison between the tiny sonsor of a Nikon V1 and the author's IQ180. But this time the test shots should really be comparable, i.e. same angle, same conditions, comparable camera (and JPEG) settings, image quality manually maxed out for both systems, etc. (Also, both images should be encoded in the same color space, not one in sRGB and the other in ProPhotoRGB. Some browsers simply ignore color space information and thus misinterpret ProPhotoRGB data.)

The author has some good points, but as he said, the details matter: get the details wrong (references to esoteric audiophile thinking, badly executed comparison, etc.) and the whole article is spoiled.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 03:50:15 am by bartfrassee »
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Isaac

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Trouble is, Isaac, take away personal opinion and there's only catechism.
Trouble is, Rob, I haven't said "take away personal opinion" and what you said doesn't make sense.
Take away personal opinion and Which brand of toothpaste did I use this morning? is a varying matter of fact not a matter of religious indoctrination.
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ErikKaffehr

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Hi,

Just a personal observation, I use Sony cameras and bought the better ones from time to time. I had Sony's top camera, the Alpha 900 for three years. Unfortunately, I never felt that I have taken my best pictures with that camera. Four/five years ago had better opportunity to travel and other positive factors.

Obviously, I would have preferred to have that full frame Sony on past travel but it was not invented yet at that time. Hopefully I can revisit some of my favorite places in the coming years.

Best regards
Erik


Thanks Eric.  In this discussion I am reminded of Voltaire's famous quote: "the perfect is the enemy of the good".  Perfection is unattainable and when someone...any one of us, gets too caught up in the compulsive pursuit  of perfection in anything, it is so easy to loose track of what in the end  is really important or good or beautiful or moving, or whatever.   No camera or system or sensor size should ever become the holy grail in photography.  Eleanor

"While I want high quality also, in the end the emotional impact of photographic images is what is most important to me personally." Eleanor
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Rob C

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1.  Trouble is, Rob, I haven't said "take away personal opinion" and what you said doesn't make sense. 2.  Take away personal opinion and Which brand of toothpaste did I use this morning?[/i] is a varying matter of fact not a matter of religious indoctrination.



1.  Makes perfect sense to me; catechism and religion are not exclusively bound, the one to the other. Beyond personal opinion lies only received wisdom, the echo of another opinon, the catechism learned at the feet of the other opinions.

2.  No, it's an example of a bad memory.

Rob C

Isaac

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Trouble is, Rob, I haven't said "take away personal opinion".

I think I'll leave you to quarrel with yourself.
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kwalsh

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Beyond personal opinion lies only received wisdom, the echo of another opinon, the catechism learned at the feet of the other opinions.

Interesting, no such thing as empirical observation in your world?  Everything is just words, your words or the words of someone else?  No facts, no observables, just varieties of "opinion" and "wisdom".  Very telling as to why you are having trouble communicating with some in this thread :)

Ken
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Schewe

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Comparing an iPhone 4S shot to a Phase One Alpha IQ180 shot is plain silly.

Actually it's not...I wrote a comparison between an iPhone 3, Rebel, 1DsMIII and a P65+ in my book Real World Image Sharpening...if you compare what are small but not at all atypical repro sizes, the difference between an iPhone and P65+ for an image reproduced in halftone at a size of 2"x3", you would have a hard time determining the differenceĖthe difference being primarily the DR of the shot-the iPhone has a hard time containing bright highlights (not unlike Mark's example).

I think a lot of people here are having fun piling on Mark...Mark is a perfectionist on matters of audio, wine and photography (also cars and other high-end stuff). Yes, he is prone to making inflammatory commentsĖfor a reason. The fact that so many of the posters in this thread are first posters here on LuLa kinda tells you something. Mark is willing to take a stand and stick his head up on the air. The net result being you catch a lot of crap. (I kinda have some experience in this phenomena). If you don't like what Mark wrote, unread it. Either that or demand your money back. Oh, wait...you didn't PAY any money to read the article did ya?
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dreed

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I think a lot of people here are having fun piling on Mark...Mark is a perfectionist on matters of audio, wine and photography (also cars and other high-end stuff).

Please explain to me why *any* of that should be mentioned in an article on photography?

If the writer knows his craft and is considered by some to be an expert in it, then they should be able to convey the required information without needing to talk about other fields.
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paulbk

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Of course everything matters. But nowhere near as much as the piece claims. I assume we're talking about photography, not satellite reconnaissance. The A vs B comparison is a load. (And it's glaring.) Unless you're shooting micro grain structure in a metallurgical laboratory, artistic eye and having something to say matter far more than any of the topics mentioned. The image is made in the mind.

Ask Michael about his print comparison a few years ago in his Toronto studio.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 09:01:40 pm by paulbk »
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paul b. kramarchyk
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photodan

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This is in support of Mark Dubovoyís article:  I am restricting my comments to those technical aspects of his article regarding the audiophile analogy and the photo comparison.  When I read Markís articles I keep in mind that he is, in my opinion, a perfectionist with a technical bent. Not everyoneís cup of tea orientation of course, but I can relate to it so therefore I like to read his articles.

Although I found the article interesting and informative, others obviously have not, and some even have called for future articles to be heavily edited or censored altogether. This is a serious over-reaction in my opinion. Surely there is room for a variety of world-views, so to speak, in the articles on this site. If  you donít like an article, or think itís full of hogwash- fine, just ignore the articles in the future and/or criticize them at that time as is being done now. But elimination of them Ė way over the top!

One of his major points is his opinion to not rely on engineering specs (DxO specs for example, as related to photography). Test a product and look at the final results. Regardless of specs and test lab results in restricted circumstances, the results in real-world conditions (your shooting conditions) may yield different conclusions as to how Ďgoodí a lens is (at least as it relates to each photographer).  I heartily agree. Does anyone really disagree with this? 

Test results can be a good guide as to things to look for, but I have encountered many instances where I prefer a lens that didnít test out in published lab test as well as another one Ė it could relate to the bokeh, or micro-contrast or whatever, for which there may not be adequate tests (not to mention just pure personal preference as to various tradeoffs in lens qualities).

As to his photo comparison I do think it would have been better to use a small sensor camera that shoots in raw, something that has similar DxO specs to the medium format back used in the test (dynamic range, color sensitivity etc.). Then, try to get the Ďbestí out of each, using a raw processor such as Adobe Camera Raw, or LR. Then present the results. Not layers and such - just simple raw processor adjustments such as black/white points, highlights recovery, etc.  Not an objective test, but I believe it would be a more practical and valid comparison. It might show that DxO is right on the money, or it might show that the specs donít tell enough of the story (as Mark asserts).

Mark used audio as an analogy for contrasting actual experience vs. specs. I think itís a useful analogy on an absolute basis. However on a relative basis- meaning percent improvement vs. cost, perhaps not that universally applicable (and so far most of the comments on this forum indicate that is an understatement).  While his power cable portion of the analogy may be a bit much for me, I  support much of what Mark said, via my own personal experience.

I have a fair amount of lay-person experience in music Ė I play several instruments, my mother was a professional singer, and my late father was a mechanical engineer an amateur recording engineering using old-time pro equipment Ė 15ips tape, tube equipment, high end (for their time) speakers etc.   I have attended many live music performances of small and large groups; gone to many audiophile shows, performed extensive listening sessions in various showrooms, and have tried out a large amount of mid to high end equipment in my home (and some years ago purchased some low-end audiophile equipment that has given me much enjoyment to this day).

 I have heard live music vs. almost immediate recorded playback, analog via tape vs. live, vs. CD, DAT, LP, direct-to-disc, etc.  As the result of my experience I do believe that the best analog is superior, in some way or ways, to the digital Iíve heard. And very generally speaking, expensive equipment often sounds a lot better than inexpensive equipment.  I donít feel that expensive cables and such are worth much to me, and the differences in sound can perhaps be replicated in other ways. But that doesnít negate the other aspects that relate to tubes vs. transistors, and distortions in the digital recording and playback chain (that have more deleterious effects in some ways than the analog distortions).
 
The 1st generation of digital, marketed as perfect sound, sounded dead and unmusical to me. Succeeding generations of digital is trending much better. Yes digital has perhaps more headroom/dynamic range, less noise, less harmonic and non-harmonic distortion, and better frequency response in some respects than analog. But there is something about analog that is more real and more natural sounding to me. I have yet to see specs that relate to this. 

Some will say that Iím deluded, or that I prefer the large euphonic harmonic distortion of analog (tube pre-amps / amps for example). Well, whatever Ė fine, Iíll take what sounds more realistic and truly musical to me.   I know how music sounds, and I know that digital sounds inferior to me in some regards.

OTOH, as a practical matter, most music is released on CD, not on LPs, and I donít want to deal with having to make sure my stylus is aligned perfectly and that I keep the records totally clean etc -Just like I gave up shooting large format film with all its maintenance requirements, not to mention the processing. Plus, digital audio is getting better, with improvements in jitter reduction, digital to analog conversion etc.  Now if only most audio would be released in a widely available format beyond the regular CD :-)

Most of the population seems to be involved in the convenience of downloading compressed music and video, and playing with the so-called art filters on photos from their smart phones, rather than obtaining better sounding fidelity such as from CD and better video such as from Blu-ray. 

And, yes - art matters more than technical quality to most people, but what is wrong in pursuing both,  or at least discussing both?

The topics discussed on LL donít concern most of the population, as they are too esoteric and quality driven.  Markís technical quality objectives seem to be another cut beyond most photographers objectives.  Iím not saying that Mark's objectives are important or should be to others,  or should not be to others. Iím saying that they are worthy in their own right, and since they are applicable to at least  some people beyond just Mark, that they deserve a hearing.
 
I look forward to Mark's next installment.
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PierreVandevenne

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There has to be a reality check at some point.

Michael does a nice, well documented, field test comparing a Sony and a Leica (at least I found it a nice test). Since those things are always a bit subective, he gets some (undeserved imho) flak and gracefully returns to the topic. Now, that is what makes this site a great source of info.

Can we agree on that?

Mark, for the fourth time or so, tackles is pet topic, which is that MFDBs are better than absolutely everything else and that only poor ignoramuses would fail to understand that. Assuming he knows how to write, he purposefully adopts a condescending tone: he is on a mission to educate the unwashed masses. We get the usual round of flawed analogies, mind blowing claims, culminating this time with a magical power cord (but that is somehow not magical enough that it works at once, it needs to be broken in). The whole things sounds a bit childish, as if the main purpose of the article was to remind everyone that he has access to all the toys he wants.  All of this in an article whose main point is that "details do matter", which in itself, is generally consensual and hardly worth an "essay".

Now, assume we get that point, don't "details" matter in the way an article is written?

If the lesson is that we should worry about picoseconds, last yard power transmission, Stradivarius and so on, shouldn't we expect better than a branch, some fog and an amazingly crappy flower bouquet as illustrations?

And to make matter worse, if one of the file actually came from an iPhone, this sentence is borderline misleading.

Quote
The images received no processing adjustments.  I exposed them as carefully as possible, did a direct conversion from RAW to TIFF with no adjustments and since both images had a lot more pixels than 600x800, I reduced the image size in Photoshop using the standard "bi-cubic sharper" algorithm.

Yes, a lawyer would argue that Mark did not say "two direct conversions..." But still, it is obviously confusing...

In short: condescending and patronizing overtones don't mix well with imprecise (yes, I am charitable) sentences and outlandish unrelated claims.

I imagine the flak would even be worse if people were unaware of Mark's position in Lula...

Anyway, ultimately, we are given a rationale: "MFDBs have better pixels". Well, the hard truth here is that they do not: they are different, in the sense that CCD is different from CMOS, but being of an older generation, in a smaller market, they unfortunately aren't "better" in the absolute sense of the term. No magic cable will ever coerce them into producing a better dynamic range than their engineering specs suggest. FWC and read noise are what they are. Modern CMOS sensors have lower read noise and better dynamic range.

I am sure that if Mark said

"I love MFDBs and I will try to show you why in this wonderfully illustrated article" instead of "some barbarians are still unaware that there is one camera to rule them all..."

he would be extremely well received.

PS: I do prefer CCD pixels to CMOS pixels myself, but wouldn't claim they are "better".
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