18 Replies Latest reply on Jul 22, 2014 8:36 PM by MRPin1963

    Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.

    MRPin1963 Level 1

      I have a Nikon D800, but its raw files appear quite sharp using Nikon software, but too soft when using Adobe camera raw.

       

      This does not happen with my Fuji XE-2, which has a smaller sensor, less megapixels and yet routinely yields images of outstanding quality.

       

      Is there some way to make the Nikon D800 raw files look as sharp as they ought to in Photoshop?

       

      Is there some codec incompatibility between Nikon cameras and Adobe products, perhaps?

       

      I'll appreciate any input.

       

      ML

        • 1. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
          Yammer Level 4

          Perfectly sharp for me and my D800. Maybe your settings aren't correct? Have you changed the image sizing in the workflow options? Or the default sharpening settings?

          workflow.jpg

          sharpen.jpg

          • 2. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
            MRPin1963 Level 1

            Thanks for the tip; I'm kicking myself for overlooking this one.

             

            I've tried it and it does help, but not as much as I expected.  Maybe I'm just too focused on sharpness, but the difference between monitor outputs in both Capture NX-D and ACR is, indeed, noticeable.

             

            It is obvious that the sharpness data are contained in the NEF file, but, for some reason, ACR does not access them.  I tried the latest NEF codec from Nikon, to no avail, so I'm still stumped.

             

            So far, the only thing that works is taking all the ACR sharpness adjustments (amount, radius and detail) almost to the max, which I fear my compromise overall image quality a bit.  Maybe it all comes down to whether one likes a slightly blurry image better than a slightly noisy one, or vice versa.

            • 3. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
              Yammer Level 4

              MRPin1963 wrote:

               

              Thanks for the tip; I'm kicking myself for overlooking this one.

               

              I've tried it and it does help, but not as much as I expected.  Maybe I'm just too focused on sharpness, but the difference between monitor outputs in both Capture NX-D and ACR is, indeed, noticeable.

               

              It is obvious that the sharpness data are contained in the NEF file, but, for some reason, ACR does not access them.  I tried the latest NEF codec from Nikon, to no avail, so I'm still stumped.

               

              So far, the only thing that works is taking all the ACR sharpness adjustments (amount, radius and detail) almost to the max, which I fear my compromise overall image quality a bit.  Maybe it all comes down to whether one likes a slightly blurry image better than a slightly noisy one, or vice versa.

               

              You shouldn't have to use max settings in the Details panel, that would produce an awful result. I've never used more than about 50 strength, and usually use radius between 0.5 and 1.8, and detail between 15 and 30.

               

              How are you judging sharpness? Is it the preview in Camera Raw, Bridge, or the resulting conversion in Photoshop?

              Are you using a zoom of 100% in Camera Raw (or one of the pre-set alternatives, like 66.7% or 200%), where sharpness is conveyed best? Do you have preference set to apply sharpening to 'all images'?

               

              Just to check: have you reset workplace settings to default (all unchecked)? What does it say in the blue underlined workspace settings line on an uncropped image? Have you tried resetting Camera Raw defaults? Do you have details masking set to zero?

               

              The Nikon NEF codec only applies to Windows applications which use it, like Photo Viewer. It's irrelevant to Adobe software.

               

              I would argue that in-camera sharpness settings aren't considered important in a Raw workflow, and are best ignored by Raw converters.  It's basically a proprietary instruction for the camera's image processor (or manufacturer's software application) set before capture. The idea behind Raw processing is to make these decisions after capture.

               

              The significance here is that it affects the sharpness of the NEF's embedded image preview.  If you have in-camera sharpness set to 'high', it will influence the appearance of both the embedded preview and the default rendering in View/CaptureNX. Maybe this is why you think Adobe's rendering is too soft?

               

              I tend to use a higher sharpening default than Adobe's. But, as said before, I would never go above 40-50.

              • 4. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                MRPin1963 Level 1

                The way I am judging sharpness in this case is by simultaneous comparison of two copies of the same image, one in Capturer NX-D, the other in ACR.

                 

                Now, maybe I'm overdoing this, but I set the in-camera sharpening to the max, and still no change.  Is this, perhaps, part of the problem?

                 

                The reason I am so set on this issue is that my work is oriented towards web and screen based-applications, so this level of sharpness is crucial to me, since my images are rarely printed.

                 

                Regarding the suggestions you made before, yes I have gone through all those options and fiddled with them all over the spectrum of possibilities.

                 

                I'll keep fiddling, then, to see if I can find the magic combination of settings to achieve the result I am looking for.

                • 5. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                  Yammer Level 4

                  So, you're comparing ACR with an embedded JPEG and default rendering in CaptureNX with maximum sharpening set.  ACR software will ignore the sharpening setting and use its current default, which, if you haven't changed it, will be a relatively low 25.

                   

                  I'm not sure why you'd want to do this.  It's generally a bad idea to over-sharpen at the capture stage, unless you don't intend to do any post-processing.

                   

                  If, as you say, you are shooting mainly for web and screen-based applications, your target dimensions will be much smaller than the 36MP provided by the D800, so you will be presumably be re-sampling to smaller dimensions.  This is normally where people do the critical sharpening.  A large screen image is typically less than 1MP.

                   

                  Is there any chance we can see a screen capture (at 100%) to see what you're describing?

                  • 6. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                    MRPin1963 Level 1

                    Yes, oversharpening can even make you lose some fine detail through the halo effect.

                     

                    However, even though my work entails mostly screen output, I still need humongous resolution since this work of mine entails surveillance, which means that I will often make huge blowups.  That extra bit of sharpness might mean the difference between being able to read, say, a license plate (oh, if only the software the CSI TV shows use were on the market…).

                     

                    Below you can see some captures of a picture I took with my D800 (and no, the subject of this picture is not a suspect) as seen in the NX-D and ACR windows.  There is a small difference between them, though not so noticeable in the 100% view as seen in this page.

                     

                    I now realize that part of the problem is that, at work, I use a very large, high-quality monitor, so these minute differences are effectively easier to notice.

                     

                    NX-D versions on top, ACR versions below.  In both programs, all settings are default.

                    NX-D.JPG

                    ACR.JPG

                    NX-D 100%.JPG

                     

                    ACR 100%.JPG

                    • 7. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                      Yammer Level 4

                      There's no exif with those images. What sharpening settings did you use on the ACR version? Any chance of a look at the NEF?

                      • 8. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                        MRPin1963 Level 1

                        As I stated earlier, the ACR version is seen at the plugin's default settings.

                         

                        Also, how do I upload the NEF file in this site?

                        • 9. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                          MRPin1963 Level 1

                          Ah, and one more thing:  I think that part of the answer lies in the fact that I set the in-camera sharpness at 9 (max level) and that NX-D was already applying this setting to its interpretation of my NEF files.

                           

                          This must be so since, as per recommendation, I reset the sharpness to 0 and ACR, however, shows no difference in images with or without sharpening.

                          • 10. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                            Yammer Level 4

                            MRPin1963 wrote:

                             

                            As I stated earlier, the ACR version is seen at the plugin's default settings.

                             

                            Also, how do I upload the NEF file in this site?

                            I can't see where you said that.

                            You can't upload a NEF to this site. You could use something like Dropbox or Yousendit.

                            • 11. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                              Yammer Level 4

                              MRPin1963 wrote:

                               

                              Ah, and one more thing:  I think that part of the answer lies in the fact that I set the in-camera sharpness at 9 (max level) and that NX-D was already applying this setting to its interpretation of my NEF files.

                               

                              This must be so since, as per recommendation, I reset the sharpness to 0 and ACR, however, shows no difference in images with or without sharpening.

                              If you re-read my comments above, you will see that I already said this twice...

                               

                              "The significance here is that it affects the sharpness of the NEF's embedded image preview.  If you have in-camera sharpness set to 'high', it will influence the appearance of both the embedded preview and the default rendering in View/CaptureNX. Maybe this is why you think Adobe's rendering is too soft?"

                               

                              "So, you're comparing ACR with an embedded JPEG and default rendering in CaptureNX with maximum sharpening set.  ACR software will ignore the sharpening setting and use its current default, which, if you haven't changed it, will be a relatively low 25."

                               

                              Looking at the picture you have posted above, it looks like the capture could have been sharper. The subject is slightly out of focus.  Applying maximum sharpening in-camera is one way of compensating for this, but it would be better to get more accurate focus, or use a better lens.

                               

                              If you want to recreate the in-camera sharpening, I would suggest changing the ACR default sharpening setting to 50.

                               

                              Also, do you have chromatic aberration correction enabled? This will sharpen some images at the edges too. CaptureNX will apply all in-camera settings to the default preview, including CA, vignette, and distortion as well as the Picture Control you have selected. ACR can do all these things, but you must change the defaults to see this every time.

                              • 12. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                                MRPin1963 Level 1

                                Yep, you're right.  Sorry if I thought I'd specified the bit about the default settings and yes, you had said that bit about in-camera sharpness earlier.

                                 

                                I've been going through a lot of stuff these days and have had little time to devote to my camera per se.  My apologies if I seem to have forgotten your advice.

                                 

                                However, I did find a bit of crucial info, which your last post seems to confirm:  I ran some tests and it seems my D800 is either back or front focusing, so I'll need to run some more extensive tests to determine the problem and set the AF compensation.

                                 

                                Thanks a heap for your patience and advice (and yes, chromatic aberration correction did help).

                                • 13. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                                  ssprengel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  We’d still like to see an NEF.  You can sign up for a new account at www.dropbox.com <http://www.dropbox.com>  and upload it to there, then there should be a way to create a public download link to share, here.

                                  • 14. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                                    MRPin1963 Level 1

                                    Jolly good. The NEF has the data for max in-camera sharpening.  Other than that, as Yammer stated, the picture is somewhat poorly focused, this is so since this little fellow was skittish and bolted away a microsecond after hastily shooting the picture.

                                     

                                    It was, perhaps, not the best choice for an image, but since it has piqued you curiosity, here is the link to the file by means of dropbox:

                                     

                                    Dropbox - _0005291.NEF

                                    • 15. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                                      ssprengel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      To me it looks like your 36MP camera sensor is higher resolution than your lens, so images will always look soft with it.  Nikon probably does some fancy lens-specific sharpening that makes it look optimal for that lens.  To get a reasonably sharp image you'll need to save/export at a bit lower resolution probably half or less and apply some output sharpening.

                                       

                                      Here is a version of the image in ACR where I've darkened it a bit as well as added local contrast with the Clarity slider, before applying the sharpening and noise-reduction to it:

                                      2014-07-22_095157.png

                                       

                                      Here is a central crop that has been resized down to 50% and sharpened with Screen High:

                                      _0005291_50pct.jpg

                                       

                                      I may have used too much noise-reduction because it looks a little smooth to me, still.

                                      • 16. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                                        Yammer Level 4

                                        Here's my quick observation on the NEF.

                                         

                                        You used the jack-of-all-trades 28-300 lens wide open at 300mm and ISO 3200 (which will make it a bit softer than normal).  You can see that the depth of field is quite shallow, because the head and tail of the lizard are out of focus.  The torso is sharpest, but could be sharper still if a lower ISO and smaller aperture were used. But this isn't really practical for a moving subject in a dimly lit room (1/50s is already pushing it). When you crop right down on a D800, you lose the full frame noise advantage.

                                         

                                        You get a better image with sharpness set to 40-50.  It is also slightly overexposed because of the wood brightness.  It may interest you to know that ACR actually overexposes D800 NEFs by 0.35EV.  I have a default exposure setting setting of -0.35 for mine.  Even still, if you darken the image further you recover a bit more highlight detail.  Here's a 100% crop on my system with an additional -0.4EV and a little bit of Blacks.

                                        _0005291.jpg

                                        • 17. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                                          MRPin1963 Level 1

                                          Indeed, that was, as the saying goes, my bad.  Since I often deal with surveillance situations, I now realize I have developed a "shoot fast, grab the image anyway you can and do some post on it later" philosophy for my work.  It seems I have carried some of this attitude to my non-work images (high ISO, small f numbers, etc).

                                           

                                          Great photography, on the other hand, is (whenever possible) ought to be a more thoughtful approach, less focused on capturing the shot quickly and more on how to get the best possible shot.

                                           

                                          For my non-work photography I will have to rethink my overall mode of thinking.  For my work, however, one must be ready to get the shot anyway possible and here the gecko presents an analogous situation to that of my work:  a subject and/or revealing composition which might vanish if you're not quick to press that button (though, in this case, the overall illumination was not lacking).

                                           

                                          Your insights have enabled me to see that a well thought-out shot with a decent camera is much more likely to yield a memorable image than a high-end camera used in a slipshod manner.

                                           

                                          I'll try to emulate the settings you suggested and take them as starting point for my post work, after taking the patience to use camera settings which are more conductive to sharper images.

                                           

                                          Thanks.

                                          • 18. Re: Nikon/Adobe sharpness issues.
                                            MRPin1963 Level 1

                                            Thank you so much for the illustrative examples you furnished me with.  These show that I was pointed in the right direction when doing my post in ACR.

                                             

                                            I'll start to fiddle with the parameters you suggested in order to see how my pictures fare from now on.

                                             

                                            Thanks again.