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02-23-2013, 11:55 AM   #1
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Sharpening RAW files

I'm new to RAW files and processing them in Lightroom, in fact I'm new to DSLR photography in general so apologies beforehand if I sound dumb.

I've only shot in RAW since I've had my K-30. I've found I have to use a lot of sharpening to bring out the details in my photos, in the sense that I'm maxing out the sharpen slider in Lightroom. This obviously has the undesired side effect of increasing noise in my photos. Do RAW files from the K-30 generally need a lot of sharpening?

02-23-2013, 12:03 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I find sharpening works much better when you set all the sliders to 0 and use a sharpening mask with the paintbrush instead in Lightroom. It takes a while but it's definitely worth a try.
02-23-2013, 12:41 PM   #3
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Post an example picture, that helps us to see what you are looking at. But I rarely sharpen more than the LR default of 25. I also apply a mask of around 65 - 70 so that not everything gets sharpened. You can greatly reduce the noise in areas that do not need sharpening by applying the mask. Not much need to sharpen a blue sky, but that is where the noise will show. I'm using k-5 not k-30 but that should not matter.

Also, keep in mind that sharpening is a process:
1) Input sharpening in LR is set at 25, adjust this as needed for the whole image, mask as needed
2) Creative sharpening can be added to those areas that really need special attention either with the adjustment brush or in PS
3) Export sharpening is applied when you export to jpeg or print according to the export or print module settings
02-23-2013, 03:24 PM   #4
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It could mean your lenses aren't sharp enough or need adjusting, or you're expecting too much from high ISOs. I know what you mean though, I've seen the same issue, but I think we tend to forget how much detail a 16MP sensor is capable of and how much it needs feeding (i.e. excellent lenses etc). With a bit of extra light to keep noise a non-issue, the detail I can get from my K-30+35/2.4 is incredible (to me anyway).

02-23-2013, 05:14 PM   #5
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Depends on the shot, but with some lenses I like to bump up the "detail" to over 70. Usually I add sharpness especially to lenses which already are sharp. I find you can't really add sharpness where there isn't any, its better to just make the photo use those the softness as part of it. (or just scrap the photo, if the focus is wrong) I avoid sharpening photos with noise or blurry bokeh, because I don't want the sharpening to emphasize those parts.

But if you use Pentax primes, they are already sharp and the default settings will be okay.
02-25-2013, 04:08 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. Most have my shots so far have been in pretty dreary weather so maybe that's playing a part? How would I adjust or calibrate my lens to make sure it's sharp?
02-25-2013, 04:19 PM   #7
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The only "calibration" is to check that your focus is accurate and is not causing any softness (from being out of focus). One can do this by going into live-view and manually focusing on a subject. If the lens is nice and sharp when focused correctly, it's good. If it's soft even when correctly focused, there's limits to what the software can do for you.

When shooting, I usually set my Lightroom 3 to 45/1/45/1 (45 sharpening, 1 size, 45 detail, 1 masking). Whenever I actually am shooting for sharpness (macro, fabrics, etc) - then I manually slide with the preview pane and holding Alt. With my k-x, I have seen that 75/x/50/x is about the maximum for my best lenses before artifacts start showing. If you are maxing out your slider, then you are probably oversharpening (thus the noise showing).
02-26-2013, 03:11 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by saint_david Quote
Thanks for the responses. Most have my shots so far have been in pretty dreary weather so maybe that's playing a part? How would I adjust or calibrate my lens to make sure it's sharp?
Sure, light conditions can affect perceived sharpness. What lens are you using? The kit lens is never going to be ultra sharp, but you can get the most out of it if you buy a lens hood and shoot between f8 and f11. The 18-55mm lens performs best at around 35mm. Other lenses have different sweet spots, you can find these reading online reviews.
Make sure your camera has enough time to focus and is focusing on the right object (the AF point are larger than the little red focus point overlay in the viewfinder makes it seem) and that your shutter speed is high enough. If your shutter speed is too low, the shot will be blurry due to handshake. Your shutter speed should be 1/(2*focal length). So for a 50mm lens you should use a shutter speed of at least 1/100 or faster (1/200, 1/500) when handholding. But this kind of depends on how steady your hands are, this is just a general rule some of us on these forums follow. I also try not to go under 1/90 at all, unless I want motion blur (like, of a car driving past me).
And make sure your photos are bright enough.

So, this is quite a lot of stuff, but work on it one step at a time and soon you'll get the hang of it. To "test" your lens sharpness you should place it on a tripod or something, use live view in bright daylight and focus on an object that is relatively near (like, 1-5 metres, but depends on the FoV of lens). You can use the AF or do it manually. You should take a few shots with different aperture settings (because a bigger f number will give you a bigger DoF, which makes the lens look "sharper". If the DoF is very thin, you might mistake it for the lens not being sharp)

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