When it comes time to create sharp photos, you'll find that there are two distinct types of sharpening within digital photography. The first is "optical sharpening," which is defined by the quality of your lens and your DSLR camera's image sensor. The other type is "software sharpening," which is applied in post production.
Continue reading to learn about both types of photo sharpening.
- Optical sharpening. Obviously, a crucial aspect of optical sharpness is the quality of your lens. A more expensive lens, with better optics, is likely to produce a sharper image at a greater aperture range. A camera with a larger resolution will also be able to capture sharper images.
DSLRs also contain "in-camera sharpening" tools, whereby as part of their default programming, they will apply some level of sharpening. This is to combat slight softening caused by the interpolation of colors during the color filter array decoding process. Too much sharpening can cause artifacts, and sharpening halos. In-camera sharpening can be adjusted in many prosumer and professional DSLRs, as well as with some advanced point and shoot cameras.
- Software Sharpening. If you shoot in RAW, in-camera sharpening can be undone in post production on computers. You can then decide on how much sharpening to add using software. It is always easier to apply sharpening, rather than to try to undo the effects of "over-sharpening."
If you shoot in JPEG, it's best to apply some in-camera sharpening, as this is done before JPEGs are compressed. Once a JPEG is compressed, any sharpening done with computer software can simply make the edges of the JPEG compression squares look over-sharpened.