17 Jan Defining Image Quality

Source: Thomas Fitzgerald Photography

“Image Quality”. It’s a term that is used all the time, yet the definition of it can be somewhat nebulous. Whether you’re talking about a camera’s sensor, or evaluating a specific photograph, the term “image quality” often can mean a wide range of things, and different people use the term in different ways.

So what is “image quality?” What does it actually mean? How do you define it?

There are many aspects that define the “quality” of an image, but in my opinion they can probably be broken down into two main categories:

Technical Quality & Artistic Quality

These are things that you can measure. How sharp is the image? How much noise does it have? What’s the dynamic range? You can chart these, and put them in spec sheets and on comparison charts. The technical aspects of image quality can be objectively measured and scientifically quantified. When you read reviews of new cameras which talk about image quality, this is often what they’re referring to.

By using these quantifiable aspects of an image, reviewers can provide objective comparisons based on verifiable and measurable statistics. This isn’t anything new. Reviews have been charting the technical abilities of cameras for some time, and its a staple of reviews for everything from cameras to lenses, and even back to the days of film.

There is a downside to relying on technical details however. To the average person, the value of certain specifications can sometimes be confusing, especially as to how those…

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