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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    BeegRhob's Avatar

    How sharp is sharp enough? Is "sharp enough" not even an option?

    I am curious what y'all have for standards of sharpness in your pics. I haven't really had to have my pics crystal clear and part of that is that I had to shoot manual focus, and I would forget often. I have kept a lot of pics that were somewhat blurry, for memories or whatever and even for social media. I wouldn't upload most of that here, because this isn't a place for that quality of pics. When I started looking around here, most of what I have seen, especially close up wildlife photography, focus is sharp! I am upping my "game" now, to better myself and the outcome of what I shoot! Earlier I was watching Masterclass with Annie Leibovitz and she seemed like she wasn't as concerned with tack sharp focus, and that there was more of a trend nowadays to be tack sharp. (This is a VERY loose paraphrase of what she said, my words to express hers.) What are your thoughts on focus? What does it depend on? Where does it matter?


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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Chucktin's Avatar

    Re: How sharp is sharp enough? Is "sharp enough" not even an option?

    Sharp - you may be opening a can of worms.
    Sharp enough at what size? At 3x4 I'd use one USM at 20x24 I'd use another.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Needa's Avatar

    Re: How sharp is sharp enough? Is "sharp enough" not even an option?

    Sharpness is completely subjective. How sharp do you want it to be? At times color or composition may be more important, or the photographer may want just small area to be in sharp focus. As for macro photography I like lots of sharp detail, not that it exists in my shots.
    On the flip side there are images that just don't make the cut and I have those I keep for memories sake also. It comes down to what are you trying to convey with the image.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member

    Re: How sharp is sharp enough? Is "sharp enough" not even an option?

    If you wear glasses, you'll understand sharpness. Not all images or photography styles have to be amazingly sharp. I do mostly wildlife and a sharp photo exhibits the fine detail I want to present so, I want it sharp. Most non photographers probably don't care that much about super sharp images but once you see them there is no going back...
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  5. #5
    Senior Member
    FredKingston's Avatar

    Re: How sharp is sharp enough? Is "sharp enough" not even an option?

    I like sharp. Sharpness, to me, defines technical skills... the right aperture, the right speed, the correct exposure within the restraints of the camera... Images that have a subject that is NOT sharp seem to me to be a distraction... You should marvel at the image, rather than be distracted by a part that isn't sharp... If I notice that an image isn't sharp, my mind wanders to what the photographer did wrong and that detracts from what I would want, so I perceive that as a failure.

    Is there a place for unsharp images? Yes... but it should be obvious that the photographer is using mood to achieve an over-all effect... When done correctly, it is obvious. When done incorrectly, again, the viewer gets distracted and the image fails...

    I shoot RAW, and as a consequence, in my workflow I always use "sharpening" to some degree because I want to control what is, or isn't sharp... You can't selectively do that unless the image is technically sharp to begin with... We need to learn to shoot technically correct images before we can apply artistic sharpening as a statement...

    Over-sharp images are just as distracting as unsharp... I'm reminded of early HDR... Today we use degrees of HDR to add "impact"... I remember when HDR first became readily available in digital images... They were garish and over-done, just because... Now, no one seriously does those HDR images...

    This discussion is also relative to digital images because using film, what we used to consider sharp, weren't even close to sharp... and the early photographers used the grain and bokeh as an artistic statement... and some still shoot film for those same reasons...

    Of course, this is also relative to what the photographer is trying to achieve in his presentation... creating images for social media is totally different than creating images for printing and presenting in a quality setting... versus even creating images for a sales catalogue...

    Photography allows proponents of all the different aspects of a sharp/unsharp image to co-exist...
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  6. #6
    Senior Member
    kevy73's Avatar

    Re: How sharp is sharp enough? Is "sharp enough" not even an option?

    I tend to be my harshest judge... I often reject images that most other wedding photographers would accept as sharp enough.. but I like to keep my standards....

    That said, if the only shot of something - especially something dynamic and moving isn't razor sharp, then I will include it.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Peter7100's Avatar

    Re: How sharp is sharp enough? Is "sharp enough" not even an option?

    Nowadays assuming people understand the basics, eg shutter speeds, image stabilisation, tripod usage when required, sharpness may well be down to the actual lens performance.
    I suspect there have been many a lens bought and then sold as the sharpness didn't match the expectations of the user. I admit to having sold many a lens on this basis myself. There is no doubt that the vast majority of kit lenses if not all, can't match the sharpness of the top of the range lenses. If sharpness didn't matter then we would all be using kit lenses and have lots of money in the bank.
    That said. sharpness alone certainly doesn't make a shot as we all know about the importance of light, composition, subject matter etc
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  8. #8
    Senior Member
    BF Hammer's Avatar

    Re: How sharp is sharp enough? Is "sharp enough" not even an option?

    Is it not ironic that we have this question and likely have several threads about lenses discussing the quality of bokeh? Photography in the age of digital seems to be reaching for extremes in every way.

    The short answer is it depends on what you are doing. Macro photo, odds are you want more and more sharpness. Portraits, do you need to see every pore in the skin? You are just going to have to remove that in post. Astro-photography, you want sharp because the atmosphere is working against you already. Pet photos, do yo need to count the individual hairs of a sheep-dog's tail?
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