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Sharpening experiment

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by Johnny Yuma, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    372
    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    I wanted to de-bug a few sharpening myths. So I have come up with some experiments that I will share as I go.
    Here is a quick overview.

    Phase 1 (complete with pictures to follow)

    1st Show if sharpening is or is-not applied with ACR (adobe camera raw).
    2nd Compare ACR sharpening (if applied) to USM (un-sharp mask)
    3rd Compare standard USM to my advanced USM

    Phase 2 (complete with pictures to follow)

    Challenge weather or not in-camera sharpening is or is-not applied to a raw image developed with ACR. If so I will show results of each setting from my camera (D200).

    Phase 3

    1st Compare each in-camera sharpening amount using a JPEG image.
    2nd Compare results of each of the above WITH USM applied to the JPEG in post.

    Phase 4

    Compare several different methods of sharpening in post. Such as USM, MY advanced USM, High pass and Smart Sharpen

    If you have any questions, insight or ideas feel free to speak up.

    I hope all this helps some. I know I am already learning and I'm only done with Phase 1.

    Onto Phase 1
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2008
  2. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    372
    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    Phase 1

    For Phase 1 I took a single picture with in-camera sharpening set to 0. I then opened the image in ACR, turned off all sharpening and saved the image.

    Next I set ACR sharpening to, Amount 150, Radius 2, Detail 25 (default) and Mask 0. Then saved that image.

    Next I opened up the un-sharpened image and applied USM. Amount 150, Radius, 2 and Threshold 2. Saved that.

    Last I opened the un-sharpened image and applied my advanced USM technique. I duplicated my layer so I could apply the sharpening to its own layer. Then sharpened with slightly higher values in USM. Amount 200, Radius 3, Threshold 2. Then I used 'Apply image' with 'Blending' set to 'Darken' to apply this layer to the original un-sharpened layer. Then used 'Edit--> Fade apply image' set to 50% to fade the effect.
    What this does is fade the lighter side of the USM by 50%.
    Here are the results. First a composite (100% crops re-sized 50% smaller for the web), then the individual images. All 100% crops.

    rawsharpcomp.
     
  3. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    372
    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    Zero sharpening. ACR sharpening set to 0
    rawacrsharp-0100.
    NIKON D200    ---    135mm    f/8.0    1/80s    ISO 100


    ACR sharpening set to 150, 2, 25, 0
    rawacrsharp150-2-25100.
    NIKON D200    ---    135mm    f/8.0    1/80s    ISO 100


    Zero ACR, USM 150, 2, 2
    rawacrsharp0USM150-2-2100.
    NIKON D200    ---    135mm    f/8.0    1/80s    ISO 100




    Zero ACR, USM 200, 3, 2, Apply image and fade 50%
    rawacrsharp0USM200-3-2apply-fade100.
    NIKON D200    ---    135mm    f/8.0    1/80s    ISO 100
     
  4. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    372
    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    As you can see the RAW D200 file is a bit soft, but we already know this. We can also see that the ACR sharpening flat out stinks!
    Maybe my technique isn't the best sharpening ever but can certainly be pushed further with less 'halo' effect then standard USM.

    Phase 2 coming soon.
     
  5. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    372
    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    Phase 2

    Phase 2
    Challenge weather or not in-camera sharpening is or is-not applied to a raw image developed with ACR. If so I will show results of each setting from my camera (D200).

    For this phase I took 3 images of the same subject. All 3 where shot in RAW. 1 with in-camera sharpening turned off, 1 set to -1 (Med. Low) and 1 set to +2 (high).
    As you can see from the images below, in-camera sharpening has ZERO effect on RAW images developed with ACR.

    rawsharpencomp100.

    In-camera sharpening turned off
    rawsharpen0-off100.
    NIKON D200    ---    180mm    f/8.0    1/80s    ISO 100


    In-camera sharpening -1 (med. low)
    rawsharpen-1Med-low100.
    NIKON D200    ---    180mm    f/8.0    1/80s    ISO 100


    In-camera sharpening +2 (high)
    rawsharpen2high100.
    NIKON D200    ---    180mm    f/8.0    1/80s    ISO 100


    In-camera sharpening turned off, USM 200, 2.2, 2 (* with my 'apply image Fade' technique)
    rawsharpenoffUSM200-2_2-2.
    NIKON D200    ---    180mm    f/8.0    1/80s    ISO 100
     
  6. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    372
    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    In the first phase I did make the mistake of leaving sharpening set to '0' and not 'off'. This was corrected in phase 2, and as phase 2 shows in-camera sharpening doesn't have any effect on raw images developed with ACR, therefore keeping my mistake from spoiling the experiment.

    It has always been my understanding that 3rd party software did not read the in-camera sharpening values. I never claimed it did. I only wanted to show proof. You hear it asked a lot but never see hard evidence.
    But then again, I hear all the time that ACR doesn't apply sharpening to an image. I have proved that to be false.
    Later I will show the difference in sharpening and un-sharpened image -vs- one that has been pre-sharpened (so to speak) with ACR.
     
  7. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    372
    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    I know. I was just trying to clarify.

    Thanks,
    Drew
     
  8. This is a most interesting experiment but I wonder how much you are going to learn based on the fact that although RAW files are tagged with some information, the camera software has no effect on the files. By the way, I do not shoot JPEG but it is a great idea to keep sharpening off when shooting JPEG to avoid potential artifacts. I am sure modern JPEGs are much better than those we had just a few years ago.
    Based on the difficulties I always had to determine the right amount of sharpening I began to use Intelisharpen by FM. It is sold as an action and it works beautifully allowing to fine tune the sharpening if needed.
    I will follow your post with great interest.
    William Rodriguez
    Miami, Florida.
     
  9. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    372
    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    Now we know that in camera settings do not effect our images in ACR, but what about the embedded jpeg.

    Huh? Embedded jpeg?

    Yes. Every time you take a picture in RAW Nikon automatically embeds a basic jpeg in the file.
    So what about the embedded jepg? Do in camera settings have any effect on this?

    The answer is YES!

    Here is the experiment.
    I took 2 identical images. Both shot in RAW. One image with the in camera sharpening turned off, and one set to high.
    I then used 'Instant JPEG From RAW' (http://instant-jpeg-from-raw.software.informer.com/) to extract the jepg's from the RAW files.

    Here are the results.
    The first image is a 100% crop of the jpeg with the in camera sharpening set to 'None', while the second is with sharpening set to 'High'.

    *NOTE*
    I have not done any editing or sharpening to these images.

    ExtJpgNone.
    D200    ---    50mm    f/11.0    4s    ISO 100


    ExtJpgHigh.
    D200    ---    50mm    f/11.0    4s    ISO 100


    ExtJpgcombo.
    D200    ---    50mm    f/11.0    4s    ISO 100
     
  10. f5fstop

    f5fstop

    43
    Feb 6, 2009
    Utah
    Very informative.
    Now, on a different note; do I know you? The name sounds familiar.:biggrin:
     
  11. Even easier than that, just set your picture control to monochrome. It will painfully obvious when the image is in B&W (the embedded JPEG) and when ACR renders its own image, which will be in color. :wink:
     
  12. Johnny Yuma

    Johnny Yuma

    372
    Jun 27, 2007
    SE MI
    I thought about that, but it didn't really fit my theme. :wink:
     
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