Post-processing - softer or sharper images?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Applespider, Mar 5, 2006.

  1. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    I've been pondering softer v sharper images lately and wondered what the pro/semi-pro take on it was?

    What is the right amount of sharpening to use on an image? Is it entirely subjective dependent on what the subject is? Looking at various boards, I've seen some shots that look obviously sharpened and which to my eye, look entirely unnatural when run through some of the Photoshop action sequences that some people promote.

    I thought I'd try testing it and picked out an image where with a large subject, I figured the sharpening might be more obvious. I picked out one of my few 'flower' shots and ran it through one of the auto sharpening actions - although I did mask the background which became ridiculously sharp.

    Any thoughts on sharpening with this picture particularly or in general?

    Attached Files:

  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Depends on the medium, and the size of presenation.

    The lower res the presentation, and the smaller the presentation, the more sharpening it needs.

    I do a lot of flower portraits for the Web -- so I routinely mask the background and sharpen the subject to create an exaggerated depth of field effect.
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    In your two images, it seems as though one photo isn't just sharper than the other. You did something with the colour saturation or contrast or something as well, which doesn't make it only about soft vs. sharp.

    Second (the sharp photo) looks better.
  4. arogge macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2002
    The proper sharpening depends on each image and how the image is displayed. When the sharpening makes too many noticeable halos, it usually means that you've over-sharpened the image.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If I really care about the image I will apply a sharp or blur filter to selected parts of the image. The in-camera setting or the setting on the raw converter applies to the whole image. Almost always you can do better. For example why in the world would you want to apply _any_ sharpening to a clear blue sky? But almost always it helps to apply a hard sharpening filter to the puple of an eye on either people or amimals. and then there is the grey area between.

    If applying a filter to the entire image. I'll sharpen it untill the efect is noticable then back off a bit. I concider what you do in camera or in conversion to be a "baseline" and so don't want to do much other then simple corrections.

    Sharpennin always adds noise so if you have an image with narrow depth of field, you would not want to sharpen the outof focus areas but only the in-focal detailed area
    Also sometimes I'll use less saturation on the background as a way to make collor look brighter on the subject.
  6. sjl macrumors 6502


    Sep 15, 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    Funny... I reckon the first one looks better. The second one has very obvious halos around most of the colour transitions (well, they're obvious to me), which I find very off-putting.

    Just goes to show: ask N people about something like this, and you'll get N different opinions. :p
  7. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

    Aug 27, 2003
    To add to the confusion, I do like the second one for the sharpness, but the first one for the color.

    Just my <insert your choice of insignificant amount of currency here>
  8. emaja macrumors 68000

    May 3, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I am certainly no expert, but the first photo looks better to me. I would probably blur the background as mentioned to bring the subject out more.

    The second photo has something different with the color, but that aside, the first photo is more pleasing to me.

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