Sharpening files for cameras with smaller photo sites
I'm interested in a discussion of sharpening especially considering the larger files and potential for cropping.
We've got an increasing trend to cameras with smaller photo sites packing more pixels into an image. The D800 is the high end, but photo sites are about the same as the D7000. The smallest photo sites are on the Nikon 1 cameras. With all these cameras we are downsizing to a standard size print. We've even got some situations for highly cropped images where the Nikon 1 may put the most pixels on the subject. So with smaller pixels, what's the impact on sharpening.
There are potentially two iterations of sharpening. The first - capture sharpening - is intended to sharpen the image to the point where it looks good but has not been enhanced for final presentation. In any event capture sharpening needs to be used lightly - or some don't use it at all.
My initial thought is that settings for Intensity will be largely unchanged. Since intensity refers to the strength of the effect, I don't see a difference based on camera sensor.
I do see a potential change in the Radius. Since radius is related to pixels, and pixels are smaller, radius might go a little higher for the same impact with high megapixel cameras. I've seen a bit of this with the D7000.
Threshold will likely be unchanged since it refers to the amount of contrast required before sharpening is applied.
High Pass sharpening is heavily based on pixel size since it creates sharpening at high contrast edges. My take is just as radius changes, you will increase the radius of High Pass sharpening. At a Nikon School class on CNX2, the instructor suggested setting radius equal to teh number of pixels in the camera's full sized image, then use opacity to adjust the strength. In Capture NX2 that would be a setting of 12 for a D300, 10 for a V1, 16 for a D7000 or D4, and 36 for a D800/800E. I find this can be a little strong for my taste and prefer a setting of 50-60% of pixels and then use opacity as needed.
Sharpening for final presentation
Especially with images that are resized, I find that additional sharpening may be required. This is especially true if an image is reduced in size as the pixels that create sharpening are combined reducing their impact. Given the large image size of the D800 file, downsizing will be a normal part of processing so I expect to need a bit more sharpening for 8x10 prints.
Given that we have so much latitude to crop images, we have a wide range of potential image sizes even from the same camera. My take is we need to look at final presentation after resizing to understand the true size of our image for final sharpening.
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#1. "RE: Sharpening files for cameras with smaller photo sites" | In response to Reply # 0elec164 Nikonian since 15th Jan 2009Mon 19-Mar-12 01:24 AM
Eric, you bring up an interesting topic.
It's been a while since I read through Real World Sharpening, and perhaps it's time to give it a read through again.
But this is something I've been thinking about since learning of Nikon introducing the D800/D800e and the ensuing debate. Not so much because of the much higher pixel count, which in itself is certainly relevant. In fact since acquiring my D7000 I've been wondering about sharpening settings, especially with all the comments and discussions about image softness by many since the release of the D7000.
A common theme and often repeated in the book was that when sharpening one needs to remain cognizant of the source and content, which will then dictate your sharpening workflow.
One thing I did take away from Real World sharpening though is that it really is an art form and not a science. And it wasn't a cook book of settings, but a tutorial on the different methods and conceptual ideas on how and when to apply them with their resulting affects on pixels. There was no hard fast rule, but one of their (well Bruce Fraser really)general rule of thumb is that the halo's of output sharpening in general should be no smaller than 1/100th and no larger than 1/50th of an inch. And one needs to keep in mind the medium for the output, such as matte paper tolerates and needs more sharpening than glossy paper. So with that in mind, it stands to reason that one would need to handle a 36MP file differently than a 12MP file for an equivalent output size.
But one thing that the book only gave a cursory mentions of is de-convolution. Photoshops Smart Sharpening is reported to use a form of it, and that is where Fraser and Schewe mention it. But it's obvious they are not big fans of it. Not because it is not effective, but they feel it's to slow and clunky. But its my understanding that de-convolution actually sharpens an image as such causes less artifacts than other methods that employ edge contrast. So I now use Smart Sharpen as a vital part of my sharpening. And I wonder if de-convolution would be a sort of equalizer between the D800 and D800e. Only time will tell once people begin to work with the cameras once they are released.
But this hopefully will create a good and informative discussion as other share their thoughts and techniques.
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#2. "RE: Sharpening files for cameras with smaller photo sites" | In response to Reply # 1walkerr Nikonian since 05th May 2002Mon 19-Mar-12 01:54 AM | edited Mon 19-Mar-12 01:57 AM by walkerr
Keep in mind that the sharpening routines they helped implement in Lightroom and ACR include deconvolution sharpening when the detail slider is pushed higher. They must have come to the determination it was good (plus it's exceedingly fast). You can definitely get incredible detail with it if you know what you're doing.
Based on my experiences with cameras lacking AA filters, I suspect deconvolution sharpening could improve the D800's results, but not close the gap. There's a different look when a camera lacks an AA filter.