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Learn Photography & Knowledge base => Tips, Tutorials & Interviews => Topic started by: theqca on January 18, 2014, 09:18:19 PM

Title: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: theqca on January 18, 2014, 09:18:19 PM


Feel free to add your own experience to this write-up or suggest changes / alternatives for the benefit of forum members

Photos are not Sharp

Start off by shooting correctly. There?s no amount of post processing that can replace a correctly shot photography. Get things right while shooting instead of trying to ?fix? things later.

To get a tack sharp photo you need to keep a few things in mind. I?m listing some lens and camera settings related stuff here in random order ?

Every lens is designed differently and full size images from various lenses will end up with different levels of sharpness\

Every lens has a ?sweet? spot ? find out what the sweet spot of your lens is


Shutter speed ? there are some formulas which you can google however based on experience I?ve found that there is no real rule which will peg the focal length vs shutter speed vs image sharpness.

Some Other points to keep in mind

Is the subject really still / stationery or is there some movement? Is your shutter speed fast enough to compensate for the movement?

Handholding technique ? learn to hold the camera and lens correctly. Tuck your elbows towards your body for additional stability don?t point them outwards.

Use a tripod or a monopod instead of handholding unless you are in a hurry or they?re not allowed at the place you are shooting

Check what mode of autofocus is suitable to you and your shooting style and tweak it accordingly

What looks sharp on the camera LCD may look very different on the PC ? zoom into the relevant areas of the image to check if it?s really tack sharp

Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: Hot Shoe on January 18, 2014, 10:54:09 PM
Thanks a lot Ayaz for these invaluable tips.
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: saiki on January 19, 2014, 12:34:44 AM
Thanks ayaz... :like:
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: LightWave on January 19, 2014, 03:20:28 AM
Article added to website as per our talk. :) Readers from website will discuss it here: http://photographyclubofindia.com/boards/index.php?topic=472.0
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: rishabh on January 19, 2014, 08:26:12 AM
great guide for beginners like us :) :like:
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: itsme_soumya on January 19, 2014, 10:26:57 AM
nice article with tips.

i would add another small point -

nowadays all cameras come with auto iso. in low light, auto iso really helps in maintaining a faster shutter speed as per your choice. e.g. if i am shooting street handheld with a 50mm lens and i want to freeze an interesting action, then i would very much like to keep the shutter speed close to 1/100-1/125. so, i would configure auto iso in this way - minimum=100, maximum=3200, minimum shutter speed=1/100. that way camera would always try to attain shutter speed of 1/100 by increasing the iso if light is inadequate. this increases the chance of getting sharp images.

later, you can apply some noise reducing techniques to reduce the noise coming from high iso but still can retain enough details on the photo. thus you have successfully reduced chance of motion blur or shake appearing in your photo and ruining it.

cheers!
soumya
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: mannusingh on January 19, 2014, 10:34:26 AM
Another thing I have noticed that the rule of minimum shutter speed = 1/lens focal length no longer applies for high MP bodies like the D800. They usually need twice the shutter speed. My earlier 6 MP camera  was very forgiving as far as this was  concerned but the D800 is brutal and will show camera shake if you stick to that classic formula more often than not.

Sent from my Nexus 7
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: theqca on January 19, 2014, 10:43:10 AM
Thanks for the inputs gentlemen...my idea behind all these write-up's is that experienced members chip in with comments based on their own experience so that it serves as a good reference point for everyone!
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: Hankosaurus on January 20, 2014, 02:23:24 AM
Hello Gang.

Great initiative and article, Ayaz.  I will try to add a few points and some of my unabashed prejudices to the discussion, as you suggested.

I am convinced that some of what we perceive to be a lack of sharpness in a finished image is oftentimes motion of camera or subject. A discussion about shooting on-axis, in-line with the motion, panning with the motion, and exposing at the peak of motion might be useful too. These techniques may have escaped our attention because of new technology like IS, high ISO media, auto-ISO, etc.  But they were essential in the MMM and slow-film days.  Their application today can only help with the new technology available to us.

A discussion about DOF, subject plane, shape of the subject plane, and shooting perpendicular to it, could play into the discussion as well. Our close-up experts are keen on this aspect of "tack sharpness".

A word or two about mass as a stabilizing influence: Consider a brick versus a feather. Lightness is often seen as some sort of virtue for a modern camera.  It's easy to see the points about the need for low weight for hiking and pocket-ability for convenience sake, but these things do not change the laws of physics pertaining to mass, and acceleration.  Many modern small cameras are not nearly as stable as a classic MMM or a larger dSLR. The SLR of yesteryear has the mass per unit volume of a brick, I suppose.  Adding some mass to a small camera can help stabilize it for hand holding.

On several different forums I have noticed how that some point out how it is that a 36 Mpxl camera is much less forgiving of lack of sharpness in focusing. I get it, and I see the point at a 100% pixel peeping level, no problem. On the other hand, I suspect that when comparing two 20 inch prints from 20 inches away, both shot full-frame without cropping, but one at 12 Mpxl and the other at 36 Mpxl, the differences might be difficult to discern. Our perception of sharpness is governed in part by enlargement size and distance from which we view the image. Obviously, if one wants to view huge images up close, lots more pixels are needed.

It's a fact that a lot of old glass is simply not as sharp as new glass. But not all, to be sure. We can get more out of old glass with good stabilizing techniques and minimal cropping.  It will perform well for many applications, no less so than it ever did, in fact, if the glass is clean.  Consider old glass used in portraiture, for example.  Resolution and apparent sharpness are not the whole story either.  Lenses have different bokeh, color, flare, rendition, etc.  Some use old glass just for those reasons.  Lenses have "personality" like film types do.

A point was made about zooms being less sharp at max zoom. They doubtlessly are. But there may be another factor at play too. A zoom at max zoom has the stability requirements of a long lens, not a short one.  One might be able to handhold his 28~200 zoom with no problem at 28mm, while finding that at 200mm he needs some stabilizing influence to minimize camera movement.  I have found that a table-top tripod with ball head can be used against a wall, tree, fence, etc. as one way to stabilize a camera when hand holding it is not viable and a full size tripod is out of the question.

There is a lot more to our perception of sharpness than pixels and line pairs per millimeter.  This article from Luminous Landscape may be of interest to readers here:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/sharpness.shtml

:)
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: Jasii on January 20, 2014, 04:30:19 PM
Too 'naive' to comment, yet, I am absorbing it all........
Thank you Gents!
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: sujoyp on January 20, 2014, 05:17:58 PM
Nice tips from all gurus :)
In low light I tend to keep it on Shutter priority mode soo that shutter dont go very slow...and ISO I change manually accordingly
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: dashillol on January 20, 2014, 05:24:54 PM
Very nice article Ayaz.  A clap for you.

Point no. 8 with a bracket became an emoticon, which excatly matches with the point you wanted to make. ;)
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: ajay sonarikar on January 20, 2014, 08:51:47 PM
thanks for inputs
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: VikramF on January 21, 2014, 04:10:39 PM
Another thing I have noticed that the rule of minimum shutter speed = 1/lens focal length no longer applies for high MP bodies like the D800. They usually need twice the shutter speed. My earlier 6 MP camera  was very forgiving as far as this was  concerned but the D800 is brutal and will show camera shake if you stick to that classic formula more often than not.

Spot on.

I moved down from a D700 to a D600, but up from 12MP to 24MP. While nothing much changed in my ability to make photographs, I did look forward to larger base files as that meant supersizing would be much easier.

But with great power comes great responsibilities. With, 24mp, I could no longer handheld at 1/15 on my wide shots (14mm or 18-35mm) because the slightest movement would show blur at 100%. I immediately noticed that I had a LOT more unsharp images than I normally do .... and I have very few when I'm shooting landscapes as I tend to shoot tripod based when shooting seriously. I can only imagine what it would have been like had a purchased the D800 and have to do with 36mp.

My solution now after my 5th shoot (means a trip of 4 days or more specifically for photography), is to ensure that I ALWAYS use mirror lockup when shooting below 1/2X the focal length. It works. I have just 2 shots that are blurred out of a 1000 from my most recent trip - and on both of them I forgot to turn off VR. So yeah, on high MP cams, that VR blur does show up pretty easily.

I guess the D600's better than the d700, but only marginally. And in the end, I still do miss the ability to handhold and shoot at 1/10th of a second  or even forget about the VR and still have a definite keeper.
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: Aditya Aima on January 22, 2014, 12:07:19 AM
priceless info

Sent from my GT-N7100 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: aatifsumar on January 24, 2014, 12:15:40 PM
Wow that was helpful. Didn't know Facebook softens while Flickr sharpens images uploaded.
Question: I use Lightroom, don't find the need to use Photoshop yet. I use the Clarity Slider and the Noise Reduction tools to control sharpness levels. Is that the best way to be doing it?
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: theqca on January 24, 2014, 12:21:46 PM

Question: I use Lightroom, don't find the need to use Photoshop yet. I use the Clarity Slider and the Noise Reduction tools to control sharpness levels. Is that the best way to be doing it?

Dont use the clarity slider unless its just a wee bit..it results in halo's around the edge of the pic.

use the sharpness slider but press the Alt key while moving the slider so you can see where the sharpness is being applied in the preview - if this doesnt make sense as of now just hold on for a bit..i'm writing a tutorial on post processing using lightroom
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: Sandeep on January 24, 2014, 12:37:37 PM
Wow that was helpful. Didn't know Facebook softens while Flickr sharpens images uploaded.
Question: I use Lightroom, don't find the need to use Photoshop yet. I use the Clarity Slider and the Noise Reduction tools to control sharpness levels. Is that the best way to be doing it?

As Ayaz said dont use the clarity slider for sharpening...at least not exclusively. Use the sharpening sliders you find in the Details section along with the NR sliders. But first understand what each of the sliders affect in your image.

Nasim Mansurov has written an excellent and easy to understand article on sharpening in LR. Have a look.

http://photographylife.com/how-to-properly-sharpen-images-in-lightroom (http://photographylife.com/how-to-properly-sharpen-images-in-lightroom)
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: Jasii on January 24, 2014, 11:45:39 PM
Sandeep ji +1 for the link Sir! :)
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: DG on February 20, 2014, 04:00:42 PM
Amazing article and helping beginners like us immensely.

I have three questions:
1) Can you please explain the concept behind " Switch off IS/VR while shooting on a tripod" - Why? I know tripod already stabilizing but what is the problem in switching VR/IS on to get even more stability?
2) As Soumya was mentioning Auto ISO feature in low light...in case good amount of Noise comes, then how to tackle it? any other software or normal Noise reduction tool in ACR?
3) If I have already done sharpening while processing RAW in ACR, the do I need to do it again in PS after converting as Unsharp Mask and all are in PS and not in ACR?

Sorry if I am asking something very silly. :)
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: VikramF on February 20, 2014, 04:49:38 PM
Amazing article and helping beginners like us immensely.

I have three questions:
1) Can you please explain the concept behind " Switch off IS/VR while shooting on a tripod" - Why? I know tripod already stabilizing but what is the problem in switching VR/IS on to get even more stability?
2) As Soumya was mentioning Auto ISO feature in low light...in case good amount of Noise comes, then how to tackle it? any other software or normal Noise reduction tool in ACR?
3) If I have already done sharpening while processing RAW in ACR, the do I need to do it again in PS after converting as Unsharp Mask and all are in PS and not in ACR?

Sorry if I am asking something very silly. :)

1. Simplistically - with VR on when tripod mounted, the lens is constantly looking for vibration which isn't there and keeps moving the VR element. That movement translates to a little loss in sharpness.

2. To tackle noise, you can use specialist software like Noise Ninja, but even then, there's only so much it can do. Try to limit the ISO to where you feel the noise is manageable

3. Sharpening should generally be done based on the media and size the photograph s going to be shown on. You can do basic sharpening in ACR, but I'd keep final sharpening in PS based on the output size and media (so sharper for prints and not as sharp for screens etc).

No silly questions exist. Only silly unasked questions.
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: DG on February 20, 2014, 05:10:20 PM
Great! Thanks for the clarification Vikram :)
Title: Re: Tips for Tack Sharp Photos
Post by: bhanuk on May 13, 2014, 06:20:59 PM
Thanks a LOT Ayazz that really very important information i got it .. n have a gud picture in my mind .. i m really thankfull to you