Six Keys to Getting Great Image Quality.

Gavin Seim: Some time back I discovered mind bending quality of large format film images. I then become fanatical about getting the best image quality from digital that I could. I want to know what it’s capable of and how to manage it. I’ve been working on a simple way to explain what I learn. I thought of inventing a cool acronym for it, but I decided to be straight to the point and just lay out six key elements that I’m finding directly effect image quality, along with some thoughts on how we can manage them.

Also note that I’m not talking about “at a glance image quality”. I’m talking about facts for people who really care about making their images as perfect as possible. A Facebook image can get away with a lot because it’s so small and the expectation is low. But understanding what you’re seeing when you zoom to 100% will help you understand what your quality means to you, to a wall print, to an art gallery, or to that submission to a stock agency. Also while I’m focusing on digital, all but one of these elements apply to film as well.

Also I should mention that I go even more in depth on this topic in Pro Photo Podcast episode #74. OK lets get started.

Bull of the Mists was made at ISO3200. Pretty high, but otherwise I would have missed the shot. The six keys worked though and the result has detail even in a large print. Read more here.

Six Keys to Image Quality.

  • 1. Optic.
    There’s no way out of this, so get past it. If your lens is bad, so is your image quality. No matter what else you do. A $200 70-200 is not giving you the same quality as a $2000 pro lens. The difference between cheap glass and great glass is huge. If you want great image quality you have to get great glass. Are there variables? Sure. For example a 50mm 1.4 lens is not that expensive (around $400 usd), but it’s known for great quality. Some primes however are even more expensive than zooms. And worth it too. Generally with glass the more you spend, the better you get. But do your homework and get the best bang for the buck. Just don’t think you can get off cheap.

This is a post from Gavin’s fine art project. Read the rest of it in his journal.

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