Sharpening in and out of camera compared

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Charles Gillen, Mar 16, 2006.

  1. A quick experiment the other day confirmed my belief that in-camera
    sharpening of digital images is preferable to relying totally on post-
    processing. Note: this test was done in JPEG, not RAW, in order to
    concentrate solely on the in-camera settings without the extra
    complication of RAW conversion.

    My Pentax DS offers five levels of sharpening (from minimum to maximum)
    so under controlled indoor conditions (tripod, mirror lock-up) I shot
    three tests using minimum, medium, and maximum sharpening. The lens was
    a very sharp Pentax SMC-A 28mm at F/8. All shots were then loaded into
    Paint Shop Pro for unsharp masking to enhance crispness to the clearest
    possible result before artifacts appeared.


    1) Maximum in-camera setting: benefitted from a little additional
    unsharp masking and was the best overall.

    2) Medium in-camera setting: decent, but not as crisp as 1) above.

    3) Minimum in-camera setting: no amount of extra unsharp masking in PSP
    was able to yield an image as crisp and detailed as the previous 2
    settings, and artifacts were rather bad.


    I found post-processing could not equal or surpass the crispness of my
    maximum in-camera sharpness setting. Even with the latter, I usually add
    a tiny touch of unsharp masking for the most gratifying result. All my
    unsharp masking is done in minimal increments. A digital photo without
    extra unsharp masking is like a hotdog without mustard.

    This is just one man's experience, not untested opinion. Your mileage
    may vary.
    Charles Gillen, Mar 16, 2006
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  2. Charles Gillen

    tomm42 Guest

    I still prefer, low in camera sharpening, Photoshop CS2 Smart Sharpen
    or Nik Sharpener. Haven't used USM since getting CS2. Lets me make the
    descision not the camera. I use a Nikon D200 and a Fuji S1. The Nikon
    requires +1 sharpening to et the best out of the images, the Fuji has
    sharpening turned off. With Photoshop I use Smart Sharpen with ammount
    at 99 radius at 1.

    tomm42, Mar 16, 2006
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  3. Charles Gillen

    Colin D Guest

    Just so. I am not familiar with PSP, but I doubt if it is as good at
    post-processing as Photoshop CS or CS2. In-camera sharpened jpegs are
    probably optimal in the absence of a high-end post-porcessing program.

    Colin D.
    Colin D, Mar 16, 2006
  4. PSP, now up to version 10, duplicates just about everything that Photoshop
    can do in the realm of digital image processing, at a fraction of the Adobe
    price. I've tried Photoshop and other Adobe products, but prefer the PSP
    interface which adheres more closely to the traditional Windows GUI.

    More or less, PSP is the poor man's Photoshop :^)
    Charles Gillen, Mar 17, 2006
  5. Charles Gillen

    Colin D Guest

    Agreed, but it is a question of how well PSP does its processing. It
    will sharpen, but is the algorithm as good as PS's? I don't know, but
    it may be part of the answer.

    Colin D.
    Colin D, Mar 17, 2006
  6. I found post-processing could not equal or surpass the crispness of my
    In camera sharpening *is* post process sharpening, isn't it? The camera
    captures the image from the sensor, then computer algorithms are used to
    apply sharpening. Whether those algorithms are applied by the in-camera
    computer, or a desktop running Paint Shop Pro or something, doesn't
    matter AFAICS.

    I guess it's possible that the in-camera algorithm can take into account
    physical characteristics of the sensor and lens, which an external
    program clearly cannot, and therefore get a better result. My bet is,
    though, that with the test image you took, the in-camera algorithm
    bettered your skill with Paint Shop Pro at getting a result that you
    found pleasing.
    Derek Fountain, Mar 17, 2006
  7. Charles Gillen

    RobbH Guest

    It may matter if the in-camera sharpening is applied to the image before in
    undergoes jpeg compression.
    RobbH, Mar 17, 2006
  8. Charles Gillen

    RobbH Guest

    I meant:

    It may matter if the in-camera sharpening is applied to the image before IT
    undergoes jpeg compression.
    RobbH, Mar 17, 2006
  9. Charles Gillen

    tomm42 Guest

    PSP only has unsharp mask sharpening, the new smart sharpen in
    Photoshop is much better, as is Nik Sharpener, or Fred Mirandas
    sharpening action.

    tomm42, Mar 17, 2006
  10. Charles Gillen

    bugbear Guest

    Since JPEG compression effectively gives some smoothing,
    the external sharpening is pretty much doomed
    to lose.

    is always going to be better than

    The ->JPEG stage is lossy.

    bugbear, Mar 17, 2006
  11. PSP-10 offers:

    - Adjust, Sharpness, Hi-pass sharpen
    - Adjust, Sharpness, Sharpen
    - Adjust, Sharpness, Sharpen more
    - Adjust, Sharpness, Unsharp mask

    and a group of edge effects as well.

    David J Taylor, Mar 17, 2006
  12. Charles Gillen

    Marvin Guest

    The plan is flawed. It says nothing about how well PSP
    would sharpen images that the camera had not already

    I do the minimum of processing in the camera. I can try
    different sharpening methods in PSP and go back to the
    original if it doesn't work well. When the camera does the
    sharpening, I don't have the option to undo it.
    Marvin, Mar 17, 2006
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