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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

10 Tips For Top Sharpness

Getting your sharpest photographs today is as much about processing as it is about shooting technique. We’ll show you some pro tips for making your best pictures.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

4. Shoot On Continuous For Challenging Conditions
Sooner or later, you’ll find a situation where sharpness is especially challenging. Maybe you have to shoot with a slow shutter speed, and you don’t have a tripod to steady your camera, or you may have subject movement from the wind.

A great trick is to set your camera on Continuous shooting. It’s not just for action! If you’re shooting at a slow shutter speed, hold down the shutter for a burst of maybe five or six shots. Even though most won’t be sharp, one or two shots usually will be. And for that moving subject, hold down the shutter and keep shooting as you work to get the subject in focus. Again, you’ll find many of your pictures will be out of focus, but you’ll also get sharp shots.

Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter
5.Watch For Unsharpness Due To Filters
You may have purchased a quality lens and then got a story from the salesperson that you should get a cheap filter to protect the lens. That’s bad advice. A camera lens is a highly engineered collection of lenses that are designed to work together to give you maximum sharpness. Adding a cheap filter in front of that is putting something in the optical path that the lens was never designed for.

Hoya HD Circular Polarizer

B+W Polarizer Filter
Buy quality filters or use none at all. I’m so cautious about losing image sharpness from filters that I won’t use a filter unless I need it for a specific visual purpose like darkening the sky with a polarizing filter. If you feel more secure with a protective filter on your lens, make sure you buy a high-quality filter. It does make a difference.

Photoshop’s Smart Sharpen and Unsharp Mask are excellent tools, but it’s easy to overdo it if you’re not careful.
6. Sharpen Properly With Software
Sharpening is an important part of sharpness for digital cameras, but it’s a little harder to talk about because of variations in software. If you’re shooting RAW, you must do some sharpening to the picture because no sharpening is applied in the camera. For a variety of technical reasons, the image as captured by the sensor doesn’t reveal the full sharpness of the lens, so you need to do some sharpening. If you’re shooting JPEG, you need to be careful about adding sharpening in the computer, as some sharpening is usually applied to the photo as it’s processed inside the camera.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has its own set of sharpening tools that can give you solid results.
If you’re working with Photoshop and similar programs, do the sharpening at the end of your processing of the image. If you sharpen first, you can run into problems because some adjustments can affect sharpening. Typically, you’ll do all your processing with layers, save that file as a master, flatten the file for use as a specific size, sharpen at that size and save a new file. You may also find that a sharpening plug-in such as Nik Software Sharpener Pro or PixelGenius PhotoKit Sharpener makes sharpening a little easier to deal with.

If you’re working with Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw, the situation changes. Nothing is applied to the photograph as you work within either program. When you’re done with the picture and export it out of the program, all of the adjustments are applied to the photograph in the proper order for optimum quality. That means that sharpening could be done first or last, and the program will apply the sharpening at the right time during the processing. Lightroom has an excellent set of sharpening tools that are well worth using.


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