@friedmud: FYI, I wasn't actually responding to you with my last post. However, here are some responses to your points:
I guess my problem with your philosophy on noise boils down to this: You, just like every other luddite throughout history continue to claim that "What we have is good enough!". The problem is that you are WRONG and will be proven so as technology advances. In 5 years we'll wonder about how we put up with these noisy machines as we look forward to advances on our 45MP mirrorless pieces of awesome that we use in ways you cannot even fathom right now and you will still be saying things like "Why do you need something better than 45MP!"...
First off, there is no need for name calling. I'm not really sure how you can claim I'm a luddite...if you read anything else I've said on this forum, I probably more than anyone else believe we CAN achieve MUCH more than we have today. Not only that, I WANT to achieve more...in that respect, I'm very progressive. However I am also keenly aware that pretty much all of what we have today is DAMN GOOD!! So before you enthusiastically leap off the cliff of rudeness and spurt out inane things, make sure you know what your talking about. If you haven't read some of my other posts about megapixels and resolution and noise, which should thoroughly refute your opinion that I'm "just another luddite", please do before you decide to make more assumptions about who I am and what I want.
I don't deny that things will get better...however thats not my point. My point is that many people don't evaluate things like IQ in a realistic context
, and I think many other members of this forum will agree. Compare the noise of the 7D to just about ANY 35mm film grain, and I think you'll likely be astonished at how much better the 7D appears (aesthetics aside...different discussion.) Compare the noise of the 7D to the 450D at the identical resolutions, and I still think you'll be surprised. Scale the 450D images up, and they will be quite soft, and the lack of detail, despite their apparent lower noise, will be very clear. Scale the 7D images down, and the apparently hideous noise will suddenly not look all that bad, and you'll likely still see better detail to boot.
1. I can see the noise from an ISO 100 shot on my 7D when looking at the entire photo on my 27" screen. That is... NOT a 100% crop. Quit saying that noise is only an issue at 100%.
I am keenly aware that you have not always looked at your images at 100%. I remember reading all the replies where you stated as much, and remember the Lightroom screenshots you posted to demonstrate what you were talking about. However initially, the samples you uploaded were full-size images that downloaded at 100% for anyone who took the time to download them (which is probably what a lot of the comments about pixel-peeping were based on.) I did some experimentation with them myself, and zoomed out in Photoshop on my 30" Apple Cinemadisplay to the native print resolution (which, btw, is a lot larger than the 900px I commonly use for web viewing size), I can't see any noise at all. Earlier in this thread I posted a sample screenshot, similar to your screenshots of Lightroom...I don't know if you saw it, but I think it demonstrates quite well the power of noise absorption a little proper downscaling or printing can do. In Lightroom, all of my 7D an 450D images look very noisy when zoomed out...as far as I can tell, Lightroom does cheap nearest-neighbor filtering when zooming out. If you leave it for a while, or start dragging the image around, it either randomly or in a patchy manner decides to generate a better preview.
2.5 (Ninja Edit) Extreme resolution monitors are on the horizon (most likely this year). There are already talks of a 2880x1800 Macbook Pro... and an iMac could come out with 5120x2800! At those resolutions npise is going to start to be easily visible in a lot of photos!
Regarding high res screens...its higher density...smaller pixels more closely spaced. Much like print, the higher density will effectively "absorb" noise, not make it more visible, as the resolution approaches the limit of visual acuity. Its like viewing a photo at 100% on an iPhone 4s...the retina display is so high resolution with such an incredibly high pixel density, its literally like looking at a print...the noise is so fine you can barely see it (I would DIE to have a computer screen that pixel dense...it would be pure heaven!)
3. Cropping: one of the main reasons to move up to a higher MP is so you can crop a bit closer. If your image has a ton of noise in it that negates a lot of your ability to crop.
I tend to crop myself as well, particularly with my bird photography, so I understand what your getting at. Remember, I also own the XSi (450D) camera, so I also have the ability to make direct comparisons between the two cameras. In the 450D, noise at or above ISO800 was horrid...and it ate detail for breakfast! The 7D trounces the 450D in that respect...it LOOKS noisier, however there is almost twice the detail. I'd take the 7D noise over the 450D (XSi) noise any day...I care about detail preservation (i.e. fine feather detail), not apparent noise cleanness. I've also found that I can push Lightroom noise reduction much farther with the 7D before I start to see visible degradation of fine detail (around 75-80 or so), where as the 450D would start to lose detail around a setting of 45-50 or so, sometimes earlier than that at ISO1600. Don't forget that the 7D has 48% more resolution, so no matter how much noiser it may look, its still preserving a hell of a lot more detail than the 450D can even capture in the first place.
4. Different people have different purposes for their photography. If you are doing portraits, you might leave the final picture a bit soft so as to downplay facial blemishes. However, if you are shooting landscapes you want to bring out every detail and that means "sharpening". If there is a ton of noise hanging around it might not matter to the person doing portraits, however if you are trying to sharpen tiny details in your photo (that you bought an 18MP camera to capture) noise makes life extremely difficult.
Regarding camera purpose, sure, there are different reasons to use a camera. But the reason you take a photo doesn't usually change the presentation mediums most of the time. Portraits are often printed at 8x10 or so, which is still a fairly significant downscaling from the 7D's native print resolution which is about 13x19" with a small border (17.5x12", to be exact.) For landscapes, you would have to print at 4'4"x3' at 300ppi for the print to match the pixel size of the monitor at 100%, or about 3'x2' for it to match lightroom when viewing at "full". Many people print no larger than 11x16, some stop at 13x19, and for those who have the ability, some print at 17x22. I know a photographer who has ALL their landscape prints framed in simple black frames with simple off-white matting at 8x10 in a gigantic collage on their wall (its actually pretty amazing)! For those who DO print at huge size, careful and meticulous attention is usually paid to the process of scaling the image up properly so as to eliminate as much noise as possible while maintaining as much sharpness and detail as possible, so its difficult to compare an actual print of multi-foot dimensions apples-to-apples with a 100% display on screen. I like my large prints to be viewable from 2-3 feet without apparent softening, however many of the people I know who print that large only care about people standing 5-6 feet back, in which case noise doesn't even enter into the equation.
5. You keep claiming that all anyone does is look at tiny versions of your photos. I will mostly agree with that (but add a caveat about cropping - and how that effectively means that even viewers of your prints are "zoomed in"). However, what if that didn't have to be the case??
You state that I claim all people see is tiny versions of photos. On the contrary, I claim that people view them at realistic sizes
. On a computer screen, those sizes tend to be several times smaller than native resolution (500-900 pixels wide is the most common range people scale their images down to for display on the web, and many of the better sites like 1x.com or 500px.com mandate a maximum resolution of around 900px wide). An average print is 300ppi, or pixels per inch. The average professional's computer screen is 96ppi, with the high end about 103-106ppi (i.e. Apple CinemaDisplays, LaCei, Eizo, NEC), and the low end...the dirt cheap LCD screens that can't be considered an adequate viewing medium in any serious context...at 72ppi. Photoshop has a handy button when using the zoom tool: "Print Size". It scales images on-screen to the matching physical print size. Try using that on a few of your shots (make sure you configure Photoshop with your proper screen PPI first), and see how they look. Hold up a piece of paper that matches the cameras native resolution (i.e. a 13x19" A3+ sheet), and see how the on-screen image fits perfectly inside the frame of the piece of paper. THAT is what I am talking about most of the time.
With 7D images, print is usually around
42% the native size of the image
34% the native size of the image (Edit: Sorry, the original 42% was for 240ppi, not 300ppi), which amounts to 2.94x more noise absorption power than viewing an image at 100% (or 1.0x). Lightroom's fit view usually displays images larger than that, a little larger than 50% on my screen, so it has about 1.75-1.8x or so noise absorption power (when it actually decides to render the preview properly.) At the fine resolution of a print...and a 13x19" print is fairly big, mind you...noise is below or just at the visual acuity of the human eye (1/60th of a degree, or more precisely around 55 arcseconds, for 20/20 vision) at a normal viewing distance (keep in mind, were not talking 4" viewing distance with a loupe....were talking about a foot or so.) When I say people don't view most photos the way the photographer views them on-screen when post-processing with Lightroom or Photoshop, I'm basing my statements on some basic science and math (which I can go into, of you or anyone else is interested, since this debate can be settled with a little math and real-world facts.)
Last, while you may have been the initiator of this thread, not all of my replies have been directed at you. Many of them have been clearly and expressly directed at other participants, as should have been clearly indicated by who I quoted. My last response was a direct reply to something @Orangutan stated (I thought inaccurately) about people who downsize for electronic viewing vs. people who print large. I think its important to be explicit, especially in discussions related to image noise, as it is a highly controversial topic and making vague or blanket statements that lack specificity leads to misnomers that are often regurgitated without a proper understanding (sadly, thus is the nature of the internet.) Much of the complaints over noise (even if it IS higher today than we might likely see in the future) are based on a lack of understanding or a misunderstanding of realistic viewing contexts that cover the majority of viewers using computers or viewing prints. I've only tried to be clear about the facts, in hopes that it EDUCATES people...nothing else.