Why pixel peeping and megapixels matter to me.

I almost never shoot brick walls. Not as useful in determining if the Shim needs to be adjusted for a Jupiter on a Leica.

Picket Fences- much more accurate.





Yields a focus where I want it.



and using a Leica M9 to adjust the Shim on a Jupiter-8... Priceless... Well, not really. Sold the adjusted J-8 for $65 over on RFF. The M9 is the best tool for shimming Jupiters that I've ever seen.

gear should not ruin a shot. I learned a long time ago to validate that the equipment is functioning correctly. With film cameras, I made the mistake of taking a new lens out and finding something was off on it, and a whole roll be ruined. Whether it is film or digital, test the equipment so that it does not ruin the images that you make with it. Digital allows "testing with immediate feedback". No excuse for shooting with a lens that is out of whack, you should be able to easily test it ahead of time.
 
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dixeyk

Guest
A couple of things I'm taking away from what I've read so far.

I understand that if we are talking about the context of making money, that there are certain expectations and requirements from the customer. When it comes to specifically to the number of pixels, I wonder how much a customer allways needs a large file or a certain number of megapixels. For large prints, this is completly understandable. If a customer just wants it when they really don't need it, then qualifying the customer becomes more important.

The convenience factor only plays a part for the average buyer, not the professional making money off using the gear.

I think that the average user who pixel peeps is really doing it just for that "just in case I need it" mentality or of the "my gear is better than yours" mentality.

yep
 

Streetshooter

Administrator Emeritus
Location
Philly, Pa
Pixel peeping is not a new phenomenon.
It dates back to the beginning of photographic history.
For any old film shooters, you know the 2 worst points of processing was/is... the enlarger and the easel. Those 2 items have caused many a good prints to fail the
Film Peepers. I was one of the worst. I fought with many enlargers and easels to get a flat plane on the paper. Oh, the paper... Try and get a 16 x 20 or 20 x 24 sheet of paper perfectly flat. I resolved some issues using a Leica enlarger and a vacuum frame easel.

So, there is nothing wrong with pixel peeping. It is very necessary and only those committed to good Image Quality even bother doing it.
Then there are others like me that learn from trusted peepers and yet others that just dont care.

FYI, Ansel was a great peeper and would be today if he used digital cameras.
Don't believe that, call 1-800-Heaven and ask for Ansel.
 

Djarum

All-Pro
Location
Huntsville, AL
Real Name
Jason
I'm not quite sure if I've understood this correctly but are you saying that I should attempt to tell a customer what they need?

Maybe, maybe not. I was in sales for some time. Sometimes the customer had preconceptions about what they needed. After qualifying the customer, sometimes they did understand what they needed. If I couldn't sell them on something that didn't meet their exact needs, I pointed them to who might have a product to meet their needs. Sometimes they were way off base, and I sold them what they needed after qualifying them. In both cases, the customer was always happy. Too many times did I sell something to a customer who thought they understood what they needed and they ended up having problems with the product. It boils down to that they didn't know what they needed in the first place. This sort of thing is not just related to photography, but product and sales in general. It really goes beyond the scope of this discussion, but it does have to be considered.

I would imagine in your line of work with current clients you have a good idea of what the customer needs. This is a very good thing to maintain relationships with those customers. I also would imagine you have difficult clients or new clients where determining what they need or providing what they think they need becomes a challenging process.
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
This thread reminds me of the blog posts of Kirk Tuck, a professional photographer from Austin, TX. For a while he was in love with a couple of Olympus lenses and claimed they were perhaps the best zooms he's ever used. He seemed to really like them. He stills claims the Pens are the best walk around cameras. But his clients needed larger files so he had to move to Canon cameras. He uses the 5D2 and 7D, but each has its own niche within his work. He now primarily uses Zeiss manual focus lenses on the Canons. I'm not sure how much of a pixel peeper he is, but he does look for obvious imperfections in his gear. He recently had a flare issue with a Zeiss 21mm lens and another photographer helped him identify that there was something on the front element that they were able to clean up and correct the flare issue. But he seems most interested in how gear gives his images a certain look. He's primarily a portrait photographer.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Since the majority of my clients download the images from picture library websites I have no contact with them at all. Neither in most cases do the clients talk the library. The whole thing is automated with credit card and download. When I did have contact directly with clients, they were generally publishers, magazines, newspapers and advertising agencies. They know exactly what they want and if they ask for a 70MB non-interpolated file from a 24MP camera then you have two choices. Supply what they ask for or don't and let them go to someone else who can.

Telling an advertising agency that they don't really need that size image is an option I guess, but I don't imagine they would ever phone back if I did.

Maybe, maybe not. I was in sales for some time. Sometimes the customer had preconceptions about what they needed. After qualifying the customer, sometimes they did understand what they needed. If I couldn't sell them on something that didn't meet their exact needs, I pointed them to who might have a product to meet their needs. Sometimes they were way off base, and I sold them what they needed after qualifying them. In both cases, the customer was always happy. Too many times did I sell something to a customer who thought they understood what they needed and they ended up having problems with the product. It boils down to that they didn't know what they needed in the first place. This sort of thing is not just related to photography, but product and sales in general. It really goes beyond the scope of this discussion, but it does have to be considered.

I would imagine in your line of work with current clients you have a good idea of what the customer needs. This is a very good thing to maintain relationships with those customers. I also would imagine you have difficult clients or new clients where determining what they need or providing what they think they need becomes a challenging process.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
Yes I read him a lot. Good stuff.

This thread reminds me of the blog posts of Kirk Tuck, a professional photographer from Austin, TX. For a while he was in love with a couple of Olympus lenses and claimed they were perhaps the best zooms he's ever used. He seemed to really like them. He stills claims the Pens are the best walk around cameras. But his clients needed larger files so he had to move to Canon cameras. He uses the 5D2 and 7D, but each has its own niche within his work. He now primarily uses Zeiss manual focus lenses on the Canons. I'm not sure how much of a pixel peeper he is, but he does look for obvious imperfections in his gear. He recently had a flare issue with a Zeiss 21mm lens and another photographer helped him identify that there was something on the front element that they were able to clean up and correct the flare issue. But he seems most interested in how gear gives his images a certain look. He's primarily a portrait photographer.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
People who pay me to either take photographs or use one I've already taken generally do so because they are putting together something that represents them, as a company or an organisation. I do very little work working with private individuals apart from weddings which I've now given up.

A picture can be used for many purposes, and multi purposes. A large, sharp, well-exposed file obviously has more possibilities and can fulfill many needs, including being cropped. Kirk Tuck does shoot for advertising and corporate clients so its understandable that he feels the need to use cameras that are generally recognisable as being suitable for that kind of work.

This is one of the reasons for "pixel-peeping". However, as I said, I would do it anyway, even if I wasn't supplying images to such clents. Its for my own personal satisfaction mostly. Like Kirk Tuck I also love using m4/3 cameras and in many cases what they produce is every bit the equal, to my eyes, from those taken on a "pro" DSLR. But I had to "pixel-peep" to find that out. If we had a range of pretty similar gear that produced similar results then life would certainly be easier, but we don't so its not. I try for the best balance I can between what I enjoy using and what gives me the quality i want. In order to do that I have to test and compare. I have no idea how else to do it, as I have in the past "trusted" reviews and that proved to be a huge mistake.


This thread reminds me of the blog posts of Kirk Tuck, a professional photographer from Austin, TX. For a while he was in love with a couple of Olympus lenses and claimed they were perhaps the best zooms he's ever used. He seemed to really like them. He stills claims the Pens are the best walk around cameras. But his clients needed larger files so he had to move to Canon cameras. He uses the 5D2 and 7D, but each has its own niche within his work. He now primarily uses Zeiss manual focus lenses on the Canons. I'm not sure how much of a pixel peeper he is, but he does look for obvious imperfections in his gear. He recently had a flare issue with a Zeiss 21mm lens and another photographer helped him identify that there was something on the front element that they were able to clean up and correct the flare issue. But he seems most interested in how gear gives his images a certain look. He's primarily a portrait photographer.
 

Djarum

All-Pro
Location
Huntsville, AL
Real Name
Jason
Since the majority of my clients download the images from picture library websites I have no contact with them at all. Neither in most cases do the clients talk the library. The whole thing is automated with credit card and download. When I did have contact directly with clients, they were generally publishers, magazines, newspapers and advertising agencies. They know exactly what they want and if they ask for a 70MB non-interpolated file from a 24MP camera then you have two choices. Supply what they ask for or don't and let them go to someone else who can.

Telling an advertising agency that they don't really need that size image is an option I guess, but I don't imagine they would ever phone back if I did.

Again, I don't know the exact business model. I also know nothing of what is required by AD agencies.

I know that when I was in sales, I had to know how the customer was going to use the product before I could sell them the right product. I'm in the same situation now, except now I don't sell the product, I make the product, and I rely on others to tell me what the right product has to look like.

I think this thread in general is enlightening especially from the professional aspect. It appears there are many different business models and ways to make money as a professional photographer.
 

ZDP-189

Twitter: <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/ZDP189">@Z
Kirk Tuck... stills claims the Pens are the best walk around cameras.

Yup, I just got a roll of Superia Reala 100 back. It was the test roll from my new Black Pen FT & 38/2.8 pancake. They're as sharp as I could ask for and the 4.3MP scans are sufficient for my limited purposes.

Click through:
Binos_Small.jpg


For archival reasons, I need more detail, so I usually get higher res scans of full frame, though.
 
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dixeyk

Guest
This is what I'm talking about. You make all these generalisations that you can't possibly justify. "Most folks have become gear centric thinking that the gear is what makes them a photographer" How can you possibly say that? Most folks?? You don't even say that its your opinion, you just state it as fact. Are we just supposed to take this as a universal truth? If you said something like - "In my opinion there are many people who seem to become so focused on the gear, that they think that is what makes them a photographer. I think that if they took more time to learn about photography and shoot more images then that would benefit them more than buying a better camera" then thats perfectly valid.

None of us can speak for others surely, and neither should we attempt to do so. I write about what I know and that is my experiences and my motivation and practices. I also write about what I know of the way other photographers work either by what they have told me or what they write. I am careful not to lecture or sermonise or say this is the way to do things. Firstly I am in no position to do so, and secondly I have no right to do that anyway.

You can disagree with me and say that is not the way you see or do things, but to imply that you can speak for "Most folks" is somewhat overstated surely, to say the least.


I apologize if you felt I was lecturing or sermonizing. That was certainly not my intent. I have spent the past several years teaching video, print design and production at a small university and the biggest issue I have is students being more focussed on the gear and the software than the task at hand.

As far as writing about what I know...before teaching I spent 20 years working in digital imaging (from print to video). I should think some of that would be applicable. I am not a professional photographer. I did spend 3 years as a product photographer and 17 years in print and interactive media design (buying images from photographers such as yourself was part of my day) so I do have opinions about image quality because I made the buying decisions to spend money on stock photography. In the end I was the one answerable to the client for quality. If you don't think that qualifies me to have an opinion then so be it. My opinion is not a universal truth. It may only apply to my small circle but is MY opinion. I can apologize for the way I worded it but not for holding it.

As far as this conversation...it has been going on for years in many forms and I honestly don't know why I bothered to be sucked into it again.
 

soundimageplus

Top Veteran
The problem is when opinions and personal experience turn into something other than that. I appreciate your point about the focus on equipment rather than results and I also taught for many years, though not photography and in the 16-19 age group.

The whole point of my piece was questioning why looking at images to assess for quality is treated with what is sometimes close to contempt by certain sections of photographic forums. My focus was not whether its something that should be discouraged or encouraged but why "pixel-peeping" attracts such hostility.

I imagine with your experience that would have been an element of what you did. I'm not saying its the most important element in image creation, and I'm not saying it takes precedence over composition, inspiration etc. What I am saying is that if people feel it important, for whatever reason, it shouldn't be dismissed as irrelevant.

At some point in everything creative, there comes a time when we have to assess whther our methods of creation are "up to the job". I think its probably true that the better we get at something the more demanding we become of the equipment we use. I agree with you that it certainly shouldn't be the first or prime consideration, but it can be a factor in determining both creative and career success, and while I'm sure its not true in every case, I can't see that a determination to present work in the best way possible ever held anyone back.

I didn't say you weren't qualified to have an opinion, you obviously are, my point was that you didn't present it as an opinion, but as a statement of fact. If you had included some of what you've written here then I think it would have moved the debate on.

Its good however that you've shared it now and your phrase "the biggest issue I have is students being more focussed on the gear and the software than the task at hand." is a very telling one and one I would certainly agree with from my own experience. As you and I will have observed, it is often very difficult for students, at an early stage in the learning process, to differentiate quality work from quality equipment. There's no easy answer to that, and the only solution I found was to use examples.

As to being sucked into the conversation again, yes I've been here before too. However just as saying you can only create quality work with quality gear is a myth, saying the opposite, i.e. that quality gear has no bearing on the result is also, I believe, a myth. And I also believe that its important to emphasise the importance of creating the best result we can with what we have available, and indeed what we can afford. In many ways asssesing what the results are and how we could improve them is an important element in the process of getting the best out of ourselves and our equipment. I certainly felt the years I spent working with equipment that was inferior in almost all respects to what I can afford and use now, stood me in good stead to take proper and meaningful advantage of what I am now able to use.

Its an important debate I feel, and I felt it worth the trouble of bringing it up again. I certainly never imagined I'd get an easy ride and I certainly haven't had that. But its obvious people in this forum care about what they do and think about it too. We can't really ask for more than that.

I apologize if you felt I was lecturing or sermonizing. That was certainly not my intent. I have spent the past several years teaching video, print design and production at a small university and the biggest issue I have is students being more focussed on the gear and the software than the task at hand.

As far as writing about what I know...before teaching I spent 20 years working in digital imaging (from print to video). I should think some of that would be applicable. I am not a professional photographer. I did spend 3 years as a product photographer and 17 years in print and interactive media design (buying images from photographers such as yourself was part of my day) so I do have opinions about image quality because I made the buying decisions to spend money on stock photography. In the end I was the one answerable to the client for quality. If you don't think that qualifies me to have an opinion then so be it. My opinion is not a universal truth. It may only apply to my small circle but is MY opinion. I can apologize for the way I worded it but not for holding it.

As far as this conversation...it has been going on for years in many forms and I honestly don't know why I bothered to be sucked into it again.
 

Lili

Hall of Famer
Location
Dallas, TX
Real Name
Lili
I check image quality as well, in all my new gear. I even Pixel Peep when doing so and I have been guilty as any of using this term in the perjorative sense. I apologize for this and shall not do so again.
In the end we do this Art for our individual reasons and goals.
How we get there should only matter to ourselves and no others.
Pax
 
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dixeyk

Guest
dixeyk

As to being sucked into the conversation again, yes I've been here before too. However just as saying you can only create quality work with quality gear is a myth, saying the opposite, i.e. that quality gear has no bearing on the result is also, I believe, a myth. And I also believe that its important to emphasise the importance of creating the best result we can with what we have available, and indeed what we can afford. In many ways asssesing what the results are and how we could improve them is an important element in the process of getting the best out of ourselves and our equipment. I certainly felt the years I spent working with equipment that was inferior in almost all respects to what I can afford and use now, stood me in good stead to take proper and meaningful advantage of what I am now able to use.

Its an important debate I feel, and I felt it worth the trouble of bringing it up again. I certainly never imagined I'd get an easy ride and I certainly haven't had that. But its obvious people in this forum care about what they do and think about it too. We can't really ask for more than that.

FWIW I do not think gear has no bearing on the quality of work but I do come from the school of thought that believes your skill is the largest determining factor when it comes to quality. We can agree to disagree.

I cannot speak for you. I am not a pro photographer nor will I ever be one. You know what you need. About the only thing I am connected with as deeply or know as well as you know your camera(s) is my sword. My experience with that is that I have vastly improved my skills using inferior gear. So far I have not found that better swords improved my technique. There are some things I do favor in a sword. Size, weight and length are all important to me. I prefer a wooden sword to a live blade (favored my Musashi as well). I prefer a slightly heavier sword because of my build and I prefer hickory or white oak to more hard wood (harder wood splinters with impact training).

I suppose in the end I am doing the same sort of thing that you are doing. Testing for what best suits my needs.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Real Name
Nic
I think I always did my own pixel-peeping to a degree, but for a while I would rely mostly on whatever DPReview's test concluded as the last word in image quality. When I started taking a bit more notice myself I realised that in practise I was coming to my own conclusions on what I did and didn't like, which didn't always match up with the results of their clinical studio IQ tests. In particular it was their luke-warm review of the Canon 50D that put me off relying on someone else's IQ criteria. The output from that camera still amazes me and I have for various reasons had four of them pass through my hands so have not been lacking for test sample size. I don't have a standard repeatable test per se but I do tend to know fairly quickly if a camera meets my expectations or not.
 

Pelao

All-Pro
Location
Ontario, Canada
Real Name
Stephen
Hey soundimageplus,

Thanks for the original post.

So you're a pixel peeper eh? :rolleyes:

Teasing.

It seems to me quite normal to assess your equipment, tools and techniques and work towards having the best you can for your particular needs. In your case you have a deep knowledge of what you need for commercial success, and this drives the peeping. It also, I guess, plays a significant role in your attention to your gear in general and to checking new cameras.

My sense is that the negative use of the term 'pixel-peeping' is applied on those occasions when there is little or no context. There are forums where cameras, lenses or even entire brands are rejected because of a negative feature discovered through peeping - yet the poster will not state how that flaw negatively impacts their output goal. So what we are left with are harsh opinions that are of little use to others seeking views and opinions on cameras and lenses.

I have yet to read a post of yours that does not have context, i.e. you state an opinion and offer why you think that aspect of the gear is important.

In the end, I believe you are a fake pixel peeper in terms of online discussions. You see, a real pixel peeper is often unable to offer context, sample images or any background information on the art and science of photography in their world. They just peep.

You peep and you shoot - and you do it to eat.

Please note - I am not saying being a real peeper is bad. It's just of no use to me.

I am a fake peeper too. I have output goals and want the best quality I can get relevant to those goals.
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Perhaps we can all agree that the number one requirement for making good pictures is passion, something that thankfully exists in abundance around here. Passion for the field, passion for our subjects, perhaps even passion for our gear. Then core photography skills - composition, framing, light, aperture, speed, ISO, and on and on. Then we find the tools that enable us to capture what we need to fulfill our vision and get to the desired final result - end use, print or online, large vs small print, convenience or technical performance, wide angle or macro, documentary or sports, personal or client, and on and on.

We can all agree on passion, we can all agree on the core photography skills, but in the realm of selecting our tools we are each going to make our own choices. On that we can agree :wink:
 

Amin

Hall of Famer
I have no good reason in the world to pixel peep other than the fact that I enjoy it. It makes virtually no practical difference whatsoever to my printed results if a lens I have is sharp in the extreme corner at 100%, but when it is, I get a warm feeling. Likewise, I doubt anyone notices if my bokeh has color fringing, but when I have an apochromatic or nearly apochromatic lens, oh yeah :).

Anyone else read 16-9 Lens Tests? If not, here's a sample. Pure pixel peeping, and I love it.
 

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