D70 vs P&S cameras: in-camera sharpening.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Bryn James, Dec 7, 2004.

  1. Bryn James

    Bryn James Guest

    Newbie question follows, so keep the flame throwers sheathed :)

    I watched a consumer TV programme last night where they shot a few
    indoor party scenes with a range of consumer P&S cameras, printed out
    at A4 size, and compared results with those from a Nikon D70. A
    Fuji P&S was found to be "sharper" than the D70.

    Now from what I have read here about "soft" results reported by new
    users of DSLRs, I presume this was due to more in-camera sharpening
    being applied in the consumer P&S than in the D70.

    So, here is the question: does this mean that the D70 is more
    accurately outputting the detail information that is hitting the
    sensor, and that if it looks soft, that is because that is all the
    information that can be resolved? This would also mean that any
    sharpening up being applied later in the digital darkroom is
    "inventing" information that is not in the original, would it not?

    Looking forward to getting some more education about sharpening :)
    Bryn James, Dec 7, 2004
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  2. Bryn James

    Nick Beard Guest

    Depends, I have just read that Raw files are a little less sharp than an 'in
    camera cooked' Jpeg, so as to allow for post digital manipulation. So if the
    reviewers were comparing on that basis thinking that the Raw is necessarily
    superior to a Jpeg, as usual they don't know there arse from their elbow.
    The in camera sharpening on a P&S's Jpeg is perhaps tweaked to appeal to the
    average snapshooter but the slight softness of a raw file is perfect as it
    is the raw data, unassembled, allowing for post manipulation which is what
    digital is all about really, the art of light wave/rule bending,
    My 2p's worth
    Nick Beard, Dec 7, 2004
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  3. Yes indeed. The sharpening process actually throws away information, so it
    should be done only after all other adjustments.
    Andrew Koenig, Dec 7, 2004
  4. Bingo! The in-camera sharpening of the D70 is adjustable, and by default,
    isn't much.
    Sharpening doesn't "invent" detail, it brings out what is already there.
    The idea is that when two adjacent pixels (or actually pixels within a
    certain distance of each other) are different, you increase the difference.
    For example, suppose you had a row of black-and-white pixels that went like

    10 10 10 10 13 17 20 20 20 20

    This is most likely a slightly blurred edge between an area of brightness 10
    and an area of brightness 20. The sharpening algorithm will do something
    like this:

    10 10 10 10 11 19 20 20 20 20

    (increasing the difference between the 13 and the 17) or maybe even this:

    10 10 10 09 08 22 21 20 20 20

    (producing a very exaggerated edge).

    This counteracts the effects of blur from any source, within reason (the
    actual theory is quite complicated and depends on the point spread
    function). HOWEVER, it can also make edges look sharper than they were in
    the original subject, and it can produce very unnatural effects.

    Low-end digital cameras do a fixed amount of in-camera sharpening with the
    assumption that you are taking pictures under typical conditions and want a
    print between 4x6 and 8x10 inches in size. Higher-end DSLRs have adjustable
    in-camera sharpening and are not very heavy-handed; they expect you'll do
    your _real_ processing outside the camera.

    So... Comparing the "sharpness" of the D70 to a low-end digital camera is
    not a fair test. The D70 definitely captures enough detail that people can
    use it to test Nikon lenses. It just doesn't do a lot of sharpening by

    Also, the D70 has a quite aggressive noise-reduction algorithm. If you make
    a 1- or 5-second exposure with a D70, it won't be speckled the way a long
    exposure with a cheaper camera will be.

    Clear skies,

    Michael A. Covington
    Author, Astrophotography for the Amateur
    Michael A. Covington, Dec 7, 2004
  5. Bryn James

    Owamanga Guest

    Well spotted, this is typical bullshit you expect from a consumer
    program. I've seen them (being general here) get it *completely* wrong
    in other industries and in one particular experience I had about 10
    years ago, they were verging on being corrupt, selecting an obviously
    inferior brand by applying questionable and irrelevant logic.

    For a Granny, the inability to modify the sharpness setting in the D70
    'sharpening' menu might mean this program's conclusion was helpful,
    but for the rest of the world, it's trash.

    Here's a general rule on in-camera vs out of camera processing:

    ** If the same source data is made available to both algorithms, the
    out-of-camera (read Photoshop) will do a better job. It has MUCH more
    processing power, MANY more sliders for fine control, MUCH more R&D
    and is in it's 9th release, compared to version 2 of the camera

    Some things (and I believe digital zoom on non-DSLRs could fall into
    this category) are best done in-camera because they are done before
    JPEG conversion, the (zoom for example) is done on the RAW and then
    converted to JPEG. But, this really only matters if JPEG is being

    For D70, I would shoot RAW with sharpening to NONE (BTW, I am not sure
    if it would actually sharpen the RAW, or just use it as a
    recommendation for the RAW importer). Don't do any sharpening on
    import (annoying RAW thing in photoshop has this to 25% by default)
    and use a third-party sharpener plugin such as nik sharpener pro which
    asks you target output size, print rez and viewing distance and even
    scans the image to determine the correct amount and method of

    Even if you want small internet-only images, if card capacity isn't an
    issue, I'd still shoot RAW and resize them in Photoshop, the result
    has less step-artifacts than doing it in-camera.
    Owamanga, Dec 7, 2004
  6. Bryn James

    bob Guest

    Would not all operations be performed on the RAW data? I don't usually
    shoot RAW on my camera because it takes so long to write to the card.

    bob, Dec 7, 2004
  7. Bryn James

    Jim Guest

    My D70 writes RAW data very fast (as fast or faster than JPEG) because the
    camera need not process the image at all. I do all sharpening in PS after
    all other changes have been made.
    Jim, Dec 7, 2004
  8. Bryn James

    adm Guest

    Sounds like time for a nice new fast card then ! It makes a big difference
    with a D70 if you have a slow card and maove to a faster one. I used to use
    an IBM microdrive until I bought a SanDisk Ultra II CF. It's loads faster
    saving images and clearing the buffer - night and day.
    adm, Dec 7, 2004
  9. Bryn James

    Nick Beard Guest

    On My D70 I shoot raw 6.6mb and Jpeg fine 2.5mb simultainously and writing
    to card is not an issue with a buffer of 9 shots. I can rattle of 2-3 second
    bursts before the buffer is full which I rearly do and the wirite proccess
    is never an issue with the D70.
    Nick Beard, Dec 7, 2004
  10. Bryn James

    bob Guest

    I envy all you D70 guys and your fast write times. With the Coolpix 5000,
    write times are slow, and faster cards don't help. The fastest it can write
    a RAW image is measured in seconds (12, 30? I don't remember the figure),
    and a single RAW image fills the entire buffer, so it has to write one
    before you can expose the next.

    bob, Dec 7, 2004
  11. Bryn James

    Owamanga Guest

    I use 1Gb Transcend 45x cards in the D70, chosen for the price rather
    than speed (these were $85), maximum sequences I shoot are about 7-9
    frames RAW (The time it takes for a heron to take-off or land), more
    typically about 5 frames. I shoot slower than 3fps because I need time
    to reframe/focus-target or manually focus between shots. With this
    usage pattern and hardware, I've never had it fail to release the
    Owamanga, Dec 7, 2004
  12. Bryn James

    Owamanga Guest

    True. So what I mean is it probably only matters if you are shooting
    JPEG with no plans to post-process, you'll want the camera to do the
    work on the RAW and produce the JPEG as the last stage. RAW users
    don't need this, everything can (and should) wait to be done in

    Even so, read any Photoshop book and they'll tell you that sharpening
    (Unsharp mask) should be the LAST thing to happen to an image prior to
    printing it, not the first thing.

    To me, digital darkroom is the *major* advantage of going digital, so
    I have a difficult time understanding those consumers who want the
    camera to perform this step automatically, especially on a DSLR.
    I guess you don't own a D70. You still have 14 shopping days until
    Christmas. Go for it.
    Owamanga, Dec 7, 2004
  13. Bryn James

    bob Guest

    I have a wife too, and I'd like to keep her ;-)

    I feel like Homer Simpson looking at donuts every time I walk into Best
    Buy. Mmmmmm -- D70.

    bob, Dec 7, 2004
  14. Bryn James

    adm Guest

    Buy it as a Christmas present for her.
    adm, Dec 7, 2004
  15. Bryn James

    Owamanga Guest

    She'd look better in pictures taken by the D70!
    Indeed, and it doesn't stop once you've bought the body.
    Owamanga, Dec 7, 2004
  16. Bryn James

    bob Guest

    Now that I'm seriously considering the D70, I'm wishing I hadn't sold off
    the 180 2.8 AF and the 35-70 2.8 AF...

    bob, Dec 7, 2004
  17. Bryn James

    sid derra Guest

    indeed - thats a pity - maybe you can get a similar deal on ebay like when
    you let them go... and if you are getting in trouble with your wife, you can
    always send her over to rpd - we will take the blame of leading you on ;-)
    sid derra, Dec 7, 2004
  18. Bryn James

    Owamanga Guest

    Yes, and when it doesn't fit in her handbag/purse, offer to swap.

    Always be the gentleman.
    Owamanga, Dec 7, 2004
  19. Bryn James

    Ed Ruf Guest

    Except one can modify the sharpness setting in the D70. As I did with my
    5700, I set it to none.

    Raw is just that. No image adjustment.
    I'd disagree with this and shoot smaller size fine quality jpegs. IFF this
    was the only destination for the photos.
    Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    Ed Ruf, Dec 8, 2004
  20. Bryn James

    Ed Ruf Guest

    ???? How do you do this? The combo setting raw + basic jpeg, not fine.
    Ed Ruf Lifetime AMA# 344007 ()
    Ed Ruf, Dec 8, 2004
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