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In-Camera Sharpening - Yes Or No?  
User currently offlineCandace From New Zealand, joined Mar 2013, 12 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 5884 times:

Hello

I'm just after some opinions from those in the know please. I have tried searching the forum (it's very educational for beginner photogs!) but can't find anything specifically on this.

When is it best to apply sharpening to your photos? Is it in-camera or afterward in PS and the like?

I am using a Canon 60D with an EF 100-400mm lens if that makes any difference.

Thanks
Candace

14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 744 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 5877 times:

A very simple rule to keep in mind. Sharpening can always be added - much harder to take away.

On top of that, in camera sharpening is an all or nothing affair. With a bit of PS skill, sharpening can be applied only to parts of the photo that need it - eg, the aircraft - and areas such as sky left unsharpened. Sharpening the sky has no benefit and only serves to accentuate any noise.

So the best results are possible by sharpening in post. But it takes time, and a little skill. A badly post sharpened image will look worse than an in camera sharpened image.

Of course for optimum quality, you would shoot RAW in which case in camera sharpening does not apply.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineCandace From New Zealand, joined Mar 2013, 12 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5865 times:

Thanks Colin, that makes a lot of sense, particularly about not wanting to sharpen all parts of the photos.

Quoting ckw (Reply 1):

Of course for optimum quality, you would shoot RAW in which case in camera sharpening does not apply.

I am shooting in RAW too. Does this mean that the picture style attributes (such as sharpness) are not applied at all, or that they can be adjusted when editing?


User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 744 posts, RR: 16
Reply 3, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 5856 times:

Basically any attributes are applied only to the jpg, so you will see them on the LCD. The RAW file contains data which has been unprocessed in any way (though that might be debatable).

However, depending on the RAW convertor you use, it is possible that the convertor could recognise which settings you used and apply them when you open the file in the convertor. But, even then, unlike a jpg these settings are not "baked in" and you can change them to whatever you want. Your RAW convertor may also have presets of its own which may or may not mirror those available in camera.

Personally I never use any camera presets when shotting RAW as at best they have no effect - at worst, they can mislead or confuse the issue!

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 5856 times:

RAW contains all the detailed image data so picture styles can also be changed later.

Karl


User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4820 posts, RR: 26
Reply 5, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 5833 times:
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Quoting Candace (Thread starter):

Colin has explained everything very well as usual but I will share my process.

Because I shoot in RAW, I have in camera sharpening turned all the way up purely for LCD viewing purposes. For me, it really helps me know after a shot if I nailed focus and got a sharp shot. As explained above, this can easily be changed after in post during RAW conversion.

Since I use Adobe Camera Raw, there is a default setting in the sharpness tab. I believe it's automatically set to 20 or 25. I change this on every photo, due to personal preference, to 50 to give me a nice crisp high res photo before the rest of my process in CS6. Then when I size down, usually to 1200px, I duplicate the layer and add USM at 500, .2 and 2. Then using a layer mask with brush set to 28%, I erase areas that look a little over sharp. This process has worked extremely well for me.



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 744 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 5814 times:

Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 5):
Since I use Adobe Camera Raw, there is a default setting in the sharpness tab. I believe it's automatically set to 20 or 25. I change this on every photo, due to personal preference, to 50 to give me a nice crisp high res photo before the rest of my process in CS6.

Interesting - do you know there is a preference option (somewhere!) so you can make 50 your default?

You can also set the sharpening to appear only on the preview in ACR, but not apply it to the processed image.

That's my preferred set up - I think sharpening should be the last thing you do to an image. My reasoning is as follows - the unprocessed image will have smooth tonal gradations. If you need to make any changes to the tone curve, colour balance etc, in PS6, these changes will retain the smooth gradation.

Sharpening can break the smoothness by introducing higher levels of contrast between adjacent pixels - if you sharpen before adjusting the tone curve this can have effects on how those enhanced edges appear ie. I think you'll find that image adjustments will be more likely to produce ugly artifacts if applied after sharpening.

On the other hand, it is possible to do all your curve and color adjustments within ACR and not need to do much (if anything in PS6). In theory, I would have thought that if you could set up all your image adjustments in ACR and then convert this would provide the best quality (because the changes would be applied directly to the RAW data instead of a processed file) - indeed I've seen a number of people advocating this. But I haven't been able to find much if any difference and I find tools in ACR are harder to use.

So now I use a mix ...

In ACR - colour balance, noise supression (if required) and sometimes colour adjustments (as ACR offers a different adjustment palette to PS6)

In PS - tone curve, any local editing then sharpening.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineviv From Ireland, joined May 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 28
Reply 7, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 5805 times:

The short answer is "No".

The long answer is "No".



Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4820 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 5784 times:
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Quoting ckw (Reply 6):
Interesting - do you know there is a preference option (somewhere!) so you can make 50 your default?

Yeah, I do know that. I just prefer a clean slate and like you touched on above, I make the majority of my tweaks, with the exception of fine tuning contrast if needed, in ACR. So once I import into PS all I really have left is sizing and sharpening.

I got in the habit of increasing the sharpness to 50 in ACR when I had a 100-400 which tended to be rather soft. It's also the reason I added in camera sharpening for LCD viewing. I don't have the lens anymore but I have continued the habit and like I said, it has worked very well for me.



ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlinevikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 10048 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 5774 times:
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Since I shoot RAW, it's academic, but typically I have in-camera sharpening set to 4, and I usually leave it there when editing photos in Canon DPP.

Quoting ckw (Reply 6):
Interesting - do you know there is a preference option (somewhere!) so you can make 50 your default?

What I've done is create a set of settings presets (mostly by ISO value). So I just click on the "presets" or "settings" tab (can't remember what it's called), and choose whichever one applies. The only thing different between each of them are the NR values - but the rest of the settings (brightness, contrast, and sharpening are the major ones) are set to where I want them, so I don't have to go through and tweak each one (though I do that sometimes anyway).



"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
User currently offlinemegatop412 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 313 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 5756 times:

Quoting ckw (Reply 1):
Sharpening can always be added - much harder to take away.

Interesting. If my memory serves me correctly, somewhere on a recent thread, the exact opposit was stated


User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 11, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 5739 times:

Quoting megatop412 (Reply 10):
the exact opposit was stated

As far as I'm aware it's much harder to 'soften' and overly sharp image than to sharpen a soft one (but it does of course depend on how soft the image is and whether that softness can be attributed to micro-blur).

It's quite irrelevant if you shoot in RAW anyway.

Karl


User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 744 posts, RR: 16
Reply 12, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5712 times:

Quoting megatop412 (Reply 10):
Interesting. If my memory serves me correctly, somewhere on a recent thread, the exact opposit was stated

Well of course its very easy to add blur to an image ...

What I'm getting at is that sharpening (once applied and saved) changes pixel data ... and of course that's a destructive process in so far as data from the original image has been altered. Short of an image editors undo function (which of course is limited to as long as you have the history data available) I'm not aware of any process which can recover the original pixel data.

There may be a way of simulating the original, but as this is in effect a further edit on already altered data, you would then be moving still further from the original.

And of course this is a reason why in camera sharpening can be problematic (if you shoot jpg) - if you overcook it, those jaggies or other artifacts are very difficult to remove.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineCandace From New Zealand, joined Mar 2013, 12 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 5656 times:

Thanks so much for all of the opinions and info everyone! It has helped me a lot to understand this process and I appreciate it   My next photos may not get rejected for softness but hopefully I can train my eyes against over-sharpening too!

User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6433 posts, RR: 39
Reply 14, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 5648 times:

Quoting Candace (Reply 13):

Don't forget about the feedback forum if you want any help with particular pictures. Good luck!



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