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Author Topic: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?  (Read 3778 times)

thepancakeman

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« on: December 09, 2011, 02:38:14 PM »
Wasn't sure whether to add this to one of several existing threads or start a new one, so here we go.  This touches on topics in the "earthshattering disappointment of 7D" the contest images and several others.

Obviously there are differences in taste:  some people like landscapes, some prefer photos of people; some like color, some like black and white, etc. etc.

My theory is that beyond taste, people have different sensitivies to various "imperfections".  It's kind of hard to explain, but essentially while one person may be driven nuts by noise, another person may not even see the noise but go bonkers because of a slight barrel distortion.  Some may be sensitive to CA (chromatic abberation), and others notice every weakness in DR (dynamic range).

Reading thru the 7D disappointment thread, some people are like "yuck, noise!" and others are like "looks fine to me."  I wonder if this isn't partly do to the phenomenon I'm suggesting.  Personally I see a fair amount of noise on those photos and it bothers me, but some of the other "issues" that people pointed out do not phase me in the slightest.  One of the features mentioned as a selling point for DxO was that it can automatically correct lens distortions.  My response is "lenses have distortions??"  Obviously I know that is true and can see it when pointed out to me, but I am not even slightly sensitive to it.  Not too long ago I saw a person complain that long shutter times on water (creating the smooth look) were terrible because that's not "how the eye sees."  I think eye does not freeze time at all, so neither smooth nor sharp water would be what the eye actually sees but obviously that hits something to which he or she is more sensitive to.

Thoughts/comments?

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« on: December 09, 2011, 02:38:14 PM »

jrista

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2011, 02:50:52 PM »
I think its a reasonable assumption. Human sight is such an amazing and complex thing, who knows exactly why it works the way it does, or why one individual may latch onto one aspect of an image while another latches onto an entirely different aspect. While friedmud really seems to hate the amount of noise present in a 100% crop of that image, the cyan/magenta CA fringe really drives me nuts! Ironically, neither of those two things are visible at all when those photos are scaled down to an equivalent 300ppi print size on my 103dpi screen. ;)

I was really concerned about getting a 7D myself, as some friends from another forum I'm a regular at noted how horrid and unacceptable ISO100 noise was. I pored over threads and vimeo videos on the web to see how bad it really was, and the one consistent thing in all my research was 100% crops. I guess thats another aspect of the human brain, perhaps another way it  latches onto things. I always try to keep in the forefront of my mind that examining image detail at 100% on a high quality, high contrast computer screen is nothing like viewing a print. While I publish most of my work online, my ultimate, final goal is to produce prints of my work. I am acutely aware that my screen has about 1/3rd the pixel density of an average print (300/360ppi), and 1/6th the pixel density of a high resolution print (600/720ppi). At print sizes below 13x19, a considerable amount of noise is completely absorbed. At 13x19 to around 24x36, a certain amount of noise often helps prevent banding and other unsightly print artifacts.

Perhaps the problem is simply the context of comparison? Comparing 100% on-screen results is always going to bring out the worst, in any undesirable aberration. Is it possible to change peoples thinking...encourage them to perform comparisons in real-world contexts? Such as 750px or 900px wide for on-screen viewing (which is about the same physical size as a 4x6 or 5x7 print)? Or actually printing out similar photos from two cameras, and compare the results?
« Last Edit: December 09, 2011, 03:10:07 PM by jrista »

AprilForever

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2011, 03:54:24 PM »
Those who hate the 7D noise need to grab a roll of Kodak Gold 100 (the cheap kind you can get for like 5 bucks in a drug store) and shoot it, then compare noise levels...
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skitron

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2011, 04:02:18 PM »
I used to really belabor similar things in the audio world. As a result I did extensive mods to my A/D/A, built custom preamps, did vacuum tube implants in studio microphones, all kinds of crazy stuff. And it all did in fact make improvements for the better. Too bad it's not so simple in the camera world. But I learned that, while I'm all for raising the bar (and eagerly waiting for 5D3), it's a huge mistake to sidetracked from the infinitely bigger question of *content quality*. So yeah, I'll play too when it comes to disecting the technicals but I don't get very wrapped up in them anymore. And if the technicals do start to bother me I'll just go buy a used Phase One and call it a day...
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Orangutan

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2011, 04:03:12 PM »
>people have different sensitivies to various "imperfections".

Absolutely, and I imagine many before you have noticed the same thing.  My explanation of this is that photography, more than, say, painting, is as much about curation as creation.  I.e., we examine our world and select a view we want to capture.  Then we attempt to capture it as we want to see it.  Then we do it a bunch more.  Then we go back to our computers to adjust, and finally to select the fraction that actually meet our standards.  The rest are discarded or filed away.  But each of us curates photos in a different way, and we train our eyes to see what's important to us: noise, color, distortion or composition.

EYEONE

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2011, 04:06:54 PM »
It's probably a matter of many different factors. When I first got my Rebel I was incredibly noise sensitive. I didn't want a single pixel of noise in my pictures so I would shoot as low as possible all the time. By the time I got my 7D I was still pretty sensitive to it but I was "recovering". It wasn't until about 6 months ago when I just got tired of worrying about it. I don't really have the time nor the energy to pixel peep and study ways to keep the noise low.

I'd rather have a noisy shot than a blurry shot. I've shot portions of weddings and concerts at ISO 4000 or so because I had to. It wasn't a big deal. The shots required more work in post than the others but I managed to get some portfolio worthy pictures out of it.

It was like one day I just woke up and decided that my time as better spent shooting than worrying about noise. Basically just get the shot. That's your main goal as a photographer. Worry about composition instead of noise. Focusing on that will better serve you.
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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2011, 04:54:08 PM »
I used to really belabor similar things in the audio world. As a result I did extensive mods to my A/D/A, built custom preamps, did vacuum tube implants in studio microphones, all kinds of crazy stuff. And it all did in fact make improvements for the better.

Ditto, I built my entire sound system (speakers, amp, tube turntable amp) instead of buying, to get something sounding good, then I just conveniently ignore all the dirt making pops on my vinyl (and don't bother washing them)...

Back to cameras, I've tried PanoTools for de-barrelising, i've tried DPP's auto-vignetting and CA corrections.
None of them I use any more. Not that i'm lazy (although there is a bit of that), I'm just being realistic. So far I've only printed proofs at 4x6, soon i'm going to print some 8x10 pics of my missus' sisters' dog for her xmas present, and I doubt i'll see any CA or noise issues in anything that size either.
As I wrote in the 7D thread, it's all about expectations.
Someone moving from a 5D2 to 7D might hate it for IQ, or they might love it for the AF, FPS, or other features.
Someone moving from an xxxD, point and shoot, or film might love it, or they might ignore all the other good features and concentrate on one negative, like noise.
Some people won't be happy with an IQ180 and Schneider-Kreuznach or Zeiss glass, because for the price they've expected a lot more than it could have been.
Not saying that this is what friedmud is doing, he came with a question that I interpreted as "is this normal or a dud?", unforunately I haven't processed a RAW from his camera in my workflow to be able to comment on that (and the thread seems to have been hijacked in parts by people with strong opinions regardless).

There's always going to be semblances of "a poor workman blames his tools, but moreso, there should be "the right tool for the job".
I bought my 7D as my first dslr, and my 2nd digital camera (8mp olympus u820 came before), mainly for price. I took a month deciding between it and the 5D2, I went for the 7D and 15-85 with 70-300, otherwise I would have only gotten the 5D2 and 28-135 or something. Only after I bought it did I discover how much I liked birding, which is probably one of the best uses for a 7D.
I accept that there's limitations on using it for landscapes, astro, long exposures, low-light, etc. I still use it for these, but I'm not going to go into business selling star-trails, it's for my fun only. I will get a FF one day, maybe only even a 5D or 1Ds2, or even film (i'm planning on a film-Medium Format before that though).
(Coincidentally, I've been unemployed for 6 months and more and more people are telling me that I should be a pro-photographer for a living. It's hard explaining to someone that I've spent $5k on equipment that I wouldn't even think once about shooting a wedding or concert with. Even when they see some samples I show of concerts I have done for fun, they just don't see the noise or other limitations that I do).

I've got a friend who just got a 550D and 18-55IS. He's taking shots already, that I would have loved to have taken, he's got a very good eye for things, and he's certainly practising like crazy. He isn't pixel-peeping (probably doesn't even know what the term means), he's looking at the big-picture (both literally and metaphorically), his composition skills are great already, I can see him becoming a good street-shooter if he sticks at it, even if some of his stuff can't be blown up past 15" now, some of it would be worth buying at that size.

Learning is another thing. Unfortunately for return-policies, I'd say it takes a few good months of practising before even thinking about calling a new body not suitable, even if you're already proficient with the software and have a workflow setup for another body already. I've been playing with Hugin for stitching panoramas lately, i've learnt so much in the last 2 months that i'm going back to the originals I made when I started and re-stitching them, they look so much better just from my skill increase (with the same program and same input files).

As for the OP comment about lenses. I'm one of those people who hate seeing CA and purple-fringing in high-contrast photos. But I just don't feel like spending the time learning how to de-CA them. I know which lenses are the culprits (my Zeiss Sonnar 180/2.8 for example, even worse with a 2x T/C), so instead of PPing, I just shoot accordingly, and avoid those scenes where the purple monster will appear. Someone else might do exactly the opposite, shoot everything and learn the software. Neither is right or wrong, but everyone has a preference.
More than that, I'd rather get a better lens. I did a direct sharpness comparison of my Samyang 35/1.4 to my 15-85. Never mind that it's a zoom, never mind that it has a 15-34 and 36-85 range added on, never mind that it's smaller, and has IS and very-nice AF, but I just haven't used the 15-85 much since. I hope I will when I travel again one day, or I may as well sell it.
I also hate cropping, because I can never decide what looks better. Or maybe because I compose with the viewfinder and it's already perfectly cropped. I don't just pull the trigger and hope to get somthing that looks better later. I'd rather take the scene as I see it out in the field or wherever, and only rarely crop, like when i'm already at 300mm.

And it's been said already, but just take the shot, and fix it later, better than no shot.
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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2011, 04:54:08 PM »

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2011, 07:09:56 PM »
All the APS C cameras will have more noise than a ff with similar technology.  The 7D is no exception.  It has a very fine grain noise that cleans up nicely.

I use my 7D when light is adequate, and my 5D MK II when light is low.  I did use the 7D at ISO 4000 at a very poorly lit event, and to my surprise, the printed images aren't that bad.  Lots of fine detail is lost by the NR, and it certainly looks awful at 100%.

Some use the 5D MK II at ISO 6400, but 3200 has been my limit unless I absolutely must have that extra stop.  When lightroom 3 came out, I reprocessed all my older images, and at 6400, my MK II images don't look so bad anymore.  Neither do my old 7D images.

I may have to try DXO.  I downloaded it so I merely need to find time to do a fair comparison with it, DPP, and lightroom/photoshop.

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2011, 07:59:42 PM »
One man's meat is another man's poisons.

When it comes to details in our equipment like ISO capabilities or how many MP we need we all have different opinions, when it comes to photos some people only want to see stunning landscapes whilst others marvel in the world of macro photography. Some other people just photograph whatever they are asked to do and don't really put themsleves into their photos as it's a pay check (this is the minority of pro's from my experience I should point out).

We all use different gear, we all have different needs, we all take different pics. Some people will love your photos, others will not understand the fuss and think all photos look alike. At the end of the day as long as we are happy with the photos we take none of the other stuff matters.


dppaskewitz

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2011, 08:42:14 PM »
Pancakeman:  I think you are dead on.  To prove your point, let's play "what's wrong with this photo?"  Anyone have some examples to post for others to react to?  See if we observe differing sensibilities.
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Jettatore

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2011, 09:30:25 PM »
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  For me, it's not about noise is good or is noise bad.  It's a complicated decision.  For some images, noise would be a welcome, artistic/visual addition.  And in other compositions, even clean looking monochromatic noise would take away from the style.  For me, that other conversation about low-ISO 7D noise, was silly, because I edit every photo that is a keeper, and getting rid of the minimal noise traits of low ISO poses no challenge for me.  I'm hoping for improved noise performance specifically at the higher ISO's where even my best efforts leave images, while improved, still with noise.  In these higher ISO examples where it can be near impossible to remove all traces of noise without down-sampling the resolution, I need the performance improved specifically for those images where artistically, noise is not a welcome addition.  In the meantime, when using a camera that isn't capable of higher ISO's with no noise (or no way to remove the noise fully) I just work around it artistically.

SaucyCrackers

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2011, 02:27:07 AM »
After reading the whole 7D disappointment thread I'm in no mood to read all of this (I've only skimmed through). If you think it would be beneficial for a certain post to be read (perhaps yours or another users), let me know. Anyways, here are my thoughts:

1) Noise is never the first thing I notice (or notice at all) when I look at a photo. If you do, I question if photography is for you. There should be much nicer things to notice in the photo. Noise should almost never (and I'm pretty sure never has) determine the final quality of an image.

2) I own a 7D and the noise starts to bother me at 12800. Nothing that some quality time in DPP can't fix though. I don't experience the same noise phenomenon that the OP of the 7D thread is experiencing. It is unfortunate that he is in this situation and I feel that he is really missing out on shooting photos with the 7D.


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niccyboy

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2011, 04:49:29 AM »
Those who hate the 7D noise need to grab a roll of Kodak Gold 100 (the cheap kind you can get for like 5 bucks in a drug store) and shoot it, then compare noise levels...

I think comparing a $1500 body to a roll of film that a prosumer photographer wouldn't use is a strange comparison.


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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2011, 04:49:29 AM »

tt

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2011, 06:05:00 AM »
Is it possible for every feature, you'll have people come down on both sides?
Black & White vs Colour
Barrel distortion/pincushioning vs fisheye enthusiasts
DR vs HDR
CA etc vs flaring the lens
Freeze frame vs blurred water over a bulb exposure?

I'm slightly surprised that camera shops don't have demo print outs of decent sizes of what you can get say for a 7D/D mark II, to show what the noise looks like on screen vs printed (eg low light high ISO)

gmrza

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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2011, 07:31:02 AM »
All the APS C cameras will have more noise than a ff with similar technology.  The 7D is no exception.  It has a very fine grain noise that cleans up nicely.

I use my 7D when light is adequate, and my 5D MK II when light is low.  I did use the 7D at ISO 4000 at a very poorly lit event, and to my surprise, the printed images aren't that bad.  Lots of fine detail is lost by the NR, and it certainly looks awful at 100%.

Some use the 5D MK II at ISO 6400, but 3200 has been my limit unless I absolutely must have that extra stop.  When lightroom 3 came out, I reprocessed all my older images, and at 6400, my MK II images don't look so bad anymore.  Neither do my old 7D images.

I may have to try DXO.  I downloaded it so I merely need to find time to do a fair comparison with it, DPP, and lightroom/photoshop.

I used to insist on sticking to ISO 800 or below on the 7D, but have come to the conclusion that, in a pinch IS6400 is usable.  The attached shot was taken with the 7D at ISO6400 (70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II, 1/125s f/2.8).  It looks awful without NR, but LR3 does a good enough job.  - I'd rather get the shot at IS6400 than not get it.  For good measure I've included 100% crops with and without NR. - The crops give an illustration of just how noisy ISO6400 is on the 7D, but also illustrate how well Lightroom cleans up.  Up to a point, the shot is usable, and the amusement of the other people watching me lying flat on my stomach was worth it.

Keep in perspective, this is just a holiday snap.  It is good enough for that purpose.  It is not a candidate for a 20"x30" print.  Maybe, just for fun though, I should ask my wife to put an 8x10 or 11x14 in her next batch of images that is going to The Edge from tomorrow, and see what the print really comes out like.

PS: a further note on the 100% crops: pixel-peeping can be bad for your health.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2011, 07:44:56 AM by gmrza »
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Re: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2011, 07:31:02 AM »