Results 1 to 10 of 10

Sharpness

This is a discussion on Sharpness within the General photography forums, part of the Photography & Fine art photography category; I'm relatively new to photography and I have a question about sharpness and clarity. I have a Nikon D60 with ...

  1. #1
    jmayoff's Avatar
    jmayoff is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    23

    Default Sharpness

    I'm relatively new to photography and I have a question about sharpness and clarity.

    I have a Nikon D60 with the kit lens and a 55-200mm zoom. I always shoot raw.

    I've taken what I thought would be crystal clear, razor sharp images, only to get back to my computer and find they're nowhere near clear. Then, I look at just about every picture from this guy and I'm amazed at how sharp and clear everything is.

    So, my question is this: what are the contributing factors to that crystal clarity and in what ratios are they important. How much does camera body, lens quality, focus, depth of field, shutter speed, photoshop etc. play in getting clear, razor sharp images?

    Should I just resign myself to the fact that until I can afford a $2500 lens and $4000 body that I'll be getting almost-but-not-quite-sharp pictures? Or should I be manually focusing more often (is my eye really better than the camera)? Or am I doing something else wrong?

    Thanks,
    Jason

  2. #2
    tirediron is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    1,201

    Default

    First off, no, you don't need to spend another cent to get sharp pictures unless [and it's VERY unlikely] there's something actually wrong with your gear. Please post a couple of example images so that we can try and help you trouble-shoot further.

    To answer your question: Camera body has almost nothing to do with image sharpness, EXCEPT for allowing you to adjust the in-body processing. I don't know if the D40 firmware allows you to do that for RAW files or not. It should. Lens quality has a lot to do with image sharpness, but even the cheapest lenses turn out decently sharp images in their mid-range apertures. Shutter-speed has an effect if you get to a point where you're too slow to hand-hold. Anything below 1/60 is getting dodgy, depending on your skill level.

    Apeture and point of focus have the most to do with the general appearance of sharpness. Even the best lenses aren't as sharp wide open as they are stopped down a couple of notches. The difference between f2.8 and f5.6 on my 24-70 is very noticeable. So, here's a suggestion: Set up your camera on a tripod, and aim it at something at least 15-20 feet away where sharpness is easily discernable (Leaves on a tree), set your aperture for f8, make sure that you focus on the subject (watch your active focus points) and then take a couple of test shots. Compare those to your earlier images, and see what they look like.

  3. #3
    dmagick is offline Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    60

    Default

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by jmayoff View Post
    I'm relatively new to photography and I have a question about sharpness and clarity.

    I have a Nikon D60 with the kit lens and a 55-200mm zoom. I always shoot raw.

    I've taken what I thought would be crystal clear, razor sharp images, only to get back to my computer and find they're nowhere near clear. Then, I look at just about every picture from this guy and I'm amazed at how sharp and clear everything is.

    So, my question is this: what are the contributing factors to that crystal clarity and in what ratios are they important. How much does camera body, lens quality, focus, depth of field, shutter speed, photoshop etc. play in getting clear, razor sharp images?

    Should I just resign myself to the fact that until I can afford a $2500 lens and $4000 body that I'll be getting almost-but-not-quite-sharp pictures? Or should I be manually focusing more often (is my eye really better than the camera)? Or am I doing something else wrong?

    Thanks,
    Jason
    If you can, try shooting a couple of images in raw + jpeg (I don't know if your camera supports it but your manual should tell you). You'll find the jpeg is sharper because the camera does some processing as it's saving the picture. Shooting in raw gives you more flexibility (it's a "loss-less format" which means you can undo your changes and return the image to it's original state) but means more post-processing. Jpg on the other hand is not a loss-less format. If you make a change and save it, you lose data and the change can't be undone.

  4. #4
    Marko's Avatar
    Marko is offline Administrator
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Montreal, QC. Canada
    Posts
    14,836
    My Photos
    Please do NOT edit my photos
    Critiques
    Critique my photos anywhere in the forum

    Default

    In general it's been my experience that all digital images need sharpening. This is totally different from film. So a digital image that was shot with a high shutter speed and good depth of field will STILL be blurrier than that same image from a film camera.

    You'll therefore need to get the sharpest image possible through good focus and appropriate shutter speed (depth of field is up to you) and then sharpen each image in Post.

    OR

    There are likely menu settings in your camera that control sharpness at the time of exposure. Try playing with those.

    Personally I like controlling the sharpness in post, but when I first started in digital, the default lack of sharpness was very disappointing.

    Hope that helps,

    Marko
    - Please connect with me further
    Photo tours of Montreal - Private photography courses
    - Join the new Photography.ca Facebook page
    - Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/markokulik
    - Follow me on Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/111159185852360398018/posts
    - Check out the photography podcast


    "You have to milk the cow quite a lot, and get plenty of milk to get a little cheese." Henri Cartier-Bresson from The Decisive Moment.

  5. #5
    EJC
    EJC is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta
    Posts
    389
    My Photos
    Please feel free to edit my photos

    Default

    I'm having the same issues. Can someone out there give some step by step advice for neophytes on how to sharpen images in using Photoshop?

    Thanks in advance
    EJC

  6. #6
    Marko's Avatar
    Marko is offline Administrator
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Montreal, QC. Canada
    Posts
    14,836
    My Photos
    Please do NOT edit my photos
    Critiques
    Critique my photos anywhere in the forum

    Default

    A real easy way is the unsharp mask filter. (Filter- Sharpen - unsharp mask)

    You'll have to play with the sliders but you can try this to start if the image is for the web
    Amount - 100%
    radius - 1.0 pixels
    Threshold - 0 levels

    Adjust these values to your taste. The image should be pretty sharp to begin with though. If the image is really blurry to begin with (i.e. you missed the focus) you are wasting your time and should likely discard the image.

    If the image is for print you'll need to increase these values proportionately based on the size of the print.

    Hope that helps
    Marko
    - Please connect with me further
    Photo tours of Montreal - Private photography courses
    - Join the new Photography.ca Facebook page
    - Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/markokulik
    - Follow me on Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/111159185852360398018/posts
    - Check out the photography podcast


    "You have to milk the cow quite a lot, and get plenty of milk to get a little cheese." Henri Cartier-Bresson from The Decisive Moment.

  7. #7
    jmayoff's Avatar
    jmayoff is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Posts
    23

    Default

    Since I originally posted this, I've figured out how to easily sharpen my photos and have created a photoshop action to make it pretty painless. It involves converting the photo to LAB color, sharpening (with unsharp mask) the lightness channel and then converting back to RGB.

    The settings in the action work fine on the full size raw images out of my 10 MP camera. You may need to adjust for your own purposes. Here it is. Hope it helps someone.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    If you have a moment, please come see my photos at Flickr or My Blog

    You can follow me on Twitter @mayoff

  8. #8
    kkjensen is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Montreal!
    Posts
    17

    Default

    Must this be done in Photoshop? I also have the D60 (shooting raw) and have been doing my touchups with the ViewNX program that came with the camera...figuring that the nikon software might know what to expect from a nikon camera. Do correct me if I'm wrong.

    I don't have photoshop. Gimp? Yes, but I try to avoid spreading around between programs too much. I try and keep my workflow simple for the bulk of my shooting since I'm not doing this to make money and my wife hates waiting a week for me to let her see any vacation pictures, etc. I've noticed I regularly boost the exposure by a half stop with my D60 so I guess I can add some sharpening too. I wish there was a way to make this the default for all new shots in ViewNX.

  9. #9
    F8&Bthere's Avatar
    F8&Bthere is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    495
    My Photos
    Please feel free to edit my photos

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kkjensen View Post
    Must this be done in Photoshop? ... Gimp? Yes, but I try to avoid spreading around between programs too much. I try and keep my workflow simple for the bulk of my shooting since I'm not doing this to make money and my wife hates waiting a week for me to let her see any vacation pictures, etc...
    Photoshop, Gimp, Capture NX, Lightroom etc all have sharpening tools, or you can use a plug-in/stand alone sharpening tool like Nik Sharpener etc. And I'm sure there is a way to do batch processing of multiple photos to save time. Problem is sometimes selective sharpening is better- like when you have a photo shot at high ISO with a fair amount of noise, or a portrait which you'd prefer a softer look in the face, or an image with a nice blurred background, and for this you would need to deal with them individually in some higher end program like those mentioned. If you shoot jpeg I would suggest trying increasing sharpness in camera and use Gimp (cuz it's free and PS costs a small fortune) to do selective or additional sharpening only when needed. This is if you want to avoid additional steps in your workflow. For me, I've said it many times in these forums, this is why I like Lightroom- can handle my entire workflow (for the bulk of my images) in one program.

  10. #10
    Todd5DII is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    2

    Default Sharpness

    Just a few points that were not covered in the Sharpness Podcast

    Remote trigger and Mirror Lockup
    If shooting landscapes or fixed subjects use mirror lockup and remote trigger, this will eliminate a lot of vibration based softness

    Tripods
    Be sure to lock up the legs, head, and if long lens the attachment ring, I have seen a lot of new photog's shoot "Loose" which is never a good idea (hey everyone gets tired of repositioning but which takes longer, doing it right, or going back and re-shooting?)

    IS - Image stabilization, generally if tripod mounted turn it off, unless there is a lot of wind which makes the tripod "Vibrate" it will soften the image (try it sometime and see what I mean.

    If handheld turn it on: Shoot in bursts (Linda Tharp suggested this, it does work if you are close to or below a shutter speed that is optimal, not sure why but I suspect the rapid shooting captures images between hand tremors, try it sometime!)

    Lens Diffraction - DOF and Sharpness often work agains each other, just because your lens can go to F32 doesnt mean that's where you should put every time. A good link to tell you how your lens performs in regards to sharpness at various F/Stops is www.slgear.com for instance http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/zprod...is/tloader.htm

    Other Software Tips
    There is software that can also help if you did everything else right.

    DXO - Fixes lens aberations, can even make the canon 100-400 useable at 400mm f/32! Does require you to remember distance shot if using canon (damn you canon!) since they dont embeded focus info into EXIF

    HeliconFocus - Blends multiple images with different focal points (works well when little or no movement expected)

    Paitience
    LOL, of light or some other factor is not critical remember wind does come and go in cycles, be paitent. Also you can up the ISO to 400 easily when nessecary on modern cameras, if you shoot the histo to the right a bit you can even do 800 with moderate noise processing to get pretty useable images these days

    Todd
    Last edited by Todd5DII; 09-01-2009 at 02:24 PM. Reason: Additonal Material

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36