It cuts down on the thread rendering within the browser which makes for an issue when the thread is rendered. Ever notice the shifting of the browser window when images are called? Thus the processing on the browser end. More of an issue on slower machines or slower connections.
Personally when I browse a thread and find and image duplicated over and over again, I actually do not like it. I find it redundant.
It can not be user controlled for that would be a major hack to add in the setting.
The intent was to cut down of the browser loads of large images that are redundant within posts. As you may have seen, some can really get in the way when they are large and reproduced time and time again in a thread. The browser needs to take the time to render each one and the site needs to call to it each time.
In any case, I have reverted it back at this time. But some of the remarks actually made me wonder if I should not just turn off the use of post images all together. Oh wait...and add in more ads!!! Yes, thats the ticket!!!! (kidding)
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