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Author Topic: To sharpen or not to sharpen?  (Read 8000 times)

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« on: October 07, 2013, 13:38 »
0
Hi all -

I've searched and read a lot of threads on this topic, but I wanted to directly discuss this.  I'm fairly new to micro-stock.  I have images on Getty, but this is my first effort on micro-stock.  I'm currently contributing to Shutterstock, iStock, Dreamstime, and Fotolia. 

For non-microstock stuff, I alway export with some light sharpening.  However...  I was getting some photos kicked back on Shutterstock for over-sharpening.  So, I turned off sharpening all together.  Ironically, I still got images kicked back by Shutterstock for over sharpening (I think Shutterstock just likes to clear queues a lot).

Anyway, I turned off all my sharpening and now I got some images on Fotolia kicked back from being soft.  However, the focus is spot on. 

So... what's the right thing to do?  Add a little sharpening or not?  I personally feel that all digital files need a little sharpening due to the aliasing filter.  But... my thoughts aren't really important...  what works best for micro-stock?

Thoughts?


« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2013, 14:04 »
0
Have you checked your in=camera sharpening settings? That might be enough to mess up your chances on SS.

Personally, in Canon RAW I use a sharpening strength of 3. Sometimes I add very light sharpening to the image after it is converted from RAW. That does not lead to rejections.

« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2013, 14:09 »
0
Have you checked your in=camera sharpening settings? That might be enough to mess up your chances on SS.

Personally, in Canon RAW I use a sharpening strength of 3. Sometimes I add very light sharpening to the image after it is converted from RAW. That does not lead to rejections.

I shoot RAW.... so no in-camera sharpening.  In general, in LR, I add just a touch of basic sharpening in the develop module's "details" brick.  Then, I add output sharpening on export.  it's the output sharpening that I've turned off.  I've left the "Details" brick sharpening on. 

« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2013, 14:20 »
0
dont sharpen, it makes sense only for prints or web size.

soft focus : maybe they mean there's a little bit of camera shake ?



« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2013, 14:36 »
0
in LR, I add just a touch of basic sharpening in the develop module's "details" brick.  Then, I add output sharpening on export.  it's the output sharpening that I've turned off.  I've left the "Details" brick sharpening on.

That, so called, detail sharpening you are leaving turned on defaults to 25. That is enough to get you rejections for visible sharpening. Received wisdom is that anything more than 12 is too much. Personally I normally use 0.

I do not think that there is a definitive answer but export sharpening is definitely a no for stock IMO. If the image seems a little soft I would downsize it.

Are you using primes or zooms ? I think zooms often tend to seem a bit soft but that might be a generalization.

« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2013, 14:36 »
0
dont sharpen, it makes sense only for prints or web size.

soft focus : maybe they mean there's a little bit of camera shake ?

Don't sharpen at all?  Even the sharpening in the develop module which is supposed to be done to counter act the aliasing filter in digital cameras?

« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2013, 14:41 »
+1
dont sharpen, it makes sense only for prints or web size.

soft focus : maybe they mean there's a little bit of camera shake ?

Don't sharpen at all?  Even the sharpening in the develop module which is supposed to be done to counter act the aliasing filter in digital cameras?

I use all primes.  24f1.4, 50f1.4, 85f1.4, and 105f2.8 Macro.  I had an image rejected for softness and missed focus the other day from Shutterstock for an image shot with my 50mm at f8 on a tripod with mirror up shot with shutter delay.  ISO 100 and 1/125 and strobes.  There was NOTHING soft about the image.  But still got rejected for softness.. Go figure.

« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2013, 14:50 »
0
I had an image rejected for softness and missed focus the other day from Shutterstock for an image shot with my 50mm at f8 on a tripod with mirror up shot with shutter delay.  ISO 100 and 1/125 and strobes.  There was NOTHING soft about the image.  But still got rejected for softness.. Go figure.

You could put it full sized on Dropbox with a watermark and post a link. Someone here might spot what the issue with it is.

mlwinphoto

« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2013, 14:52 »
0
in LR, I add just a touch of basic sharpening in the develop module's "details" brick.  Then, I add output sharpening on export.  it's the output sharpening that I've turned off.  I've left the "Details" brick sharpening on.

That, so called, detail sharpening you are leaving turned on defaults to 25. That is enough to get you rejections for visible sharpening. Received wisdom is that anything more than 12 is too much. Personally I normally use 0.

I disagree with this; at least it hasn't been my experience.  I've never had a rejection at SS or iS for oversharpening and I set the capture sharpening in LR's detail panel to 25, radius 1, detail 25....the defaults.  I shoot RAW with a high rez camera (D800), use a tripod all the time, remote release, top level primes and zooms, MU, etc. so the images are as sharp as possible coming out of the camera.

I don't use any additional sharpening at export.

« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2013, 14:55 »
0
I had an image rejected for softness and missed focus the other day from Shutterstock for an image shot with my 50mm at f8 on a tripod with mirror up shot with shutter delay.  ISO 100 and 1/125 and strobes.  There was NOTHING soft about the image.  But still got rejected for softness.. Go figure.

You could put it full sized on Dropbox with a watermark and post a link. Someone here might spot what the issue with it is.

Actually... I submitted it again Saturday night without making any changes what-so-ever, and I just got the e-mail from shutterstock that it was approved.  I think someone may have been just clearing their queue.  I also got about 30 images rejected for "Release not oriented correctly" stating that it needed to be vertical.  Of course... they were vertical.  So...  someone was just being lazy.  After resubmitting, it was accepted no problem. 

So...  What's the general consensus?  No sharpening at all or just really light to counter act the anti-aliasing filter?

« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2013, 15:09 »
0
in LR, I add just a touch of basic sharpening in the develop module's "details" brick.  Then, I add output sharpening on export.  it's the output sharpening that I've turned off.  I've left the "Details" brick sharpening on.

That, so called, detail sharpening you are leaving turned on defaults to 25. That is enough to get you rejections for visible sharpening. Received wisdom is that anything more than 12 is too much. Personally I normally use 0.

I disagree with this; at least it hasn't been my experience.  I've never had a rejection at SS or iS for oversharpening and I set the capture sharpening in LR's detail panel to 25, radius 1, detail 25....the defaults.  I shoot RAW with a high rez camera (D800), use a tripod all the time, remote release, top level primes and zooms, MU, etc. so the images are as sharp as possible coming out of the camera.

I don't use any additional sharpening at export.

You have almost the exact set up that I have, although I don't always use a tripod.  And I use the shutter delay instead of a cable release.  Do you turn on the masking slider for your sharpening?

« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2013, 15:11 »
0
I have my in camera sharpening set to 3. When I process the RAW file (in DPP) and save it the sharpening is automatically set to that default (3).

I find it is necessary to get images tack sharp where possible and I've never had a reject because of it.

I try to not add any additional sharpening (after processing) unless it is a marginal image and I'm downsizing it alot.

« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2013, 15:24 »
0
Personally, in Canon RAW I use a sharpening strength of 3.

I do the same. No other sharpening.
If an image is a bit soft, then I sharpen and downsize. I never submit full-size sharpened photos.

It also helps to have sharp lenses (I shoot only with primes), less need for sharpening. Of course you have to shoot sharp images also (fast shutter speeds, strobe, tripod, good focus)
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 15:27 by Perry »

mlwinphoto

« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2013, 18:07 »
0
in LR, I add just a touch of basic sharpening in the develop module's "details" brick.  Then, I add output sharpening on export.  it's the output sharpening that I've turned off.  I've left the "Details" brick sharpening on.

That, so called, detail sharpening you are leaving turned on defaults to 25. That is enough to get you rejections for visible sharpening. Received wisdom is that anything more than 12 is too much. Personally I normally use 0.

I disagree with this; at least it hasn't been my experience.  I've never had a rejection at SS or iS for oversharpening and I set the capture sharpening in LR's detail panel to 25, radius 1, detail 25....the defaults.  I shoot RAW with a high rez camera (D800), use a tripod all the time, remote release, top level primes and zooms, MU, etc. so the images are as sharp as possible coming out of the camera.

I don't use any additional sharpening at export.

You have almost the exact set up that I have, although I don't always use a tripod.  And I use the shutter delay instead of a cable release.  Do you turn on the masking slider for your sharpening?

I use masking if there are any large areas that I don't want sharpened such as open blue skies.  I'll use the adjustment brush to modify sharpening (add or take away) from smaller select areas.

« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2013, 18:22 »
+2
I shoot JPEG. I'm using PS CS (from 2003?). I usually shoot hand held mostly with a Canon 24-70mm purchased in 2004. I use the basic default Sharpen mode and then Fade it down to about 40-50%. Over 90% acceptance rate on all agencies for 5000+ images over the last 9 years.

The only issue I ever had was when using Canon's 135mm prime, without using any sharpening at all in post processing (because it was already so sharp), that images would sometimes be rejected by IS for 'over sharpening'! I thought it was just me but Yuri reported the same. That was some years ago mind.

« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2013, 18:29 »
0
I shoot JPEG. I'm using PS CS (from 2003?). I usually shoot hand held mostly with a Canon 24-70mm purchased in 2004. I use the basic default Sharpen mode and then Fade it down to about 40-50%. Over 90% acceptance rate on all agencies for 5000+ images over the last 9 years.

The only issue I ever had was when using Canon's 135mm prime, without using any sharpening at all in post processing (because it was already so sharp), that images would sometimes be rejected by IS for 'over sharpening'! I thought it was just me but Yuri reported the same. That was some years ago mind.

No...  when I used to shoot Canon, it was my favorite lens.  Not only for sharpness, but for "character".  It just has a look that only that lens has. 

BTW... I think that's the dumbest thing ever.  So, you manage to get sharp shots and they are getting rejected for being "over sharpened".  What that tells me is that the reviewers aren't actually seeing artifacts...  but 'assume" that if you have sharp photos that it's over sharpened. 

« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2013, 10:13 »
0
I shoot RAW.  Canon 6D and Lightroom.  I push the sharpen from the default of 25 to 50-55 (nothing else) and don't seem to have any problems.



Ron

« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2013, 10:27 »
0
I shoot RAW.  Canon 6D and Lightroom.  I push the sharpen from the default of 25 to 50-55 (nothing else) and don't seem to have any problems.
I see  artifacts when I push it that far. Canon 6D and LR5

« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2013, 03:46 »
+2
BTW... I think that's the dumbest thing ever.  So, you manage to get sharp shots and they are getting rejected for being "over sharpened".  What that tells me is that the reviewers aren't actually seeing artifacts...  but 'assume" that if you have sharp photos that it's over sharpened.

I doubt that it is that simple. It would indicate that you are the only one being able to shoot really sharp images. If other people are not getting their images rejected for oversharpening but you do, there must be something else going on. Can't really come up with many good explanations, maybe if you'd push contrast or color effects too far?!?

I'd think the most efficient way to get an outside opinion would be if you put one or two of your rejected images somewhere on a server (full sized with watermark), so we can have a close look and try to find what the reviewers might have seen. Otherwise it's pure speculation...

For what it's worth: I mostly process images in Lightroom with the default sharpening of 25, rarely more and sometimes turned down to 0. The overall sharpening in LR works quite okay, except when you have lots of sky. I don't like the sharpening in sky areas or water surfaces. In those cases I usually turn down the LR sharpening. If an image requires sharpening I do it in Photoshop in a High Pass Filter layer and mask out skies etc... But most of the times for microstock the LR sharpening on 25 will work fine and gets my images accepted.

gillian vann

  • *Gillian*
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2013, 04:43 »
+3
you locked up the mirror on a tripod at 1/125 whilst using a 50mm? and I thought I was a bit anal.  :)  I still sharpen in camera raw but rarely much after that. 

« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2013, 06:40 »
0
you locked up the mirror on a tripod at 1/125 whilst using a 50mm? and I thought I was a bit anal.  :)  I still sharpen in camera raw but rarely much after that.

Well... it's not hard to do.  If you use the shutter delay on Nikon cameras, you just put it on a tripod, compose your shot, and hit the button.  The mirror goes up, a second later, the shot it taken. 

« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2013, 07:26 »
0
my standard set up -  shoot RAW with primes and L lenses and use the Lightroom details module to sharpen at 25, normally add the masking slider so just the edges get sharpened and that's it. Every agency seems happy except SS, so spend half my life resizing and adding sharpening in PS just for them.

Uncle Pete

« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2013, 11:07 »
0
I keep reading how that's one of the "Must Have" Canon lenses. The 70-200 is another (any version by the way, I dumped the f/2.8 IS USM and got the f/4 non-IS and it's super sharp. I have the last version of the 100MM Macro, which is a standard lens that does Macro, not limited to, and it's just perfect, clear and sharp for standard photos. Last I almost had a nifty-50 but got money in that trade instead.  :)

Some day a 135mm f/2 just for the fact that I have a super sharp prime in that range. Next time I find $850 under a tree?

And OT for the OP. No I don't sharpen at all and I don't have rejections for over sharp or soft either. Mostly with a 40-D when I'm getting serious, all L lenses except the 28-135 which resides on a T2i and that's the one I bounce around in the car. Haven't done much with the EOS-M but I'm impressed, hope the agency is too. SS is my first upload site for anything new.

I shoot JPEG. I'm using PS CS (from 2003?). I usually shoot hand held mostly with a Canon 24-70mm purchased in 2004. I use the basic default Sharpen mode and then Fade it down to about 40-50%. Over 90% acceptance rate on all agencies for 5000+ images over the last 9 years.

The only issue I ever had was when using Canon's 135mm prime, without using any sharpening at all in post processing (because it was already so sharp), that images would sometimes be rejected by IS for 'over sharpening'! I thought it was just me but Yuri reported the same. That was some years ago mind.

Beppe Grillo

« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2013, 11:22 »
0
An useful trick for those that don't know it:
Using a Nikon camera, if you have sharpen settings in camera (or other settings in camera) you always have the possibility to change these settings with the module Develop > Camera settings of Capture NX, and then re-save the NEF with these settings.
Sometimes it can be very useful.

gillian vann

  • *Gillian*
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2013, 21:15 »
0
you locked up the mirror on a tripod at 1/125 whilst using a 50mm? and I thought I was a bit anal.  :)  I still sharpen in camera raw but rarely much after that.

Well... it's not hard to do.  If you use the shutter delay on Nikon cameras, you just put it on a tripod, compose your shot, and hit the button.  The mirror goes up, a second later, the shot it taken.
yes, but in my case the 50mm is one of the few lens/bodies combos that gives me more freedom with handholding. i can shoot at 1/90 no worries. else push to ISO200. I guess I've gotten a bit soft cos I shoot for a lot of websites and I often push my ISO up.


 

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