How much sharpness is really achievable?

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#1


Since a thread created recently on TP,
(Possible faulty AF, or am I expecting too much?)
I got some emails asking if it is reasonably thinkable to come to a given
degree of sharpness.

Members have read on different occasions that I don't use sharpening
on my pictures but meticulously perform AF-Fine Tune on all of my 16
lenses and 4 bodies — 64 combos in all!

As my work is mainly meant for publishing purpose, sharpness is a very
important prerequisite element. This level of sharpness is my edge over
the tight market competition. Here, like in my hockey coaching, I advo-
cate that winners were willing to do what the losers didn't.

The following example was taken with one of the combos I use for wild-
life: an old pre-VR AF 600 mm ƒ4 (bought here incidentally!) on a D850.


This picture is a FF seen to fit in the main window of my converter




The same picture seen at 100 %




seen at 200 %




seen at 300 %




seen at 400 %



 
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Gil
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#3
No level of sharpening would get me these results at the moment. I need to look at my technique and revisit lens fine tuning as I want to get sharp images no matter the distance at 100%. Do you think I should be able to achieve that goal with my combo?
 
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#4
I've never really thought about sharpening, I just apply it as per the Canon recommendation.
Many moons ago I was led to think it was needed to overcome the effects of the AA filter.
 
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#6
How much sharpness is really required?
 
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Rich
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#7
From what I've seen, heard and read fine tuning lenses brings more grief than enough in unskilled hands.

Case of three clicks one way then four the other, this continues ad infinitum until the hapless photographer has no idea where they even started.
i'm assuming a pro like Kodiak has this down to a fine (excuse the pun) art, its not for the faint hearted

My answer to all this is to use a mirrorless camera that negates all the fine tuning business.
 
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#8
I've had reasonable success with lens fine tuning.
It's most useful with large aperture optics.
 

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#9
Well to me bokeh is more important in an image than maximum sharpness or anything like that.
I immediately noticed when I had a Fuji system that the bokeh was significantly better than Nikon and Canon I had used for several years previously.
I only sharpen slightly, if overdone it ruins the IQ somehow.
 
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#10
From what I've seen, heard and read fine tuning lenses brings more grief than enough in unskilled hands.

Case of three clicks one way then four the other, this continues ad infinitum until the hapless photographer has no idea where they even started.
i'm assuming a pro like Kodiak has this down to a fine (excuse the pun) art, its not for the faint hearted

My answer to all this is to use a mirrorless camera that negates all the fine tuning business.
I enjoyed my Sony A6300, but found that because of a lack of long lenses by Sony, using an adapted lens resulted in a requirement for fine tuning which wasn't available, which meant I ended up changing to Nikon.
 
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#11
Capture One automatically applies sharpening on all images. So, yes you do.
Hmmm! I have not used CO but surmise like LR there is a default setting for sharpening therefore if as you say it does,...........looking at Daniel's examples above that is one heck of a sharpening algorithm, too show such acuity at 400%

NB AFAIK magnifying (zooming in) to anything above 100% you are looking at individual sensor elements and the raw processors interpretation of what each sensor element has recorded. So logically the more MP on one sensor compared to another i.e. how many there are per mm2 (square millimetre) will become more significant..........so how many MP is Daniel's camera compared to, in the case of Gil's camera.

Hence factors not covered by Daniel's assertion that AF fine tuning overcomes need for PP sharpening are:-
Different sensor density
Default unmodified sharpening of the raw processor
Acceptable cropping level to maintain a sharp image.

As in a lot of such discussions ~ context is all and one person's experience does not mean it can be replicated unless the same kit and software is used (pilot error not withstanding;) )
 
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#12
How do you fine tune a lens Kodiak ?
i won't speak for kodiak system but i can tell you how i do my intitial check on a lens and body combo, essentially its what Tijuana Taxi suggested, use the direct sensor input (liveview) as the benchmark.

  • Lock down the camera on a sturdy tripod facing a nice contrasty target while wide open on the lens (there are a few tools around to help you with the distance)
  • pop the camera into live view and focus
  • Turn off live view and while looking directly at the focus scale on the lens see if there is movement oneway or another when you press the focus button (making sure to use single point focus to avoid jumping)
  • Ideally there shouldn't be but all to often with my gear there is. Sometimes the movement is so small its hard to see but you can usually feel the vibration if your careful.
  • if it needs adjustment i will change the AF micro adjustments until there is no change between liveview and normal focusing. i would then usually test on a number of subjects accross the focus range to ensure all is well.
Its much easier with large primes as the number of variables is greately reduced but ive been through the process with loads of lenses inclding some sigma offerings that allow multiple corrections at target distances and focal lengths.

I wouldnt say im a control freak when it comes to this but im somewhere on the scale of passionate enthusiast, as i shoot alot of wildlife its all to easy to miss an eye or detail focus so i want to be certain in my gear :)
 
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#13
Capture One automatically applies sharpening on all images. So, yes you do.
Not really, Elliott…

CO will not add sharpening by itself but will apply what is in the
camera model profile provided by Nikon — in my case.
 
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#14
Do you think I should be able to achieve that goal with my combo?

I think that, at this point, you have all the right information to
come to good results. BUT… there is still an unknown factor
in the equation to me and that is the quality of your lens.

I too use a long zoom and it performs correctly.
 
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#15
Many moons ago I was led to think it was needed to overcome the effects of the AA filter.

My older D800e and D810 as well as my D850 have none! :D
 
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#16
How do you fine tune a lens Kodiak ?

It is not the lens that one tunes, Ladybird, but the interaction
of the AF system of the camera and the lens.

I see in your profile that you are a Canon user and I know as
much as nothing about those. Sorry milady! :(
 
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#17
How much sharpness is really required?

In my case, the maximum, Ed. My client will some times use pictures
on their website but most are printed: leaflets, catalogues and even
magazines. ADs appreciate proper material to start with though their
final renditions may be far from the originals.
 
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#18
My answer to all this is to use a mirrorless camera that negates all the fine tuning business.

Right, Rich…
but no mirrorless can do all my DSLR can. Maybe in the next future?
 
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#19
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#20
to me bokeh is more important in an image than maximum sharpness

These two are not working one against the other
but I see them as complementary… the greater
the sharpness the more enjoyable the bokeh! :cool:
 
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#21
Having thought about it, lens fine tuning (assuming we are talking about in camera MFA) has no effect on sharpness.
 
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#22
Right, Rich…
but no mirrorless can do all my DSLR can. Maybe in the next future?
Can't argue with that, although it does do all I want, but i'm no sports or wildlife photographer.

I have had DSLR's, Canon 5D MkII was my last one and that had a AF fine tune option.
For my uses the lenses seemed fine without any adjusting, but I don't rely on photos for a living.

Still stick with my opinion that for the enthusiast fine tuning is like trying to herd cats
 
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#23
so how many MP is Daniel's camera compared to, in the case of Gil's camera.
My D850 has 45,7 MS. Gil's cropped D500 has 20,9 MS +/- similar density.
 
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#26


:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
Via email, I am asked if it is my reflection in the water drop
seen the 200 and 300 % screen shots!
 
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#27
One advantage of using the Sony A7R3 is that you don't need to fine tune the lenses. Not that I suggest you change. I also strive for ultimate sharpness, well ultimate resolution really. Sharpness is just a way to help us see resolution.

My photos tend to lack a bit of resolution because of using small apertures, but they make up for that with the subjects. I tend to use very little pp sharpening, but it can be useful.in the perception of edges.

A lot of my work with high res is now to do with 4k video or IMAX. On learning a bit about it, there is a hell of a difference between top quality 4k and just average stuff. Moving pictures change the way we perceive things.
 
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#28
Sharpness is a combination of resolution (fineness of detail) and contrast (how clearly those details are shown). Of the two, contrast contributes most to our visual perception of sharpness. A fundamental aspect of all lenses is that as resolution goes up, so contrast goes down. This is the basis of MTF lens testing (Modulation Transfer Function) as shown in those wiggly graphs that lens manufacturers produce. From this, it follows that larger sensors will always deliver higher sharpness (all other things being equal) because they require less enlargement for a given print size so the lens is working at lower resolution and contrast is increased. Basically, larger sensors don't work the lens so hard.

Adding sharpening in post-processing darkens the edges around light/dark transitions, increasing contrast to make details stand out more (but it can't add any detail that isn't there). Shooting in bright, contrasty light - as Kodiak's example - naturally adds contrast to a scene and the difference can be dramatic. Flat light in overcast conditions reduces contrast and perceived sharpness drops. The same thing happens with long lenses used at distance where atmospheric pollution basically puts a fog over the image.

To maximise sharpness:
- Use a good lens, avoid filters*
- Avoid highest f/numbers (diffraction)
- Focus accurately
- Minimise camera-shake with good hand-holding technique, image stabilisation, monopod or tripod
- Use a fast shutter speed to reduce the effects of camera-shake and subject movement blur
- Shoot in contrasty light
- Don't crop - it severely reduces all aspects of image quality
- Get a camera with a larger sensor

*Good quality filters don't usually affect sharpness, sometimes with longer lenses, but filters are prone to flare in some situations (usually strong back-lighting) and flare reduces contrast.
 
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#30
An
Sharpness is a combination of resolution (fineness of detail) and contrast (how clearly those details are shown). Of the two, contrast contributes most to our perception of sharpness. A fundamental aspect of all lenses is that as resolution goes up, so contrast goes down. This is the basis of MTF lens testing (Modulation Transfer Function) as shown in those wiggly graphs that lens manufacturers produce. From this, it follows that larger sensors will always deliver higher sharpness (all other things being equal) because they require less enlargement for a given print size so the lens is working at lower resolution and contrast is increased. Basically, larger sensors don't work the lens so hard.

Adding sharpening in post-processing darkens the edges around light/dark transitions, increasing contrast to make details stand out more (but it can't add any detail that isn't there). Shooting in bright, contrasty light - as Kodiak's example - naturally adds contrast to a scene and the difference can be dramatic. Flat light in overcast conditions reduces contrast and perceived sharpness drops. The same thing happens with long lenses used at distance where atmospheric pollution basically puts a fog over the image.

To maximise sharpness:
- Use a good lens, avoid filters*
- Avoid highest f/numbers (diffraction)
- Focus accurately
- Minimise camera-shake with good hand-holding technique, image stabilisation, monopod or tripod
- Use a fast shutter speed to reduce the effects of camera-shake and subject movement blur
- Shoot in contrasty light
- Don't crop - it severely reduces all aspects of image quality
- Get a camera with a larger sensor

*Good quality filters don't usually affect sharpness, sometimes with longer lenses, but they are prone to flare in some situations (usually strong back-lighting) and flare reduces contrast.

Avoid lowest f/numbers.
Use the lowest possible iso.
 
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#31
An

Avoid lowest f/numbers.

Use the lowest possible iso.
Fair comment (y)

I left those two off the list because it varies, though on reflection almost always true in practise :) All I would say is, don't compromise on a marginal shutter speed by chasing low ISO or a mid-range f/number.
 
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#32
I'm with you on the shutter speed thing.
Unless I need prop/panning blur I'm always going for the highest I can get. (DOF permitting)
 
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#33
Jeeze, this is kind of misleading as well IMO. I've gotten similar results with 12 and 16MP cameras.

This image was taken on a 16MP Nikon D4 using a 400/2.8 with a 2x TC... it almost certainly contains no more than 12MP actual resolution, quite possibly less.

Horned Grebe
by Steven Kersting, on Flickr
You can view it on flickr at any size and see the full exif... but it is a processed jpeg with a slight crop.

FWIW, screen resolution significantly affects how much you can enlarge an image and still have it look good on screen. I'm using a 2102 MBPr and I set LR to open in full resolution.
Here is a 400% screen grab of the image. The focus is actually slightly in front of this point, but it is the area with the finest detail available (very fine pin feathers). It's an older image that I was able to locate quickly... I think it's adequate for the comparison. It is the original NEF w/ no edits and mild default sharpening settings... I included the settings/sharpening/processing history/magnification ratio in the screen grab just to be certain there are no questions regarding them.



Again, I am quite certain that this is no more than 12MP resolution recorded. The main thing the images have in common is contrast lighting, the subject is close/relatively large in the frame (~ 30ft), and the settings didn't hurt the image. I am not saying that I cannot achieve better with my D810 and a better lens/no TC... I can, that's why I own it. But a 400/2.8 with a 2x TC on a D4 is really no better than a quality zoom on a modern 16MP crop body. At times I'm able to get similar levels of detail/sharpness from my Nikon 1 (ok, the smaller cameras do not tolerate ISO/lack of light as well).

My only point is that this isn't really about gear/resolution... it's about the situation (lighting), camera settings, and technique.
 
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