How Pixel-Peepers Ruined Everything

No doubt, the internet is quite obsessed with pixel-peeping. It ruined everything.

Coming to you from Camera Conspiracies, this hilarious video lampoons how pixel-peeping has changed the way we think about lens design and usage. A lot of photography culture obsesses about pixel-level sharpness and uses it as a golden standard by which to compare different lenses. In recent years, we have seen an explosion of very large, very heavy, and very expensive lenses that do push the boundaries of sharpness more and more, but at a cost. While this has produced a range of very impressive optics, there has also been some pushback over the size of the lenses and their clinical character. A lot of photographers have embraced vintage lenses for their smaller sizes, lower costs, and character, and some manufacturers have responded with lines of portable f/1.8 primes and the like. No doubt, there is an admittedly imperfect correlation between image quality and size, and it seems we are starting to look for more of a balance between the two.

Regardless of which side you fall on, the video is well worth watching if you need a good laugh or two (just beware that there is some profanity). 

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Greg G's picture

I've been known to pixel peep but I was laughing so hard at this I had tears in my eyes — which caused chromatic aberration and boke balls in the corners!

Alex Cooke's picture

This was honestly probably my favorite video of his!

chris bryant's picture

There is nothing worse than a sharp picture of a fuzzy concept.

Camara companies, lens manufacturers and publications have been, for decades, making money from your insecurities.

Jasper Stone's picture

Boy ... I needed this

Stuart Carver's picture

Someone takes time to scout a location, get there at a specific time in specific conditions to then use their years of experience to perfectly compose and capture the shot only for some cretin on the internet to say 'erm that top left corner with the leaf is rather too soft for my eyes when zoomed in at 400%'...... thats art in its purest form!

Tom Reichner's picture

I must admit, I was really looking forward to a serious discussion that pitted the pros of pixel-peeping against the cons. After watching 3 minutes of the video, it was clear that I wasn't going to get what I was looking for. Personally, I'm not really into humor, so the value of this is lost on me. Disappointed.

vegaroyfoss's picture

The link has 'humor' in it... So does the to tag say. And the 8. word in the second paragraph says 'hilarious'. And you expect a serious article.

Also.. You must be fun at parties 🙂

Tom Reichner's picture

I expected some humor, but I expected at least enough serious stuff along with the humor to sustain a discussion about the pros and cons of pixel peeping.

Michael Aubrey's picture

There pros and cons to pixel peeping?

Tom Reichner's picture

I am not sure what your question is.

I am interested in discussing with other Fstopper members the positives of pixel peeping, as well as any disadvantages that it can bring.

Personally, I am glad for the ability to pixel peep, as it helps me to know what the weaknesses are for any given scenario with given gear. I like to print my images large, like 48" to 60" across, and I display them in areas where the viewer walks right up to them and looks at them from just one or two feet away, examining the feather detail in the birds or the hair detail in the mammals. I want to be sure that the birds and animals will look GREAT at such large output sizes even when viewed from such close distance. Pixel peeping helps me to see any flaws in image quality before I send the image files to the printer, so that I can correct the flaws in Photoshop.

Pixel peeping is done AFTER the actual photography has taken place, so it doesn't interfere with spontaneity or creativity.

Pixel peeping needs not take away from one's enjoyment of the subject matter or the moment that was captured. Our minds and hearts are big enough to be completely consumed with an excitement for what we captured, but also to be sure to produce the highest image quality possible. These two things are not at all mutually exclusive.

This is where so many people are so dead wrong - they think that if we give a lot of attention to image quality, that we cannot also harbor a great enthusiasm for the moment that was captured. We can do both, and doing one does not limit our ability to do the other.

So I definitely see the pros of pixel peeping, but I have yet to encounter anything that I see as a con.

Stuart Carver's picture

Your personal situation and use of zooming does not reflect what 99% of people are using pixel peeping for, they are using it to complain that brand A camera (that they don’t own) is worse than brand B camera (that they likely own or hope to own), or create pointless arguments about lens quality after checking the ‘corner sharpness’ of some half arsed demo shot on one of these camera websites.. that’s where it becomes an obvious con, the obvious con being the internet littered with all these petty little arguments from petty little trolls who should be getting off their lazy arses and getting out and about clicking that shutter.

So yes, it’s handy for you to check detail in your wildlife images, but not good at much else.

Tom Reichner's picture


I am not aware of the kind of pixel-peeping that you are talking about. But I am very aware of the kind when people zoom in to more than 100% views of their images when they edit them, to ensure that the final image quality will be sufficient for the way they want to present the image.

The whole idea of people pixel peeping at images taken by cameras that they don't even own - I just don't see that happening anywhere. None of the photographers that I know personally do anything of the sort. Pixel peeping is done by people when they look at their own images closely, prior to posting them or printing them.

Stuart Carver's picture

Take a look on Tom, you will find plenty of those type of people, trolling the comments section of camera and lens ‘reviews’ to tell the world how xyz is not as good as abc etc.. that’s why everyone hates pixel peeping.

Tom Reichner's picture

One must remember that people who frequent photography forums, particularly those who regularly post to them, are outliers, and do not represent most photographers.

For every photographer who discusses gear on forums or on YouTube, there are, like, 100 or 200 very real, serious, successful photographers who never bother with the forums or YouTube. Those who do the kind of pixel peeping you are talking about are not at all representative of the greater photographic community.

You seem to be basing your impressions on what you see online, when the online photographic community does not represent the real life photographic community at all.

Stuart Carver's picture

I will give you that point that the minority tend to be the loudest online but I only know about 3 photographers personally so the majority of my interaction with them is unfortunately on the Internet, as we are now. I don’t write the comments I just read them and I can’t help that’s mainly what I see. Interestingly they never seem to share their own work, the ones who make such comments.

Steven Weston's picture

And you never see their photos because their hobby is photographic gear acquisition, not photography.

Tom is a serious photographer of wildlife. Details in his photos are important to him. But he should learn that criticism of pixel peeping doesn't apply to him and ignore the criticism in general.

And we should learn to ignore pixel peepers and their pointless comparisons. The circle of confusion of their lenses is the limit and digital photography is close to hitting that wall.

Justin Sharp's picture

Within the humor, there are some very serious truths. Sorry you missed them.

Mike Shwarts's picture

Not into humor? You need an intervention. Somebody send him a link to a Marx Brothers movie.

vegaroyfoss's picture

Next to Adorama/Daniel Norton/Seth Miranda....Camera Conspiracies is the fourth channel I never skip. Gotta get some of that 'toneh'

Steven Weston's picture

Thank you, Alex for posting this. Are these the same pixel peepers who want tack sharp corners and beautiful background bokeh? What's usually shown in the corners anyway?

I could do this with Photoshop. Imagine a nice portrait of my sweetie with great background bokeh. And in the corners I stamp a closeup of Cupid drawing his bow aiming at my sweetie's head.

Korey Napier's picture

I thought this was brilliant! Was laughing the whole way through. It's funny because it's true! Ha.

Charles J's picture

That dude is weird yet captivating. He's very aware of his own awkwardness to have it come across in videos. "B Roll Is Not Content" was the first video I saw of his so that part of him cringing had to be genuine. All in all, it was entertaining and he brought up some good points.