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Am I pixel peeping?

Hello All,

I am finally addressing my weakness this year. Post Processing high ISO images. I have always been happy with the results from my Canon's. The only downfall I find is that I struggle with high ISO processing. I can never find a happy balance between sharpness and noise reduction. It came to a head last week. I went out and purchased a Fuji Xt-2 and I am really liking it. I used it in conjunction with the 5D Mark III last week at a wedding. I used it at ISO 1250 and the Canon at ISO 1600 during the church service. I had a few slightly underexposed XT2 shots because the damn flash didn't fire all the time. Gotta get one thats compatible:) Anyway, I processed them in lightroom. I know lightroom is not the best for fine details on Fuji's etc,, but it should do a halfway decent job. The point I am making is that they look fine at 100 percent view, but as soon as I view them at 200 percent they fall apart and look not so hot. Am I pixel peeping here? What is acceptable for viewing high ISO images here? Don't get me wrong, I am not just talking about the Fuji here either. I even struggle with the Canon files on high ISO. I am just curious here. I have attached a SOOC jpg from the Fuji for example. This one looks great at viewing but zoom in on it. Am I worrying over anything? Could be the lens? Just needed some feedback. Thanks everyone. 



  • Sorry, for some reason the image won't load. Maybe I will resize it and see if that works, but it will be smaller of course. 
  • Ok resized it to 900px wide. Its a a quick example
  • Hi, Jay - Obviously, photography is incredibly subjective. But aside from your worry that the photo is blowing apart at high magnification, if the shot you posted is SOOC, I should have such problems.

    I didn't download it, or do anything besides clicking on it to make it bigger. I know from a camera-technical standpoint, you want to know what's going on. I don't think I can help you there. From a client-satisfaction viewpoint? Nothing to worry about in my view.

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2017

    If you look at even 100% and it does not 'look' good on screen, there really is nothing to worry about, view the image @ 50% (I never go 100% regardless of all the 'gurus' out there and Adobe giving us 'reminders' to look at 100%) as a full res file @ 'viewing size' looks fine and most certainly will print fine.

    I do all editing on a 'full view' of image, then zoom to 50% and if happy, then I know it's perfect.

    If you view at 200% you are most certainly 'pixel peeping' because that's precisely what you are looking at, pixels, and when you hold say a 12x18 print in hand, you cannot 'zoom' in and say, wow, my image 'falls apart @ 200%', just never happens.

    The image you posted above is fine to me like Dave says.

    I keep saying this to many people, get the image printed even at 12x18 and see what it looks like, then just forget the bloody 200% 'view', your screen is square pixel orientated, your print is round dots condensed.

    Remember, if you view the image at 'fit screen' size also, it may be an odd 33.3%, so go to 50% to see it properly on your screen, or 25%.

    A full res image @ 50% on your screen will be in physical dimensions if you got a ruler out and measure your screen at least 12x18 inches.

    I have seen images so noisy on screen they look stuffed, but when printed and *importantly* viewed at a proper distance, not right up with your nose virtually contacting the paper, you cannot see the noise. However, those images would not maybe look so good at 20x24 or larger, but certainly absolutely will be fine at around the 10x8 or even 12x18 size.
  • Thank Dave. That makes me feel better. I am still dialing in the XT-2, so I am glad to hear that It looks decent. I am testing a few raw editors to see how the final export looks like. 

  • Trev,

    Thank you. That was exactly what I was looking for. I tend to blow them up on screen quite large. I figured if it looks good at large sizes, I am in the clear. But maybe I will stop doing that and stick with no more than 100%. I also wondered if it had anything to do with my screen itself. I am on a loaded iMac 27" 5K, so I wondered if if needed to click any special settings etc...but I doubt it. Thanks again Trev.

  • Just my 2 Cents worth - you surely are pixel peeping.

    A magnification beyond 100% tries to show more Information than there is, i.e. is "inventing" (ok, extrapolating ;-) pixels beyond the resolution of the pic in question. You will not gain any additional information.

    Reducing to say 50% evens out some noise between neighbouring Pixels, therefore delivers a smoother pic, which will look better.

    So, just follow Trevs advice above ;-)


  • Mike,

    Thanks. I definitely do not want to invent problems. I will reevaluate my approach following Trev's advice. 

  • When I print anything over 16x20 I like to use PS print preview. Makes it easy to check noise levels and anything else I may have missed. To make it accurate you probably need to make a change in your PS preferences. This tutorial is an easy way to check yours and make any changes.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    In the 12+ years that I have photographed 600+ weddings, I have only ever had one client look at a sample album and say something about the digital noise in the printed album.  It was an 14x11 album, and a large print of the lake-side ceremony at dusk. 1600ISO on the Canon 5D. So you could see a bit of noise. She peered closer and mentioned the noise in a disappointed voice. She is / was a wannabe photographer. 

    So take from that what you will. 
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