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To Sharpen or not to Sharpen in Camera that is

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by taurus, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. I recently attended a seminar at the B&H event space during which the speaker, a very experienced award-winning professional photographer strongly advised that all in camera sharpening be turned off.

    Since the D300 defaults to various levels of sharpening I was curious to find out what is the general consensus.

    Additionally, I have been experimenting with third party plug-in sharpeners in lieu of using USM. What has everyone found works best?
  2. I do not use in-camera sharpening. I might use this if I wanted to use my LCD image for judging focus or if I was directly printing JPEGs. I look at a digital image as the analog to a film image and try to get the best, cleanest image file I can with optimal exposure and motion-freezing appropo of the subject. Then, I do what I want in PP.

  3. Thanks! When I bought the D300 two months ago I bought one of the D300 how to books. That author suggested in camera sharpening of up to level 7 and at a minimum level two. My results since I turned off the sharpening seem better.
  4. jfenton


    Jan 26, 2005
    Haverhill, MA
    I Do ~ However

    I turn it off during RAW processing and then apply 50 / 5 / 4 as a baseline to overcome the anti aliasing filter.
  5. I set my in camera setting on 5, so that I can tell somewhat how sharp my image is through the LCH, then in PP I do similiar to Jim.

  6. I use in-camera sharpening with my D2X (set to +2) when shooting NEFs. This allows me to better judge focus. I turn off sharpening when I bring the images into NX2 and then apply a 2 or 3 step computer sharpening as detailed by Dr. Jay in his e-book.
  7. jcovert

    jcovert Guest

    I use NX, and I use in-camera sharpening, so the setting carries over into the NEF for me. I like in-camera sharpening personally. USM is too easy to get bad results with (for me personally). I use it, but in addition to in-camera sharpening, not by itself.
  8. Since I was using an Olympus prior to the D300 my experience is primarily with orf. files which I edited with a combination of Lightroom or Lightroom Beta and CS3. Only Nikon View and Nikon Transfer came with the D300. However, when I open a Nef. file in Nikon View it looks like a completely different photograph from that opened in Adobe. The Nikon View image is much sharper and more saturated even after I attempt to equalize the settings.
  9. That is because the Nikon programs carry over all in camera settings. The Adobe programs only carry over white balance. That is why I do all my initial PP in NX, then save as a 16-bit tif for CS3.

  10. It looks like I better check out the latest Capture NX version if I am going to fully utilize the D300. A 30 day trial version of Capture NX was boxed with the camera. However a 60 Day trial version of Capture NX2 is offered on the Nikon web site. At times I seem to spend more time "learning" than taking pictures. As soon as I am comfortable with one gizmo the next much better one comes along.

    Thanks for your advice.
  11. it really doesn't matter. I have it on since i figure it should make my preview image nicer but it does not do anything to the raw file so its no big deal.
  12. I thought in camera settings such as sharpness and saturation were only applied to jpeg files once you transfer your files to CS3 or Capture NX.?.

  13. don't sharpen in camera
    because EVERY SINGLE IMAGE needs a DIFFERENT amount of sharpening....
    so, do it in POST if you want the BEST chance to "get it right."
  14. i use +7 for jpg or raw and it works fine and still needs more in PP
  15. pforsell


    Jan 15, 2008
    Hi Steve,

    I don't own the D300 you specify in the original post, but I don't think the camera model matters much. My personal taste is not to sharpen in camera or off camera. Also my eyes get all watery watching these grossly oversharpened pictures.
  16. Thanks to all of you who have replied to my in camera sharpening question. So far the answers (all provided by excellent photographers) have ranged from none to seven and also “it doesn't really matter.” In the interim, I have been taking a look at the NX2 manual and the Adobe sources. I have not yet had an opportunity to review the texts on the subject, but my initial conclusion is that NX2 provides sufficient flexibility for NEF files to support the "it doesn't really matter" position". I think this is true because one of the sharpening options in NX2 is "none". I am not so sure that Adobe Camera Raw does not start at the level of the in camera sharpening. Perhaps it ignores these in camera settings, if so then the in camera sharpening is irrelevant. But I do know that there is no direct function (putting aside the blur functions) in ACR to apply negative sharpening. If one applies capture sharpening, creative sharpening and output sharpening by the Adobe algorithms on top of the Nikon sharpening, this is probably not a good thing.

    Peter, your point about over sharpened photos is well taken. The fact that you do not sharpen in camera or off camera is a testament to your skill and the excellent lenses that you use. Since I am virtually lens-less in New Jersey with respect to the D300, and have a case of severe lens lust, I admit that when viewing the tack sharp pictures posted on lens lust, to wondering whether that picture is primarily a result of the quality of the lens or primarily the skill of the photographer in both photographing the picture and excellently sharpening and otherwise editing it.
  17. pforsell


    Jan 15, 2008
    Hi Steve,
    the Adobe Camera Raw (and Adobe LightRoom) ignore the in-camera settings when you shoot RAW.

    And regarding the Lens Lust forum, yes my friend, I know what you are talking about. :smile:

    The lens you are using is capable of excellent shots. And on the other hand, sometimes when you are less lucky and end up with a sligthly misfocused or blurred image, no post-process sharpening can bring back the detail. And finally, sharpness is just the last 2% of the image.

    Photography is about light, color, composition, aesthetics, drama, feelings. If these ingredients are missing, then sharpness is a moot issue.

    This is just my humble opinion, but 99% of shots taken of cars, sports, cats and dogs lack all the interesting things that make the photo worth looking. For images like these it is irrelevant whether the shot is soft or sharp, because I'd have fallen asleep already. :tongue:

    I am sure we all have different subjects of interest and uninterest, but regardless it is the image in the photo people want to see, not minute technical subleties like sharpness or noise.

    So, whichever way you decide to sharpen and process your images, I would like to humbly suggest that you do it in such a subtle way that the processing is not at all visible to the viewer.

    Sorry for the rant. :cool: 
  18. Peter, that was no rant, you are right on the money. One of my favorite photos taken so far with the D300 is a branch of white and slightly yellow flowers. The deliberate soft focus against a dark background is what, I think, makes this photo special. I am very reluctant to post this picture but it will make a beautiful print on Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper
  19. Peter.

    I've been rereading the last few posts and would like to clarify what I meant.

    I intended to say that the photographers who post on Lens Lust possess sufficient skill to make a flawed lens look terrific. They have the ability to make the lens look sharper, minimize chromatic aberration, straighten out distortion and present beautiful bokeh flowing not necessarily from the lens but from skillful editing.

    Additionally, Lens Lust is clearly, by custom, the place to show off the sharpness of a lens and the quality of its bokeh. It is probably not the appropriate place to post artistic soft photos. I would not hesitate to post such photos on other parts of the forum.

    As for over sharpened photos, is this not as much an artistic expression as a beautiful bokeh? I completely agree that a tack sharp photo (an achievement in itself) is not necessarily an artistically compelling photo. A tack sharp photo of a car may or may not possess the other factors necessary to make it an award-winning photo. However, over sharpening could just as well be one of the elements of an award-winning photo.
  20. I use ACR and shoot raw, so my in camera sharpening is irrelevant. I do however let ACR apply its default sharpening when i convert. Wich pretty much equals the ammount of sharpening the camera/NX apply when its set to 0 in camera.

    For web i dont sharpen after conversion, i resize and convert for web. I dont see any need for any additional sharpening.
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