Is a 5K display less "forgiving" of images?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by jazzer15, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. jazzer15 macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    I hesitate to ask this question as I probably don't fully understand image resolution, but here it goes anyway. It is often suggested that "pixel peeping" is not wise and that people who view everything at 100% are likely to be disappointed with their images even though the image would look just great if printed or viewed at a more typical size. Since the 5K 27 inch displays would allow you to see more of the full resolution of an image without zooming in, does this mean that images are actually likely to look somewhat worse than they otherwise would because you are viewing them at closer to 100%? In other words are the higher resolution displays going to be much less forgiving when viewing images that might have minor flaws that would otherwise have gone unnoticed?
  2. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    You images could look much better or much worse. It depends on the quality of your camera and lens and your technique. If all those are good then finally you can see just how good your images look. But if your images are not so great now you can see that too.

    So it could go either way.
  4. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Well, i have a feeling it would become much easier to cull the images and I would probably have many fewer "keepers". But that's probably a good thing. It would keep me honest :)
  5. FredT2 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 18, 2009
    I disagree.
  6. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
  7. AppleHater macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2010
    It's the same case as when I got a hifi audio system, I discovered many imperfections in recording, of course, good records sound amazing, but the system is far less forgiving.
  8. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I disagree as well.

    First, consider the retina viewing distance. If you wanna peer in and see your image as close as possible, to see as much detail as possible, and yet NOT see pixellation, then both Macs would work.

    But, secondly, note that for the 2.5K Mac the image would be much larger on the screen, so more of it would be invisible. And you'd have to be about 36" away, so it would also fill a smaller part of your field of view. So it's sorta like looking at a 4x enlargement throught a tube as compared to the 5K Mac.

    On either display you could always scale down your image, and view it a something besides 1:1. Nothing has really changed; your argument would apply to ancient 72 PPI monitors as well. Or standard def TV; if you back up far enough on that it is indistinguishable from a Mac as well.

    5k is better because it's retina; at the optimum viewing distance you can view stuff at max resolution without pixels, or not. Just like on your iPhone. Or iPad. Or retina laptop. And even when you aren't pixel peeping you gain, because you can determine much more easily if an image is a reject because of focus problems on the 5k in a grid or light table view with smaller images.

    TL;DR: it's possible to view your images in a softer, less detailed way on a 5k, but it's not possible to get the sharpness of a 5k on a 2.5k without big compromises.
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Hi Fi is a good analogy. I have some classic recordings of jazz performances makes in the 1960s and with better equipment I can hear all the limitations of 1960s analog recording equipment, tape hiss and all. But I can also hear fine details of the music. It's both better and worse at the same time. I call it "better".

    BTW you do NOT need to spend lots of money to get a very high end audio system. Just plug a pair of $100 studio headphones into the headphone jack of any modern Mac. I use AKG K240 but others can work too.

    Likewise there is a low cost way to get a very high end display of any digital photo: Have it printed (by a decent lab) on 8x10 or 14x11 paper. Photographic prints are generally made at the full resolution of the image file. Large prints are VERY unforgiving.
  10. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    The OPs explanation is correct.

    A screen that displays more pixels is, under certain circumstances, able to reveal more flaws. Under those circumstances it is less forgiving.
  11. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I guess "forgiving" is, as always, in the heart or eye of the beholder. I can't speak for the OP, but I sure like to discover flaws before I print or post online, where people WILL be viewing the images in retina. My photos look flawless on some of my camera LCDs, and then not so hot on the old laptop, which isn't even retina. One always has to account for the resolution and look of the output medium. Just as sound engineers accounted for the limitations of LPs, or tape, or CDs, etc. Even before retina we had to make choices in sharpening for screens. But without a retina, you have a harder time proofing FOR retina. Or even print (and color is a whole 'nother issue).
  12. jazzer15 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    I appreciate the discussion here. I also want to be able to see what the image will look like to others. I currently have a non-retina iMac. My good images look good and I will look at them at 1:1 when editing and in determining if they are keepers. However, some of them that would look great printed at say 16 x 20, may have some imperfections if looking at it at 100% (a little more noise, for example). So maybe it's a well composed, interesting image, in focus, etc., but maybe I wouldn't want to be viewing it at pixel level all the time. I was just wondering if I purchased a 5K iMac (I don't really like the marketing term "retina", which really doesn't mean anything IMHO) and then showed someone a slideshow on the computer, is it basically going to be the same as looking at every image at 100% or printing at billboard size. I assume the answer is no, but that much more detail (and therefore focus issues, etc.) would be noticeable (if that makes sense).

    I guess the easiest thing to do is to take a thumb drive with some of my pictures over to an Apple store and see what it looks like on a new iMac. :)
  13. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Rather an interesting set of comments here and really nice that many are trying to help the OP.

    I'll just throw some thoughts here ...

    If you take an "image" that is say 1000x1000 and view it on a standard lcd monitor vs Retina 5k, are the sizes physically the same? Is one smaller than the other?

    If you take the same image and enlarge it to fill up the height of the screens, do they appear different? Does one seem to show more "detail?"

    If you use an application to re-scale the smaller image to make it match the larger image (from above) is there any noticeable change in detail?

    I think these 3 "ifs" should answer the subjective question of the OP. If one finds 5k to be less forgiving, certainly between changing scale and "ppi" could render an image with less detail but also reduce the potential to notice problems. Degrading an image to hide imperfections might sound silly but it certainly can work under many instances. Lets recall that lots of "filters" in photo apps are actually manipulating or degrading the original data to something more pleasing (again it is subjective as in what degree do we change an image to "remove" noise).
  14. alexxk macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2010

    I had the same question as you.

    As I zoomed in into an image using my macbook pro the image would show its imperfections, never my images looked better zoomed in than it would otherwise

    When viewing using the retina display on my new iMac, the images are almost at 100% and they look spetacular.. even though they are almost zoomed in, the pixels itself created the image are much smaller at the same time, making it sharper and much more beautiful to look at it. Edges for example are really sharp as long as your image is good at the same time.

    In the end, my images looks much better on my Mac than they do looking zoomed in on a regular display or looking at them without zooming.
  15. bent christian, Nov 18, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015

    bent christian Suspended

    bent christian

    Nov 5, 2015
    I have found Retina displays much more forgiving due to the high pixel density. My wife had a 15" MBP w/ Retina display, and I could not trust it. Images sized 800px long side for Facebook and the like were much too small for me to determine final output quality. Things would appear sharp onscreen that weren't on a less dense how cellphone pictures look fine on the phone, and look like garbage on larger monitor. I kept having to check the images first on my 1080p iMac before posting. Maybe there was a view option in PS that was not set correctly. Maybe CS6 was not ready for Retina displays. I don't know. I was unable to find anything that solved the problem.
  16. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68040

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    What's the difference between "full screen" on my 27" non-Retina iMac and "full screen" on a 27" Retina iMac? I think that's the appropriate comparison for these purposes.

    A lot turns on the resolution of the images being viewed. I often shoot with both my iPhone 6 and my MFT Lumix DMC G-5.

    On my 27" iMac, the images from both cameras are scaled down when viewed full screen - there's more detail available than the display can show at full screen - the iPhone images, all other things being equal, are likely to look about the same as those from the "better" camera.

    On a 27" Retina iMac, the same images would both have to be scaled up to be viewed full-screen. Since the iPhone images would have to be magnified to a greater extent, the flaws in those images will be more apparent than the flaws in the other images.

    iPhone 6 - 3264 x 2448
    Panasonic Lumix DMC G-5 - 4608 x 3456

    Late 2013 27" iMac - 2560 x 1440
    Late 2014 27" Retina iMac - 5120 x 2880

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15 November 10, 2015