Why Sharpen ?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by adrian bastin, May 2, 2006.

  1. It only disturbs the textures and clean areas.

    I don't have Photoshop but do use some functions of an HP printing
    program to desaturate, and MS Paint to clean up dust spots from
    scanning. Otherwise MS Photo Editor does everything I need.

    I'm quite happy with this. What am I missing ?
  2. Adrian - nothing if you like your results. Like all other adjustments it is purely a matter of personal taste. Like there are landscape "fine art" photographers who reject the use of filters as "not natural". I have seen excellent results but must say that the choice of film already has some influence on the image and film or digital sensors are not entirely "natural" :) So in the end - if the final image is good the way it was made is irrelevant.

    BTW: It is possible to sharpen only certain areas and leave other areas "clean".
    I have many images where I do not like any sharpening effects. Others I process a lot in PS and can not see how I would do without color workflow or sharpening to get just the effect I am after.
    Another point: Did you know that film and lenses also do "sharpening" - just by a different process?
  3. Ah, that's interesting - the selective sharpenning.

    Yes, I like the Summar for that reason - it can bring a feature into sharpness and soften everything else in a way that would be difficult to do any other way. Someone said, here, that they like film because it has PS built in.
  4. With a 50 Summicron you can see the lead work in a church window a quarter of a mile away. Sharpenning only adds noise when the detail is enlarged. It disturbs what I take to be the grain, which, with my scanner and Reala seem perfect if the lens is used to full effect.
  5. Sharpening is also an excellent way for someone to make the output from a nice Leica lens
    look like the results from a cheap digital point and shoot. Nothing screams digital like
    agressive sharpening.

    Seriously, though, a little (very little IMO) sharpening is useful to recover the inevitable loss of
    resolution that occurs with scanning. Much more than a little, and it looks like another
    picture of the week candidate.
  6. I have wondered if high res CDs are sharpenned but I can get pretty close to the same result from the same neg by scanning very large. But the CD looks jarringly sharp.
  7. Are you the 'real thing' or what. (I think that is the context Pete was was using)
  8. In that case: Peter, certainly not.
  9. Trevor. I don't know if it would work for you like it does for me but looking at a Cezaane or two really tunes up your visual system to space, colour, depth, illusion, design and, in this context, just edges.
  10. Adrian I am not really in this discussion. I was just trying to help translate what Pete was saying with his 'fair dinkum' comment.

    I don't really understand what you are all saying (as you can tell from my pictures!).

    I would prefer Turner or Van Gogh to Cezanne any day. Sorry.
  11. Just putting things in space on a flat surface; we're all doing that. But thanks for speaking up, Trevor.
  12. You know it's a really nice feeling to look at an image that is so sharp you think to yourself, "Gee, why bother trying to sharpen that up at all?"

    I get that feeling a lot with the best Leica and VC lenses. Quite often, I get pictures from my 15mm VC Heliar that are just so sharp, it would be silly to sharpen them. Same thing with the 50mm and 35mm Summicrons, and so on.
  13. Thanks Walter. There was a write-up somewhere on some digital sharpenning technology which prefered totally OOF images because it could do it more smoothly - Aaargh!

    Thanks Clay. Yes, again: aaargh! But maybe PS does it better than P Editor; even a little looks awful with that.

    And Frederick: absolutely.
  14. The point that is being missed is that you need a small to moderate amount of sharpening to
    bring a scanned negative back to the same sharpness that a traditional darkroom print would
    have. This has nothing to do with the quality of the scan -- even drum scans will slightly
    soften the image. The new "smart sharpen" function in Photoshop is better than the "unsharp
    mask" function that we've mainly been using until now.
  15. You're missing fotoshop. I got mine for free when I purchased a flatbed from B&H. You can pick up PS Elements, which has almost the whole kit and caboodle for cheap.
  16. I used to use an unsharp mask in a wet darkroom all of the time to make B&W images pop a little bit more. It is an old technique.

    Sharpening only disturbs textures and clean areas if you don't know what you are doing or are using it crudely.
  17. Ellis, guess I AM missing something, then.

    When I get a new laptop to replace this one I will install PS; will probably have to, anyway. I post oversize pictures here because they don't look too good reduced to the legal size. So that might improve.
  18. Go here, and go to the very bottom of the page. There is a pdf file on sharpening that will tell you everything you need to know about it. Pixel Genius on sharpening
    As others have said, it is not really about creating sharpness where it does not exist, but restoring it where it was lost. Or at least for Leica/Zeiss/Voigtlander/Konica lenses which are sharp to begin with. The biggest key to sharpening is being aware of your output size and media. While if you zoom to 100% pixels, you may be obscuring some detail and making the picture look strange, if you print it out and look at it from a foot or two away, the print might look great. And as with many things, a little goes a long way. Better to undersharpen than oversharpen.
  19. There are times when I sharpen and times when I don't. Sometimes I will sharpen then undo the result before saving as the original looks better. One of the very nice attributes of a classic German lens is the way in which you can get subtle gradations of shade, tone and sharpness (especially in b/w) .....this is what the hoo haa about bokeh is about, that subtle grading from in focus to out of focus (with of course a nice soft and even quality to the OOF areas.) Also if you have access to the book Collecting and Using Classic Cameras by Ivor Matanle, check out some of the photos taken with older European lenses. Some of these have the wonderful ability to be both sharp and in some strange way soft at the same time. The only way I could think of possibly getting this in digital is to take a photo, create a layer, soften one layer and then overlay them to get this simultaneous sharp /soft effect. (never tried it though, layers are a mystery to me.) Aggressive sharpening can undo all of that to my way of thinking.
  20. Stuart. Thanks very much for that info.

    Peter, I will track that book down and posess it as soon as possible. The lens with the graduated sharpness sounds suspiciously like the Leitz Thambar; which folks here love, hate, love to hate or hate to love, etc. Look up Josiah Carberry, here, he put up some pictures like that a few months ago.

    One day, I expect, I'll get a 15 VC Helliar and will expect to be able to file my fingernails on the prints.

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