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View Full Version : Nikon D5000, need help with sharpness settings



Meumerke
07-01-2011, 17:50
After posting pics, I often get to hear that my pics are soft.

My D5000 has been set to sharpness factor 5, NR normal.

I started off with the D5000 about 7 months ago after a 25 year break from Photography. See my signature for info about the lenses I use. I thought that in the beginning my pics were sharper.
When I increase sharpness on the cam, so does the noise. I am in a merry go around and getting frustrated with photography and certainly do not want to spend more money on better cams or glass since I am not sure if it is the photographer or the equipment used.

Here are a few examples of pics shot today, please look at the exif and see if you can see anything out of the ordinary.

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_mqCHIDHE118/TSa0FXLb_II/AAAAAAAABUE/9GTKc0KYbMI/s1152/DSC_0068.JPG

Width 1600
Height 1063
File Size 87517
Camera NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D5000
ISO 200
Exposure 1/1250 sec
Aperture 9.0
Focal Length 400mm
Flash Used false
White Balance 1
Metering Mode 2
Exposure Program 3
Exposure Bias 0.0
Date and Time (Original) 2011:01:06 12:57:08
Color Space 1
X-Resolution 300.0
Y-Resolution 300.0
Resolution Unit 2
Software Ver.1.00
Date and Time 2011:01:06 12:57:08
YCbCr Positioning 2
Date and Time (Digitized) 2011:01:06 12:57:08
Compressed Bits Per Pixel 4.0
Max Aperture 5.3
Light Source 9
Subject Time 00
Sub Sec Time (Original) 00
Sub Sec Time (Digitized) 00
Sensing Method 2
Custom Rendered 0
Exposure Mode 0
Digital Zoom Ratio 1.0
Focal Length (in 35mm film) 600
Scene Capture Type 0
Gain Control 0
Contrast 0
Saturation 0
Sharpness 0
Subject Distance Range 0
Interoperability Index R98
Related Image Width 4288
Related Image Height 2848

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_mqCHIDHE118/TSa1Y1jrX1I/AAAAAAAABTs/tegip5uirxQ/s1152/DSC_0067.JPG


Problems? We're doing maintenance, but things should be back to normal soon.

My Photos > Photo > Exif

Date Jan 6, 2011 4:56:49 AM
Width 1600
Height 1063
File Size 95925
Camera NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D5000
ISO 200
Exposure 1/1250 sec
Aperture 9.0
Focal Length 400mm
Flash Used false
White Balance 1
Metering Mode 2
Exposure Program 3
Exposure Bias 0.0
Date and Time (Original) 2011:01:06 12:56:49
Color Space 1
X-Resolution 300.0
Y-Resolution 300.0
Resolution Unit 2
Software Ver.1.00
Date and Time 2011:01:06 12:56:49
YCbCr Positioning 2
Date and Time (Digitized) 2011:01:06 12:56:49
Compressed Bits Per Pixel 4.0
Max Aperture 5.3
Light Source 9
Subject Time 00
Sub Sec Time (Original) 00
Sub Sec Time (Digitized) 00
Sensing Method 2
Custom Rendered 0
Exposure Mode 0
Digital Zoom Ratio 1.0
Focal Length (in 35mm film) 600
Scene Capture Type 0
Gain Control 0
Contrast 0
Saturation 0
Sharpness 0
Subject Distance Range 0
Interoperability Index R98
Related Image Width 4288
Related Image Height 2848


http://lh3.ggpht.com/_mqCHIDHE118/TSa03M-YcJI/AAAAAAAABTo/8Zygrzw3cnU/s800/DSC_0059-13.JPG

Width 1600
Height 1599
File Size 196856
Camera NIKON CORPORATION
Model NIKON D5000
ISO 200
Exposure 1/500 sec
Aperture 9.0
Focal Length 380mm
Flash Used false
White Balance 1
Metering Mode 2
Exposure Program 3
Exposure Bias 0.33333334
Artist Picasa
Date and Time (Original) 2011:01:06 12:25:55
Color Space 1
X-Resolution 72.0
Y-Resolution 72.0
Resolution Unit 2
Software GIMP 2.6.11
Date and Time 2011:01:07 16:38:09
YCbCr Positioning 2
Date and Time (Digitized) 2011:01:06 12:25:55
Compressed Bits Per Pixel 4.0
Max Aperture 5.3
Light Source 9
Subject Time 50
Sub Sec Time (Original) 50
Sub Sec Time (Digitized) 50
Sensing Method 2
Custom Rendered 0
Exposure Mode 0
Digital Zoom Ratio 1.0
Focal Length (in 35mm film) 570
Scene Capture Type 0
Gain Control 0
Contrast 0
Saturation 0
Sharpness 0
Subject Distance Range 0
Interoperability Index R98
Related Image Width 4288
Related Image Height 2848

I @ M
07-01-2011, 17:57
To analyse problems we need to see the details of the camera settings when the image was taken. If you can leave the exif data intact when posting shots there is a far better chance that people will be able to identify problem areas such as shutter speed etc.
Also, I don't know if these are cropped images or not but to get true handle on things it is best to see the original size / resolution picture to see whether processing , technique or gear is causing any errors.

I @ M
07-01-2011, 17:59
oops, I was typing while you were editing to add the extra data. :D

Meumerke
07-01-2011, 17:59
To analyse problems we need to see the details of the camera settings when the image was taken. If you can leave the exif data intact when posting shots there is a far better chance that people will be able to identify problem areas such as shutter speed etc.
Also, I don't know if these are cropped images or not but to get true handle on things it is best to see the original size / resolution picture to see whether processing , technique or gear is causing any errors.

Only pic #3 is cropped. I do not know why the exif data is not showing but I have copied it from Picasa and posted it underneath each image.

Meumerke
07-01-2011, 18:00
oops, I was typing while you were editing to add the extra data. :D

And I was replying to you when you were replying to me. LOL.:)

ricktas
07-01-2011, 18:50
Sharpness can be affected by:

Camera movement
Shutter Speed
Lens
Processing
Subject movement

So in these. Shutter Speed is fast, so discount that. A fast shutter speed also usually eliminates subject movement, you are not processing these to make them softer, so discount that too. Camera movement is also usually overcome by a fast shutter speed

That leaves you with one

The lens. What lens are you using? Also note that fairly much all photos need sharpening, so have a read of this thread about processing photos specifically for bird photography: http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?55817-Birds-Photography-Processing-Tutorial and this one on sharpening in general: http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?8579-Why-all-Digital-images-need-SHARPENING

Meumerke
07-01-2011, 19:15
Sharpness can be affected by:

Camera movement
Shutter Speed
Lens
Processing
Subject movement

So in these. Shutter Speed is fast, so discount that. A fast shutter speed also usually eliminates subject movement, you are not processing these to make them softer, so discount that too. Camera movement is also usually overcome by a fast shutter speed

That leaves you with one

The lens. What lens are you using? Also note that fairly much all photos need sharpening, so have a read of this thread about processing photos specifically for bird photography: http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?55817-Birds-Photography-Processing-Tutorial and this one on sharpening in general: http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?8579-Why-all-Digital-images-need-SHARPENING

Hi Rick,

I am using the Nikon 55-200mm and Sigma 150-500mm.

kiwi
07-01-2011, 19:21
The other thing is focus point - have a look with view Nx and see what the focus point is

The exif data is subject appropriate

Meumerke
07-01-2011, 21:37
have a look with view Nx and see what the focus point is



Did that. Is ok.

kiwi
07-01-2011, 21:55
Are both lens sift, at all focus distances and apertures ?

Time to do sone proper focus tests and series eliminations to include or exclude lens or body I think

The pictures are soft, well first two are, so something is amiss

Meumerke
08-01-2011, 07:48
Are both lens sift, at all focus distances and apertures ?

Time to do some proper focus tests and series eliminations to include or exclude lens or body I think

The pictures are soft, well first two are, so something is amiss


Thanks for coming back to me.


Are both lens sift, at all focus distances and apertures ?

I have only tested the 150-500mm so far and at the most used distances (150mm, 400mm and 500mm) and apertures (f6.3 and f8) the sharpness is almost the same.


The pictures are soft, well first two are, so something is amiss

Pic #3 was sharpened that's why it looks better. The first 2 are not processed.

After reading up a lot on the camera last night, all serious reviews I have read point out that the camera produces rather soft images indeed.

The only thing I can try is up the in-camera sharpness a few knots but that will increase noise which results in more PP work.

I wouldn't mind buying the new D7000 if that would improve things a lot but what if it doesn't?

The thing I have noticed (tell me if my eyes or imagination are tricking me) when using a flash the pics look sharper, see the next pic taken with flash.

The explanation for this would be that the in-camera sharpness parameter increases when used in combination with a flash without risking more noise?

Cropped only, no PP.

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_mqCHIDHE118/TSd80O5HDSI/AAAAAAAABU8/lZr5VxuP90Y/s1024/DSC_0105-1.JPG

kiwi
08-01-2011, 08:00
Flash I doubt makes things sharper per se

If you shoot raw then all in camera sharpening can be turned off or on in nx

Meumerke
09-01-2011, 20:02
I went all the way back to my first pics and looked at the exif in ViewNX. Looked like NR was switched off at that time while it was switched on now. I performed some testing yesterday without NR and got better results although I am a bit surprised about this though. I might be looking out for another brand of cam.

Thanks.

kiwi
09-01-2011, 20:14
If you're looking for something to blame re soft photos 9/10 its going be you and the rest of the time the lens, very rarely is it the body

ricktas
09-01-2011, 20:46
no use blaming the camera for a setting being on or off, that is user caused. NR will soften photos, that is what it does as it removes noise. Happens in camera, in photoshop or any other editing package. Run noise reduction and you will get a softer photo.

kiwi
09-01-2011, 20:59
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond5000/page33

According to this review actually it does say jpegs can be soft and you should shoot raw...so...might have to eat some humble pie

Meumerke
10-01-2011, 17:54
you should shoot raw...so...might have to eat some humble pie


Not at all actually. I have been shooting raw and jpeg fine at the same time lately. By the way, why make it personal?

Anyway I am working on it.

What do you think of this pic?

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_mqCHIDHE118/TSqsfa7N3xI/AAAAAAAABWo/m5bA5_0DDxM/s1024/S0620320-1.JPG

Meumerke
10-01-2011, 18:58
According to this review actually it does say jpegs can be soft and you should shoot raw

I am glad you quoted this..because it means...:)

Meumerke
10-01-2011, 19:04
NR will soften photos, that is what it does as it removes noise

So, I switch the default NR off, get sharper pics but more noise, especially in low light situations, which means I waste time with PP to remove noise which in its turn leads to softer pics after which I have to sharpen which creates more noise. What have I won?:p :eek::D

arthurking83
10-01-2011, 19:36
I am glad you quoted this..because it means...:)

It means...

if you shoot jpg, yopu get a slightly lower quality image to begin with, which is then hard to recover unless you are a PS Guru(PhotoShop).

Shooting raw(NEF) allows you to change all the in camera variables you shot with, as wel as extract that final 5-10% better image quality out of the image.

So, had you shot with in camera sharpening set to something high, (say 4 or more via the Picture Control tweaks), your jpg is then set with a harsh noise/grain look to parts of the scene with no detail.
In camera sharpening is bad!.. very bad!! Very hard/rough and coarse in it's settings. I set all my Picture Control sharpening levels to zero.
Sharpen using USM(in CaptureNX2) on a raw file.
Sharpening via ViewNX is also harsh(but it seems not as bad as camera in some situations), but still not as good nor flexible as CaptureNX is.
If you sharpen images using ViewNX, do so on the final jpg conversion at low levels.. it seems to be slightly better.

Alternatives sharpening software exists too.
If I edit and convert an image using only ViewNX(ie. not using CaptureNX), what I sometimes do is to convert the NEF to a full size jpg(no resizing), and then resize and sharpen using FSViewer.
Sounds like a lot of stuffing around, but the reality is that it's quite easy when you set FSViewer(or any other external program) as an 'open with' option in ViewNX's preferences.

Meumerke
10-01-2011, 20:08
Thank you for replying.


if you shoot jpg, yopu get a slightly lower quality image to begin with, which is then hard to recover unless you are a PS Guru(PhotoShop).

I know, a blown out sky in jpeg is a goner. More chance of recovery in RAW.


In camera sharpening is bad!.. very bad!! Very hard/rough and coarse in it's settings.

Lesson learned. Even if you shoot jpeg, no in camera sharpening?


I set all my Picture Control sharpening levels to zero.

Why? If you do not shoot jpeg, in RAW no in camera settings are applied anyway?


If you sharpen images using ViewNX, do so on the final jpg conversion at low levels.. it seems to be slightly better.

Will try that.


and then resize and sharpen using FSViewer

I have FastStone installed for a while now, never really used it for PP since I had a lot of trials running of Adobe products. I will dust it off again.



If I edit and convert an image using only ViewNX(ie. not using CaptureNX), what I sometimes do is to convert the NEF to a full size jpg(no resizing), and then resize and sharpen using FSViewer.

I will give this a try.


Here is one thing that confuses me with ViewNX. When I look at one particular pic in ViewNX, both jpeg and NEF look exactly the same. Color, sharpening etc... When I look at the same pic in Picasa, I see clearly the difference between the jpeg and NEF in sharpness and color.


Anyway, I see you have a D300. I am seriously thinking about getting either a 300s or a D7000. According to the reviews, AF is much faster for shooting birds in flight and noise would be lower. What's your experience with the D300?

arthurking83
10-01-2011, 20:55
...



Why? If you do not shoot jpeg, in RAW no in camera settings are applied anyway?



....

This is really complicated to describe, but I'll do my best:

Using Nikon software, if you shoot NEF, all camera settings are used in rendering the raw file. All raw capable software are really decoders, not so much image viewers, even tho they do also allow you to view images. But raw images are really a set of data, and not images as jpg/tiff/gif/bmp types images are. The software uses a codec to render the raw file. A raw file can be rendered in a myriad of ways, and each alternative software is capable of producing a variation of a single image.
If you have say LightRoom ViewNX2 and FSViewer you can see this quite easily by viewing the same raw images via each software. Only the Nikon software will render the in camera settings as you have them set.
Catch!! FSViewer is set by default, to view the embedded jpgs when viewing raw files.. so even tho it's displaying the NEF file as ViewNX would do(and as ViewNX edits the file) the jpg is also updated to reflect these changes. You can set FSViewer to display the raw image(which makes it run slower) and the results are YUK!!(with a capital Y.. and U and K too! :p) I've tried converting an NEF usinf FSViewer and what you see is definitely not what you subsequently get.
Remember it displays the jpg file, and you can alter that jpg image via ViewNX by making adjustments to the Picture Control settings. But FSViewer displays the jpg file, even tho it reads the NEF file totally differently. Convert that 'preview image' that you see of the NEF file using FSViewer, and you get a completely flat ugly looking jpg.

Sounds confusing, but once you see it all work and understand that's simply how raw files work, it makes more sense.

A few things to note also. With many 'thirdparty' raw converters, they don't affect the raw file directly, but keep a separate file of each tweak made, that is usually only readable by that specific software.
Use a program(like FSViewer.. and there are many others!!) that display the embedded jpg file instead of the actual codec rendered version of the file, and you see what Nikon software will display too. Nikon software sets a few points of data in the actual raw file itself(totally reversible too!) and it then tells the raw file to make those changes to the embedded jpg file too. That's why software that displays the embedded jpg file always show you what Nikon likes to show you.. and LR(as far as I can work out so far) doesn't do this! It always seems to render a self made preview of the raw data.
** I assume this is based on ACR, so will be the same in all Adobe software**

one of the things I like about FSViewer is that when you save an image, there is an options box to set the highest quality possible, by varying the compression quality, and it gives a realtime readout of the resulting filesize.
(AP allows only up to say 250kb size images, or 350kbs for panos, so this can be important when trying to maintain a specific quality setting and largest allowable file size) neither Nikon software allow any flexibility other than the prehistoric method of changing compression levels only.. setting a compression level is hit and miss.. I may get a 150kb size image one instance and 450kb for the next image. Single most annoying aspect of both Nikon software... and they should have their @$$es kicked for this incompetent level of programming! :action:

For all it's foibles, I still find ViewNX the easiest program to use for NEF files. If you get decent sharpness in an image and a good exposure, VNX is quick to mass convert them to jpg or tiff files, and set a few easy to use Picture Control edits in there for good measure.
It's not going to make your skies bluer(without affecting other blues in the image) nor your skin tones all nice and plasticky and smooth.. but this is a good thing I reckon! Reduces sloppy shooting techniques, and hence, reliance on clone-happy post processing :D.

I think I remember that I once figured out, that for my tastes and my purposes, a setting of 1 in any Picture Control sharpness level was sufficient to get back what the AA filter takes away. Can increase grain in blues and under exposed yellows a touch, but to acceptable levels :th3:
(that is; even tho you see the grain at 100% pixel levels, in any print... save for a 2 meter wall mural... of a 12mp file, you won't notice it... printing can smooth out some of the grain.)

Meumerke
10-01-2011, 21:23
ArthurKing:


This is really complicated to describe, but I'll do my best

Makes sense to me.

Here's what I have done:

Loaded pic in ViewNX, converted it to a jpeg in highest quality, sharpened and re-sized in FS, used a little bit of Wavelet Denoise in Gimp. This to remain with all the free progs.


Here's the result (I like it):

Remember, this was shot in ISO400 and with the Sigma and is a bit more cropped than the 2nd pic. You can see an improvement in the cleanliness of the pic, especially on the feathers on the right hand breast side, no metallic look.



http://lh3.ggpht.com/_mqCHIDHE118/TSrbxQKrp6I/AAAAAAAABYU/kqP94ZA7XN8/DSC_0178_00123.jpg


This one was shot in jpeg and processed the old way:

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_mqCHIDHE118/TSq_1JqOnVI/AAAAAAAABXc/wfWWqU9Qj2Q/s800/DSC_0178-1.JPG