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Thread: how to take sharp portrait?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    When you all look at magazines, those photos are really very sharp. I hope to achieve those type of sharpness. But my photos turn out soft like this one posted here.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Yeo
    When you all look at magazines, those photos are really very sharp. I hope to achieve those type of sharpness. But my photos turn out soft like this one posted here.
    How do you know all these pictures are "straight out from the box"? no post production?

  3. #23
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    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Yeo
    When you all look at magazines, those photos are really very sharp. I hope to achieve those type of sharpness. But my photos turn out soft like this one posted here.
    You can enhance edges in software, creating the illusion of a sharper image. (Some of this is done in-camera, and even film does this during development.)

    Images in magazines tend to be on the "snappy" side: loud and colourful sells better, but they are not necessarily the nicer pictures. You can go in this direction by increasing colour saturation and local contrast in software.

    I'd be cautious with portraits. All the "sharpness" and "snappiness" makes the slightest skin imperfection stand out. The result may be less than flattering.

  4. #24

    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaiahfortythirtyone
    sharpness looks ok. im quite impressed by the bokeh. looks quite decent. a little under perhaps?

    shinken: you've opened a pandora's box with your link.
    The bokeh looks a bit too choppy for me.

    Yeah should try sharpening it a bit with USM or if you're printing 4R shouldn't be able to tell the difference. It does look a tad soft to me though. Try with another lens?

  5. #25
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    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    Sorry for somewhat hijacking your thread. I thought I'd give an example how to make pictures more "snappy".

    The four quadrants of the image below show the successive "improvement" (this term is debatable) of a picture. In sequence: 1. raw image, 2. boosted colour saturation, 3. same as 2 plus local contrast enhancement (unsharp masking), 4. same as 3 plus edge enhancement (unsharp masking).

    Now, I'm sure most people will like the end result better than the starting image and claim the raw image is "soft", "flat", and "undersaturated". In fact, it is as sharp as it can be at the given pixel resolution, and in all likelyhood the colours are closest to what the scene really looked like. After each processing step, the image looks more "snappy" (although in reality every step _destroys_ some more image data).

    I think this shows that appearance can be misleading and that apparently "soft" and "flat" pictures are not necessarily bad material to work with. In particular, it doesn't mean that a picture isn't sharp. You just have to mangle the picture to match your/your target group's taste.


  6. #26
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    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleWolf
    Sorry for somewhat hijacking your thread. I thought I'd give an example how to make pictures more "snappy".

    The four quadrants of the image below show the successive "improvement" (this term is debatable) of a picture. In sequence: 1. raw image, 2. boosted colour saturation, 3. same as 2 plus local contrast enhancement (unsharp masking), 4. same as 3 plus edge enhancement (unsharp masking).

    Now, I'm sure most people will like the end result better than the starting image and claim the raw image is "soft", "flat", and "undersaturated". In fact, it is as sharp as it can be at the given pixel resolution, and in all likelyhood the colours are closest to what the scene really looked like. After each processing step, the image looks more "snappy" (although in reality every step _destroys_ some more image data).

    I think this shows that appearance can be misleading and that apparently "soft" and "flat" pictures are not necessarily bad material to work with. In particular, it doesn't mean that a picture isn't sharp. You just have to mangle the picture to match your/your target group's taste.
    Hmmmm your end results really seems convincing, so you did two unmasking and you get the end result? what is the setting you use? Care to share more? sorry i am nuts to photoshopping. i think i can do better with camerashopping then photoshopping.

  7. #27

    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaiahfortythirtyone
    sharpness looks ok. im quite impressed by the bokeh. looks quite decent. a little under perhaps?

    shinken: you've opened a pandora's box with your link.
    Why has he opened up a pandora's box??
    For almost all shoots except for sports & runways, I use the thumb AF button to lock focus, then recompose and shoot..

    Can see some of the photos at http://willyfoo.com

  8. #28

    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    The lock and recompose technique does cause a slight amount of error but it's usually rather passable. Unless you have plenty of time to take the shot, adjusting the AF point till it falls on the subject(or the subject's eyes even, in many cases) is simply impractical, especially in the case of street photography where usually the entire process of taking the shot is very much stop, fire and go.

    Given the time, I personally find it helpful not to use the lock and recompose technique. In the absence of that time, Lock and recompose goes a long long way. A 5% less sharp shot usually doesn't spoil much.

    Back to the topic though. I agree that most lenses today are of a high standard, but sharpness levels do vary from lens to lens. I don't believe you can honestly say that an 18-200 zoom at 200mm will produce the same output as say a 70-200/4L, say both being set at f8 and tripod mounted, mirror locked up, cable released shutter. The image paul_yeo posted is in-focus, but that's about as far as it goes.

    AF on the D2X should be extremely reliable, given that it is a professional sports body.

    The following are my suggestions on how to achieve your desired output("magazine quality")

    -Tripod(this will eliminate handshake)
    -Mirror lock-up(eliminates mirror vibrations)
    -Cable release(ok you now don't touch the camera at all, softness is not resulting from handshake, mirror vibrations or poor shutter release technique)
    -Stop down your lens to the sweet spot(this should improve the image dramatically)
    -Try Littlewolf's PS suggestions. I usually go for right in-camera, but then again i shoot jpegs so it usually looks nicer in-camera. If you're shooting raw, then your image may actually look a lot better in jpeg mode. Raw images look crappy straight out of the camera but look fabulous with some minutes of tweaking. I'm just lazy.
    -I'm still very much of the opinion that it's the lens, f6.3 isn't quite stopped down enough to give you a sharp image for that lens i think. I'm speculating because i haven't used that lens before. Try all of the above, if the final output is still the same, change your lens. It's the only thing that remains. It's impossible that there'll be no trade-off between convenience and quality.
    My Personal Folio (of random events and things)

  9. #29
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    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    Quote Originally Posted by Manfred Ng
    what is the setting you use? Care to share more?
    I'll send you a PM - I don't want to go too far off-topic in this thread.

  10. #30

    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    Generally, echoing what others say, the sharpness is ok. I wouldn't be expecting more from a long range zoom unless it's tripod mount and remote triggered, which could help significantly (IMO) improve sharpness.

    Since others had touched on human error, I'll explore somewhere else. Focus-recompose-shoot technique, as pointed out, is employed in fast-moving situations, where most of the time, sharpness is second to composition. It does introduce an element of uncertainty in the eventual focus point (more room for human error), but it should not be too drastic to affect overall sharpness. Thus, the sharpness would be pretty acceptable. I don't know whether it's just my eye, but for your friend's pic, the arms seem sharper than the eyes. If you did not employ the technique, you could try a focus test chart to eliminate the possibility of front/back focusing or lens caliberation.

    ISO 640 is a pretty high ISO since we're talking about tack-sharp pics. The introduction of noise will also affect the sharpness of the pic in the contrast areas.

    If you're comparing with magazine/print shots, you got to compare like-to-like. Studio shots? Runway shots? Street shots? Studio shots are highly sharp for many reasons. It's unlikely they'll use a long range zoom to begin with. For studios, work is probably done with MF? Tripod/remote? Lighting? Subject? Tons of them thrown away? Even in mags and other print, shots differ in sharpness. Some runway shots are sharp, some aren't. But for sure, I didn't find street shots appealing to me as sharp. More often than not, a good street shot is one of good composition.

  11. #31

    Default Re: how to take sharp portrait?

    juz USM alot ...

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