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Thread: sharper images

  1. #1

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    Noel

    sharper images

    Hi everyone,
    I am trying to get my head around sharpness. I took a few practice shots in the garden this morning with my Fuji S100fs bridging (2/3” CCD). I think the results are a combination of mine and the camera’s limitations. Attached images are probably the best I could manage but I am unsure whether they are acceptable, sort of like “if you think it’s sharp, it isn’t – if it is sharp you will know”. I shot in RAW, used a tripod and self timer, shot 2 stops down from maximum aperture (I read that helps), did basic adjustments in ACR (my development is still limited to basic ACR, tried to sharpen there but any effect was imperceptible), saved out as .tifs, then adjusted levels, cropped, resized, and sharpened in Ps (still couldn’t see any effect), and saved .jpegs. Would appreciate any C&C on acceptability of sharpness, and any suggestions on how I might get a better result. I would like to concentrate on photography and final PP sharpening before tackling capture and intermediate PP sharpening. I was only thinking about sharpness when I took these images, but any other observations are also most welcome.
    Thanks for looking.
    Noel
    PS – I have just noticed Kdfrank’s recent thread on the same topic – I will start by reading that.

    is_it_sharp1: F8, 1/40s, ISO100, FL 45mm
    sharper images
    is_it_sharp2: F7.1, 1/5s, ISO100, FL 26mm (noticed later from the CiC tutorial DoF calculator that settings for 1 and 2 were not creating much depth)
    sharper images

  2. #2

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    Blake

    Re: sharper images

    You have to remember that sharpness is highly overrated. That being said, the biggest things that take away sharpness in my experience are too long of a shutter speed and missed focus (though missing the focus doesn't technically take sharpness away, it puts it somewhere it shouldn't be).

    Aperture in your case is close to irrelevant to depth of field, since your focal length is so short.

    Also, sharpness is not always essential to make a picture have some punch. For example, if you're taking a picture of a person, shooting a DSLR at something like f/2 can still produce a very sharp looking photo if you put the focus in the right place, even though the person's nose and much of their body is out of the "reasonable sharpness" window.

    What I'm really trying to say is that there isn't really a simple way to define a photo as sharp or not, apart from photos with some kind of serious technical mistake.

  3. #3

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    Re: sharper images

    I'm afraid that I'm going to disagree with Blake; in my opinion sharpness / sharpening is one of the most important ways to "step an image up to the next level", and yet it seems to be one of the areas that many photographers seem to struggle with the most.

    Here's an example of an image that I've sharpened optimally (capture sharpening, content/creative sharpening, and finally output sharpening); to my eye, this proper sharpening goes a long way towards saying "quality" and "professional" ... (be sure to view it at it's largest size).

    sharper images

    I've written about sharpening quite a lot in the past ... in particular, these two threads may give you a good introduction ...

    Sharpening and Noise Reduction Sequence

    When/How to Best Sharpen a Digital Photograph

    Perhaps use these as a starting point, and we can go from there?

  4. #4
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: sharper images

    Hi Noel,

    In that second link Colin provided, you witness me learning all I know about sharpening (from Colin) and at that time I was using a RAW shooting Fuji bridge camera a lot like yours

    You won't obviously 'see' sharpening being applied unless you are viewing at 100% (in ACR/PS/Elements you can use Ctrl+Alt+0 to get quickly to 100% and Ctrl+0 to get back to full image size). Eeven then, if you can see artefacts (e.g. halos; you have too much amount and/or radius applied). You definitely shouldn't be able to 'see' it when viewing the full image.

    I would say your two pictures are "adequately" sharpened - they don't look "soft all over" (only where DoF is somewhat lacking) and equally they don't (quite) scream "oversharpened" with halos on the white needles (in #2) or gritty noise/fine detail (although I can see it beginning to bite in the bokeh of #1).

    Cheers,

  5. #5

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    Re: sharper images

    Blake, Colin, Dave,
    Together, you have provided the most comprehensive response I could have hoped for. Blake, Colin, they are two quite disparate perspectives - but both very intuitive, logical, well presented views. I respect and appreciate both point and counterpoint, and that being able to disagree makes CiC exactly what it is meant to be - a forum. Thank you both for your insights, which have enhanced my understanding immensely. Colin, I will follow up on the recommended reading and will still try to make my images as sharp as I can, and Blake, I will not be so paranoid if they are a bit off. Dave, thank you for your additional suggestions and information (I did view at 100% in ACR sharpening, and there was a lot of artefacts) and for your critique of my examples. Cheers.
    - Noel

  6. #6

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    Re: sharper images

    Quote Originally Posted by casper View Post
    Blake, Colin, Dave,
    Together, you have provided the most comprehensive response I could have hoped for. Blake, Colin, they are two quite disparate perspectives - but both very intuitive, logical, well presented views. I respect and appreciate both point and counterpoint, and that being able to disagree makes CiC exactly what it is meant to be - a forum. Thank you both for your insights, which have enhanced my understanding immensely. Colin, I will follow up on the recommended reading and will still try to make my images as sharp as I can, and Blake, I will not be so paranoid if they are a bit off. Dave, thank you for your additional suggestions and information (I did view at 100% in ACR sharpening, and there was a lot of artefacts) and for your critique of my examples. Cheers.
    - Noel
    You're very welcome Noel,

    As a final "point in passing", the single biggest issue I see with images here is lack of output sharpening after down-sampling for online display (probably some 85% of images I see). Yours I think is a good example of this too -- so with your image below, I've simply added an unsharp mask of 0.3 pixel @ 100% for you to see the difference (be sure to view at 100% though).

    sharper images

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