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Thread: Sharpening Problem

  1. #1
    Mongwopman's Avatar
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    Sharpening Problem

    I know this has probably been covered in other threads so i apologise now for makeing a new one. However I seem to be having an ongoing issue with image sharpeness in my shots.

    I have the Canon EOS 4500d and in it's settings are manual controls for sharpening which I have cranked up, am I doing myself a diservice with this? Also would i need to invest in an "L" series lens purely from a quality point of view? Currently using budget lenses and I know that they not fantastic, but I have to use them while I save a few hundred...if not thousand for an L series.

    Even after post production i just cant seem to make my images that "crisp" and sharp, even when I use a tripod. So that leaves me well......stumped.

    Anyone want to shed some light on this for me?

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Mongwopman View Post
    I know this has probably been covered in other threads so i apologise now for makeing a new one. However I seem to be having an ongoing issue with image sharpeness in my shots.
    Even after post production i just cant seem to make my images that "crisp" and sharp, even when I use a tripod. So that leaves me well......stumped.
    Damien

    Do you shoot your images in RAW? If not, I'd urge you to do so.

    As for the camera settings - I think you need to crank everything way down; i.e. to zero.

    If we're wanting to make high quality images, then we have to accept that clicking the shutter is one part of the process and post-processing another. And sharpening belongs in the post-processing phase, not in the in-camera phase. So, don't let the camera do any sharpening.

    Then you have to make sure you nail the focus.

    If you do that then you will be able to make perfectly sharp images.

    Unless there is a fundamental problem with your lens, the lens is not the issue. What you have will allow you to make excellent, sharp images.

    Mastering sharpness is a skill to be learned just like any other. Have you studied the relevant tutorials here on CiC?

    Why don't you post up an example of an image that you feel illustrates the problem. Post what came out of the camera and then also post a copy of what it was like after your post-processing.

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    Mongwopman's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Thanks for that Donald.

    Since seeing the benefits of RAW i've only been shooting RAW.

    So you recommend that turning off sharpening on the camera is the way to go? At the moment I have it cranked up to max.
    Will getting a better quality lens improve the sharpness though or is that all dependant on focus and anti shake?

    I have briefly gone over the tutorials on CiC, but will have a more in-depth read on it. I was beggining to feel a bit discouraged as my images dont appear to be as crisp as other peoples.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Mongwopman View Post
    So you recommend that turning off sharpening on the camera is the way to go?
    Absolutely. Leave all the sharpening to your self in post-processing. Don't let the camera do any of it.

    Will getting a better quality lens improve the sharpness ?
    Theoretically, yes. But there is a difference beyween theory and what is the real world for most of us.

    If you're planning to produce massive sized prints (like for advertising hoardings) then it would be all about absolute top quality glass. But if you're like 99% of the amateur photogrpahy world, it's all about focus, not shaking and well developed sharpening skills in PP.

    Yes, we'd all love to have the top-end lenses, but for most us that's out of reach. But if what we're doing is showing our work on the internet and/or producing moderate sized prints (prints I've had made are up to 16 inches (400mm)) then what you've got is more than equal to the job. I don't think the fact that some of the images I've had printed have been made with my kit lens, makes any difference.

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    Mongwopman's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Fantastic, thanks for the input Donald. I'll be sure to turn off in camera sharpening tonight.

    Do you recommend any good techniques for sharpening in Lightroom or CS5? Above and beyond the tutorials on CiC?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Mongwopman View Post
    Do you recommend any good techniques for sharpening in Lightroom or CS5? Above and beyond the tutorials on CiC?
    I don't use either, so I'm not the best one to write about how to use those bits of kit.

    But, if you go into the Discussion Categories from the tab on the menu bar above and choose 'Sharpening' you will find lots of discussion in there that will help.

    And, of course, once they read this, other folks might come in with their suggestions.

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    You saying you dont sharpen your images? Explain?

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Absolutely. Leave all the sharpening to your self in post-processing. Don't let the camera do any of it.
    Just keep in mind that if one is shooting RAW, then any in-camera sharpening isn't applied to the RAW file anyway (only the in-camera JPEG preview).

    Damian, take a look at this thread ...

    When/How to Best Sharpen a Digital Photograph

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Also a lot of detailed information about sharpening here, Damien. http://www.ronbigelow.com/articles/s...1/sharpen1.htm

    Do L lenses make a difference when compared with a basic kit lens. Well in most cases, yes. But the amount of difference can be variable.

    In controlled side by side tests you should always be able to see which was which when viewing the results; especially for difficult conditions.

    Whether they are worth the considerable extra expense depends on many things, including operator expertise. So just getting a more expensive lens won't automatically guarantee perfect results.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Mongwopman View Post
    You saying you dont sharpen your images? Explain?
    I do sharpen my imges, but not using any of the Adobe products. My shaperpening is done wiht DXO Optics Pro in relation to processing the RAW image. And then content and output sharpening is done in the GIMP.

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Donald - You got my attention when you said you sharpen in DXO which is a product I own but don't use much. Could you describe the advantages of sharpening (or doing other edits) in DXO versus Photoshop. Basically help me take more advantage of my investment.

    Thanks,

    John

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Thanks for the info guys. I guess I'll be doing alot of reading this weekend.....good thing today is Friday.

    Im keen to hear what Donalds answer is regarding DXO vs Photoshop.

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Quote Originally Posted by PhotomanJohn View Post
    Donald - You got my attention when you said you sharpen in DXO which is a product I own but don't use much. Could you describe the advantages of sharpening (or doing other edits) in DXO versus Photoshop. Basically help me take more advantage of my investment.
    John

    I don't know if there are any advantages over Photoshop (as I don't use it). I'm sure it's not so much a case of what advantages there are, as what works for me in terms of workflow.

    As you will know, an awful lot of the workflow is automated with DXO. This is based upon the body/lens profiles that you load into the software from DxO. I've always found that that very satisfactorily takes care of things like Noise; Chromatic Aberration; Distortion. Very rarely do I have to override the software's judgement and make manual adjustments. In respect of other things that DxO automatically sets (e.g. Black & White Point; Gamma; Lighting Intensity; etc.), then that is where I regularly adjust for creative purposes; i.e. to make the image that I want to make.

    I think I actually do very little in DxO. The principle behind what I do is that it should be just enough to then let me move the image into Silver Efex Pro (you'll see almost all my work is B & W) to make the B & W conversion. That's where I like to think I get creative and make the image that I want to create. I have a copy of Elements 7 that I picked up cheaply purely as a vehicle onto which I could piggy-back Silver Efex Pro (as it's not a standalone package). I don't use Elements at all.

    So, basically, with variations to taste and as required, what I do in DxO is:


    • White balance
    • Unsharp Mask (this being the Capture Sharpen phase of sharpening - see Colin's post here )
    • Any exposure and lighting corrections (Exposure Compensation; Lighting Intensity; Black & White point adjustment; Gamma) - as discussed above
    • Crop (I still keep firing posts into the DxO Forums, with others, pleading for them to put the 'thirds' grid onto the crop window in Windows version. They have it in the Mac version but for some reason keep ignoring calls to put it into the Windows version). I crop at this stage, because I shot it for that crop in the first place, so know what I want and, also, because when I then export it as a DNG to use in SEP, via a cheap copy of Elements 7 that I picked up, it creates that cropped image at 4800px

    And that's about it. All very unscientific and probably cumbersome and messy to many others who have studied how these things should be done in much greater detail than I have. But it works for me.

    This probably doesn't provide much insight into anything, other than letting you see inside the head of a fellow-member to that part of the brain that tries to make sense of PP..
    Last edited by Donald; 5th August 2011 at 10:02 AM.

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Donald - Thank you very much for the response. I have tried DXO Pro on a number of images and its automation does wonders on some shots and does save a lot of time. Last night I compared the output of DXO to some of the files that I have done in Photoshop and in some cases it did a slightly better job of some things than I did manually. The description of your workflow was helpful because I had not figured out how to integrate DXO into mine. I will spent more time with the program and get a good handle how it can help me.

    Also, the comments about the three step sharpening were very worthwhile and it make sense. I have not been using that process in the past.

    Silver Efex Pro is the next package on my list. I am very impressed with what I have seen so far. I spent many years in the darkroom doing B&W and am looking forward to getting back to doing serious work in that area again.

    Thanks,

    John

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Thanks for that input Donald, I will be ure to try and test out DXO.

    Ive taken your advise and turned off on camera sharpening and tinkered around with unsharpen mask. The name had me beaten!

    This is a recent shot I took and did some adjustment for color in CS5, as well as ome sharpening. What you think?

    Sharpening Problem

  16. #16
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening problem

    I like it.

    That's the sort of shot that can easily end up with a lot of moire once you downsize it and can look really over-sharpened.

    So, well done.
    Last edited by Donald; 11th August 2011 at 02:25 PM.

  17. #17
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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Awesome, thanks for that Donald. Much appreciated with all the help and tips.

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    Re: Sharpening problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Mongwopman View Post
    The name had me beaten!
    Everything you never wanted to know ...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsharp_masking

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