Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Image qualities aren't necessarily measurable

Some great points at the Landscapist on the techno-weenie discussions on-going about micro 4/3. Summed up: the mockers state that IQ will be poor due to smaller than other sized sensors.

There's not a thing as "Image Quality", there are image qualities, and because they are qualities (rather than quantities) they are by nature subjective.

The current talk that all shot have to be perfectly noise free at the pixel level at EI 1 gazillion, misses the point about qualities of images. back when getting ISO1600 meant grainy black and white, I don't think there was a hankering after ISO25 like smooth tones. The high speed leant itself to particular kinds of situations and images and conferred certain qualities therefrom.

There is one aspect to the digital techno babble that I can relate to (but rarely gets mentioned) and that is about lost changes. By that I mean desirable things left out, or undesirable things added, which mean we are stuck with undesirable results. Mostly this gets talked about in terms of lost resolution or added noise. The point being that once we have an unrecoverable result, there is nothing more we can do. However, there are too few talking about what can be achieved with given parameters. Many "noisy" cameras produce very nice black and white in low light, a digital return to the days of grainy film. It is a different set of qualities conferred on the pictures.

One group who seem to buck the trend are the Sigma DP-1 fans. They seem to talk very much about what the camera can do, rather than what it can't. Of course, if you actually want it to do something it can't, it's not the device for you.

But of course, all that requires thinking, which seems to be the antithesis of modern cameras.

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