12 Replies Latest reply on Sep 5, 2009 6:52 AM by gillimoore

    Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?

    gillimoore

      My problem is getting my shots (Nikon D80 & Nikon Lenses + Tripod) through the Alamy quality control barrier!  I have had three rejections so far.  I am following the workflow suggested in Martin Evening's book on CS4 which suggests that CS4 camera Raw is the place to sharpen images.

       

      On close inspection I have identified the following: 

      1. The raw files when viewed in Bridge look soft even when I wait for a few seconds for the laptop to pick up (Vostro 1720 with truelife screen)
      2. When clicked onto 100% view they look sharp, this is the criteria I use to open them in camera raw but dont understand why the first view (hitting the space bar in bridge) isnt sharp.
      3. When opened in Camera Raw they look soft and that's when I have to try to fix
      4. Using the Clarity Contrast and Sharpening sliders I can never seem to regain the sharpness viewed in the Bridge view
      5. The Raw preferences are set to sharpen all images

      My issue seems to be with my workflow rather than the images shot.

      If someone could assist me with this I would be really grateful.  I have not included pictures as they are 5mb+ at jpeg.

        • 1. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
          Bill_Janes Level 2
          The raw files when viewed in Bridge look soft even when I wait for a few seconds for the laptop to pick up (Vostro 1720 with truelife screen)
          1. When clicked onto 100% view they look sharp, this is the criteria I use to open them in camera raw but dont understand why the first view (hitting the space bar in bridge) isnt sharp.

          The initial previews of the raw files use the thumbnail embedded in the raw file by the camera. If you look carefully, these thumbnails are surrounded by a black border. As Bridge builds high quality thumbnails using Camera Raw with the current ACR settings, the black border is removed. This process is best seen if you purge the cache for a folder containing many images (Tools, Cache, Purge cache for folder) and then watch the thumbnails as the cache is rebuilt.

           

          1. When clicked onto 100% view they look sharp, this is the criteria I use to open them in camera raw but dont understand why the first view (hitting the space bar in bridge) isnt sharp.
          2. When opened in Camera Raw they look soft and that's when I have to try to fix
          3. Using the Clarity Contrast and Sharpening sliders I can never seem to regain the sharpness viewed in the Bridge view
          4. The Raw preferences are set to sharpen all images

          My issue seems to be with my workflow rather than the images shot.

          If someone could assist me with this I would be really grateful.  I have not included pictures as they are 5mb+ at jpeg.

          This behavior is puzzling. The 100% preview should show the appearance of the files when they are opened. Anyway, if the images are soft when opened with Photoshop, they are likely soft and you need to review your technique. Not all Nikon lenses are equally sharp, especially at large apertures. Your focusing may not be optimal. Manual focus is difficult to judge on an APS sized viewfinder unless you use a magnifier and autofocus may be off. Mirror lockup is necessary for maximum sharpness.

           

          If the image captured by the camera is not sharp, sharpening will not restore sharpeness that was never present. However, proper capture sharpening does improve the appearance of the image. It improves edge contrast but can not restore detail that was not present in the image. Deconvolution methods can restore some image detail, but they are difficult to use. See this link for an example:

           

          http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/image-restoration1/

           

          You could use usendit (www.usendit.com) to upload a NEF for review by users of the forum. This service is free.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
            Jeff Schewe Level 5

            gillimoore wrote:

             

            Using the Clarity Contrast and Sharpening sliders I can never seem to regain the sharpness viewed in the Bridge view

             

            First off, forget Clarity as it's much more of the tone control than a sharpening control. The 5 sliders you need to learn how to use are all in the Detail panel; Amount, Radius, Detail, Masking and Luminance Noise Reduction. You also need to be at a 100% (1:1) zoom in Camera Raw to be able to see the results of adjusting the sliders. The most important slider to adjust (I do it first) is the Radius slider...if you have high frequency textural detail you'll want a setting under 1.0. If you are sharpening people or a low frequency image, then a settings above 1.0 is needed.

             

            As for the rest, it's kinda hard to give you too much help since we don't know the image type not the settings you are using. But the odds are you need practice making the adjustments for optimal capture sharpening.

            • 3. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
              gillimoore Level 1

              Bill, many thanks for the comments, help and suggestions, I will post one of my files and see what comments come from this.

               

              Should the image in camera raw at 100% be identical to the image in Bridge at 100%?

              • 4. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
                gillimoore Level 1

                Thanks for this Jeff.  One of the things that Alamy wants is an interpolated image which translates into a tiff of 48mb min.  I know that increasing the size of the file (interpolating) will soften the image.  I guess sharpening is done after the increasing in size?

                • 5. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
                  Bill_Janes Level 2

                  One of the things that Alamy wants is an interpolated image which translates into a tiff of 48mb min.  I know that increasing the size of the file (interpolating) will soften the image.  I guess sharpening is done after the increasing in size?

                   

                  I'm assuming that they are talking about 8 bit files. With a 10M camera you would get a 30M 8 bit file. A higher resolution camera would be the best solution, but if cost does not allow that at present, you might consider stitching together several images. This works well for landscapes where there is not a lot of subject motion. You might try using the camera in portrait orientation (long axis of the image perpendicular to the ground), take three images with some overlap, and then stitch them together. Specialized programs are available for this purpose, but PSCS4 works relatively well. See this thread on LL for a discussion.

                  http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?s=&showtopic=37346&view=findpost&p=307444

                   

                  For images you already have, you could try a deconvolution method such as the Richardson-Lucy algorithm that Roger Clark discusses in the article whose link I gave previously. He claims that this will allow him to double the lateral dimension of the image, which would increase the pixel count by a factor of 4. Unfortunately, I am aware of no R-L plugin for Photoshop. Roger uses the astronomical program ImagesPlus, which costs $210. A demo is available. Iris is another astronomical program that is free ware and has R-L as well as some other sophisticated algorithms.

                   

                  http://www.astrosurf.com/buil/iris/new533/new533_us.htm

                   

                  The problem with deconvolution is that a point spread function (PSF) describing the mechanism that produces the blurring is necessary in order to undo the blurring. This can be derived for astronomical images by the methods outlined in the Iris documentation, but is not so simple for routine photography. Roger has derived his settings empirically. Other than from Roger, I have not seen much enthusiasm for deconvoluiton in normal terrestrial photography.

                  • 6. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
                    Bill_Janes Level 2

                    gillimoore wrote:

                     

                    Bill, many thanks for the comments, help and suggestions, I will post one of my files and see what comments come from this.

                     

                    Should the image in camera raw at 100% be identical to the image in Bridge at 100%?

                     

                    I will await your posting. Since camera raw generates the previews in Bridge, they should be very similar if not identical to the ACR image, but you have to have Bridge configured to build 100% previews. You should ask Jeff--he is the expert in this area.

                    • 7. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
                      gillimoore Level 1

                      www.usendit.com  comes up with the IBM USA website??  Should I be looking somplace else?

                      • 9. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
                        john cornicello (retired) Level 4

                        As I remember correctly, Alamy doesn't want output sharpening, or very minor sharpening. That should be left up to the end user who purchases/licenses the image. The output sharpening would depend on how the image is to be used. A bit of input sharpening may be OK.

                         

                        What resample method are you using when upsizing the images? I've used bicubic with no sharpening and have not had any rejections from Alamy.

                        • 10. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
                          gillimoore Level 1

                          John ...I open the raw image from the Nikon D80 into ACR with Adobe 1998 8 bits per channel and an initial size of 5120x 3427 & sharpen for none.

                          It gets adjusted and then opened in photoshop where its upsized to about 5500 x 3600.  I have tried both bicubic and bicubic smoother.  I have looked on the Alamy forums and it gives the impression that some of the selection process is a tad hit and miss.  I'm going to send another submission in this weekend and see what comes up.  Many thanks for the help.

                          • 11. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
                            Jeff Schewe Level 5

                            gillimoore wrote:

                             

                            ...an initial size of 5120x 3427 & sharpen for none.

                             

                            Uh, "sharpen for none"?

                             

                            So, it's not clear...are you or are you not applying capture sharpening in Camera Raw? What settings are you using for various image types; landscapes or portrait or product shots?

                            • 12. Re: Sharpening Raw files: what am I doing wrong?
                              gillimoore Level 1

                              In the ACR workflow options I pick the following:

                              • Adobe RGB1998
                              • 8 bits/channel
                              • 5120x3427
                              • 300 Pixels/inch
                              • Sharpen for none which gives the other options of sharpen for screen, glossy or matte

                               

                              in the camera raw preferences I have Apply sharpening for  all images chosen.

                               

                              THe kind of images I shoot are mainly landscapes & macro flowers.  I have not changed settings for various types as I'm just trying to get the workflow working before making alterations.

                              thanks Gill