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Photographers tend to place a very strong emphasis on achieving sharp focus on the photographs and with good reason. Generally speaking, though there are some exceptions, sharpness is the defining quality of a good image. As result, you might assume that very single digital photograph should be sharpened in order to ensure the appearance of optimal focus. And yet sharpening doesn't actually need to be applied to all images. In some cases applying sharpening can create problems in your image without providing any benefit. For example, this image really doesn't need any sharpening. That's not to say it was captured with perfect sharpness, or that no sharpness or detail was lost in the capture.
As much as I try to ensure optimal focus in my photographic images, I'm sure it would have been possible to achieve even better focus. And yet this isn't an image I would apply any sharpening to. Obviously this image was captured under foggy conditions. And that fog diffuses the light and softens up details within the image. Sharpening really won't bring out crisp detail because there isn't any real crisp detail to begin with. And sharpening can lead to problems. If there is noise, film grain, or other texture within the image that you don't want to draw attention to, sharpening can be problematic.
The same sharpening that would otherwise enhance edge detail will enhance the tonal and color variations that define noise and other textures within the image. To be sure, most images will need to have some level of sharpening applied to them, but don't assume that every image needs to have sharpening applied. In particular, if you start out applying sharpening to an image and find that it seems to be causing more harm than good, it may be time to click the Cancel button and simply not apply sharpening to that particular image.
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