Nikon D80 sharpness

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Just D, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. Just D

    Just D Guest

    It's not always possible to save NEF images especially during long trips
    where each GByte on the card is the last. :) Some people are always using
    JPG, for example I've seen than on the Ken's Rockwell web site.

    I noticed that when I shoot large JPG files with the maximum available
    quality the sharpness from my point of view is not enough, probably because
    of the program using by this camera. If it "notices" faces it switches to
    the portrait mode making the images softer. Sometimes I even can't explain
    why the images are looking so soft regardless of the number of details that
    I'm expecting to see on them.

    To resolve this issue I made several tests and finally switched the camera
    sharpness forever to +2. The images became a little bit larger, but not
    dramatically, I think because of the details remaining in the files. That's
    good, we can always destroy these details using computer. But what's the
    downside of always keeping the camera sharpness +2?

    I remember one thread in this NG a few month ago when somebody compared the
    sharpness of the Canons and the Nikons in jpg mode. Nikons were usually
    softer in the same environment making images under the same conditions. From
    another side both RAW files were pretty close telling us that the final
    sharpness of the images is nothing else but the JPG compression. Somebody
    even recommended to correct the sharpness in Nikon to get similar JPG

    Does anybody has any good recommendations based on his own experience? Maybe
    some statistics? Maybe there are some traps noticed when we switch the
    sharpness to maximum? I'm not talking now about images where softness is
    required, no, there are the number of the situations like these. But for
    example if I want to shoot the image with the maximum details available and
    the Auto mode is not able to give it to me...

    So please give me any good advice.

    Just D.
    Just D, Apr 11, 2007
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  2. Just D

    Just D Guest

    I just re-thought my own question. Maybe it can be simplified to: "Is it
    easy to get a soft image from the sharp one and backwards, to get a sharp
    image form the soft one? I guess that the first way is easier than the
    second one where the original JPG image received from the camera is not
    having enough details because they have been lost during compression. Maybe
    I'm wrong.

    Just D.
    Just D, Apr 11, 2007
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  3. Just D

    Ed Ruf Guest

    The first question is do you want straight out of the camera images or
    is some minor touchup ok? Ideally, you want your main sharpening to
    be the last operation. Back with my old CP-990 and 5700 I would shoot
    the largest highest quality jpgs with all other in cameral processing
    turned off. An issue with in camera processing is that the results
    can/may be subject dependent, so you have no real way of anticipating
    the action. You might consider giving up on all the Auto and
    Variprogram modes and just shoot shutter/aperture priority or fully
    manual and turn off all in camera processing when shooting jpgs. That
    will give you the most information to start with for post processing.
    Ed Ruf ()
    Ed Ruf, Apr 11, 2007
  4. Just D

    Westy Guest

    I know how you feel!
    Whilst the D80 is known to have rather 'conservative' sharpening
    algorithms, this may also be down to your technique and/or lenses.
    You may introduce objectionable artifacts in your images e.g. 'halo'
    effects and you will also increase apparent noise esp. at high ISO
    Yes quite true. Personally I leave the sharpness set at +1 and then
    often apply some unsharp mask in Photoshop as well, but I often get
    acceptable images straight out of the camera at this setting. Also,
    good lenses make a big difference I find.
    You have not stated the lenses etc you are using, but my advice is
    don't go above +1 on the in-camera sharpening.

    If you have Photoshop - better results can be obtained using 'unsharp
    mask' than in-camera sharpening will give you in most circumstances as
    you have more control. e.g. to sharpen the hair in a portrait whilst
    leaving the skin tones fairly soft, you can apply unsharp mask using a
    high 'threshold' setting (only affects areas with large variation in
    adjacent pixel tone e.g. in hair and other areas of fine detail).
    Westy, Apr 11, 2007
  5. Just D

    Just D Guest

    Hi Westy!

    Thanks you for your message.
    Ok, in this case I'll need to make more field tests with 0/+1/+2 to compare
    the results.
    I usually use Nikon Picture Project for the initial import/conversion right
    after I just copied the images from the camera to the hard drive. NPP has
    several simple but convenient features allowing me to rename the files using
    the date/time, then it has "D-Lightning HS" which is very convenient for
    contrast or/and underexposed shots, and finally "Sharpening" that I had to
    use pretty often for JPG files before I changed this option. It also can
    read and export NEF files that I use for more important shots to get a
    lossless TIF file to work with it. And it's free, came from Nikon with the
    camera! :)
    That's true. It will be the next step with better lenses. I already have a
    set for macro shooting, but I'm still having several much more important
    things to do now to lose the money buying extra stuff. You asked me about
    the lenses. I'm basically using 2 kit lenses 18-55 and 55-200. As Ken
    Rockwell said he likes them more than some others, even more expensive ones.
    Thanks, I will play with this setting again to get a better result. But I
    guess you're right giving me this advice.
    True. It's important to hide all skin defects showing the hairs at the same
    Yes, that's good, you're right here.

    Just D.
    Just D, Apr 12, 2007
  6. Just D

    Westy Guest

    Ok I am aware of picture project but have not used it so can't comment
    on it's capability. All I can say is that Photoshop's unsharp mask
    tool is much more flexible than the in camera sharpening as you can
    adjust the parameters seperately. But yes - it's expensive - and it
    all takes time.
    Ok - firstly - don't take what Ken Rockwell says as gospel. He is
    controversial and contradictory to say the least. Get a second
    opinion on everything he says.

    Secondly, I can't understate how much difference good lenses can
    make. I have used such lenses as the 18-55 and especially the 18-70
    lens (came with my D70) and whilst they are respectible 'kit' lenses
    have now traded up to better lenses as more cash became available. In
    my opinion, lenses such as the 18-55 don't really do cameras such as
    the D80 justice in most circumstances and end up being the limiting
    factor - you end up trying to create sharpness 'artificially'. If you
    go to your local camera shop and try a few higher quality lense you'll
    probably see what I mean.
    Well it's just my take on the matter. There is no right or wrong at
    the end of the day, but if you consistently use +2 - expect to see the
    occasional odd effect creeping into some of your images.
    Westy, Apr 12, 2007
  7. Just D

    AK Guest

    I'm curious - I have the 18 - 70 kit lens, which, as you say, is quite
    respectible. I bought the 50 mm f/1.8 fixed focus lens which definitely
    seems sharper - what lens(es) do you use to replace the 18-70mm lens?

    AK, Apr 13, 2007
  8. I'd choose from among the 20mm f2.8 (used from f4.5/4.8 or so - or
    if you have the D200, maybe a used 18mm f3.5 MF), 24mm f2.8,
    35mm f2, 60mm f2.8, and 85mm f1.8 - these Nikkors are top-grade
    or close full-frame lenses (an advantage for excellent evenness of
    illumination and sharpness everywhere in the smaller digital frame,
    even at wide stops). For a DX lens, the 17-55mm f2.8 Nikkor has
    a good reputation, though it is rather expensive. BTW, you may find
    my subjective lens evaluations (mostly Nikkors) interesting - at:
    David Ruether, Apr 14, 2007
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