Aperture 3 makes images less sharp??

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by JDDavis, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    Jan 16, 2009
    #1
    OK. Stay with me here. I've been using Ap 3 for a few months now. And on some of my images (usually horizontal shots with people) I seem to notice that Ap 3 is loosing some of the sharpness. I'm not sure I can explain this correctly but check the pics I posted. When a photo (preview of course) first loads it's not sharp at all. This was normal from Ap 2. As it loads it comes in to focus and everything looks great. Then at the last second there is a slight shift and things look slightly less sharp to me. The first pic is from as it loads (sharper) and then the second pic (LessSharp) is the final render of the preview. From what I can tell though the images are fine when I export them so maybe it's just a preview thing. I fear it leads me to over sharpen images though.

    Has anyone seen or experienced this? Is there some setting I'm missing or something that is being applied in generating the preview. It's not apparent on every photo and you can only see it on the initial load of a preview. The next time you go back to that photo it will not shift. I notice it the most on photos of people where faces are out towards the softer edges of the lens.

    Thanks for taking a look.

    Sharper (Loading)
    [​IMG]

    LessSharp (Loaded)
    [​IMG]
     
  2. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #2
    maybe it compresses the photo when previewing (while loading the RAW file), and then goes to the real file..? I haven't noticed this before. Are you shooting in RAW or jpeg? What are the preview settings at?

    Also, to tell you the truth, i cannot notice a difference..? perhaps due to the fact they are both jpegs due to the internet..?

    oh and that is an awesome photo!
     
  3. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

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    #3

    I have noticed the same thing as well!!! I always figured it was just a preview thing, but I swear that sometimes the final exports as full size JPEGS look softer than displayed while in Aperture.
     
  4. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #4
    First of all it's hard to judge "sharpness" when yo're looking at a downsampled preview. It may just be an artifact of interpolation as it displays the image as reduced resolution to fit the screen.

    Also it might be possible that the initial preview is read from the embedded JPEG, which probably has some degree of in-camera sharpening applied. Once it finishes rendering the actual RAW file, however, there is no sharpening applied and therefore the image looks slightly softer?

    Can't say 100% as I don't use aperture but it would be my guess, judging from my knowledge of LR.
     
  5. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #5
    Yeah, it's kind of hard to see in these posts. It's hard to explain as well. Maybe I'm loosing it;) I shoot in RAW. Their don't seem to be many setting in Ap 3 for the previews. The ones in preferences are set to "Don't Limit" and to the highest possible quality.

    Just to be clear. My masters are all on the computers hard drive. When I'm looking at an image in Ap 3 I'm looking at the rendered RAW file or a preview JPEG? I thought you only saw the JPEG when your master image was offline like on a external drive.

    Like I said, it's hard to explain but when I fire aperture up and click on an image it starts out very out of focus as it's loading. Then it becomes sharp and looks great and then at the last second it softens a bit. It's as if some adjustment is being added at the end of the loading sequence. From a tech standpoint does anyone know what this loading process represents. Is it the RAW file being rendered and your adjustments being applied or is it the preview being generated?

    Thanks for the help.
     
  6. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #6
    Agreed...It's impossible for anyone to tell anything by the pics I've loaded. I notice it because I've seen it dozens of times. What you said about interpolation makes sense. I was always told by my wife who is a professional graphic artist to always view images in Photoshop in 25, 50, 75, or 100% for a similar reason I believe. Don't know if there is anything to that. My screen size has not changed though and I didn't notice this with Aperture 2.

    Would their be an embedded jpeg if I only shoot in RAW? I see what you're saying but this softening happens with images that I have post processed as well. You won't notice as you are working but it's when you come back to an image for the first time that I notice it.

    I know this sounds like OCD but it's been driving me nuts. I want to know that the adjustments that I'm making in Aperture are an accurate departure from the original and I'm not over correcting sharpness because of this apparent softening.

    Thanks again.
     
  7. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #7
    Ok. I was trying to find a shot that illustrated this better. Sorry for the tiny images but I think you will be able to see what I'm talking about (I cropped them from a larger image to illustrate my point). The first pic on the left is a screenshot from the "sharpest point" during the loading process. This is an image that has already been rendered and had post processing adjustments. The second screen shot is from when the image has fully loaded in the viewer in Aperture 3. The third screen shot (from left) is from viewing the image in full screen in Aperture 3. The final screen shot on the far right is the full resolution export to my desktop.

    (BTW this images were cropped to try to be as close to the same size as possible so none are "blow up" from a small file. This is pretty accurate to what I am seeing on my screen. I know screens vary so it may not look the same to you on yours)

    Clearly the first pic (the "during loading" pic) is sharper than the second one which is the final loaded image. The third pic (the full screen view) while not as sharp does look better. This leads credence to what Ruahrc was saying in his post. The final pic on the far right (the full res export) looks the best and I'm happy with it. I know this is getting confusing but the second pic from the left (the softest) is the one I see when I'm working in Aperture 3. My concern is that I'll come back to a pic like this one day and re-correct it and perhaps oversharpen it. Or I'll not chose it for something because it looks soft. I want the image on my screen that I'm working on to be as close to what I'll actually see when exporting or printing as possible. I don't know if it's a setting or something that I'm doing or if it's just an Aperture thing:confused:

    Hope this makes some kind of sense. Thanks for helping.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #8
    So do you have your photos in an Aperture library, or are you keeping them in folders on an external, and then opening specific files in A3?

    My files look soft when "processing or loading a preview", the get sharper. These are RAW files, as that is all I work with.
     
  9. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

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    SF Bay area
    #9
    Picture No. 2 does look a bit soft. However, I tried this with several images on my system and could not duplicate this. I tried full screen to be sure that I could see any changes. When I click on an image I immediately get the low resolution jpg and a second or so later the rendered RAW.

    Try this. When viewing an image press the M key and release. This will display the master image with no processing. At the top of the screen you should see a small label appear saying "Master Image" with a small film icon. This will show the image before any processing. If this looks good then it must be that some sort of processing is being applied.
     
  10. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #10
    All of my photos are in an Aperture library. Mine do the same as you describe but then at the last moment of loading something shifts again and they soften a bit.
     
  11. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #11
    I've checked the master image numerous times trying to verify that I'm not just seeing things. The master image is sharper (to me) but not as sharp as the final exported image. Which makes sense because I always sharpen a little for RAWs out of my D90. As you said this is leading me to believe that some sort of adjustment is being applied either by my selection or by Aperture as the image is loading. The thing that I don't get is that the exported image looks fine. It looks better than the image I'm working with in the viewer.:confused:
     
  12. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

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    #12
    hmmmm, Pop Photo mentioned that in their review....http://www.popphoto.com/software/2010/07/review-apple-aperture-3
     
  13. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #13
    Alright. I think I have found my issue. It's with the straightening tool in Aperture 3. Attached are two more of the same images. The first one is with the straightening applied and the second one is without the straightening (but all other adjustments). I know it's hard to see but this is what is softening my pic in the viewer. The second unstraightened shot is clearly sharper. After I saw it I googled it and found this thread. The discussion starts with the 5th post.

    http://discussions.apple.com/message.jspa?messageID=10951896

    I haven't found any resolution to it though. It has now become the proverbial thorn in my side. I guess my plan (since it's driving me nuts) is to leave shots unstraightened until I am done with post processing. Straightening and cropping are usually the first things I do. Like I said earlier the images look nice and sharp when I export them as a full size jpeg, tiff, or whatever so the problem only seems to be with how the Aperture viewer is rendering it after the straightening and it's not effecting the actual image that is exported.

    The worst of this is I am a habitual horizon rotator and I use the straightening tool a lot. I guess I'll really have to focus on getting a straight shot from the beginning. Can anyone else verify or duplicate this?

    Thanks
     

    Attached Files:

  14. OrangeCuse44 macrumors 65816

    OrangeCuse44

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    #14
    So I'm not crazy, this is a relief. I noticed this as well only when I do even the smallest horizon adjustment with the straightening tool. Its the only adjustment I noticed this on. I have a few vacation photos I still havent touched up because it destroys the image when I straighten it.
     
  15. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

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    #15
    Jeff;
    You are one focused dude, I'll check @ home tonight, like you my workflow is :
    -straighten
    -crop
    -then other PP

    I can easily see the sharpness diff in the 2nd pict vs 1st pict.
     
  16. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #16
    I'm glad you confirmed your sanity:) Mine is still up for debate. Following my new obsession with straightened-softness I searched for all my shots that had a straightening adjustment. It seems the ones it effects the most (or at least they are the most noticeable) are the wider shots with people or objects on the edges. Tight shots don't seem to be as noticeable to me.

    The biggest relief though is it seems to me that the straightened-softness feature does not show up when the image is exported. Do you see the same with your exported images?

    I'm not a Pro but I find it annoying that the image I'm viewing in Aperture is not an accurate representation of the output. I can understand color variations but not really this.
     
  17. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #17
    This is now driving me mad.

    I would never have noticed this, except this afternoon I was comparing RAW conversion and sharpening between Aperture and DPP side by side. Aperture's fit-to-screen image always looked softer than DPP.

    To verify if this was an Aperture problem, I exported a sharpened RAW as a TIFF. The TIFF in Preview looks sharper than Aperture when both are set to "fit to window".

    This is very frustrating since Aperture is not WYSIWYG.

    The first image is a screen cap showing both images (Aperture and TIFF) at "actual pixel" zoom. They look identical. The second image is a screen cap showing both images at "fit to window" zoom. The TIFF in Preview maintains it's sharpness while the Aperture preview does not. (Just look at the texture of the water or the orange stripe on the boat). BTW, DPP looks like the TIFF.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. jabbott macrumors 6502

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    #18
    I have noticed a similar but different issue with Aperture 3... Bright lights of varying color have a tendency to get harshly delineated after Camera Raw has processed the RAW photo. Here is an example - note the purple/cyan light at the top-center of the donkey's back. The original CR2 file looked much less harsh (no hard lines between the purple and the cyan) when being imported via DPP. I also noticed that the colors did not look harsh while the photo was loading - only after Aperture finished loading the photo. The bizarre thing is that when I pressed M to show the "unprocessed" master, it still showed the harshly colored lines! I think M isn't truly "unprocessed" but is instead the first version of what Camera Raw outputs before any adjustments are made. I've contacted Apple about the issue but haven't heard back. Maybe I should do what everyone else does and just email Steve Jobs about it. :p
     
  19. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #19
    I wonder if that't the same problem as my friend had with this photo... http://seanmunro.zenfolio.com/p826922741/e142b65df

    Note the purple tinge on the lights.

    Here's my photo of the same thing (no purple)
    http://chrismccormack.zenfolio.com/p522354501/e2eabe1ba

    We both use a 7D, both use Aperture, but he shot with a 50mm f1.4 and I used a 17-55mm f2.8. What lens did you use? Could it have something to do with the 50mm and Aperture?

    Oh, by the way, stop hijacking this thread! :p :D
     
  20. macrumormonger macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Among other reasons, this is one of them why I ditched A3. Then LR3 seems to have the same problem of applying it's 'magic sauce' onto RAW files that end up robbing my pics of sharpness and color. Funny how it's the free Canon DPP that came with the camera is the most adept at leaving your pictures alone.
     
  21. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Is there any kind of output sharpening set up in A3? If you export the image as a smaller filesize and export it with some kind of export sharpening, it will apply that at the end and the exported TIFF will look sharper. Otherwise this softening of the image is likely from interpolation. I guess it is a matter of design philosophy, if DPP is applying some kind of sharpening to the images when viewed at less than 100% zoom, they are trying to show as much detail in the reduced filesize version. However, A3 is trying to be as neutral to the image view as possible, and thus the image will look a little soft at zoom settings less than 100% because it is not trying to accentuate detail that may or may not be there with preview sharpening. The sharpening in A3 is applied to the 100% sized image, not the reduced size preview view in the working window.

    These color problems look like color profile/RAW conversion issues. Canon DPP software has the canon-proprietary color profile in it which would (should) match the JPEG results on the camera screen. They keep this information proprietary and thus 3rd party converters need to either guess at what Canon's looks like or make their own. DPP is applying the canon-specific profile and will treat the blues/purples in one way. The default A3 or LR3 profile will treat it another way. PP decisions can affect this too- the two photos of the bridge likely have different PP applied and this can explain the difference in the color of the bridge lights.

    The banding you see on the donkey may also be a result of overexposure in a particular channel, in this case red or blue. This is similar to overexposing the highlights in a photo, where the blown out areas are losing information. If you overexpose a color channel in one part of the image the color response there may not be accurate/smooth with the surrounding areas. It is possible to blow out a color channel without overexposing the image when you have vibrant or highly saturated areas of color in your photo.

    Deep blues/purples are notoriously hard to capture accurately on DSLRs and it is no surprise that you are having trouble with this. The best or most rigorous solution is to create color-accurate profiles using a colorchecker chart, preferentially specific to the exact lighting the photo was taken under (accomplished by photographing a colorchecker chart on the scene of the photo).

    Note when I say "canon proprietary" or I mean the color profile that Canon has chosen for their cameras/files. It does not mean that it is necessarily more realistic or more accurate than a different profile- indeed often times the camera manufacturer profile is not totally accurate to real life and instead has a specific "look". There is, for example, a characteristic "Nikon green" look The only way to get it "accurate" as in true to real life is to create your own profile using a colorchecker chart. It should be pointed out, however, that color profile is a very subjective thing and if a more accurate profile is used, it may not necessarily mean a "better looking" end result- only more accurate.

    Robbing your pics of sharpness and contrast compared to what? What you see in DPP? What you see on the camera LCD? The difference is that the Canon DPP software is likely applying the in-camera settings you have to the RAW files. So if you have in your camera set up some sharpening or increased contrast/saturation (which is usually the case by default), those settings will get applied to the RAW file in DPP as well. This information is encoded into the EXIF metadata of the RAW file.

    Indeed, strictly speaking, 3rd party converters like A3 and LR3 are the best in providing you with an image that is untainted or unadulterated as possible, the most true representation of the raw readout of the sensor. From here you have maximum control and freedom to make your own creative choices to produce the result you desire. If a strict replication of what the in-camera processing engine does is what you are after, then the DPP software is the best and only choice for this, given that it is the only software that uses Canon's proprietary algorithms and processing.

    But, as this encoded metadata is proprietary and only Canon knows how to access/use it, LR and Aperture and other 3rd party RAW converters cannot read it and thus when you open the files in LR3 or Aperture, there is no enhanced contrast or sharpening applied, you have to apply it yourself. An analogous alternative would be to set up an import preset that boosted sharpness/contrast in the RAW files when you imported them, as it's essentially what DPP is doing.

    Ruahrc
     
  22. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #22
    No.

    That appears to be the case, however, I would argue that there's no value in doing what Aperture's doing... Having a "fit to screen" preview that is not representative of the actual image. It leads you to believe your image is soft, when, in fact, it is sharp. It's an extremely poor design decision in my view. All the other adjustments are reflected on the image regardless of zoom... to not show the effects of sharpening, is absolute nonsense. I wonder how many people are over sharpening their images as a result?
     
  23. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #23
    Well it seems to be a little misleading because you cannot really judge the true sharpness of an image when you're not viewing it at 100%, as you will never be seeing all the available detail. It's not right to judge the sharpness of an image when only viewed at 50% size because you are not seeing what detail is really there. It makes sense to judge other adjustments (like color or contrast) when viewing at less than 100% because their effects can be judged on an interpolated version of the image.

    If I am understanding you correctly, you want to know if your image is sharp or not by viewing it at less than 100% magnification?

    If A3 is "supposed to" sharpen the image at fit-to-window size, then it is possible people will overestimate the sharpness of the image and actually undersharpen.

    It is possible that there is still some kind of output sharpening is being applied to the image upon export. Did you try the following:

    Take a full-sized image, export it at 1024x768 (or some other arbitrary resolution) from A3. Export it again at full size. Open the full sized export in photoshop, and resize it down to the same size as the reduced size image you made from A3. Test the different interpolation algorithms (bilinear, bicubic, etc). How do they compare?

    Do any of the algorithms provide the sharper result that A3 does? If not, there is likely some kind of built-in output sharpening that is there but just that you cannot control.
     
  24. JDDavis thread starter macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #24
    I see this still has some life. A3, to the best of my knowledge, does not apply any "extra" sharpening on export. Of course technically it applies all of your adjustments on export but I'm saying that it does not apply "extra" sharpening over what you have selected. For my original issue the culprit is the straightening tool. It's been documented in several other forums and I've seen it happen dozens of times for me in A3. The image, in some cases, becomes "less sharp" after using the straightening tool. I'm not a technical expert so I don't know how to describe it accurately but I imagine it has something to do with how A3 renders the preview after you use the straightener. It doesn't happen on every image or at least it's not noticeable. It seems more noticeable on wider shots than on close ups.

    My issue with it all is that the preview you are using to edit with in a non-destructive editor like A3 should accurately represent the final export. You don't have a final image till you export it in to some format so the whole point of it all is to know what you are getting. The only reason this problem has not caused me to over sharpen is that from the beginning (A2) with my D90 I established what was my "normal" sharpening. I shoot in RAW and import directly into A3 so the image is basically neutral. Since I now know of the straightening softener feature of A3 I know watch for it and just trust my sharpening preset. It is annoying knowing that it could effect some of my image previews. The bigger danger is me browsing the library looking for an image to use for something and passing one up because I think it's not sharp enough when it is.
     
  25. jabbott macrumors 6502

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    #25
    Did not mean to hijack, just wanted to let others know that Aperture appears to be causing more than just sharpness issues with its Camera Raw implementation (compared to DPP). Here is a side-by-side comparison of Aperture vs. DPP for the purple/cyan highlight I mentioned previously.

    I shot the photo in question with an EOS Rebel T2i and a 50mm f/1.4 USM. It is interesting that your friend experienced a similar "purple blowout" issue with the same lens (and practically the same CMOS sensor). Perhaps for future shoots I will import the CR2 file with DPP first and then let Aperture work with a 16-bit TIFF instead.

    By the way - Ruahrc, thank you very much for the information you've provided - it is very informative both for sharpness and color.
     

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