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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 24 Aug 2006 (Thursday) 08:39
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What is pixel peeping?

 
sjones
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Mar 28, 2018 07:37 |  #76

The practice of ‘pixel peeping’ is, within itself, not necessarily the object of ridicule as much as it is the glorification of technical perfection (particularly that which is often imperceptible under normal viewing conditions) over the image itself.

Moreover, machines designed to save human lives need to function perfectly. Photos, on the other hand, do not need to be technically perfect to succeed, on the contrary. In fact, placing such perfectionist demands on all photos would be mind numbingly ruinous.

As for the jeweler analogy, one might say that ‘pixel peeping’ would be more akin to a jeweler using a microscope, rather than a loupe, to inspect the rock, but I reckon that’s up for the debate.

But again, it’s not the practice that draws derision as much as it is the exaggerated emphasis on technical image quality that can potentially overshadow the compelling nature of the overall photograph.

As someone on here said years ago, pixel peeping is like looking at a billboard from two or three feet away. Ultimately, nothing wrong with this, as anyone has the right to view the world the way they want to.

That is, it is not to say that such perfectionism in image quality doesn’t have its place, and I myself usually increase a photo by 200 percent or more while cleaning dust and scratches from film scans.

Still, when photographers become more consumed with what their photographs look like at the subatomic level (and it’s their right to do so!), then they’re going to be subject to some ribbing.

But seriously, for the sake of newcomers, I find it inadvisable to even remotely suggest, even if unintentionally, that the quality of their photograph remains unauthenticated until further inspection via pixel peeping.


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TeamSpeed
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Post edited 11 months ago by TeamSpeed. (5 edits in all)
     
Mar 28, 2018 08:13 |  #77

sjones wrote in post #18595609 (external link)
As someone on here said years ago, pixel people is like looking at a billboard from two or three feet away. Ultimately, nothing wrong with this, as anyone has the right to view the world the way they want to.

That is, it is not to say that such perfectionism in image quality doesn’t have its place, and I myself usually increase a photo by 200 percent or more while cleaning dust and scratches from film scans.

This makes the assumption that the only use for viewing an image this closely is for only that purpose of perfectionism or bragging rights over another. This also makes the assumption that 100% viewing of an image means that you are looking at very tiny part of the image. Both are incorrect. The definition of pixel peeping is usually simply viewing the image such that one monitor pixel is one image pixel. Any other enlargement beyond yields results that just aren't very useful, because you are now using other tools to enlarge that image (video drivers, software, etc).

Pixel peeping is again a way to judge the quality of a lens or sensor. It is a way to view noise at different levels depending on how much exposure or underexposure there is. It shows you want the camera can produce from a JPG vs you taking the raw and doing it yourself. It can show you where focus lies on an image and if there is an issue. It can show you what post processing steps do to an image. In essence, it provides you understanding on what you can or cannot do with your gear and what the impacts of various decisions will have on the image as a whole.

Also, if you have a 4K monitor and view an image these days, you are not zoomed in at all. The image may be full sized on that monitor at 100% depending on the resolution of the image. Yet you are pixel peeping because you are viewing the image at 100% (monitor pixel 1:1 to image pixel). The billboard analogy doesn't hold any more because we don't use low resolution monitors much any more.


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John ­ Sheehy
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Mar 28, 2018 08:19 |  #78

tzalman wrote in post #12091340 (external link)
I guess you don't use Lightroom because it requires that you view at 100% when setting sharpening and noise reduction. Probably ACR is the same, because IMO it's a good thing.

It's not a good thing to sharpen or reduce noise at 100%, if that's not how the image is to be finally displayed (highly magnified pixels). Ideally, you would move the sliders and see the changes on the final display medium and size with its PPI and expected viewing distance.

To take a photo at ISO 10,000 on a 50MP camera with tiny pixels, and then look at a 100% pixel view while sharpening and adding noise reduction is counterproductive if that image is going to be a 600*400 image on a web page. You'd be trying to salvage detail with compromises; detail that can not possibly show in the output and only contribute to aliasing and noise. Such an image should have sharpness and detail sliders at the lowest possible value, and NR can be cranked up so that the image looks a little mushy. *Then* downsample it to 600*400, and add any sharpening still needed, considering "edge only" sharpening if there is still too much noise. The idea is that you do not want any original pixels having any undue influence on the output.




  
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John ­ Sheehy
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Mar 28, 2018 09:01 |  #79

fotoworx wrote in post #18463787 (external link)
Pixel Peeping ruins the enjoyment of photography.

I'd say that Pixel Peeping done in a state of ignorance can ruin the enjoyment of photography.

Pixel Peeping done in a state of realistic understanding can give useful feedback on technique and equipment.




  
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BigAl007
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Mar 28, 2018 09:03 |  #80

John Sheehy wrote in post #18595630 (external link)
It's not a good thing to sharpen or reduce noise at 100%, if that's not how the image is to be finally displayed (highly magnified pixels). Ideally, you would move the sliders and see the changes on the final display medium and size with its PPI and expected viewing distance.

To take a photo at ISO 10,000 on a 50MP camera with tiny pixels, and then look at a 100% pixel view while sharpening and adding noise reduction is counterproductive if that image is going to be a 600*400 image on a web page. You'd be trying to salvage detail with compromises; detail that can not possibly show in the output and only contribute to aliasing and noise. Such an image should have sharpness and detail sliders at the lowest possible value, and NR can be cranked up so that the image looks a little mushy. *Then* downsample it to 600*400, and add any sharpening still needed, considering "edge only" sharpening if there is still too much noise. The idea is that you do not want any original pixels having any undue influence on the output.


There are normally considered to be three stages of sharpening when working with digital images. Input sharpening is used to counter the effects of the OPLF anti-aliasing filter, along with the effects caused by the demosaicing process. The second is creative sharpening, which is usually applied selectively to enhance various parts of the image. Both input and creative sharpening will be applied to the image at it's original size during the editing process. Input is almost invariable done in the RAW converter, and creative may be done in the RAW converter where you have the ablity to apply selective edits, or later in a pixel editor such as Photoshop. Some programs require that you use a 1:1 view when making changes to sharpening or NR, Lr being a case in point.

The final stage is output sharpening, and is normally applied to the image after it has been cropped and resized ready for final output. This is the point where you take into consideration the output medium, since the level of sharpening that needs to be applied to an image that will be printed at 300 PPI is very different to that applied to an image that will be shown on a computer display at approx 100 PPI. Actually when it comes to outputting images on a screen you may well need to use different settings if your intent is for the image to be displayed on a small ultra high PPI screen such as iPad Retina screens. These screens with their output resolutions up over 400 PPI are far more like prints than anything that has gone before. I tend to notice this also with my 27" 5K monitor. Images displayed on that at 218 PPI seem to need far more sharpening than those on lower around 100 PPI panels.

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Tom ­ Reichner
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Post edited 11 months ago by Tom Reichner.
     
Mar 28, 2018 19:35 |  #81

TeamSpeed wrote in post #18595624 (external link)
This makes the assumption that the only use for viewing an image this closely is for only that purpose of perfectionism or bragging rights over another. This also makes the assumption that 100% viewing of an image means that you are looking at very tiny part of the image. Both are incorrect.

I completely agree.

I have been in National Wildlife Refuges where they have single-frame images printed at huge wall mural size, and the layout of the rooms that these photo murals are in pretty much place you just a few feet away from them, so you are looking at them from a very close distance.

This wall-sized printing should be a normal way to print and display photos, because it helps to give one the feeling that they are in the scene itself, much more so than silly little 16" by 24" prints do.

If one wants to produce photos that can give others this "in the scene" experience, then pixel-level image quality is very important, because nothing will deteriorate that special experience more than an unrealistic rendering of the scene, such as visible noise grain, or birds that lack fine feather detail or mammals that lack fine hair detail.

.

TeamSpeed wrote in post #18595624 (external link)
The definition of pixel peeping is usually simply viewing the image such that one monitor pixel is one image pixel. Any other enlargement beyond yields results that just aren't very useful, because you are now using other tools to enlarge that image (video drivers, software, etc).

Also, if you have a 4K monitor and view an image these days, you are not zoomed in at all. The image may be full sized on that monitor at 100% depending on the resolution of the image. Yet you are pixel peeping because you are viewing the image at 100% (monitor pixel 1:1 to image pixel).

I disagree with this.

I think that pixel peeping means that you are looking at individual pixels. . With high-resolution monitors, I cannot see an individual pixel when the photo is only displayed at 100%. . I do not have visual acuity that will allow me to see those pixels, so I have to zoom in to almost 400% in order to see an image at the pixel level.

Pixel peeping means looking at (and possibly examining) an image at the pixel level, and if one cannot see pixels at 100% due to one's limited visual acuity, then "100% viewing" does not fit the literal definition of pixel peeping, and in order for one to peep at the pixels, one may have to zoom in much, much deeper than that.


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Mar 28, 2018 20:18 |  #82

For me, pixel peeping works for continuing education.

Way back when the earth and this thread were new I mentioned how pixel peeping can teach us, using TeamSpeed's avatar as and example. Perhaps this repeat with a graphic will be useful to someone.

With a high res monitor, seeing the avatar at 1:1 is not instructive. I can tell the image works very well for the purpose but don't know why.Zooming down to the pixel level makes it clear how the image scales so well.


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Mar 28, 2018 21:18 as a reply to  @ Tom Reichner's post |  #83

Viewing at 100% exactly means one monitor pixel is one image pixel. If you zoom any more than that, then multiple monitor pixels make up one image pixel, and you are beyond 100%.


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Mar 28, 2018 21:20 as a reply to  @ AZGeorge's post |  #84

You are no longer at the pixel level at that point. You are now at 400% or more when viewing such that the monitor uses several A x A pixels to show just one pixel. There is no good reason to do this unless you are post processing and are cloning or doing other alterations where you want very fine control over edges, and you don't have fine control with a mouse, or are old like me with less than steady hands. :)

At this point if one wanted to use the billboard analogy, you just pulled out a magnifying glass while standing against the billboard looking at the image. ;)

I never go beyond 100% viewing unless I am indeed doing some pretty severe post processing. Any other time, 100% views are sufficient for determining the level of NR I need, or how well the NR is working step by step, or when I sharpen the image.


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Mar 28, 2018 21:36 |  #85

the one thing I hate about my 4K... pixel peeping. Gotta blow up to 400% lol


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Mar 28, 2018 22:12 |  #86

TeamSpeed wrote in post #18596085 (external link)
Viewing at 100% exactly means one monitor pixel is one image pixel. If you zoom any more than that, then multiple monitor pixels make up one image pixel, and you are beyond 100%.

Right. . Yes. . Of course.

And for some of us, we need more than one monitor pixel to make up one image pixel, because we are unable to see an image pixel unless it is represented by several monitor pixels because each monitor pixel is so small that we cannot see it with the naked eye.

Hence, for me, to peep at a pixel requires that I zoom in to about 400% on my 5K 27" monitor. . If I only view it at 100%, I cannot see an image pixel, and therefore am unable to pixel peep.


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"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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Mar 29, 2018 07:03 |  #87

I kind of liken "pixel peeping" to the way some old Zonies displayed and bragged about their Zone System tests. Setting yourself up to use the Zone System required lots of testing of your own processes and methods. It was a lot of work. But lots of Zone System advocates lauded the work, not the end product, and often never got beyond their endless testing to say, "Now I know how to take photographs."




  
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Mar 30, 2018 12:06 as a reply to  @ RDKirk's post |  #88

If I may ask; who are we to judge someone?
I'm also pixel peeping. So what. That's how I check if the image is in focus.
I like sharp images. So what.
I also pixel peep when developing RAW and when sharpening in Photoshop.

Here are some words about pixel peeping and I agree with the author 100% :

https://neilvn.com/tan​gents/pixel-peeping/ (external link)


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Bear ­ Dale
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Mar 30, 2018 17:51 |  #89

Mathmans wrote in post #18597095 (external link)
If I may ask; who are we to judge someone?
I'm also pixel peeping. So what. That's how I check if the image is in focus.
I like sharp images. So what.
I also pixel peep when developing RAW and when sharpening in Photoshop.

Here are some words about pixel peeping and I agree with the author 100% :

https://neilvn.com/tan​gents/pixel-peeping/ (external link)


He does say "Sometimes it is a compulsion that leads a photographer down a dead-end. As photographers we have to use our judgement to figure out when this is important, and when it isn’t".


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Mar 30, 2018 19:50 |  #90

Mathmans wrote in post #18597095 (external link)
If I may ask; who are we to judge someone?

Sometimes responses entered and read on the screen give an inaccurate impression.

I am a long-time pixel peeper and find nothing wrong with the practice. I like to see what's going on in various sections of an image. Some posters here have seen high levels of zoom getting in the way. In my opinion they came off a bit too absolute. That does not, for me, necessarily equate with condemnation of the people or the practice. If all posters here were to sit down with a beverage of choice we'd likely find we are very much alike. If we had to ignore the odd jerk or two such is life. <G>


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What is pixel peeping?
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