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Leica's Noctivid and 3D

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Old Wednesday 18th January 2017, 16:26   #1
Renze de Vries
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Leica's Noctivid and 3D

I’m somewhat bewildered by the fascination, if not to say obsession, on this forum with Leica Noctivid’s 3D view. Was it the marketing department at Wetzlar that turned up the heat? Possibly, but let’s see what is actually stated on Leica’s website: ‘(…) image plasticity almost like in 3D’. Doesn’t sound too bold to me, nothing outrageous, rather careful I’d say.
‘Almost’. I agree that’s not very clear, specific or exact. But in any case no-one at Leica is claiming something stereoscopic like in 3D television, or even the kind of 3D illusion we may experience in porro binoculars. All that’s said, it seems to me, is that the Noctivid does something good to the perception of space and depth, and so to the liveliness of the image.

So you see I’m more taken by Leica’s modesty than by the gross expectations expressed in these quarters. I wonder, what should one expect from a binocular? Special effects, of the kind we see in the movies with 3D spectacles on? In 3D picture viewers? Something we can say ‘wow’ to? Should we really expect typical porro effects from a roof binocular? And ultimately, should we be happy with all that?
Of course we wouldn’t. Just imagine the chaos, the awful clash of opinion between porro and roof aficionados on Birdforum, the sound of hurrahs (faintly) and yechs (thunderous), if Leica had really succeeded in the design of a full-fledged porro view in a roof body. Good gracious, it would be a disaster, not only here, but certainly at Leica headquarters where one would realize that their new top tier binocular would only be sold to a few eccentrics. More specific, to only those eccentrics buying exocentric binoculars.

Since I’ve used the Noctivid for several weeks now, and seen the phenomenon, I’m happy to report that Leica hasn’t fallen into the trap of special effects. A hint of 3D? Possibly, but I’m not particularly sensitive to it (others may!). What I see is a very fine apparent field of view, a richly detailed and vivid image, a naturalness not easily found elsewhere. It’s especially the latter aspect that strikes me. It reminds me of the very subtle way we experience space and depth in real life. Just have a look around. Of course we know that we live in a three dimensional world, and we’re led to believe that we see that. But in fact it’s pretty difficult to point it out. The optical clues by which we experience three dimensionality are remarkably subtle indeed.

Leica is a firm with a long and respectable history. They’re proud of that (sometimes bordering on arrogance) and for good reasons. It’s about quality, maintaining a standard of excellence. With respect to binocular design, it’s quite remarkable that in every model issued since the 1950’s (I can’t say anything substantial about what went before) there’s a certain philosophy behind it, a characteristic approach, something distinct that makes one say ah, here’s the Leica view again. Part of the philosophy is I think an aversion to optical tricks, to spectacular effects, and I think that’s fine. Because an optical instrument shouldn’t be a funhouse.

What I see is that Leica has aimed for the natural view. If that doesn’t sound very impressive to you, I think you’re right. The natural view isn’t spectacular at all, it’s just there, taken for granted. But since a binocular is by its nature highly artificial (remember the illusion of depth in the porro view), making a binocular with an image that feels natural to the eye is rather difficult. And I guess it’s not easily appreciated as well. But that’s how it is, take it or leave it.


Renze

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Old Wednesday 18th January 2017, 17:07   #2
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Originally Posted by Renze de Vries View Post
...What I see is that Leica has aimed for the natural view. If that doesnít sound very impressive to you, I think youíre right. The natural view isnít spectacular at all, itís just there, taken for granted. But since a binocular is by its nature highly artificial (remember the illusion of depth in the porro view), making a binocular with an image that feels natural to the eye is rather difficult. And I guess itís not easily appreciated as well. But thatís how it is, take it or leave it.

Renze
Renze,

Excellent observational review! I agree with Leica's new design as it is and always should be about a "Natural View"!

Ted
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Old Wednesday 18th January 2017, 18:56   #3
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I spent quite some time with the NV last week, I`m not going to comment on its optical prowess, only about how I`v read and been told by sales staff that far less focus adjustment is needed with it compared to its peers.

I simply did`nt find this to be the case, I had to adjust the focus to maintain best focus when following moving Birds flitting on and off a feeder some 20m away, just as I did on an SF or SV.

As for which premium roof has the better 3d, this to me a bit like arguing which front drive family hatchback is better off road.
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Old Wednesday 1st February 2017, 20:11   #4
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Having used NTV's in 10X42 earlier in the week, and 8X42 NTV's today, I suppose most surprising to me was this 3D phenomena we've been reading about.

My previous sense in following the 3D comments and threads was that for some it was a bit of new product internet enthusiasm, but it turns out to be a real and readily discernible in the 8X42's, not as much with the 10X42's (to my eyes anyway).

The second or third time I lifted the 8X42 NTV's to my face, I shifted my focus off of the brick texture on the house across the street to a forest at Infiniti focus, and there it was. In direct comparison, I quickly grabbed my 8X42 UVHD Plus to see if I had been missing something all this time, and there was a clear difference.

Another interesting part of this is it is that at close focus and will be dramatically brought out by certain subjects. I got minimum focusing distance from our German Shepherd with the UVHD Plus looking at the patterns of red and black hairs across his back. With the NTV's at the same distance, there was the effect again among the fur, clearly present, but not quite to the extent of viewing the forest tree line.

To imagine it, the only way I know to describe it is to ask you to think about what makes the Leica camera Rangefinder images unique, and then amp that up. And, the image goes in the direction of becoming stereoscopic without in fact doing so. Best I can do.

I like this paragraph from the OP, but it perhaps undersells what I am seeing.

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Originally Posted by Renze de Vries View Post
Since I’ve used the Noctivid for several weeks now, and seen the phenomenon, I’m happy to report that Leica hasn’t fallen into the trap of special effects. A hint of 3D? Possibly, but I’m not particularly sensitive to it (others may!). What I see is a very fine apparent field of view, a richly detailed and vivid image, a naturalness not easily found elsewhere. It’s especially the latter aspect that strikes me. It reminds me of the very subtle way we experience space and depth in real life. Just have a look around. Of course we know that we live in a three dimensional world, and we’re led to believe that we see that. But in fact it’s pretty difficult to point it out. The optical clues by which we experience three dimensionality are remarkably subtle indeed.
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Old Saturday 4th February 2017, 16:15   #5
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About 3D - even for a 2D image I have found out this for sure: Flat fields (aka sharpness to the very edge) will yield flat, unnaturally compressed images. Combine this to a 3D system and you have - a Swarovision. Nominally 3D of course, but still, unnaturally flat. Curved fields with some distortion will make 2D images look 3D. As curved fields are getting rarer in new designs, Leica may well boast about 3D. Of course, their usual emphasis on a good rendering of textures (small image details), high transmission and good colors will help in this 3D impression.

I applaud Leica for not going flat field.
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Old Saturday 4th February 2017, 16:39   #6
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Having used NTV's in 10X42 earlier in the week, and 8X42 NTV's today, I suppose most surprising to me was this 3D phenomena we've been reading about.

My previous sense in following the 3D comments and threads was that for some it was a bit of new product internet enthusiasm, but it turns out to be a real and readily discernible in the 8X42's, not as much with the 10X42's (to my eyes anyway).

The second or third time I lifted the 8X42 NTV's to my face, I shifted my focus off of the brick texture on the house across the street to a forest at Infiniti focus, and there it was. In direct comparison, I quickly grabbed my 8X42 UVHD Plus to see if I had been missing something all this time, and there was a clear difference.

Another interesting part of this is it is that at close focus and will be dramatically brought out by certain subjects. I got minimum focusing distance from our German Shepherd with the UVHD Plus looking at the patterns of red and black hairs across his back. With the NTV's at the same distance, there was the effect again among the fur, clearly present, but not quite to the extent of viewing the forest tree line.

To imagine it, the only way I know to describe it is to ask you to think about what makes the Leica camera Rangefinder images unique, and then amp that up. And, the image goes in the direction of becoming stereoscopic without in fact doing so. Best I can do.

I like this paragraph from the OP, but it perhaps undersells what I am seeing.
Hi Doug...
Your comments about the 8X vs 10X and 3-D may certainly be valid. More DOV may help 3-D

One thing is for sure....your Ultravid HD +/Noctivid comparisons are certainly valid. Sure beats "memory comparisons."

I for one am enjoying your enthusiasm you have for your new binoculars!
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Old Saturday 4th February 2017, 20:27   #7
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Has anyone with CA sensitive eyes tried the NV yet ?
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 00:07   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tobias Mennle View Post
About 3D - even for a 2D image I have found out this for sure: Flat fields (aka sharpness to the very edge) will yield flat, unnaturally compressed images. Combine this to a 3D system and you have - a Swarovision. Nominally 3D of course, but still, unnaturally flat. Curved fields with some distortion will make 2D images look 3D. As curved fields are getting rarer in new designs, Leica may well boast about 3D. Of course, their usual emphasis on a good rendering of textures (small image details), high transmission and good colors will help in this 3D impression.

I applaud Leica for not going flat field.


Ed

P.S. Although I would prefer to say more "vivid" than "... look 3D."
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 00:30   #9
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Originally Posted by Renze de Vries View Post
...
What I see is that Leica has aimed for the natural view. If that doesn’t sound very impressive to you, I think you’re right. The natural view isn’t spectacular at all, it’s just there, taken for granted. But since a binocular is by its nature highly artificial (remember the illusion of depth in the porro view), making a binocular with an image that feels natural to the eye is rather difficult. And I guess it’s not easily appreciated as well. But that’s how it is, take it or leave it.

Renze
Renze,

If one subscribes to the argument that a "natural view" is one that retains the same visual cue relationships that would be obtained without binoculars, then Tobias' statement brings binocular design into conformity with nature. Zero field curvature and zero distortion are arguably "unnatural."

So I'm wondering how the NV compares with the SLC-HD in your estimation. I assume you like the Leica more; the question is, in what ways?

Ed
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 16:46   #10
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Renze,

If one subscribes to the argument that a "natural view" is one that retains the same visual cue relationships that would be obtained without binoculars, then Tobias' statement brings binocular design into conformity with nature. Zero field curvature and zero distortion are arguably "unnatural."

So I'm wondering how the NV compares with the SLC-HD in your estimation. I assume you like the Leica more; the question is, in what ways?

Ed
I wonder if Leica never mentioned a word about 3D if the topic would have popped up in the evaluations. I also wonder what's going on in the brain that makes some prefer curvature to so-called flat field views. Over time I grew to dislike the edge softness (curvature) in my 7X42 Ultravid, especially in my forest. I gave it to a relative and, from time to time, I revisit that view and wonder why we parted company. After 30 minutes of birding I know why...because that's how long it takes for the distractions to reappear. Thankfully, we have options to satisfy every discriminatiing taste.

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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 17:10   #11
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I kind of wonder how much the 3D effect being spoken of is just generated from marketing buzz? Similar to how some people commented on the exceptionally wide field when thr FoV numbers were miscalculated.
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 17:30   #12
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I love the flat field view, I don't see bent power poles and building edges with my naked eye, and I don't like seeing them in my optics. I also don't have a problem with RB, and I'm sure my opinion would change if I did.

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I wonder if Leica never mentioned a word about 3D if the topic would have popped up in the evaluations. I also wonder what's going on in the brain that makes some prefer curvature to so-called flat field views. Over time I grew to dislike the edge softness (curvature) in my 7X42 Ultravid, especially in my forest. I gave it to a relative and, from time to time, I revisit that view and wonder why we parted company. After 30 minutes of birding I know why...because that's how long it takes for the distractions to reappear. Thankfully, we have options to satisfy every discriminatiing taste.
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 18:40   #13
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I kind of wonder how much the 3D effect being spoken of is just generated from marketing buzz? Similar to how some people commented on the exceptionally wide field when thr FoV numbers were miscalculated.
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I kind of wonder how much the 3D effect being spoken of is just generated from marketing buzz? Similar to how some people commented on the exceptionally wide field when thr FoV numbers were miscalculated.
It's marketing buzz that brought me to the Leica dealer to check out this new Noctivid. But what made the 2500 euro bills fly out of my wallet was the view as soon as I put the showcase model to my eyes. The 3D effect is really obvious under the right conditions.

My 10x50 Ultravid HD has some 3D effect. My 8x42 Ultravid HD does not have it at all, it's 'flat' (still a fantastic bin, just no 3D). So I knew what I was looking for. The Noctivid 8x has 3D in spades.

As to bent poles and curved buildings? I have not noticed any like in the Ultravids, but I'll put the Noctivid through a more severe test later today.
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 18:58   #14
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I don't really understand this preoccupation with the appearance of a 3D effect.
There were binoculars offered in the 70s with fold out objective arms which really did produce a 3D effect, sort of range finders for consumer use. They disappeared rapidly because alignment is hard to maintain in that design.

Here we have a fine conventional design binocular. It seems silly to ascribe 3D virtues to it when the physical basis is lacking. Maybe our descriptive terms are too coarse to properly highlight what is different in the view, but 3D is surely not it.
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 19:26   #15
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I don't really understand this preoccupation with the appearance of a 3D effect.
There were binoculars offered in the 70s with fold out objective arms which really did produce a 3D effect, sort of range finders for consumer use. They disappeared rapidly because alignment is hard to maintain in that design.

Here we have a fine conventional design binocular. It seems silly to ascribe 3D virtues to it when the physical basis is lacking. Maybe our descriptive terms are too coarse to properly highlight what is different in the view, but 3D is surely not it.
I think people are mixing 3D effect and stereopsis. 3D is also discussed in camera lenses, obviously nothing to to with "stereopsis". And even one-eyed people might perceive depth in vision. (close one eye and try..) So it's probably more complex than how far apart the objective lenses are.

A lot of of factors contribute to the view in a pair of bins, optical, physical as well as psychological...
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 20:26   #16
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Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
I don't really understand this preoccupation with the appearance of a 3D effect.
There were binoculars offered in the 70s with fold out objective arms which really did produce a 3D effect, sort of range finders for consumer use. They disappeared rapidly because alignment is hard to maintain in that design.

Here we have a fine conventional design binocular. It seems silly to ascribe 3D virtues to it when the physical basis is lacking. Maybe our descriptive terms are too coarse to properly highlight what is different in the view, but 3D is surely not it.
Renze's opening comments mention Leica's reference to "image plasticity almost like in 3D". I also remember from Holger's interpretation that "plasticity" might have been translated as "vividness." So, the expression "image vividness almost like in 3D" would make a great deal more sense, i.e., vivid images are lifelike.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you that there is no physical basis for 3D perception. It's widely misunderstood that 3D requires stereopsis, and that monocular cues are learned and insufficient. Quite the contrary.

When I look at Dwever's photograph on post #4, for example, it becomes much more vivid and three-dimensional when I close one eye. In this instance, by closing one eye I'm accomplishing two things: (1) narrowing down the FOV, and (b) eliminating the "unnatural" situation where both visual fields have the same image. Perceptual realism requires that they have different image projections.

Of course, I'm banking on the assumption that you can see a similar vividness effect. If not, we can't really discuss it further.

Ed
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 20:42   #17
Anthon
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I don't really understand this preoccupation with the appearance of a 3D effect.
I think it is beautiful. I think it adds something esthetical to the view.

Quote:
Maybe our descriptive terms are too coarse to properly highlight what is different in the view, but 3D is surely not it.
Does it matter how the effect is achieved? It is still 3D. A dimension is added, appears to be added, seems to be added, or is perceived to be added. The end result is the same: a view with 3 dimensional characteristics.

So don't say it is silly. I don't want to overrate this 3D effect yet it is what it is. It's not cinema Dolby 3D. And as you and many others have noted, some ancient porro's have this effect as well. But the Noctivid combines this with superb contrast, sharpness and who knows what to form a very nice picture. Leica calls it 'image plasticity' by the way. Fine by me.
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 20:56   #18
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Although we don't see bent poles with our unaided eyes, the image on our eyeball is bent.
Our brain then makes the pole straight within a degree maybe or better.

My new LED backlit Sony T.V. has a flat lifeless image.
The 10 year old flat screen, different technology, Panasonic had a 3D image.
The Sony is 1080 line or 1080i ?, the Panasonic 720? (Movies 576 line 25 Hz?)

Watching a Western, the tree branches against the bright white sky had serious edge blur, CA??.
Was it the movie, the extra T.V. resolution or the bright backlight? Or my eyes?
In addition the variable poor Sony colour of faces on different channels is annoying.
The T.V. expert who installed it for me says the Sony picture is better. Well it isn't. So much for progress.

Some of the old movies have wonderful '3D' often courtesy of Cooke lenses. Even better with modern digital enhancement.

Vision is strange.

When first looking at the building 124m away this morning against the sky and some darkish small clouds, the 3D was startlingly good. Real but maybe enhanced also. I think I could easily see this building in 3D with rested eyes at 400 metres.

P.S.
If I move my eyes very rapidly away from a very long ceiling line passing through my central vision, then at 30 degrees from my central vision I think that I can see the ceiling line has barrel distortion. But I am not sure.
In normal vision all straight lines look straight.

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Old Monday 6th February 2017, 03:50   #19
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3D....
Yeah it sounds a little marketingish to me. I see, or a least I THINK I see what many are calling 3D with the HT, SV, AND the NTV. It's there and it noticeable when bushes. brush, rocks, changing terrain are along the FOV. So far I can't tell any difference in the three.
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Old Monday 6th February 2017, 14:31   #20
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I had the occasion this past weekend to look through the Noctovid, ELSV, and SF all side by side at the Las Vegas SCI show. I will say that this could only be done indoors, as there was not an outdoor option to do this. They are all amazing, and I could see virtually no difference in sharpness, resolution, 3D, Plasticity, or anything else between any of them. Only difference I could find was that the SV is sharper to the edge of the 3. The N's have a nice feel to them, and I found the focus mechanism and eyecups to be as good as it gets.
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Old Monday 6th February 2017, 15:30   #21
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I had the occasion this past weekend to look through the Noctovid, ELSV, and SF all side by side at the Las Vegas SCI show. I will say that this could only be done indoors, as there was not an outdoor option to do this. They are all amazing, and I could see virtually no difference in sharpness, resolution, 3D, Plasticity, or anything else between any of them. Only difference I could find was that the SV is sharper to the edge of the 3. The N's have a nice feel to them, and I found the focus mechanism and eyecups to be as good as it gets.
8(.5)x and/or 10x?
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Old Monday 6th February 2017, 15:33   #22
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10x42's, on tripods. Farthest point of focus was about 200 yards.
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Old Monday 6th February 2017, 15:54   #23
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8(.5)x and/or 10x?
Good question. As I suggest in post #4 of this thread, the 3D/Plasticity characteristic was not discernible to me in 10x NTV while in the 8X NTV it was readily seen.

If that difference is repeatable or typical, it offers an explanation for why user's are having varying reports on it's existence.

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Hi Doug...
Your comments about the 8X vs 10X and 3-D may certainly be valid. More DOV may help 3-D
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Old Monday 6th February 2017, 16:50   #24
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Good question. As I suggest in post #4 of this thread, the 3D/Plasticity characteristic was not discernible to me in 10x NTV while in the 8X NTV it was readily seen.

If that difference is repeatable or typical, if offers an explanation for why user's are having varying reports on it's existence.
My experience of perceiving more plainly the distance between islets in a row going away from me on Rutland Water at the British Bird Fair was with 8x Nvids.

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Old Monday 6th February 2017, 18:32   #25
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Renze's opening comments mention Leica's reference to "image plasticity almost like in 3D". I also remember from Holger's interpretation that "plasticity" might have been translated as "vividness." So, the expression "image vividness almost like in 3D" would make a great deal more sense, i.e., vivid images are lifelike.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you that there is no physical basis for 3D perception. It's widely misunderstood that 3D requires stereopsis, and that monocular cues are learned and insufficient. Quite the contrary.

When I look at Dwever's photograph on post #4, for example, it becomes much more vivid and three-dimensional when I close one eye. In this instance, by closing one eye I'm accomplishing two things: (1) narrowing down the FOV, and (b) eliminating the "unnatural" situation where both visual fields have the same image. Perceptual realism requires that they have different image projections.

Of course, I'm banking on the assumption that you can see a similar vividness effect. If not, we can't really discuss it further.

Ed
Thank you, Ed, for the suggestion to look with just one eye. It really does give a strikingly 3D feel to the image, quite contrary to what I'd have expected.
Clearly there is more to depth perception than just geometry, to my surprise.
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