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Why Sharpness is added on Raw Import?

Jul 28, 2012 8:02 AM

Hi,

I noticed that RAW files have the Sharpness set to +25, is this normal? The corresponding Jpeg import dos not show this. 

 

any help appreciated,

John

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 28, 2012 8:06 AM   in reply to johnnf

    Yes, it is normal, this is the default; there are good technical reasons why most camera's RAW images need a little sharpening. JPGs are sharpened by the camera before you ever get your hands on them, so sharpening by your software may not be needed.

     
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    Jul 28, 2012 9:55 AM   in reply to johnnf

    It isn't so much a question of LR interfering with a Raw file, as opposed to leaving it alone.

     

    It is more that unless LR converts it, there will be no visible image at all. It is not an option for LR to just do nothing.

     

    LR has to actively build the image - and that involves (provisional) decisions about what the WB, tones, colours and pixel detail - as well as the NR and sharpening - are going to consist of. Adobe has supplied some default values for all these operations, which are considered to be acceptably neutral and generally useful as a starting point - including a base level of pixel detail enhancement. Those can be changed, for example causing either less, or more sharpening to happen INSTEAD OF the default amount.

     

    This is completely different to how LR works with a JPG or a TIFF: where the source is already a visible image with already established tones, hues and pixel detail. So it is an option in that case, for LR to simply do nothing further - and that is the default setting; to do no sharpening AS WELL AS whatever  sharpening had already happened before LR ever got involved.

     

    Analogy: say you can cut a piece of string between two and nine inches long. Three inches is the default length, and about what most people consider the minimum worthwhile piece of string to use; but if you decide to use two inches instead (the minimum in the range), we don't say that this piece of string has not been cut at all. One length or another, it is getting cut either way. That's Raw sharpening. Sharpening JPG in LR, by contrast, is like saying: here is a ready-cut piece of string that can be stretched longer by from zero up to six inches. In this case if we make it zero inches longer, we CAN say that it has not been stretched at all.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 28, 2012 10:31 AM   in reply to johnnf

    johnnf wrote:

     

    Thanks for the response. Are there any other adjustments that are done without my knowledge?

    No, of course not, the default settings are clearly visible -- the sharpness adjustment and all other adjustments is done in such a way that you know about them ... just by looking at the position of the sliders. But as Richard explains, there is no option to leave a RAW unadjusted, every raw converter has to choose some settings by which it displays your RAW. You are worried about something that isn't worth worrying about.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2012 3:46 AM   in reply to johnnf

    As for things being done "invisibly" and without being given the option to intervene, there are a few cases of this, but I think we can regard them all as either benign, or inevitable in practical terms.

     

    First, I gather that both ACR and LR have some means of "learning" the location of hot pixels and stuck pixels in the sensor. And once they do this, they appear to automatically fill these in (without having been told to do so) so that we don't ever see them. Newer camera models may have a "map pixels" function of their own, which might already have masked the problem; but in the distant past this feature was, I recall, noticeable by contrast with other converters which did not do this.

     

    Next, where a camera has a variable aspect ratio, the actual Raw dataset stored will AFAICT not differ as a result of choosing one or the other. LR (and ACR) will deliver to the user a subset of this, according to the in-camera format selection - corresponding to what is seen when we review the picture in the camera or by extracting the JPG preview which the camera has saved into the file. LR's Crop restricts itself to this artificially imposed boundary, as its largest limit, without being told to do so and with no direct way to make use of the further (perhaps perfectly usable, perhaps degraded quality) coverage which is also present in the data. There is an indirect way to get at this, though, through Adobe's "DNG Recover Edges" utility which expands the image boundary to eliminate such in-camera-defined cropping. I am not sure what the DNG conversion process - especially, with lossy DNG conversion - does to preserve this peripheral data; but for cameras with a native DNG shooting option, that should not be an issue (the utility works only on a DNG if I remember correctly). Of course a camera JPG will not contain such extras.

     

    Also, some cameras offer what may be called a "DR Expansion" or "Highlight miracle wonderousness" mode, which is recognisable because when used, the available base ISO changes. This mode in effect alters the metering such that shots become less exposed in absolute terms (shutter and aperture) while to some degree falsifying the reported ISO, and attaching some instructions for different processing of the resulting image. The camera carries out this processing automatically, brightening the image to compensate for the underexposure while rolling off the highlights so as to retain a greater degree of whites detail, than would have been retained with standard exposure and standard image processing. It does this at a very slight consequential cost in shadow noise. Sometimes Lightroom fails to support such a mode for a Raw, and the image then appears darker than has been intended - though to be fair, that is often the case anyway. In other cases, with other camera models, LR will support this mode "silently", deploying some kind of different contrast curve. IMO if one is prepared to expose so as to protect highlights in absolute terms, and then to process around the consequences of that as a routine matter, one might as well turn off such a camera mode and so retain the camera's full ISO range available.

     

    Using Embedded camera colour profile, "As Shot" WB, Auto Tone, and Auto B&W are some further examples where the workings of LR are essentially opaque to the user - [edit:] though in these cases, the result of LR's work behind the scenes IS evident in conventional slider settings (which the user can then interact with further).

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2012 4:06 AM   in reply to richardplondon

    This reply has so much useful info that it deserves to be promoted to a F.A.Q. or something similar.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2012 5:11 AM   in reply to Allan_Olesen

    Usefull thread.  I have noted on some forum posts that some folks shoot raw with the camera white balance always set on daylight.  It has always seemed to me that it makes more since to set the WB set to auto when shooting raw.  This thread seems to reinforce that notion..., or am I missing something?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2012 6:14 AM   in reply to WDKlein1000

    Well, I use auto WB too. Usually it fits very well, and if it doesn't, I can do exactly the same correction in Lightroom as I could have done in the camera. If Lightroom performs any irreversible and hidden changes due to WB settings, I am not aware of it.

     

    Light metering may be affected when using a wrong WB in camera. That could be a reason for always trying to use the correct WB, but not for always using daylight WB.

     

    On the other hand, daylight may be closest to neutral, so all three color channels in the JPG preview burn their highlights at the same exposure. But that is only a guess. And not really relevant to this thread.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2012 6:22 AM   in reply to WDKlein1000

    WDKlein1000 wrote:

     

    Usefull thread.  I have noted on some forum posts that some folks shoot raw with the camera white balance always set on daylight.  It has always seemed to me that it makes more since to set the WB set to auto when shooting raw.  This thread seems to reinforce that notion..., or am I missing something?

    AFAICT that question splits into two:

    • might you want to have access to the camera's own (often very clever and tunable) AutoWB programming and behaviour - which only passes through to LR, via the As-Shot WB, if this has been the active setting when the shot was taken? (or, if you have set up a custom WB, the same may apply)
    • What is the impact of in-camera WB as well as other in-camera image settings, on the accuracy and relevance of the in-camera RGB histogram or other warnings, in relation to actual clipping of Raw highlights? (there is no single answer or conclusion here that works the same for everyone)

     

    I have found camera AutoWB to work perfectly fine in both the above respects, taken overall, in my own circumstances. Pentax K10d and K-5, Panasonic LX1.

     
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  • Andrew Rodney
    1,391 posts
    Apr 16, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2012 6:55 AM   in reply to WDKlein1000

    WDKlein1000 wrote:

     

    Usefull thread.  I have noted on some forum posts that some folks shoot raw with the camera white balance always set on daylight.  It has always seemed to me that it makes more since to set the WB set to auto when shooting raw.  This thread seems to reinforce that notion..., or am I missing something?

    I agree with you. The WB setting on the camera only affects the JPEG. It has no effect on raw, only a metadata suggestion and every raw converter will use that data differently. Auto is a useful first guess. It might be spot on, it might be a mile off, it might be a tad off. Doesn’t matter, the raw is just that: raw. I find Auto, on my camera gets me in the ballpark. Since the setting doesn’t affect the raw, it is one less setting I have to worry about. So I stick with Auto and move on from there using the WB eyedropper and often ‘season to taste’ using Tint/Temp.

     

    In terms of sharpness and LR trying to hide something from the user, it is useful to understand that the default settings for ALL the darn sliders and options are just that, a default. You can change them and build a new default (Alt/Option click Reset). These defaults are just starting points. And like using the Auto WB, the idea is to get a reasonable start for most people who don’t initially go to the trouble of creating their own user defaults (or just pick a preset on import).

     

    All digital images need some capture sharpening. When we convert a continuous view of the world into a grid of pixels, a grid that can be vastly different in resolution, capture device, lens and so forth, there is a need to add some sharpening to over come this. The cameras do this without much control when you shoot JPEG. Scanners have traditionally provided such controls. I think the initial capture sharpening defaults are a good starting point.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 1, 2012 8:09 AM   in reply to Andrew Rodney

    Getting back to the original question.  If, for some reason, you don't want sharpness set at 25%, set it to whatever you want it to be and then save new camera defaults.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 10, 2012 5:50 AM   in reply to dj_paige

    The sharpness is an issue that worries me. I'm specifically addressing Nikon cameras. There are pre-defined profiles (which are also present in Nikon cameras) with a sharpness setting. eg. Landacape profile has a sharpness of 4, while Portrait profile has a strength of 2.

    My (enormous) doubt is: when I choose in CameraRaw one these Nikon profiles, will the image receive these sharpness values or are they overrided with the Detail options from CameraRaw? Does the Adobe Standard profile already have sharpness?

    In short, will the image receive sharpness only from the detail options or will it add even more to the sharpness from the camera profile?

     
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    Aug 10, 2012 6:48 AM   in reply to madeinlisboa

    The camera calibration profiles in ACR and LR only deal with color calibration differences, not other settings.  A Develop Preset can remember and reapply many different ACR and LR settings.   The Camera-Raw-engine internal camera profile for each and every camera that Adobe supports may have some baseline settings for things (not sure if sharpness is one of them or not, though) but values from this one internal profile it wouldn’t change when you change the file-based camera calibration profile from Adobe Standard to one of the camera-centric profiles in the Camera Calibration area at the end of the righthand panel in Develop.  If you are selecting a develop preset from the lefthand panel then what settings change depend on what was saved in the preset.

     

    You can verify what is in a file-based camera calibration profile by decompiling one to a text file using the command-line dcpTool from here:

     

    https://sites.google.com/site/chromasoft/dcpTool

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 10, 2012 7:21 AM   in reply to ssprengel

    Thank you for your answer.

     

    Let me see if I understood. You said that camera calibration profiles in ACR and LR only deal with color calibration differences.

    Does it mean that,as an example, if I shoot a portrait of someone with a in-camera Landscape profile (which has a much higher sharpness setting), selecting the Portrait profile in ACR or LR won't change the sharpness to a lower setting? That's worrisome.

     

    I honestly don't know what strength of sharpness is being applied to an image when using ACR or LR. I came from Capture NX, in which, if necessary, you specifically indicate the pre-sharp setting, overriding the sharpness value of the chosen camera profile. Here, in ACR and LR, I don't know what is happening. How do you deal with this? I mean when you shoot with a profile with high or low sharpness setting and need to have no sharpness at all?

     
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    Aug 10, 2012 7:41 AM   in reply to madeinlisboa

    For raw files, Lightroom ignores the sharpness and the other in-camera settings (except for white balance). Capture NX, being a Nikon product knows what Nikon meant for those in-camera settings to do.

     

    The sharpness that the camera applies is only to the jpeg that the camera creates, not to the raw data. (That's why it's called raw data. )

     

    You don't have to worry about determining what the camera does vs. what LR does. LR does it all. You should turn off Active D-Lighting in your camera, though, because that causes the camera to underexpose your images.

     

    Hal

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 10, 2012 7:43 AM   in reply to madeinlisboa

    madeinlisboa wrote:

     

    Does it mean that,as an example, if I shoot a portrait of someone with a in-camera Landscape profile (which has a much higher sharpness setting), selecting the Portrait profile in ACR or LR won't change the sharpness to a lower setting? That's worrisome.

    You seem to assume that the raw will have added sharpness if you shoot with the Landscape profile. That is not the case. Raw files are not sharpened. So there is no difference between the sharpness of a raw file which was shot in Landscape mode and any other mode.

     
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    Aug 10, 2012 7:58 AM   in reply to Hal P Anderson

    Hal, I have to disagree with you. When you choose a camera profile in ACR or LR, nikonwise, the saturation and contrast change substantially depending on the selected profile. My worry is that this also applies to sharpness because differences in sharpness are also part of the profiles.

     

    Allan, I know that raw files are not sharpened, but they have an assigned color profile, and this profile is the base with which you start working in ACR and LR.

    Try selecting two different color profiles in ACR or LR and you will notice significante changes in saturation and contrast.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 10, 2012 8:03 AM   in reply to madeinlisboa

    madeinlisboa wrote:

     

    How do you deal with this? I mean when you shoot with a profile with high or low sharpness setting and need to have no sharpness at all?

    It makes absolutely no difference what image setting (in-camera) you shoot with - or what that consists of - Lightroom will not change what it does. It has a default setting for what colour profile to use, and also for all other settings, including sharpening, and that is how the imported image starts out.

     

    Whatever the camera might do in "Landscape", "Portrait" or whatever - is beside the point for LR.

     

    Even when you apply an Adobe profile which happens to have a similar name to this in-camera image setting; since this (the Adobe one) is just a colour calibration profile, it oonly affects colour calibration and has no implication for sharpening.

     

    If your LR default is 25 sharpening for Raw files, that is what you will always get (initially)... regardless.

     
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    Aug 10, 2012 8:20 AM   in reply to richardplondon

    Thanks Richard! That's the answer I was looking for.

     

    By the way, regarding the Active D-Lighting Hal mentioned. Does ACR/LR ignore it? I usually have extremely good shadow recovery (without added noise) when changing Active D-Lighting dinamically in Capture NX, but i don't get results as good as those in ACR/LR because there seems not to exist compatibility with this technology. I always get more noise in order to achieve the same results.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 10, 2012 8:23 AM   in reply to madeinlisboa

    Yes. LR ignores it. You end up with an underexposed image, so you'll have extra noise.

     

    Hal

     
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    Aug 10, 2012 9:10 AM   in reply to Hal P Anderson

    I'm starting to wonder if I move to LR... I get better results with NX

     
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    Aug 10, 2012 9:30 AM   in reply to madeinlisboa

    madeinlisboa wrote:


    Allan, I know that raw files are not sharpened, but they have an assigned color profile, and this profile is the base with which you start working in ACR and LR.

    Try selecting two different color profiles in ACR or LR and you will notice significante changes in saturation and contrast.

    Yes, LR profiles will change the image, exactly as they should. That is not contradictory to what we are trying to explain to you:

    Your in-camera settings do not affect the colors in Lightroom, with exception of white balance and the white balance related tint. (And even those effects cannot be called hidden from the user since they simply move the sliders in the develop panel to the in-camera settings.)

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 10, 2012 10:10 AM   in reply to madeinlisboa

    When you select a different Adobe profile, even though the sharpening and NR parameters still show the same numbers, the general look of the image changes and this includes the local contrastiness of edge detail. The same is equally true for the local contrastiness of noise.

     

    So the appearance of the sharpening and the NR are affected, and a single default for these may not be what you want across all cases.

     

    The convenient answer may be some user presets, where each one combines the application of a given Adobe profile, with best-guess suitably varied defaults for some other LR settings also. Such a preset can be applied during import, or else later.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 10, 2012 3:27 PM   in reply to richardplondon

    Yes, the local contrastiness of edge detail is noticeable, hence my doubt if this was the result of the sharpness itself or color/contrast tuning from the profile.

    Anyway I'm going to do some tests with extreme sharpness settings (and only that, not color tuning), one without sharpness and the other with maximum sharpness and check if both look exactly the same when opened in ACR or LR.

     
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    Aug 10, 2012 11:35 PM   in reply to madeinlisboa

    You still seem to be confusing in-camera profile selection with in-Lightroom profile selection. Please understand this:

    In-camera profile selection does not affect the image colors, local contrastiness or sharpness in LR.

    In-Lightroom profile selection does affect at least some of those parameters.

     

    So a change you see after changing the profile in Lightroom does not in any way prove that you will see the same change in Lightroom after changing the profile in the camera.

     
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