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How do I know if I’ve sharpened my images enough?

Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 5:40 pm
by VarunMyl
I’m not entirely sure if there’s another thread on the same topic. I’ve looked long and hard, but haven’t found one.

I have had all of my images rejected, and in hindsight, I understand why exactly my images were rejected. Initially, all my images were underexposed, and lacked contrast, and I thought I’d gain an eye for it. I then watched a video detailing how exactly I could use a histogram to get exposure and contrast right 90% of the time.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, how do I sharpen correctly? All my rejected images have had apparently had a lack of sharpness. I spoke to a few photographers, and they told me to sharpen until I think it looks right. However, I feel as though it they are already sharp. I’m sure in time I’ll look back and realise they weren’t sharp, but is there any tried and tested way to sharpen the right amount? I currently use a Nikon D5200, with a 55-300mm 4.5-5.6; and I edit on Nikon NX-D.

Re: How do I know if I’ve sharpened my images enough?

Posted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:30 pm
by cpd
I can’t help with Nikon NX-D, but I can say that most people are using photoshop to edit in.

The usual trick tends to be to apply sharpening as a layer on its own (even a smart filter will do).

You might start with a 150% 0.3 settings and experiment.

If it isn’t enough, increase the amount in the settings. For areas that are too sharp (jagged edges) use the layer mask on the sharpen filter and a very soft black brush to mask those areas out.

Re: How do I know if I’ve sharpened my images enough?

Posted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:50 pm
by jelpee
Good advice from cpd. I too apply Unsharp Masking (USM) on a layer (50% 0.3). When I see jaggies, I use the eraser tool on those areas. Most times I do one application. Occasionally an image may need two. If more than two are needed, I ditch the image. Also, I select the airplane only when applying USM. i.e. I do not apply USM to the background elements or the sky.

My camera settings (Nikon D800 and D7100) set to their neutral settings for sharpness. In my experience the characteristics of a lens can contribute to softness. My lenses (70-200 f2.8 and the 200-400 f5.6) tend to produce sharp images and therefore require just a touch of adjustment.

Perhaps you can post some examples in the Photo Feedback forum for review.
Regards,

Jehan

Re: How do I know if I’ve sharpened my images enough?

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 4:37 pm
by VarunMyl
Thank you so much cpd and jelpee! So all images require sharpening to a certain extent? To my untrained eye, my images look sharp enough. Could resizing my image to 1200px eliminate the need to sharpen?

Re: How do I know if I’ve sharpened my images enough?

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 7:37 pm
by jelpee
In my experience, all images require some amount of tweaking to optimize the sharpening. A good lens should provide a good image; sharpening should enhance it. It is oftern difficult to restore sharpness to a fundamentally soft image without making it look crispy since it is not just the edges that get sharpened, but all surfaces.

Resizing after sharpening will result in a softer image. Therefore, I always resize before sharpening.

Cheers,

Jehan

Re: How do I know if I’ve sharpened my images enough?

Posted: Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:19 am
by cpd
VarunMyl wrote:
Thank you so much cpd and jelpee! So all images require sharpening to a certain extent? To my untrained eye, my images look sharp enough. Could resizing my image to 1200px eliminate the need to sharpen?


For this website yes. Using a D800e and a very sharp 300 f4.0 prime lens gets pretty sharp images for normal use when resized down from 7360px wide to something suitable for web use, but this site used to prefer them just perfectly sharp as could be without getting jagged edges. I don’t know what they accept now - I haven’t been active as a photographer in maybe 10 years or more. But you have a screener above. ;)

Sometimes with these mega-resolution cameras you are better to keep the image to a larger size than say 1280x853. It can make it easier to keep the details in the image. Jelpee is right in that you sharpen on the final size image.

Certain lenses will need more sharpening than others too, and some of these mega-resolution cameras will make poor quality lenses more obvious, same with blur or out of focus elements (that last bit taken from a Nikon document). It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something additional to remember.

As much as possible only apply your sharpening to areas with detail. Not to the sky or other areas of flat colour otherwise you’ll show up some grain/noise.

If the image is slightly blurry or out of focus it may be worthwhile to leave it and try another time.

Re: How do I know if I’ve sharpened my images enough?

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 6:17 am
by VarunMyl
Thank you so much for all your help!