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Thread started 10 May 2011 (Tuesday) 01:25
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What is the 'true' sharpness of a lens

 
jwhittaker
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May 10, 2011 01:25 |  #1

The photos I get from my EOS all seem to be a bit soft. Are the pictures which come out the camera (with default settings) reflecting the true quality of the lens?
Does doing sharpening in photo software just artificially make the images look better? Or is the lens better than the default soft photos?
It seems that without fail sharpening the photos makes them look better, but I would rather get sharp shots out the camera.
Thanks.


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May 10, 2011 01:31 |  #2

Well, to start, how about posting up some examples of shots, with EXIF info, for us to take a look at? It could be somewhat just learning new/better technique; but there is some inherent softening that goes on in the way images are converted, as well.

I have a few shots that I've really nailed and am happy with without additional PP sharpening; but for the most part, really getting them to "pop" requires some level of PP. (NOTE: I only shoot RAW; shooting jpg will have sharpening and other develop settings applied in the camera)


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jwhittaker
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May 10, 2011 02:01 |  #3

Here is a test shot. I am testing my new 15-85 to see if there is a problem with it. I am disappointed with the sharpness, for example at the focus point the lichen is not sharp. Sharpening in DPP makes it look better. Am I expecting too much from the lens, or is this a duff one? I am new to this. All photos are soft and I'm not that happy with. Thanks for advice.
This is on a tripod, with mirror lock up, IS off, and 2 second timer delay.

test1.jpg (external link)

and another, very fuzzy I think. Again on tripod, mirror locked up.

test2.jpg (external link)


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CanonEOS
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May 10, 2011 02:22 |  #4
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Good thread name What is the 'true' sharpness of a lens I will answer it quicky

Your EYES

:lol::lol:


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artyman
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May 10, 2011 02:54 |  #5

The 15-85 is an excellent lens, I can't see what you are fretting over, pixel peeping is a terrible affliction. I always shoot RAW so some sharpening is part of the process and required, however if you want to shoot jpeg's just set your sharpness level in camera and just go out and shoot.


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May 10, 2011 03:16 |  #6

Well, to be honest, I don't think any amount of sharpness will make those 2 test photos any better. I mean I'm staring at a tree trunk + guard rails... and then some backyard gnomes/gargoyles and walls.

Sharpness, while good to have, is nowhere as important as a well-composed, well-thought-out photo. Focus more on photography and capturing photos that stimulate the senses and less on sharpness (or lack of sharpness) of mundane photos.


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jwhittaker
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May 10, 2011 03:27 |  #7

If those test shots seems normal I am happy to get on with it. Trouble is for a beginner is that its impossible to tell a good lens from a bad one.
Maybe I am expecting too much, because close up (eg portraits) the sharpness is amazing. But anything over 12 foot I am a bit disappointed.


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jwcdds
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May 10, 2011 03:32 |  #8

jwhittaker wrote in post #12381049 (external link)
If those test shots seems normal I am happy to get on with it. Trouble is for a beginner is that its impossible to tell a good lens from a bad one.
Maybe I am expecting too much, because close up (eg portraits) the sharpness is amazing. But anything over 12 foot I am a bit disappointed.

I guess let me ask you this:

Are your eyes capable of resolving more sharpness under those conditions than the lens that you're using? If not, then it's already doing more than what your eyes can see.

But if you're telling me your eyes can resolve sharp images of things/objects/landsca​pes/small leaves that are 12-feet and beyond... you've got some eyes.


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jwhittaker
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May 10, 2011 03:36 |  #9

jwcdds wrote in post #12381027 (external link)
Well, to be honest, I don't think any amount of sharpness will make those 2 test photos any better. I mean I'm staring at a tree trunk + guard rails... and then some backyard gnomes/gargoyles and walls.

Sharpness, while good to have, is nowhere as important as a well-composed, well-thought-out photo. Focus more on photography and capturing photos that stimulate the senses and less on sharpness (or lack of sharpness) of mundane photos.

Absolutely fair point, it's just that today is the last day I have to send the lens back if it's duff. I just shot some mundane shots out my back garden to try to see what the sharpness is like mid distance, composure wasn't on my mind. Once I know if lens is 'normal' or not I can take it out and have some fun with it. Thus far, the only shots I have been really happy with are close up.


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jwhittaker
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May 10, 2011 03:44 |  #10

jwcdds wrote in post #12381056 (external link)
I guess let me ask you this:

Are your eyes capable of resolving more sharpness under those conditions than the lens that you're using? If not, then it's already doing more than what your eyes can see.

But if you're telling me your eyes can resolve sharp images of things/objects/landsca​pes/small leaves that are 12-feet and beyond... you've got some eyes.

Thanks for your point, it is well taken.
No my eyes cannot resolve it any sharper.
I am learning fast here, so basically, if I want to get close up detail of something I need to go closer to it, or get a telephoto, not rely on zooming in and cropping.


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May 10, 2011 03:49 |  #11

Most important thing to test for (IMO) of any AF lens is whether or not it's focusing accurately. You want to make sure that it's not experiencing any frontfocus/backfocus issues. Once that's established, then you're good to go. You can always sharpen in post (assuming that the subject lies correctly within the DoF of your settings).

Yes, you *could* get sharper images... but you start selling off organs in order to finance them. Truth be told, the trick is in the lighting. There are a lot of EXTREMELY SHARP photos taken with the 18-55 kit lenses. Photography is about light and mastery of light. It's only in situations where you want super-shallow-DoF and/or you can't bring your own light where the super expensive lenses start to prove their worth. Your 50/1.8 and 15-85 listed in your sig are more than capable of producing stunning photos. Just need to know how to squeeze the most out of them.


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May 10, 2011 03:52 |  #12

sections are overexposed with blown highlights, sections are underexposed, I would take pictures when the lighting is better and a more interesting subject. These tests are not great tests


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bohdank
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May 10, 2011 06:13 |  #13

Here is a not totally objective test.

If I look at an image in DPP at 100% and move the sharpness slider from 0 to 3 and do not see a noticeable increase in sharpness, then the image is either OOF or it's a crap lens. I don't have any of the latter, so the former must hold true.


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May 10, 2011 06:21 |  #14

In the second test you stopped down to f13 at 15mm. Not only is that probably pointless, it will introduce some softness that may be bothering you. You appear to be using highlight tone priority because you used ISO200. You can disable this and access ISO100. Lastly, your shutter speed due to your aperture was only 1/30th a second. More than enough to hand hold but not enough to stop the motion of fluttering leaves.


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jwhittaker
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May 10, 2011 06:27 |  #15

bohdank wrote in post #12381373 (external link)
Here is a not totally objective test.

If I look at an image in DPP at 100% and move the sharpness slider from 0 to 3 and do not see a noticeable increase in sharpness, then the image is either OOF or it's a crap lens. I don't have any of the latter, so the former must hold true.

Does that mean that the camera (not lens) introduces softness via it's onboard software? I read somewher about anti-aliasing but not sure what it means.


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What is the 'true' sharpness of a lens
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