And I'm talking about quality with reference to photographs specifically. I am prompted to ask this question because I am often surprised at peoples acceptance of horrible quality.
Example 1) A friend who is a 'wildlife photographer' uses a small video camera with huge zoom range and the ability to capture 2mp stills. He prints them at 8x10 and shows them to anybody who will look. He always says something like 'Look at this one, isn't it amazing? Isn't it incredible what can be done with digital technology?' I look at the blurred smeary mess of a picture and reply 'Amazing'. Not only does he ( and his wife) genuinely think these pictures are fantastic but both of them seem to see no difference between this type of shot and something done well with a 500/f4 EOS 1D mk 4 etc.
Example 2) My girlfriend uses an ipad for a camera, she prefers it to her 10mp Sony 'because you can see the pictures straight away and anyway they are just as good' ( they aren't, they are nowhere near as good.
I'm beginning to think that the vast majority of people are perfectly content with grainy over saturated, smeary photos and it's only the sort of fanatic that visits gear forums ( OK and maybe photography professionals) that care about quality.
As a part of my job involves technical assistance to newspapers I often see print managers getting very upset about (say) the colour of flesh tones being produced with a particular ink set when I know that 99.9 percent of the people who read that newspaper the next day will not even notice that they were, perhaps, a tad on the magenta side.
And I must confess that there are times when I look at two photographs, maybe produced by two similar but competing lenses, and I think, 'what am I missing here? Do I need my eyes tested?' Because although the images look pretty much identical to me there will be heated arguments that one has 'truly horrible' bokeh while the other has a 'strong green cast'.
So, back to my original question: What is this thing called 'quality'? Is there ever an ultimate 100% quality or is it like beauty, forever in the eye of the beholder?