In the Darkroom: Sharpness
I’m not really in a darkroom. I try to keep posts organized with categories. This post will probably only interest people who shoot with Fujifilm X cameras. It might not even interest them. But I’m doing a little processing test and figured it might be handy to have it laid out on the blog.
I’ve read a lot of online comments from Fujifilm shooters criticizing Adobe Lightroom’s handling of Fujifilm’s RAW files. If you increase the sharpness too much, you’ll get wormy effects. If you zoom in, the photo becomes covered in shapes reminiscent of those little styrofoam thingmajigs used for packing.
I didn’t notice or worry about it for a long time because I don’t like the hyper sharp images possible with digital cameras. But recently I did something stupid. I noticed that Lightroom’s default sharpness for my RAW files was at 40. I created some presets that dropped that down to 20, and then I dropped it all the way to 0. But I skipped the crucial step – comparing the results to see where I should set the baseline, or whether I should have left it at 40 all along.
I took some headshots the other day for a friend. When I went into Lightroom and Photoshop, I caught my error. The eyes were way too soft. Good timing, though, really. It gives me a chance to pay attention to what that setting is doing.
I did a quick, unscientific test this morning. I took an image and exported three versions at different sharpness levels. I haven’t compared them yet. It will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable difference. I suspect there won’t be on small mobile screens***. If you spot any differences, let me know. (Update: I think there are noticeable differences when displayed on my laptop screen.)