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View Full Version : How do you sharpen images out of a dSLR?



Jredtugboat
10-11-2005, 04:29 PM
Hi,

I'm considering the purchase of a D70s. One thing I've heard is that images that come out of them need a little "post processing" to really shine.

First, what is typically done to a soft image to sharpen it up?

Second, what programs are typically used to accomplish this?

I would like to avoid having to use Photoshop CS--I can't afford it.

I realize that these are two short questions that will probably beg for long answers; I'm just looking for a pointer on where to look and what to do.

And hoping (did I already mention this?) that it won't involve Photoshop. $150 I can afford; $700 I can't.

Thank you.

Yours,

Julian

TheObiJuan
10-11-2005, 05:19 PM
PM me your address and I will send you my unopened Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 disk that came with my 20D.

I sharpen my pics using USM in photoshop or some actions. Usually, I just need a small, 50,.3,0 sharpening. For my soft lenses, I need 100,.8,0.

BigConig
10-11-2005, 07:23 PM
I prefer to shoot in RAW and process with Nikon Capture. I usually leave the in camera settings to no sharpening and low contast and then adjust in NC accordingly. I find I almost never need to use USM- another great tool in Nikon capture is D-lighting. I can meter on the sky to keep from blowing highlights, add d-lighting and get the entire image exposed just right. It raises the exposure of dark parts of the picture while leaving properly or overexposed parts alone.

Here's an example from last weekend. This waterfall was tough to get metered right because It was a dark, rainy day but the sun was right behind the waterfall. The sky and water would be overexposed if I got the surrounding ground metered properly. I used AE lock on the sky (could have gotten the same result by adjusting exposure compensation). As I said, in camera sharpening is turned off and contrast is set to low. Certainly looks like it's not a keeper-

http://home.rochester.rr.com/bigconig1/withoutDL.jpg

Now I open the RAW in Nikon capture, set sharpening to medium, set D-lighting to quality, color boost to nature +5 and voila. . .a useable shot. These are resized and compressed to fit on my host, full size the processed image looks prettty good considering the tough shooting conditions.

http://home.rochester.rr.com/bigconig1/withDL.jpg

TheObiJuan
10-11-2005, 08:26 PM
That image looks like too much fill flash or shadows/highlights was used. The image also appears to be in need of sharpening. At that small size a soft image would look sharp. The leaves don't really have much definition.
The colors are beautiful, though!

eastbluffs
10-11-2005, 11:25 PM
Nice composition and shot selection!

I sort of like the darker rocks and water, although both look nice for the colors, as ObiJuan mentioned. Really like the slower shutter speed too to butter-out the waterfall.

Regarding RAW - I think the in-camera sharpening only affects the JPEGs.

ObiJuan's generous Elements 2.0 offer is probably your best bet. I'm curious if the Photoshop Elements version would handle plugins like this one - which takes a different approach to sharpening:
http://www.fredmiranda.com/article_3/

I've been using RSE (Raw Shooter Essentials) for all my RAW processing needs. That is a free download. It has some very rudementary sharpening. Sometimes doing multiple passes (first in a RAW processor, then a JPEG/TIFF processor) for photo modification can have better results too. The Nikon and Canon free-with-camera RAW tools are (so I've heard) good too.

Its sort of like Orange Juice. If you buy it sweetened, they probably used junk oranges. For unsweetened, they had to use quality oranges. The results are that the latter has a genuine flavor.

For SLR vs. non-SLR, well, need I bore you by explaining the analogy?:D


RAW has so many advantages, adjusting exposure among them (yes, if you over exposed, just slide it down - with some sacrafice in quality vs. getting it right the first time).

Here's my example:
Overexposed due to high moisture content (and no polarizer - hey, they're $80 for this lense!)
http://FLASHME.smugmug.com/photos/39697778-L.jpg

Now: After exposure (and several other) RAW adjustments.
http://FLASHME.smugmug.com/photos/36895654-L.jpg

I have an ongoing battle learning about photoshop layers although I'm sure someone like ObiJuan or George -or several others here, could go on to make this very usable (note: the link, in case you feel like it guys http://FLASHME.smugmug.com/gallery/735852/4/36895654 ).

TheObiJuan
10-12-2005, 12:55 AM
You've done a darn good job eastbluffs, I would further add a curves adjustment layer to punch up the midtones. This would remove the slight white wash that remains.

erichlund
10-12-2005, 07:11 AM
PM me your address and I will send you my unopened Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 disk that came with my 20D.

I sharpen my pics using USM in photoshop or some actions. Usually, I just need a small, 50,.3,0 sharpening. For my soft lenses, I need 100,.8,0.
OEM Software shipped with a product usually has its license tied to the product it was shipped with. You can, of course, do what you want, but contractually, I believe it's possible you would be obligated to send the 20D with the software. Perhaps not what you want to do.

BTW: There have been several cases lately where product licensing has be upheld in court. I'm just pointing this out as something to be aware of. Canon doesn't care about one off cases, and won't waste their time on them.

Cheers,
Eric

erichlund
10-12-2005, 07:15 AM
I use Nikon Capture and Paint Shop Pro. That's about a $240 solution, a bit more than you wanted. However, if you don't want to shoot RAW (I prefer RAW), then you don't need Capture.

Cheers,
Eric

Jredtugboat
10-12-2005, 01:07 PM
I use Nikon Capture and Paint Shop Pro. That's about a $240 solution, a bit more than you wanted. However, if you don't want to shoot RAW (I prefer RAW), then you don't need Capture.

Cheers,
Eric

Hi Eric,

Well, I won't be informing Canon anytime soon of my (mis-) use of PS Elements!

I work on an eMac at home; I've recently rebuilt a PC running XP Pro. I intend to hook them up so I can take advantage of the oodles of HD space on the PC but to do all my image editing on the Mac.

Any suggestions as to RAW processing software that works with the Mac? I mean, aside from what might come bundled with the Nikon.

yours,

Julian

K1W1
10-13-2005, 01:18 AM
I assume Photoshop Elements 3 (for Mac) would handle D70s RAW files.

erichlund
10-13-2005, 08:16 AM
Hi Eric,

Well, I won't be informing Canon anytime soon of my (mis-) use of PS Elements!

I work on an eMac at home; I've recently rebuilt a PC running XP Pro. I intend to hook them up so I can take advantage of the oodles of HD space on the PC but to do all my image editing on the Mac.

Any suggestions as to RAW processing software that works with the Mac? I mean, aside from what might come bundled with the Nikon.

yours,

Julian
Beats me. My last Apple computer was a IIGS in the early 90s. Capture runs on Mac, as do most Adobe products. I don't know if Paint Shop Pro runs on Mac.

Cheers,
Eric

eastbluffs
10-13-2005, 11:27 AM
I realized that when you said "to Sharpen them up". You probably weren't refering to actual sharpening. You ment fixing the color, bringing out contrast, applying brightening, etc. And also; applying actual sharpening.

DSLR's should generally be better than the consumer cameras in these regards. There are "bad copies", but for sure you should not expect a decline in quality.

You will see more background and foreground blur, but that's usually a good thing except maybe for archetectureal or documentation photos. It directs the eye where you want it. For that matter; if there's enough light (ie; outdoors), the DSLR can achieve sharp results throughout the focus planes.

The color, exposure, etc. should be good straight from the camera. If not, there are "parameter" setting where you can brighten them up. As for color, you for sure have more option to manipulate the color and saturation in the camera, but if not, there's nothing intrinsically different about an SLR in these regards (to my knowlege).

One area the DSLR definately excels in over all consumer cameras is Sensor (and therefore pixel) size. This translates into less "noise" at higher ISO settings, and a cleaner photo overall. Smaller pixels mean higher gain to achieve correct luminence. Cramming 8MP onto a sensor 1/8th the surface area of the DSLR sensor has intrinsically smaller pixels. Since they all use similar pixel technology (and if anything, the DSLR's use more advanced versions), this translates into much higher quality light collection in all regards.

Does anyone know if there is merit to what I'm saying? I confess that its partly assumption on my part. I would assume for instance that TTL metering would be more accurate, and that the SLR's would be equipped with more expensive and accurate systems in these regards.

erichlund
10-14-2005, 03:40 PM
I realized that when you said "to Sharpen them up". You probably weren't refering to actual sharpening. You ment fixing the color, bringing out contrast, applying brightening, etc. And also; applying actual sharpening.

DSLR's should generally be better than the consumer cameras in these regards. There are "bad copies", but for sure you should not expect a decline in quality.

You will see more background and foreground blur, but that's usually a good thing except maybe for archetectureal or documentation photos. It directs the eye where you want it. For that matter; if there's enough light (ie; outdoors), the DSLR can achieve sharp results throughout the focus planes.

The color, exposure, etc. should be good straight from the camera. If not, there are "parameter" setting where you can brighten them up. As for color, you for sure have more option to manipulate the color and saturation in the camera, but if not, there's nothing intrinsically different about an SLR in these regards (to my knowlege).

One area the DSLR definately excels in over all consumer cameras is Sensor (and therefore pixel) size. This translates into less "noise" at higher ISO settings, and a cleaner photo overall. Smaller pixels mean higher gain to achieve correct luminence. Cramming 8MP onto a sensor 1/8th the surface area of the DSLR sensor has intrinsically smaller pixels. Since they all use similar pixel technology (and if anything, the DSLR's use more advanced versions), this translates into much higher quality light collection in all regards.

Does anyone know if there is merit to what I'm saying? I confess that its partly assumption on my part. I would assume for instance that TTL metering would be more accurate, and that the SLR's would be equipped with more expensive and accurate systems in these regards.

Actually, many dSLR images appear soft, taken with non-pro glass and at default settings. This is the reason many people say that you have to post process dSLR images to get best results, and that they then pass fixed lens cameras. (I say nonsense. Most of the things done in post processing are things you can set in the camera. If it's the fault of the glass, there's not much you can do, other than to buy better glass. But you can get sharp, well exposed images out of the camera. You just have to not accept the camera defaults.) I'd agree that dSLRs probably have more capability in their meters than the fixed lens cameras, but they probably have more manual processing from trigger to memory card. The fixed lens cameras sell based on images out of camera and what they can do for the photographer. dSLRs sell based on flexibility of use. It's up to the photographer to set what processing the image processor does.

eastbluffs
10-14-2005, 10:15 PM
Actually, many dSLR images appear soft, taken with non-pro glass and at default settings. This is the reason many people say that you have to post process dSLR images to get best results, and that they then pass fixed lens cameras. (I say nonsense. Most of the things done in post processing are things you can set in the camera. If it's the fault of the glass, there's not much you can do, other than to buy better glass. But you can get sharp, well exposed images out of the camera. You just have to not accept the camera defaults.) I'd agree that dSLRs probably have more capability in their meters than the fixed lens cameras, but they probably have more manual processing from trigger to memory card. The fixed lens cameras sell based on images out of camera and what they can do for the photographer. dSLRs sell based on flexibility of use. It's up to the photographer to set what processing the image processor does.
Hmmm, my Canon S60 P&S images always appeared soft. I've seen some P&S images posted here (many actually) over-sharpened and downright gittery looking as a result. (to be fair; some are amazingly fantastic too)

I guess I have to fall back on my own experience.

My first 3 or 4,000 shots were about 80% soft. It was very disappointing. Then I took a queue from George and began pre-focusing, calming down, paying great attention to camera movement, and visualizing my results more. Now about 80% are sharp and only 20% "soft". The "keepers" went from about 5% to about 30% - and after post processing, more like 50% (except when I first tried using my 580EX flash without reading instructions, then it was more like 3% :( )

So; in my one case-in-point, it was user error. Once I learned how to better use my equipment, you would be hard pressed to find a P&S that'll do better straight from the camera.

Perhaps dSLR's let us goof things up more easily - assuming we know what we're doing. Like a race car that doesn't have spongy steering and actually goes off the road when you tell it to.

yonidass
10-15-2005, 11:07 AM
Here's a nice article on sharpening you might find useful:

http://ronbigelow.com/articles/sharpen1/sharpen1.htm