Friday, November 21, 2008

Don't Get Hung Up on the Pixels, Look at the Big Picture!

by Miserere

En Castellano más abajo.

I love having pork sausages for breakfast, fried with some eggs and toast, maybe some bacon on the side. While I'm eating, I make a point of not reading the ingredients or imagining what went into the sausages. I also don't inspect every piece of sausage on my fork trying to figure out what each little pink bit is before putting it in my mouth. I just eat them and enjoy my breakfast. Mmmmm...sausage...

Digital photography is much like sausages: If you look too closely you'll find they're both pretty gross.

All over the internet you see photos at 100% resolution brandished by photographers claiming they've used the best lens and/or camera because the images are really sharp when viewed at full resolution on the computer screen.

So what?

This 100% crop is pretty sharp:

But the whole picture sucks!

This 100% crop is not sharp at all:

But I find the whole picture worth looking at:

When you buy a new lens, sure, go ahead and check out it's performance in the sharpness department by looking at some 100% crops. Once you're satisfied that it's up to your standards, let it go, forget about the 100% crops and move on to making actual photographs.

A sharp photo contains information that can be measured in lp/mm (line pairs per mm). A good photo contains information that cannot be measured, because you cannot weigh emotion.

Unless you're printing murals, forget about the pixels and worry about the big picture. And if you ever catch yourself zooming in to 100%, just remember: oink oink!

Thanks for reading.



No Te Quedes Colgado en los Píxeles, ¡Busca la Gran Foto!

Me encanta comer salchichas de cerdo para desayunar, fritas con huevos y tostadas, quizá un poco de beicon al lado. Mientras estoy comiendo, me aseguro de no leer los ingredientes ni intento imaginar qué hay dentro de las salchichas. Tampoco examino cada cacho de salchicha en mi tenedor intentando averiguar que es cada pedacito rosa antes de metérmelo en la boca. Simplemente las como y disfruto de mi desayuno. Mmmmm…salchichas...

La fotografía digital es muy parecida a las salchichas: Si miras con demasiado detenimiento verás que ambas son bastante asquerosas.

Por todo internet se ven fotos a 100% de resolución mostradas por fotógrafos que aseguran haber utilizado el mejor objetivo y/o cámara porque las imágenes que muestran son nítidas y definidas cuando son vistas a resolución completa en la pantalla del ordenador.

¿Y qué?

Este recorte al 100% es bastante nítido:

¡Pero la foto es un asco!

Este recorte al 100% no muestra gran definición:

Pero me parece que la foto en su totalidad merece la pena:

Cuando te compras un objetivo nuevo, adelante, comprueba su nitidez y definición en imágenes al 100%. Una vez que estés satisfecho que cumple tus requisitos mínimos, ya está, olvídate de imágenes al 100% y ponte a tomar fotografías de verdad.

Una foto nítida contiene información que se puede medir en pl/mm (pares de líneas por mm). Una foto buena contiene información que no puede ser medida, porque no puedes pesar la emoción.

A menos que imprimas murales, olvídate de los píxeles y preocúpate de la totalidad de la foto. Y si alguna vez te descuidas y te das cuenta que le estás dando al zoom para ver la foto al 100%, simplemente recuerda esto: ¡oink oink!

Gracias por leerme.



Editor: Yvon Bourque said...


That's so cool writing the article both English and Spanish, while mine are being written both in English and French! I think we will have a whole new audience. I don't know of any other site that is tri-lingual. Now I will have to join French blogs and forums to announce this improvement.

I made suck a good move by inviting you to write on this blog.

Best Regards

Miserere said...

Now if only we had time to translate each others articles, that would be even better! :-D

Should we quit our day jobs? ;-)

Editor: Yvon Bourque said...

I'm not quitting my day or night or part-time jobs yet!

Abdel Castro Pérpuli said...


¡Tienes toda la razón! Leer cosas como esta hacen que cualquier síntoma de adicción a la compra de lentes desaparezca.


You are completely right! Reading words like yours make any sign of lens buying addiction disappear immediately.

Marisa said...

¡Una qué gran idea! Trabajo agradable.

javier said...

''Bravo''....Muchas Gracias...que sabroso es la idioma espanol...

Now I need to install some new fonts!

roentarre said...

Jose, glad to have found this blog.

Your writing is really showing a good and healthy perspective that pixel peeping shows the obsession. Instead, a bigger picture is the key to photography.

Sharpness is simply over rated unless people are like benjikan who want to print bigs onto a billboard. Still this odd guy would probably still use a point and shoot camera to prove the point that cameras do not matter at all.

Your second image is rather nice!

BTW the photograph you claimed to be dull did not seem dull to me... I like to see that turned into black and white with a touch of sepia tone. The skin texture could be burned a little with artificial yet evil photoshop baptism...