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Ed Rooney

The Case for Downsizing

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Is there one? Or is it just pixel paranoia? 

 

(Yes, I've been downsizing.) The intent is to make an image sharper . . . or appear sharper.  But what are we really gaining and what are we sacrificing by downsizing? Before I recently started downsizing (to about 36MB) I was NOT having trouble passing QC: Over the years I've had some images fail QC, but in every single instance the problem should have been noticed by me at the final, careful 100% check point before uploading. I don't believe downsizing those files would have helped at all. 

 

Rational pros and cons? I'd love to hear them.  

 

Edo 

Edited by Ed Rooney

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Yes, I've been doing it for a while after a run on bad luck.

Mostly to 4000 long side, but sometimes right down to the minimum, 3250.

Incidentally, this morning I was reviewing some images in relation to the 'favourite prime' thread from the days when we had to upsize to about 16MP. There's no way I'd dare to submit some of my sellers from a few years ago today.

Edited by spacecadet

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Are we gaining anything when we downsize? I think it depends on the image. I only downsize if it makes an obvious difference in how the image looks at 100%. If after downsizing an image, I'm still not confident about submitting it to Alamy, I toss it in the recycling bin. I'm not sure that we are sacrificing much when it comes to editorial RM images. Most editorial uses are small. Commercial uses and RF in general might be another matter, though. Size seems to matter there.

 

I agree, pixel-peeping paranoia is now rampant ("into your heart it will creep"). Also, it's true that most QC failures would probably not have been prevented by downsizing. Still, it can be a useful tool methinks, if for nothing else, mental health reasons. 

 

P.S. What I'd really like to see is selling prices being up-sized, especially this month. B)

Edited by John Mitchell
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I often downsize in order to make the image look sharper at 100% output size. In Adobe Camera Raw the image displays at output size (not file size) when viewed at 100%. Lower the output size parameters and you can see the difference in sharpness before you output.

 
Zeiss has a white paper that says a poor quality lens will appear to perform better if the image is shot at a high resolution and then downsized.
 
In other words a Canon 24-105 zoom would perform better if used on a 50 megapixel 5Ds and then downsized to the 21 megapixel file size of a 5D11. Better than if it was used on the 5D11.
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Zeiss has a white paper that says a poor quality lens will appear to perform better if the image is shot at a high resolution and then downsized.
 
In other words a Canon 24-105 zoom would perform better if used on a 50 megapixel 5Ds and then downsized to the 21 megapixel file size of a 5D11. Better than if it was used on the 5D11.

 

 

That certainly makes sense. Not sure it warranted a "white paper," though. B)

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I usually downsize to 3400 x 2550. I'm using a Lumix G5 with 14-140 lens. I found with this lens, at F8, the full resolution images can sometimes look a little soft (to me) towards the corners, so I downsize.

 

Disadvantage - smaller file size may loose some sales?

Advantage - I can get away without changing lenses, thereby reducing weight, dust problems, and I'm able to get "grab" shots I otherwise wouldn't.

 

I'm happy with this compromise.

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I use a 16MP camera most of the time and try to stay at full resolution. However, if I think that it would be wise to downsize an image, I start working down this list (or one like it) until there is a visible improvement @ 100%. I find that downsizing to 4250 or 4000 pixels on the long side usually works for most images that are in need of a little "tightening up."

Edited by John Mitchell

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I downsize if I feel it necessary. I shoot 18MP so if I think the image is a bit soft will downsize a bit. If necessary, have downsized down to 6MP, especially if I really love the pic and that all it needs is some tightening up. Better than binning a perfectly good image. 

 

Jill

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What all the others said.

Aperture too small (diffraction); aperture too large (dof); iso too high; light too low; too many layers of glass in between: all those and more.

Like rain:

 

F4YF57.jpg

(4272x2848 in stead of 5472x3648)

 

But only if like Jill said: all it needs is some tightening up.

However better than binning a perfectly good image is not really enough for me. I must really like the image for some reason.

And think some client could like it too. In that order.

 

wim

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I downsize if I feel it necessary. I shoot 18MP so if I think the image is a bit soft will downsize a bit. If necessary, have downsized down to 6MP, especially if I really love the pic and that all it needs is some tightening up. Better than binning a perfectly good image. 

 

Jill

 

I now occasionally go down to 6 MP (3000 pixels / 17MB) as well. It has salvaged some previously binned images. Cool. 

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I don't. Can't be bothered to be truthful.

 

dd

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Nope. I have 16, 20 and 24 megapixel cameras so that I can produce 16, 20 and 24 megapixel images. The only reductions in size (not downsizing) I do are from cropping, which is usually from straightening.

 

Now, if I had a 36 or 42 or 50 mp camera, I'd have to reevaluate the situation. For now, my lenses are up to the task.

Edited by Bill Kuta
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Disadvantage: Screens are getting higher resolution especially with professional buyers. Lower resolution images will look worse over time. Whilst this might not matter for printed output, they will be still viewed on a monitor by a buyer first.

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Disadvantage: Screens are getting higher resolution especially with professional buyers. Lower resolution images will look worse over time. Whilst this might not matter for printed output, they will be still viewed on a monitor by a buyer first.

That's true, my (tired) current screens are 1600x1200 but they will be replaced by 4K before too long - they will then be over 8Mpx.

Edited by Martin P Wilson

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Disadvantage: Screens are getting higher resolution especially with professional buyers. Lower resolution images will look worse over time. Whilst this might not matter for printed output, they will be still viewed on a monitor by a buyer first.

That's true, my (tired) current screens are 1600x1200 but they will be replaced by 4K before too long - they will then be over 8Mpx.

 

 

Hmmm... had never thought of that. Technology strikes again. 

 

Guess I'm veering off topic somewhat but Alamy has updated its reasons for QC failures, which I was glad to see. The old guidelines were looking pretty dated. I wish the example images were bigger, though. The mouse-over for larger views feature seems to have disappeared (for me, anyway) as well. The infamous "soft and lacking definition" is now defined as "Marked difference in definition between low-res comp & when viewed at 100%." Does anyone know how big those "low-res comps" are?

Edited by John Mitchell
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Disadvantage: Screens are getting higher resolution especially with professional buyers. Lower resolution images will look worse over time. Whilst this might not matter for printed output, they will be still viewed on a monitor by a buyer first.

That's true, my (tired) current screens are 1600x1200 but they will be replaced by 4K before too long - they will then be over 8Mpx.

 

 

Guess I'm veering off topic somewhat but Alamy has updated its reasons for QC failures, which I was glad to see. The old guidelines were looking pretty dated. I wish the example images were bigger, though. The mouse-over for larger views feature seems to have disappeared (for me, anyway) as well. The infamous "soft and lacking definition" is now defined as "Marked difference in definition between low-res comp & when viewed at 100%." Does anyone know how big those "low-res comps" are?

 

 

The new Alamy "reasons for QC failures" looks very useful. Good examples.

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Disadvantage: Screens are getting higher resolution especially with professional buyers. Lower resolution images will look worse over time. Whilst this might not matter for printed output, they will be still viewed on a monitor by a buyer first.

That's true, my (tired) current screens are 1600x1200 but they will be replaced by 4K before too long - they will then be over 8Mpx.

 

 

Hmmm... had never thought of that. Technology strikes again. 

 

Guess I'm veering off topic somewhat but Alamy has updated its reasons for QC failures, which I was glad to see. The old guidelines were looking pretty dated. I wish the example images were bigger, though. The mouse-over for larger views feature seems to have disappeared (for me, anyway) as well. The infamous "soft and lacking definition" is now defined as "Marked difference in definition between low-res comp & when viewed at 100%." Does anyone know how big those "low-res comps" are?

 

 

Not off-topic at all, thanks, guys. 

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Disadvantage: Screens are getting higher resolution especially with professional buyers. Lower resolution images will look worse over time. Whilst this might not matter for printed output, they will be still viewed on a monitor by a buyer first.

That's true, my (tired) current screens are 1600x1200 but they will be replaced by 4K before too long - they will then be over 8Mpx.

 

 

Hmmm... had never thought of that. Technology strikes again. 

 

Guess I'm veering off topic somewhat but Alamy has updated its reasons for QC failures, which I was glad to see. The old guidelines were looking pretty dated. I wish the example images were bigger, though. The mouse-over for larger views feature seems to have disappeared (for me, anyway) as well. The infamous "soft and lacking definition" is now defined as "Marked difference in definition between low-res comp & when viewed at 100%." Does anyone know how big those "low-res comps" are?

 

 

Excuse me for answering my own question about the size of low-res comps. I checked them out, and it it looks as if they are 1300 pixels on the long side. I've experimented with downsizing images to 1300 pixels, and just about anything looks sharp across the frame at that size, even shots with intentional motion blur and shallow depth of field. Consequently, I'm not sure that Alamy's new definition of "Soft and Lacking Definition" is going to be that useful. But perhaps I'm missing something. Any thoughts? 

Edited by John Mitchell
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As the sun rose this morning it dawned on my what Alamy are saying with their new guidance on SoLD.

 

Photographers are always told that if you are going to break the rules then do so decisively: motion blur, differential focus, wonky horizons even grain. If it is slight it looks like a mistake, if it is wholehearted it is deliberate. As people downsize to increase apparent sharpness so the same happens with the preview, if the softness is not obvious in the preview but it is in the 100% view then Alamy are taking the view that it was a mistake, not deliberate. It makes sense as it is the preview that the customer uses to select the image, they are not going to want to find an apparently sharp image is a bit soft. It explains why pictures like this one of mine passed QC some years ago, nothing sharp, and probably would now with this new explanation.

nottingham-uk-28th-september-2014-ikano-

 

It probably means that a picture that was all over noisy or grainy would probably pass as well but not if it is a few sparkles in some of the shadows. It should mean that the very grainy pictures pictures like those from Sarah Moon in the 70s or 80s would pass QC - the grain, noise is definitely there deliberately and visible at small sizes:

2063894690_6f80e950da_o.jpg

 

It seems to confirm what Alamy have already said that the reviewers truly understand deliberate from merely marginal!

Edited by Martin P Wilson
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A while back I asked member services about downsizing scans of medium and large format film. Their reply – as I recall, since I can't locate the email – was that the preferred size is 70mb and that they would prefer that the film be scanned at that size rather than downsizing, because it introduces (or might introduce) artifacts. Personally, I can't see any degradation caused by downsizing, but accept that the QC folks can see things which I don't. Based on comments in this thread, it seems that the benefits in terms of resolution might be worth any trade-off.

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Don, scans are a whole different ballgame. And "a while back" might be a very different ballgame, too. But thanks for bring that up. 

 

And while I'm disagreeing, I think I'll add that I don't believe QC can see anything that we cannot see . . . but I think they may indeed come to a different conclusion about certain things. In the context of submitting images to Alamy, QC is always right.  

 

Alamy has changed its mind a number of times about tech details over the years. 

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As the sun rose this morning it dawned on my what Alamy are saying with their new guidance on SoLD.

 

Photographers are always told that if you are going to break the rules then do so decisively: motion blur, differential focus, wonky horizons even grain. If it is slight it looks like a mistake, if it is wholehearted it is deliberate. As people downsize to increase apparent sharpness so the same happens with the preview, if the softness is not obvious in the preview but it is in the 100% view then Alamy are taking the view that it was a mistake, not deliberate. It makes sense as it is the preview that the customer uses to select the image, they are not going to want to find an apparently sharp image is a bit soft. It explains why pictures like this one of mine passed QC some years ago, nothing sharp, and probably would now with this new explanation.

nottingham-uk-28th-september-2014-ikano-

 

It probably means that a picture that was all over noisy or grainy would probably pass as well but not if it is a few sparkles in some of the shadows. It should mean that the very grainy pictures pictures like those from Sarah Moon in the 70s or 80s would pass QC - the grain, noise is definitely there deliberately and visible at small sizes:

2063894690_6f80e950da_o.jpg

 

It seems to confirm what Alamy have already said that the reviewers truly understand deliberate from merely marginal!

 

Well said, that's the new key to SoLD by the looks of it.

 

If the intentional effect -- motion blur, graininess, etc. -- isn't obvious when you downsize to comp preview size (1300 pixels on long side), then don't submit. Also, if you're dealing with a "regular" (i.e. no special effects) image, it has to look almost as sharp at 100% as at 1300 pixels.

 

Think I've finally got it after all these years and 5417 images. B)

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Now is anybody prepared to test the theory? ;)

Edited by Martin P Wilson

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hello -- a signing-in test. sorry  :wacko:

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Now is anybody prepared to test the theory? ;)

 

... you first. 

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