Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video In-camera sharpening, part of Optimal Output with Photoshop CS6.
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As photographers of course, we generally want to achieve the sharpest image possible. Ensure that the key subject, for example, is in sharp focus. You might be tempted therefore, to use the Sharpening setting in your camera. In order to improve the initial sharpness of the photo. I recommend against doing that. Mostly because it doesn't quite give you enough control over the sharpening that's being applied. And sometimes that sharpening can be a little bit problematic and it's difficult to undo. You could blur the image just a little bit, but in reality that's not going to give you the best result.
But actually if you're capturing in Raw mode, then the sharpening your camera doesn't even apply. In fact, in most cameras the only settings that affect the raw capture are the ISO setting, the Aperture, and the Shutter Speed. With some cameras, there are a few additional options for example, Noise reduction that's applied for long exposures, and Highlight protection. There are a variety of exceptions, but not very many. And the settings in the camera that adjust sharpness, contrast, saturation ecetera. Those do not affect raw captures. Here, I have an image that I captured with exaggerated settings in the camera. But I captured in Raw.
And so these setting actually don't apply. You can see the image here looks rather contrasty. It looks a little oversharpened. And it certainly looks a little bit oversaturated. Even though the colors are relatively subtle, in this case. But that's because we're not actually looking at the Raw file per say. Rather in Bridge I've turned on the option to prefer the embedded JPEG preview. When you capture an image in Raw, the camera will still embed a Preview Image. And that's the same image that's used on the LCD display on the back of the camera, for example. To preview the photo, so essentially giving you an on-the-fly raw conversion. As a result, you will see the effect of the settings in camera on the LCD display just as I can see them right here.
But this isn't what the raw data actually contains. If I turn off this option, you'll see that the image changes rather dramatically. There's not as much contrast, there's not as much saturation, and the sharpening effect has disappeared. So, with a raw capture, even if you turn on sharpening in the camera you're not actually sharpening the image. So if you're shooting in raw it's really a non-issue, but regardless I reccomend saving your sharpening for later in your workflow. And not using your camera to apply somewhat arbitrary sharpening to your photos.
- Getting started with color management
- Early-workflow sharpening
- Output preparation
- When not to sharpen
- Advanced sharpening techniques
- Printing a photo