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a Sharpening question
I have noticed that although the pictures I have taken with my Nikon D80 (whether with the 18-200 or the 50 1.8) are plenty sharp and clear, they always look better when I apply sharpening with the Picasa software. In fact, they look much better..

So I guess my questions are: should sharpening be applied to all pictures in PP as a general rule of thumb?.

And....I can't help wondering: does the sharpening tool in softwares make "sharp" lenses obselete in a way? I mean...even pictures taken with a mediocre point and shoot look awesome after going through the sharpening process..

(Disclaimer: I am a beginning digital photographer with questions. That's all. If you think the question is stupid.....please feel free to ignore.) TThanks in advance to any constructive replies...

Comments (9)

There is such thing as too much sharpening. You start getting a halo around objects if you go too far..

It is better to sharpen in PP, you can tailor the sharpening to the image..

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Comment #1

Vjayshutterbug wrote:.

I have noticed that although the pictures I have taken with my NikonD80 (whether with the 18-200 or the 50 1.8) are plenty sharp andclear, they always look better when I apply sharpening with thePicasa software. In fact, they look much better.So I guess my questions are: should sharpening be applied to allpictures in PP as a general rule of thumb?.

Unless the camera has applied some sharpening of it's own, you'll often see a benefit in applying a bit of your own..

And....I can't help wondering: does the sharpening tool in softwaresmake "sharp" lenses obselete in a way? I mean...even pictures takenwith a mediocre point and shoot look awesome after going through thesharpening process..

Sharpening isn't actually making anything sharper or adding any detail, it's just a way of increasing edge contrast (acutance) so that the image appears sharper to our eyes. The benefit of sharp lenses is something else entirely and give a real improvement in detail in the image..

Done properly, though, it is amazing how much difference sharpening can make. If you get a chance to use Photoshop, the unsharp mask filter (USM) can be used for very subtle sharpening and there are a host of other ways to make images crisper including some clever layer effects..

(Disclaimer: I am a beginning digital photographer with questions.That's all. If you think the question is stupid.....please feel freeto ignore.) TThanks in advance to any constructive replies..

It's never a stupid question. It's something you hear about all the time in digital photography but it isn't often explained. The linked tutorial below gives a good intro to USM as well as some interesting explanations about the technical and biological reasons behind sharpening..

Http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/unsharp-mask.htm..

Comment #2

I use Picasa 2 also for sharpening sometimes. And yes some pics do benifit alot from this...

Comment #3

To put it simply, sharpening in post won't make a poor lens sharp..

In digital photography you deal in pixels. Pixels have real edges. Post sharpening adds contrast to those edges to give an appearance of sharpness..

Here is a box I made with two colors. I added smart sharpening in CS3 100% 1 pixed w/guassian blur. I then expanded a very small crop to show you the edge..

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As others have said, too much post sharpening adds a visible halo to the edges. You can just see it in the top image..

Cheers, Craig..

Comment #4

Thanks to all for the EXCELLENT replies! I have been enlightened...

Comment #5

On the other side of the coin: sometimes an image begs NOT to be sharpened, an artistic decision. So in response to your wondering whether you want to sharpen all pix, my response would be yes - much of the time. But sometimes, leave the image as is. Example would be a pastoral scene where you wish to impart a dreamy feeling.joel.

Comment #6

I'll add one more thing to watch for... With sharpening any noise in an image will be made more visible..

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Comment #7

I wouldn't say that ALL photos should be sharpened - at least not in Picasa. I love picasa a LOT but it doesn't give you the flexibility of how much sharpening is applied. On a lot of my photos, it goes a little over the top and makes people look really bad!.

So one example is if you take a portrait of a woman - I probably wouldn't sharpen it unless you want to see every freckle, hair, speck, wrinkle, etc! lol.. Chances are she'd prefer to see her skin soft and only her eyes sharp.Cathyhttp://cathyluke.blogspot.com.

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Comment #8

In which case you can duplicate your layer, sharpen, then mask off everything but the eyes! .

Cathy1973 wrote:.

I wouldn't say that ALL photos should be sharpened - at least not inPicasa. I love picasa a LOT but it doesn't give you the flexibilityof how much sharpening is applied. On a lot of my photos, it goes alittle over the top and makes people look really bad!.

So one example is if you take a portrait of a woman - I probablywouldn't sharpen it unless you want to see every freckle, hair,speck, wrinkle, etc! lol.. Chances are she'd prefer to see her skinsoft and only her eyes sharp.Cathyhttp://cathyluke.blogspot.com.

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Comment #9

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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