David Pogue is the NY Times technology writer. He posted a piece about digital cameras that is possibly disingenuous. What is your take on it and why?
David, this is weird, but the article flashes on very briefly, and then shifts to another page which says, "This page is not available at this address". If you click on "Technology", the header for the article is there, but if you click on the header it goes back to the error page. I just read the article this morning via a link on photo.net - no problem with access then. But I just went back to photo.net to check that link and now it fails, too.
Do you suppose NY Times pulled the article? The "test" was hardly scientific. It looked more like a Jerry Springer kind of stunt than anything to be taken seriously.
The article comes up now!
I don't know or have a guess as to what David Pogue was trying to accomplish. I wonder a bit if he is trying to position himself as another like ABC's 20/20 John Stossel or does he just think he's funny because he can fool people to believe what I think is a pretty obvious hoax.
The choice of a baby picture most people would respond to somewhat emotionally and not look at critically in itself is suspicious. And that there is nothing in such a subject that is so soft and containing nothing that could be sharply defined and would be reproduced to any advantage by more resolution, adds to my suspicion it is a deliberate attempt to mislead readers to a false conclusion.
I think this David Pogue NYT article does not serve a publication of its stature well, and it surely does not serve a public that is having no easy time understanding digital technology anything but a disservice by sowing false doubt and cynicism.
It should be called "truth about resolution". For something so easily tested, there is whole lot of myth. Viewing distance and the resolution of our eyes at that distance, has much to do with it.
A lot of people buy by numbers without really understanding them. A 10MP camera with a 12x zoom has got to be two or four times better than a 5MP camera with a 6x zoom, right? Simple and clear sales message. The 5MP camera costs $450 and the 10MP only costs $600, so it must be a real bargain no matter how you do the arithmetic. Out comes the plastic and a year to 18 months of bragging rights before it is obsolete.
Start talking photosite spacing, modulation transfer functions and the customer's eyes glaze over. "I don't know what a megapixel is, but I know I want more of them than the next guy."
For decades Kodak had photomurals high above the concourse of Grand Central Station, in New York City, USA. They were 18 feet high, by 60 feet long. Many came from 35mm exposures. Viewed close up, the dye-clouds were huge and fuzzy. From the concourse, to the eyes of the viewers, the picture was sharp and clear. It was a matter of proper viewing distance.
On a digital darkroom forum, an "expert" was pontificating that one should scan at a print resolution of 720 ppi for Epson's large format printers and no less than 1440 for desktops. To test this, I chose a medium format negative of a quality that would not impact the test, scanning to 5x7. One scan was 720 ppi and the second was 360 ppi. Printed side by side on premium glossy at the highest quality setting, zero visible difference.
The test was repeated at 360 and 240ppi. Many people viewed the pair, and perhaps 20% said they perceived some difference, but no one would say which was better. At 120 and 240 ppm, the 240 ppm image had a clear advantage in crispness at reading distance. At arms length, it took careful viewing to see a difference. Beyond that, the difference vanished.
Don't take my word for it. Test.
Most digital cameras provide a selection of resolutions. Put the camera on a tripod and shoot a set of identical exposures, changing only the resolution. Shoot under good conditions, so a poor exposure does not skew the test - a lousy shot looks lousy at any resolution.
I expect that you will find the difference is much less than expected, when viewed normally. I expect too, that most casual print viewers looking at prints from the lower resolution exposures, would be quite content with the quality unless the highest and lowest were directly compared in hand. Try it for yourselves.
I don't know what this guy has been smoking. With a proper subject with fine details and some straight lines it is very easy to see the difference. Upsampling helps to get rid of jaggies, but won't get you the detail of the higher megapixel image. The sharper one's eyesight the easier it is to spot the differences.
The professional photographer saw the differences, but was immediately judged to have been "lucky". One piece of junk reporting that will harm more people than it will do them good.
To double the resolution of a picture, you essentially need to quadruple the number of pixels since you have to double the height and the width of the picture.
If you have a 9 megapixel file at 300 dpi, then a possible size is 10" X 10" (10" X 300dpi = 3000 pixels and 3000 pixels X 3000 pixels = 9 megapixels). If we then jump to, say, a 18 megapixel file, we have a file that is 4000 x 4000 pixels. Most would say that a 7 megapixel increase is significant. However, the size of the picture is now 13.33" X 13.33". You have only gained 3.33 inches in each direction. Not a huge difference.
It is possible to see a difference by doubling the number of pixels in a pictures, but to truly double the resolution requires a quadrupling of the pixels.
That is not the issue. The intent of the David Pogue piece was to suggest differences in image resolution do not make a difference in print results. His choice of a subject that has no visual indicators of whether it is softly or sharply reproduced seems to be an intentionally misleading "test".