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oversharpening #11168
10/26/07 04:51 PM
10/26/07 04:51 PM
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DavidRamey Offline OP
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Lately I have noticed a lot of good photos that I think are being less than they could be by oversharpening. When a photo is oversharpened, it takes on an artificial and plastic look, not something you would see with your own eyes if you were there. Has anybody else noticed this or is it just me?


David Ramey Photography
Re: oversharpening [Re: DavidRamey] #11169
10/26/07 05:01 PM
10/26/07 05:01 PM
Joined: Sep 2005
Portland Oregon
RomanJohnston Offline
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Portland Oregon
Examples?

Roman

Re: oversharpening [Re: RomanJohnston] #11170
10/26/07 05:22 PM
10/26/07 05:22 PM
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DavidRamey Offline OP
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Roman,
I didn't want to point out examples because I didn't want to point fingers at anybody. My intention was to start a dialog about sharpening and proper techniques. You can go through the photos and see for yourself the oversharpening that is taking place.


David Ramey Photography
Re: oversharpening [Re: DavidRamey] #11171
10/26/07 06:39 PM
10/26/07 06:39 PM
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Florida
Jim Garvie Offline
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Florida
David,
this is where things get difficult when looking at digital images -- what might be over-sharpening to you might be the way I saw the image in my mind's eye.

Let me start by saying that I agree with you. Many of the images I see posted look to me as if they are sharpened beyond the ability of any lens I've seen to resolve. Having said that, is it "wrong" to sharpen a scene to a level that matches what my eyes see versus what my lens sees? I have 20/18 vision (thank you, Lord). I see things pretty clearly. Do I sharpen in post-production to match that vision?

Or, do I match what I remember film used to look like? Keeping in mind that film has its own limitations in terms of ability to resolve detail.

My own preference is to under-sharpen. The sharper the lens I used to capture the image, the less sharpening I apply in post-production. While that may seem intuitive, it isn't always the case. When I shoot portraits of people, I like them a little soft. It tends to hide skin blemishes. When I shoot landscapes, I like them fairly sharp. Not razor sharp because over distance, atmospheric conditions tend to soften the details. When I shoot macro, I want as much detail as I can squeeze out of the image both on the front end (lens) and the back end (post-production).

The problem for many of us is that we tend to use the same sharpening steps and levels regardless of what we're shooting. I use Photokit Sharpener which is a 3-stage sharpening plug-in which allows you to sharpen the basic image, apply "creative" sharpening to a desired level and then post-sharpen for whatever output device you're using.

I find this approach forces me to think about just how much apparent sharpness I want in my images. My own personal objective is to produce "film-like" images. And in my mind's eye, that film is more like Ektachrome than Kodachrome. But that's me. For others, the objective may be very different.

What's your sharpening objective?

Jim


Jim Garvie
www.jagphoto.biz
Re: oversharpening [Re: Jim Garvie] #11172
10/26/07 10:26 PM
10/26/07 10:26 PM
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TN
Julie Offline
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TN
Its probably mine, during the resizing and posting they are getting very artifacty, which, they are not in full size. Part of the reason I oversharpen photos for the web,is it also makes them reproduce like crap. So, they print terribly

Part of the problem though I am having is the technique I use to make them print well, does not resize well at all. Given the choice, the printing is more important. It does drive me a bit crazy to see them like that though.

Re: oversharpening [Re: Julie] #11173
10/26/07 10:27 PM
10/26/07 10:27 PM
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TN
Julie Offline
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TN
Let me rephrase that, they print well at FULL size, but badly at web size. I reread that and it made no sense!

Re: oversharpening [Re: DavidRamey] #11174
10/27/07 12:05 AM
10/27/07 12:05 AM
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Donner Summit, CA
glamson Offline
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Quote:

Lately I have noticed a lot of good photos that I think are being less than they could be by oversharpening. When a photo is oversharpened, it takes on an artificial and plastic look, not something you would see with your own eyes if you were there. Has anybody else noticed this or is it just me?




You have touched upon an issue that drives me crazy when I'm post processing. I guess I agree with Jim about not being restricted to the sharpness of film or the lens when the digital image can reveal more detail through sharpening. With just about every image I always am torn about just how much to sharpen it. Again I agree with Jim that for portraits and subjects, I try not to sharpen too much. With landscapes, I try to sharpen to what my eye remembers, or at least what I want it to remember.

The other issue I have with sharpness is the effects when downsizing for the web. My native dimensions are 3904x2616 pixels and I usally try to limit the height of web posted photo to 600 pixels. This means I'm usually downsizing about 3-4 fold. I have found that the algorithm used to downsize can really effect sharpness. For example, I have found that bicubic which is so good for upsizing, is terrible for downsizing. I usually find that when I downsize, I often have to sharpen just a little and at low resolution, sharpening effects have greater effects making it tricky. One thing I never do is use an image prepped for printing on the web. More sharpening is definitely needed for printing and they look oversharpened on the web.

Having said all this, I have to admit that I think I have developed a liking for sharper images and I may be guilty at times of "over" sharpening at times.

Re: oversharpening [Re: glamson] #11175
10/27/07 06:42 PM
10/27/07 06:42 PM
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Colorado, USA
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Buddy Thomason Offline
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Colorado, USA
They say sharpening is to the image what spice is to food - a little goes a long way and too much ruins it. To keep me from the temptation of over-sharpening I use the 'sharpen for output' rule.

My 'original' tiff file is saved immediately after RAW conversion. From there I duplicate the original and process depending on output.

Web based images get a whole different workflow from print images. I typically sharpen for print tiffs three times during the workflow. I sharpen for the web jpgs once only, and then usually not globally but selectively using a sharpening brush. In both cases sharpening is the last thing I do before saving the finished file.

Also, if the subject is 'at risk' for over sharpening I will often downsize and resample for the web using bicubic rather than bicubic sharper. Initially the image is too soft but if image data has been properly preserved and treated up to that point, then I can brush sharpen selectively with good results. (There is no chance for good final sharpening of a jpg file if there's been too much and/or the wrong kind of data loss between the camera and the point of sharpening.)

It's a deep subject of course, and many variables are involved. The more complex sharpening formulas are more complex by virtue of attempting to effectively address a greater number of relevant variables in hopes of a better result.

For me at least, since every image is different, every sharpening protocol is thus different - usually just a little different but sometimes a lot. Very few areas of post-processing benefit from experience like sharpening does. Eventually less becomes more.

Re: oversharpening [Re: Buddy Thomason] #11176
10/29/07 01:16 PM
10/29/07 01:16 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline
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Manhattan, New York, New York
"I typically sharpen for print tiffs three times during the workflow. I sharpen for the web jpgs once only, and then usually not globally but selectively using a sharpening brush."

Hey Buddy,

Can you give an example of when you would sharpen an image like this? I typically only sharpen once - in the Raw file when I am making the conversion in Capture One. I try to not sharpen the image again.

Sometimes, for web files, I will add a small amount of USM to pull out detail in fur, eyes, etc....

James

Re: oversharpening [Re: James Morrissey] #11177
10/29/07 02:53 PM
10/29/07 02:53 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
Donner Summit, CA
glamson Offline
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Quote:

"I typically sharpen for print tiffs three times during the workflow. I sharpen for the web jpgs once only, and then usually not globally but selectively using a sharpening brush."

Hey Buddy,

Can you give an example of when you would sharpen an image like this? I typically only sharpen once - in the Raw file when I am making the conversion in Capture One. I try to not sharpen the image again.

Sometimes, for web files, I will add a small amount of USM to pull out detail in fur, eyes, etc....

James




James,

Excuse me if I jump in here. I too am also curious about Buddy sharpening 3 times. In my work flow I use Nikon Capture NX for raw conversion and they recommend a 2 step sharpening. One light sharpening at the conversion to compensate for the AA filter in Nikon cameras which is often pretty conservative (D200, D2X). They call this the "capture" sharpening. The second sharpening comes after the image is PP'd (levels, NR, saturation) and then final sharpening is done for output, web or printing. For the web I go straight to a jpeg and for printing to a Tiff. There is only one other type of sharpening I do during PP which is selective sharpening using a sharpening "brush" to hit certain areas I would like to accentuate like eyes. So you could say I do 2 and half steps in PP.

There is one more place I sharpen and that is if I downsize for the web. I use PSPXI for my bit map editor and when I downsize signigicantly I usually find that there is a softening of the image. I often apply just a tad of USM on the final image. So for web images I do use 3 steps many times and if I do selective sharpening then I guess you could say 3 and half steps.

This is my "normal" work flow and I'm not going to get into when I need to do bit map editing (layers, blending, etc) in PSP and use only a capture sharpened tiff converted from NX as the starting point.

Sharpening is probably one of the most controversial issues out there and it is truly amazing to me the schemes and software out thery available to handle it.

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