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Apple's Retina display and the future of viewing photos online

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Amin Sabet, Jun 12, 2010.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I'm sure many here have read about the display on Apple's new iPhone 4, which Apple refers to as the Retina display because it supposedly has smaller pixels than the human eye can distinguish from a standard reading distance. The resolution of the Retina display is an impressive 326 PPI.*

    I wonder how long will it be before we see ~300 PPI on standard computer displays? Imagine if that 1920 x 1200 24" display were a 6400 x 4000 24" display. It won't be long before posting an image in a forum will be like handing over a large print rather than a lower quality substitute. In fact, the dynamic range of an LCD far surpasses that of print, so in a certain respect, the print may become the lower quality substitute.

    *As a side note, while that resolution is a huge jump over that of the iPhone 3GS, it isn't a the revolutionary advance that Apple implies. ~250 ppi up to 287 PPI is run of the mill amongst Android phones. As one blogger recently put it, "The iPhone 4 duly launched yesterday with a series of presentations that will bring enthusiasm and nausea in equal measure".
     
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  2. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Good points, but you can't beat paper for archival longevity :wink:

    We're already seeing electronic picture frames coming right down in price... and with the iPad, joojoo etc it's obviously the way things are moving for image display.

    Interestingly, ctein's latest article on TOP reminds us that developing images for 'display' will remain an artistic challenge.

    Cheers

    Brian
     
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  3. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    Brian, that is a really good article, a thought provoking one, as well and is an excellent addition to Amin's musings and seque from the new iPhone to ever changing choices for photographic display.
     
  4. Mosca

    Mosca Mu-43 Regular

    103
    May 27, 2010
    I saw the article the other day, and then Amin's post today. I'm one of those who rarely prints his work; even though I take time to craft my photographs, I have a very peculiar set of motivations that does not include printing them. I don't burn to take photographs, but I enjoy taking good ones. But then once they're taken and shared, it's over.

    In addition to Ctein's blog post, the comments are equally thoughtful and thought provoking; and so is Mike Johnston's followup post, in which he notes the irony that we viewed Ctein's images of his print editing digitally, on a monitor.
     
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  5. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    I must put more effort into setting up the next Lightzone contest... just need to find a suitable image. I love post processing, but my intended output is an image for display on the web at 1024 x 768 resolution. I'm not sure what I'd do too differently if developing for print, other than perhaps to sharpen more aggressively.

    By keeping the raw files, I'm allowing for a) better future raw converters/PP tools and b) developing for the output device.

    It's an interesting point you make Amin, about future screen resolutions... will that 1024 x 768 image still look good on a 6400 x 4000 display?

    Cheers

    Brian
     
  6. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    I was on engadet, and there was some controversy about what the human eye see. Apparently, Samsung was calling Apple out.

    We have to consider a couple of things. The thing with is that its reflective image, whereas a monitor is a transmissive image. I worked in a paint store for 7 years, mixing paint colors and matching them. The same issues I have with print are the same for any reflective color, it depends on the type of light hitting them and how much. ( I could write a dissertation on for my hate of "Pantone")

    I discussed in another thread the problem I have with printing at home or in a lab is that images on my monitor look great, but printed they look off, mainly due to dark shadows not actually showing up. Secondly, white paper can only get so white, its never pure white, but neither is white displayed on any monitor, except for maybe a few expensive one's. I print an image, put it under tons of light, looks great. Hang it in a room with artificial light, looks like doodoo.

    I don't want to hijack a thread, but this is in regards to iphones or portable devices and monitors anyways. We get so caught up in resolution, dynamic range, and noise, that we forget that photography by the populace is turning into where small web size images are becoming the defacto medium. Why else are 100 dollar cameras popular?

    When I was growing up as a kid, music was about the CD and was about how good the device that played the CD was. Now its about cramming as many mp3's on a portable device regardless of the quality of the recorded song. Most audiophiles I know detest mp3's. Some even complain that compression is to high on CD's( I will agree. I remember when 10 songs was the most one could put on a CD).

    My point: pictures are being displayed on the most convienient medium, which will, IMHO, phase small and medium sized prints out.
     
  7. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    Ever see what a 640x480 recorded move scaled up on a 1080P display even at a reasonable distance? If you have, then take that and magnify it by 10, and you have what it will look like. Won't be appealing in the least.
     
  8. If it's the same size display (say, 27" :), with similar or better contrast, well-calibrated color, etc ...
    ... and the new hardware has good interpolation algorithms ...
    ... then the same 1024 x 768 image will look -better- on a 6400 x 4000 display.

    The issue is that you won't be comparing it with the image you saw way back in 2010, on your old iMac 27 ... you'll be comparing it with all of the new 25Mp pix that will be showing up on the 6400 x 4000 screens of the time, and your expectations will change. Nonetheless, I expect the change will be subtle.

    Djarum wrote:
    When I was growing up as a kid, music was about keeping the LPs and 45s as clean as possible, so that you wouldn't end up with pops and ticks later. Those old recordings sound way better on my great 5.1 audio system today than they did on my old all-in-one turntable. But my ears are expecting more. I am always amazed at how weak the low end is on old recordings, since the vinyl couldn't reproduce it, they didn't even capture it. I'd expect we'll see similar revelations with respect to screen images.
     
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  9. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Yes, this was in wired magazine too. It seems that rather than compete, attempted takedowns are the order of the day.

    The article in Discover Magazine seems to take a more balanced view:
    Resolving the iPhone resolution | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine
     
  10. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    There are two separate issues. The first, addressed by the article you linked, is the argument about Steve Jobs' assertion that the Retina display truly outrezzes our retina's ability to distinguish. The second is Samsung's argument with Steve Jobs' assertion that the IPS technology is superior to AMOLED.
     
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  11. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I don't think that posting on a forum will ever be like handing over a print. I don't believe it will be better or worse, but it certainly won't be at all like handing over a print.

    1. Currently, displays are either in a TV situation, or a computer situation, and increasingly in a mobile situation. I don't believe it's possible to enjoy the nuances and detail on current screens, but of course future screens may change that.

    The real catch is the situation. It's not often you will see people truly absorbing images, and especially not sharing the experience, when it is on a screen. A wall mounted print is a different thing entirely.

    2. Printing can be an art in itself, and of course has all the challenges and benefits of variations in texture, paper etc.

    3. If screens do progress to the point where they can be large enough for wall hangings at print quality then I believe it will open a whole new angle on photography, allowing for a range of artistic work not possible with print - just as print will offer things not possible on a screen. Different, and every bit as interesting, but not the same.

    4. What I have seen, and which I find interesting, is people taking longer to view photographs on iPads than they do with laptops, and also sharing the experience. The iPad screen is very good, and no doubt in time will benefit from the advances with the iPhone screen. In the meantime, it's just been nice to see people lingering over images, and absorbing them. Traditional computers are so much geared to getting things done, and productivity, that they do not encourage absorption. The iPad is opening some new doors here.

    For me, one of the big tests for M4/3 has been the quality of prints I can obtain. It's made me realize how different the print experience can be. People will see an image on screen, and like it and pay it a compliment. The very same image, printed well, is accepted in hand and viewed with lingering appreciation.

    New screens will, I believe, offer a wider range of opportunities for viewing. Wonderful, I say - there can never be enough ways to absorb a moment in time well captured.
     
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  12. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    Pelao,

    Are you talking about just the emotional side of getting/handing a print? I won't disagree there. I find myself, however, using laptops and computers to show my pictures friends and family. I update my parents digital frame with new pictures and they quite enjoy it.
     
  13. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    403
    Jan 26, 2010
    slightly off topic from the original subject but....

    well even right now I think 1024x768 is old... I feel bad putting up pictures at 1600x1200 already, I'm more often tempted to post 2048x1536. Why? because most monitors are larger than 1024x768 now. You would have to try very hard to find a monitor that small - and mobile devices don't count because most rendering sites will automatically provide smaller images anyways.

    Will the image still look good? well I'd argue that even right now a lot is lost. With some of my favourite pictures, when I scaled them down to 1024x768 they looked dull and flat and lacked the ability to move me the way the larger resolution image does.

    Right now I'm running a 24" monitor that 1900x1200 and that's "cheap" nowadays at about $180 around here. a 1024x768 image is a small patch on the monitor, it's about 1/3rd of the screen. So, no I don't think a 1024x768 image will look good on a 6400x4000 display, it will look like a thumbnail gallery on your current screen.


    I slightly disagree. I agree that discussions on a photography forum are often not in line with mass consumer conerns, i.e. dynamic range and noise etc... but I disagree that small web size images are prefered and the cause for the popularity of $100 cameras. I believe there is definately a cry out for larger / higher resolution images, aka the megapixel wars. The online scale is a financial reality, i.e. whom ever is hosting the pictures pays a lot more to put up your 4000x3000 image than a 800x600 image. To be precise, over 25X more. i.e. Storage costs 25X more, and bandwidth costs 25X more. On top of that, there's the question of can the end user view 4000x3000 anyways, and how long will it take to download / view for users. As the cost of the above changes, so will the size of the images posted online. They will not stay small for long. About 5 years ago 800x600 images were "good" and 1027x768 images were "great". Now, people complain if it's 1024x768 and expect much more. I would say that with in another 5 years 2048 would be the expected if not the low standard.

    As for the popularity of $100 cameras... I would say it's price, not the demand for low quality that's driving it... $100 is kind of a mental barrier for buying anything you don't care too much about. As an example, with most of my friends, they can buy things under $100 with out approval from their wife or husband or whom ever, but over $100... you need approval, explanation, discussion etc...

    As for "will phase out small & medium size prints", I have never ever printed a photo, and I don't have any friends who prints photos. I think it has already been phased out and it's just enthusists and the tail end of the market now. (kind of like printed newspapers and magasines...)

    yes but... you wouldn't ever want to scale anything, you'd view things at their native resolutions, like when I view a 1024x768 image on a 1900x1200 monitor, it doesn't scale to fill the screen, it stays at it's max native size and fills 1/3rd of the screen. Hence my comment about the pictures will look like images in a thumbnail gallery.

    Just my 1.6 cents (dollars gone down again and new taxes kicking in).
     
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  14. Mosca

    Mosca Mu-43 Regular

    103
    May 27, 2010
    More people have seen any one of my photographs posted on the internet than have seen all the prints I have ever made in my life. For me, it is just as much about the communication as it is about the craft and preserving the memories. For me, it is enough for someone, anyone, to think; "Thanks for taking that shot and sharing it," whether it's one that is not so technically perfect but funny (like the dog with the dinosaur) or one that I obsessed over and took several times until I got what I wanted.

    For me, this gets right to the heart of art and expression. A photographer posts her work on Flickr; a songwriter posts her performance on Youtube; a comic strip writer posts his strips on a web site. In every case, a developing artist... not even that, a human, a soul has an opportunity to perform and express to a wide audience. It is a chance to say, "I did it. I put it out there, to be seen, and appreciated or ridiculed. It may never amount to anything... but nevertheless, I did it."

    This is fundamentally different than printing an image. It doesn't mean printing is worse, or better; it means that digital images are not really in competition with printed images. Both are photographs, but they are no more in competition than a recorded performance is with a live performance. Both are music, but meant to be consumed and appreciated differently; both are images, but intended to be consumed and appreciated differently.
     
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  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    The most common screen resolution amongst visitors of this site is 1280x800.
     
  16. Bokeh Diem

    Bokeh Diem Mu-43 Top Veteran

    655
    Mar 14, 2010
    Toronto
    Yep.. it's not what's in the photo but what resides outside of it that is important... the people, the stuff that goes on inside their brains when they look at your posted work. In a way the photo is there as a mirror on their souls, invoking some neuron response just waiting to happen. Anyway, that's the kicker for me.

    If the quality of the photo is a part of that symbiotic relationship, then gung ho on raising the technical bar, anytime!

    Bokeh Diem
     
  17. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi
    I too show and share photographs directly via my computer screen, or by posting online, and it's perfectly fine. It is just my observation though, that a print, whether handed or viewed while mounted, seems to get more attention and have more time spent absorbing it's content.

    I am delighted with all the opportunities we have to share and display photographs. I just hope that the evolving technology helps people to spend more time really taking the time to see the content and story of some photographs, instead of what I see now, which is more often simply observing. I am not saying that the quick display and observe is a bad thing - just that if this is all we are headed for, I feel we will miss some of what photography can capture.
     
  18. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    403
    Jan 26, 2010
    Thanks for the info, that does sound in line with other web site stats I've seen recently.

    Here's a link to some yearly trends : Browser Display Statistics

    Note that in 2003-2004, half the people just finally had 1024x768. According to the numbers, in 2010, 76% have more than that now (how unfortunately they don't break down the "higher" part).


    But, back to the secondary topic of how older/smaller images will look. This thread made me just go back and update some of my older photos which were scaled down to 1024, to a slightly larger size of 1600. Originally the photos were taken from an Olympus C740 at 3mp :smile:. I had originally scaled the images down to 1024 (because that was the size back then) and they looked "good" (well to me anyways). So I open up the originals again today... all of a sudden I realise the full size images (2048) are a little fuzzy. They look sharp and good when scaled down to 1024 but the 2048 images look poor. I applied a little sharpening and scaled the images down to 1600 and they look "decent".

    This made me realise though, I won't be able to use the 2048 images even though I have them. Today, I'm taking 4032x3024 images and scaling down to 2048 and they look "good". 5 years from now when 6000x4000 monitors come out, even though I've saved my original size images. When I try to post larger sizes of those images I will most likely be disappointed. I will most likely have to pull out my 24mp e-p8 to take new pictures again. :rolleyes:
     
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  19. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Jason
    More off topic, LOL...

    But, now that 16x9 or 16x10 screens are cheaper and more available, camera manufactures will be forced into putting those modes into their cameras. Eventually, I think, sensors will have a true resolution of a 16x9 frame.

    Of course, this is all speculation :)
     
  20. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    403
    Jan 26, 2010
    But... you shouldn't be making a camera to follow displays right? displays will always change.

    I don't know too much about lenses, but generally speaking, they're built "mostly" circularly symetrical right? (I think there's one spot that isn't where it's mounted or something like that?) Assuming that's correct, then the most optimal sensor would be a circle too making the most of the image from the lens. For manufacturing purposes, the optmial solution might be a square that encompases the image circle. Then... you could crop to what ever aspect ratio you want as long as it's with in the circle you should get decent results... That's my theory anyways... I have a lot of theories, most won't hold stones let alone water.