Assessing photographs in the digital world
Isn't digital wonderful? Once we had to process images before we could see them at all (and I am not referring to using a RAW converter). If you didn't want to do this yourself you could take them to a lab, and they could lose or scratch them for you (and charge you for the privilege). Now the things pretty much pop straight out of the camera. And we view them differently too. At one time you made a print to see for sure if the image was any good or not. Now you can examine the image on screen much bigger (or at higher magnification) than it will ever be reproduced on the printed page.
But I think that this has changed the way we assess photos. Image quality seems to be about scrutinising image noise and sharpness at 100% on-screen magnification, rather than the more subtle appreciation of tone and that hard to define "feel" in an image. Was it always this way? I think not. But if not, why the change in emphasis? Maybe just because these are fairly easy parameters to use by way of comparison. But being easy doesn't make them useful, just as judging a camera simply by the number of pixels it records doesn't tell the whole storey or even the best bit of it.
Let's leave the camera makers to worry about noise, and get back to trying to appreciate those things that make an image stand out.
Image: Grasmere - Lake District 2005