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Sharpness an ameture term?

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Chris Evans
Sharpness an ameture term?
on May 5, 2014 at 4:21:09 pm

I saw a sharpness test between the GH4, the Red Epic, and the 5d MkIII and the GH4 blew both of the others out of the water. I'm not saying the GH4 is better than the Red Epic, but in that particular test for sharpness, it outperformed the Epic.

However, several people criticized them for comparing sharpness. They said sharpness is an ameture thing which I took to mean that professionals don't care about sharpness. I understand that the Epic has a lot going for it other than sharpness and that there are many factors to consider when comparing cameras, but why wouldn't you want your images to be crisp? To see details in distant trees?

Can someone shed some light on this?


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Warren Eig
Re: Sharpness an ameture term?
on May 5, 2014 at 4:39:29 pm

Is it possible to to apply sharpness in post to achieve the same results? Sometimes over sharpening in camera is not a good thing as it cannot be undone. Most RAW footage has no sharpening applied in camera.

Warren Eig
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Steve Crow
Re: Sharpness an ameture term?
on May 6, 2014 at 12:47:11 am

Well, sharpness can be very important for still images that can be printed to very large sizes, say for posters, billboards, bus signage etc. But it occurs to me that many pro STILL photographers shoot images that are 20, 30 megapixels or even higher will video tops out at 4 or 5 megapixels in all but a few cases - in other words our video images are smaller and shot at much lower resolutions.

Also, super sharpness is a quality that tends to turn a cinematic image into an old school video image like from back in the Mini DV days. It's a totally different aesthetic. That's not to say our video images are blurry or out of focus - but maybe not super super sharp ether. Take a look at TV shows from the 50's through the 90's or so when standard definition was all there was - no sharpness there.


Most pros shoot video with the in camera sharpness turned all the way down or close to it because our editing systems are much better at adding sharpness back in that the camera's built-in sharpening algorithms.

Something to think about anyways

Steve Crow


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Steve Crow
Re: Sharpness an ameture term?
on May 7, 2014 at 8:14:15 pm

Uhhh, it occurred to me last night that I think I made a math related error in my post....the larger point I am making I think is still technically correct however

According to http://web.forret.com/tools/megapixel.asp?width=6000&height=3376 a camera with a 20.3 megapixel sensor would produce an image 6000 x 3376 or 6K

so 6K for a still image is still much much more data than a 1920x1080 HD video which is considered 2K but not the 5 times difference that I put forward originally.

Math is hard

Steve Crow


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Mike Smith
Re: Sharpness an amateur term?
on May 6, 2014 at 12:43:45 pm

Sharpness, alongside exposure and colour balance, are fundamentals of photography and not at all amateur-only concerns. Normally, people will want areas of interest in a photo to be clearly "in focus" - often, as sharp as possible, as accurate as possible a representation of what's in front of camera. Of course it's not always the case that max sharpness is desired - but it's much easier to soften a sharp image than to construct detail not recorded.

Sharpness will dictate how much detail an image can reproduce (a lens can resolve, a sensor capture.) So resolution tests can involve series of increasingly tightly-packed lines, and then a comparison of how many lines per unit length can be distinguished in the captured image. http://www.imatest.com/docs/sharpness/
http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2012/06/26/test-your-lens-sharpness/

Digital cameras (as well as early analogue video cameras) often allow an artificial sharpening process, or edge enhancement, to give an image a cleaner, clearer look. http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/image-sharpening.htm This sharpening can be added in post for stills or video, and sometimes people like it, or some people like it.

On your specific test (which I haven't seen), it's not unusual for tests published online to be not that strictly set up or controlled in a "scientific" neutral, accurate, reproducible and balanced way, to measure a clearly identified property ... And often people will feel hostile to published results that do not confirm (or run contrary to ) their expectations. This effect can be enhanced when people are identified with a specific brand or item of kit which they take to be and want to be "the best" - particularly if it's kit they've spent $$$ on. Some brands encourage that kind of product identification, choice and loyalty in their promotion and marketing (a good way to add profits, if people will pay a premium for the brand independent of actual performance, features and functions) and it may be that some of the camera makers whose kit was tested in that survey use that approach to customer communications.


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