Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 26

Thread: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Kalispell Montana, mere minutes from Glacier Park
    Posts
    6,377
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 11 Times in 6 Posts
    Feedback Score
    15 (100%)

    Default Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    OK. I am fining out real quick there is a certain amount of magic (hence the hocus pocus) in getting a sharp image.

    Can someone, in laymen's terms, please define a few of these terms used in PP software?
    What is the difference between "focus" and "sharpening" as used in PP software?
    How is "emphasize edges" different from the first 2?
    What is High-pass sharpening vs any other kind of sharpening?
    Can some one make me a "sharpening list" like:
    Step one
    step 2
    step 3
    > > > and so on?
    I have gathered that sharpening is the last step in processing, am I correct?

    Why cant software companies write a freaking manual that explains the terms they use in their products? I am noticing more and more, that you cant buy anything that comes with a manual that teaches you to use the product. They are ALL written like you already have a good understanding. Thats not how it should work. If I buy something, the directions should tell me how to use it. Shouldn't it?
    Does " The Idiots Guide To Post Processing" exist yet?
    I really wish our local college would have a class, but they don't. It's a one horse town, and he went to B&W wet darkroom class :-(
    Thanks for any advice you can give a newbie.
    Jim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Near San Jose, California
    Posts
    7,240
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 61 Times in 43 Posts
    Feedback Score
    2 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Read "Real World Image Sharpening" by Bruce Fraser. It will enlighten you about all facets of post processing images for a sharp appearance. This is actually quite a complex subject, not easily addressed in a few words in a reference manual.

    Best and quickest way to top notch sharpness in a photograph:

    - A sturdy tripod
    - Critical focusing (usually manual)
    - Selection of an adequate lens opening to promote the right zone of focus
    - Proper exposure

    If you do those things, the need for post processing to enhance a sharp appearance is greatly reduced, but some is always required in the preparation of digital images. Bruce Fraser's book is very enlightening regards what you need to know to go at it with a measure of sensibility.

    Godfrey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    5,007
    Thanks
    386
    Thanked 62 Times in 56 Posts
    Feedback Score
    0

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Hey Jim I'm with you on that one.I have been meaning to ask the same question for a while now.
    You forgot to mention "Unsharp Mask"
    To add to Jims queery.
    I've noticed most of my pics are what I'd call soft despite my best effort at focusing, and exposure .Is this just the nature of digital in general?
    My pics are always lacking a certain crispness (for want of a better term).
    and I have also noticed this on many many posted pics on all the photo sites
    If focus and sharpness was so good, why would there be a need for all these sharpening programs to begin with!!!.
    .
    All these programs have features that they explain how to access in the help menus, the only problem is they don't explain the reasons for their utilization.
    David

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    5,007
    Thanks
    386
    Thanked 62 Times in 56 Posts
    Feedback Score
    0

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    I just looked up this book and here's a quote that answers my primary question.

    About the book…
    Whether you scan, shoot, or capture, the process of digitizing images introduces softness, and to get great-looking results, you’ll need to sharpen the great majority of digital images.

    To represent images digitally, we must transform them from continuous gradations of tone and color to points on a grid. In the process details gets “averaged” into the pixels, softening the overall appearance. For some types of printed output, further softness is introduced when the image pixels are converted to dots of ink or toner. As a result, just about every digital image requires sharpening.

    Wow,I'm not blind after all, and I thought it was my E-3

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Near San Jose, California
    Posts
    7,240
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 61 Times in 43 Posts
    Feedback Score
    2 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Right. Digital sharpening is part and parcel of digital image processing.

    Bruce does a very good job of explaining what it's all about and what the tools do. It *is* a complex subject.

    With a good lens, critical focus, a rock steady camera, and good exposure, the *amount* of digital sharpening required is reduced. But there is always some digital sharpening required because of the nature of the medium.

    "Sharpening" is really a misnomer in this context. You're not going to get any information into the picture that isn't there in the first place. If your focus was off, you cannot correct that with today's cameras. What you are trying to do is allow the medium to express the information there such that it appears sharp to the eye.

    Godfrey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hongkong, China
    Posts
    5,062
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    13 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    I am stupid and have a question too... what is the difference between sharpening and Unsharp Mask??

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    McKinney, Texas
    Posts
    1,849
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    2 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Look up "Photokit Sharpener" on Google, Fraser pretty much wrote that.

    There are three steps

    1. Capture Sharpen, or "refocus". Every digital capture introduces some "blur" which should be corrected very early in PP. In ACR, you can do this in the Details tab (Sharpen and Noise Reduction tools). Some folks use a mild USM (Unsharp mask) in photoshop. I'm sorry I cannot help with other software programs. This step is especially needed if you rotated or straightened the captured image, (and even more critical if you rotated other than 90 degrees).

    2. Creative Sharpening. I use Smart Sharpen in photoshop for this, with usually a very mild preset, and narrow radius. I add masking as needed to confine the effect. Photokit uses variations of photoshop sharpening tools to get similar results

    3. Output sharpening. Each image should be sharpened for final output after all other post processing steps. The type and amount of sharpening varies with the image size and pixel density, and the intended output medium, i.e. print or web or a saved file. I use Photokit Output sharpeners here, but with a very low opacity (usually only 15%) on light and dark contours.

    Realize that "sharpening" in effect just increases contrast of dark and light areas that are adjacent (an edge, or in some cases "detail" within the image that provides texture and definition). That is why some sharpening tools like in Camera Raw have sliders to adjust the effect for edges and/or details within the image.

    One source that explains sharpening in plain English is "Photoshop CS3 for Nature Photographers" by Ellen Anon and Tim Grey. See pages 335 through 345.

    Peter

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    McKinney, Texas
    Posts
    1,849
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    2 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Quote Originally Posted by Johannes View Post
    I am stupid and have a question too... what is the difference between sharpening and Unsharp Mask??
    sharpening is the process, unsharp mask or USM is just one tool (in Photoshop) used to achieve sharpening.

    Peter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Kalispell Montana, mere minutes from Glacier Park
    Posts
    6,377
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 11 Times in 6 Posts
    Feedback Score
    15 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    QUTOE
    All these programs have features that they explain how to access in the help menus, the only problem is they don't explain the reasons for their utilization.
    David

    You are exactly correct, and should have added that they don't tell you HOW they do what they do either. IF I knew what all the buttons did when you clicked it, it would be much easier to chose the right clicker! :-)

    Godfrey,
    Thanks you for the reference. I have added the book to my list of must reads.
    I believe that when sharpening, it is increasing contrast between pixels to make them stand out more. IF so, then what is Focusing? PhotoImpact has a choice for "focus" and for "sharpening "at different levels. So, how are they different? then what is emphasizing edges? How does it differ from the other 2 choices? Elements 6 doesn't have a focus adjustment. (BTW I cant see any difference using the focus adjustment, maybe its a trick?)
    Maybe that book will have that kind of info in it? I am intelligent enough to figure things out if I have the information. But if I don't, it gets quite complicated and frustrating.
    Thanks again Godfrey, I have found your advice to be right on around here. I will find the book.
    Jim

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    2,017
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    2 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Jim, While not answering your main question on sharpening the best resource I ever found on processing your digital images came with RSE/RSP. The Guys who created Rawshooter software had a wonderful document showing HOW TO process your digital images. They explained what everything was for and how to use it and it is basically the closest thing to a "Dummys Guide" that I have ever seen. The real pity is that the software (and the guide) is no longer available, but a google might turn up something for you.

    Yes, I wish that all RAW workflow tools had such a guide that actually explains how to use the software.
    About Bob

    Daily Photoblog and Photography Blog

    Need somewhere to host a photo - Free Image Hosting

    E-3, HLD4, E300, HLD3, ZD11-22, ZD 14-45, ZD14-54, Sigma 30 f1.4, ZD35 Macro, ZD40-150(orig), ZD50-200, EC-14 and EX-25, fl-36.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Champlin, MN
    Posts
    513
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    31 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    RSE is available here from download.com


    I just tried it for the first time and I think my RAW vs JPEG shooting just went up...what a cool program (and free!)
    E-5, E-500
    9-18, 12-60, 14-42, 40-150, 50-200, 70-300, 50
    FL-50R, FL-36R
    I dig LR4 and Tiffen DFX software

    -Brad

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    5,007
    Thanks
    386
    Thanked 62 Times in 56 Posts
    Feedback Score
    0

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    I have been wondering from the beginning with the E-3 (my first digital cam), why my pics were soft and now I know that it is a fact of life with digital!
    Thanks for some of the answers guys!
    I am begining to think that simply working with a program or the camera itself and experimenting with the different settings and features is the real key to understanding what you can do and how to do it.Time consuming yes, but hands on experience and pratice is the best teacher.
    Like all other products everyone has their own likes and dislikes(that's what makes the world go round).
    After reading the 'What PP software do you use' thread, and seeing what different interpretations people have been coming up with on the 'What can you do with my photo' thread, it has become very obvious that there
    are more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak.
    ( I really hate that expression BTW)!
    David

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Pine Valley, CA USA
    Posts
    1,171
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    0

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Jim: Not knowing which post processing program you're using makes it difficult to recommend a specific sharpening routine. My best advice is to skip shooting RAW files, and find an in-camera sharpening setting (I use +1 on my E-3) that looks good on your computer monitor. If you have to shoot RAW, use the Olympus software that came with your camera (Master?) which will implement the sharpness setting you have selected in your camera, unless you change the value by editing further. High Pass sharpening is a way to sharpen in Photoshop that minimizes the occurence of sharpening artifacts. There's a great tutorial for it on the Luminous Landscape website. As a general sharpening rule, I use the 50% method; i.e. I find a setting for sharpening that I think looks good, then I note the "amount" value and select a final value that is 50% of the value that I thought looked good. This 50% rule works for me as I tend to be heavy handed with post processing, and the rule holds true for vibrance, clarity, and saturation settings as well. Good Luck with this intriguing subject.

    Rocky

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Japan
    Posts
    3,649
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    0

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Flinchbaugh View Post
    Does " The Idiots Guide To Post Processing" exist yet?
    Yes, google for photoshop for dummies, and you'll find several versions--of course, that's for photoshop, not necessarily the program you use.

    I've looked at the various sharpening routines, but I usually use sharpening of two types/purposes: (1) broad sharpening to bring out overall contrast under flat or hazy conditions. I use USM to do this with values usually set at around 50 pixels and 20%.
    (2) Then after resizing for the web, I usually use the all-purpose "sharpening" button simply because it's simple and normally does a decent job on for-the-web shots. The full-size image I usually don't add sharpening to, since I use Qimage for printing, and it does its own sharpening, which I find to be optimum. On those rare occasions I add sharpening before saving the final, renamed full-size image, I usually use about 1-2 pixels, 80-100%, but it's really dependent on the size and nature of the image.

    In short, if you're just doing work for the web, just resize to about 800 pixels wide, then hit the generic "sharpening" button in Photoshop and see if it's pleasant to your eyes. If so, then you're done. The other forms of sharpening are good to experiment with as you've got time, but they're not critical, IMO. If you're doing a lot of printing, on the other hand, I'd recommend investing in Qimage, since it has an excellent sharpening algorithm built-in for final print sharpening.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    northern Maine
    Posts
    7,445
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    7 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    I think sharpening is a subject that one could spend a lifetime studying. There are so many different approaches and methods, and so much is dependent on what you intend to do with the image. What looks a bit soft on the computer screen may print acceptably sharp, and if you sharpen it to where it looks right on screen, the print is over sharpened. Same thing if you sharpen a full size TIFF or JPG, and then resize for the web. Jaggy city. Then factor in all the variables of shooting raw and sharpening at development, versus shooting jpg and letting the camera handle development sharpening. Its a huge subject.

    As far as focus vs. sharpening, just remember that you can sharpen an oof shot, but it will still be oof. Sometimes you can improve it, but often it looks even worse when sharpened. A well focused shot might be soft, but will sharpen beautifully, often without much being required.
    Nate

    "There's only one rule in photography - never develop colour film in chicken noodle soup." - Freeman Patterson

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Petach Tikva, Israel
    Posts
    397
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    0

    Default Sharpening after down-sizing

    Hi,

    I know it's recommended to add sharpening after down-sizing for the web. If in Photoshop I use 'Bicubic Sharper' algorithm for down-sizing, do I still have to sharpen after resizing, or is it done automatically?

    Thanks,
    Moshe

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    McKinney, Texas
    Posts
    1,849
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    2 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Moshe:

    Changing image size or pixel density does not add sharpening. Bicubic Sharpen in Photoshop is designed to maintain sharpness, but it won't add any.

    It is accepted practice to add some "output sharpening" as your last step before printing or web publishing. Some programs like the PhotoKit Sharpen program I mentioned earlier can do this, and I understand programs like Qimage (PC only) do this more or less automatically. (I have never used Qimage as I use Mac).

    Peter

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Tequesta, Florida
    Posts
    4,115
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    63 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Some late thoughts.
    I use Focus Magic for Capture Sharpening and it's done in Photoshop after raw conversion from either RSP or Lightroom. This is done in 16bit on the tiff. I much prefer it to the sharpening tools in either of my converters. I'll then typically run an USM on the image for contrast adjustment. The USM settings are 20/60/0.
    For web resizing I use the Resizing tool in FastStone Image Viewer and find it to be excellent, and free. For printing, I've found the best solution for me is Qimage.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    northern Maine
    Posts
    7,445
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    7 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Turner View Post
    Some late thoughts.
    I use Focus Magic for Capture Sharpening and it's done in Photoshop after raw conversion from either RSP or Lightroom. This is done in 16bit on the tiff. I much prefer it to the sharpening tools in either of my converters. I'll then typically run an USM on the image for contrast adjustment. The USM settings are 20/60/0.
    For web resizing I use the Resizing tool in FastStone Image Viewer and find it to be excellent, and free. For printing, I've found the best solution for me is Qimage.
    I should start a new thread to do this, but I guess its still on topic. Could you share more of your thoughts on Focus Magic, Bill? I downloaded it a while back, but never installed it. I'm interested that you think it superior to the converter sharpening tools, and wondered particularly if you think the same is true regarding Silkypix's sharpening? Do you also use it for oof, and if so, do you find it effective? Thanks in advance.
    Nate

    "There's only one rule in photography - never develop colour film in chicken noodle soup." - Freeman Patterson

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Tequesta, Florida
    Posts
    4,115
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    63 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenwing View Post
    I should start a new thread to do this, but I guess its still on topic. Could you share more of your thoughts on Focus Magic, Bill? I downloaded it a while back, but never installed it. I'm interested that you think it superior to the converter sharpening tools, and wondered particularly if you think the same is true regarding Silkypix's sharpening? Do you also use it for oof, and if so, do you find it effective? Thanks in advance.
    Nate,
    I like Focus Magic for its simplicity and results. It's, basically, a click, in most cases, and done. Rarely do I adjust more than 1 pixel. I use only the OOF tool and not for motion blur as I found that to be ineffective for general photography but it may have some applications in forensic photography.
    I have no experience with Silkypix.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    northern Maine
    Posts
    7,445
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    7 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Thanks Bill!
    Nate

    "There's only one rule in photography - never develop colour film in chicken noodle soup." - Freeman Patterson

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    20
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    0

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Jim the simple explanation I have found for sharpening and why it is needed is @ this link.
    http://ronbigelow.com/articles/sharpen1/sharpen1.html
    Snoocam
    E-620;E330:OM2s 14-54 M II; 50-200;9-18mm;14-42;Wired & wireless shutter remotes; Zukio 50mm 1.4;Several TX lenes;ETX125(1900mm f15); Katz Eye Focusing Screen; efilm popUp Hood; Metz 58 AF-1;Wireless flash remote;Tamrac Pro Digital 9 Case + spare lens&water Btl holder;

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    McKinney, Texas
    Posts
    1,849
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    Feedback Score
    2 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Turner View Post
    Nate,
    I like Focus Magic for its simplicity and results. It's, basically, a click, in most cases, and done. Rarely do I adjust more than 1 pixel. I use only the OOF tool and not for motion blur as I found that to be ineffective for general photography but it may have some applications in forensic photography.
    Bill: Ditto, only 1 or at most 2 on OOF.

    Peter

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Kalispell Montana, mere minutes from Glacier Park
    Posts
    6,377
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 11 Times in 6 Posts
    Feedback Score
    15 (100%)

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Thanks to all for the replies! I now have way to much to research :-)
    I, in the past have been using PhotoImpact v4 and Photoimpact XL, which I recently removed because it has some way goofy colors compared to the early version. I recently bought Elements 6 after my E510, figuring I was gonna need more power. Surprisingly, I get better results with the antique PI v4 (for sharpening). I think this is due to the fact that I've been using it for years. But, I also just a few weeks ago, noticed it has burn and dodge tools,that I didn't even know what they where till recently :-O. I intend to get the book from Kelby training, see here:

    http://www.kelbytraining.com/?page=product&id=113

    supposed to cut through some of the bull. Last I checked it still wasn't printed.
    I'm still working on getting my monitor calibrated as well. *sigh*, there is no end to the money pit is it?

    Thanks again
    Jim

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    5,007
    Thanks
    386
    Thanked 62 Times in 56 Posts
    Feedback Score
    0

    Default Re: Sharpness, Focus, and hocus pocus !

    Quote Originally Posted by Snoocam View Post
    Jim the simple explanation I have found for sharpening and why it is needed is @ this link.
    http://ronbigelow.com/articles/sharpen1/sharpen1.html
    Snoocam,
    Thank you so much for this link!
    I have just finished part 2 and can't believe that I am actually understaning all the tech stuff perfectly.Ron's step by step approach is one of the best tutorials I've ever read. I can't wait to explore more of his site.
    David

Similar Threads

  1. AUTO FOCUS VS MODE B 10X FOCUS ASSIST, much sharper
    By JimBarnaby in forum Site Archive
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 11-17-2006, 09:10 AM
  2. Sharpness
    By blindman in forum Site Archive
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-18-2006, 12:52 PM
  3. Sharpness
    By kengreen in forum Photos
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 08-27-2006, 01:11 AM
  4. Focus Pocus!
    By OzRay in forum Site Archive
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 03-24-2006, 01:48 PM
  5. ZD 35-100 and sharpness
    By manmachine in forum Site Archive
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 12-14-2005, 12:35 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •