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To sharpen or not to sharpen for selling images

dark_lord Plus
14 2.2k 540 England
16 Aug 2004 5:22PM
Id just like to hear some of your opinions, best practice, what works for you, etc.

I normally apply a little unsharp mask after finishing work on an image prior to saving (and eventual burning to CD). This is so that all my images are ready for use as it were. This Ive done to scanned images and to jpegs from digital cameras. But since getting a 300D Im shooting almost exclusively raw files.

Im starting to get around to send more digital files off to magazines etc., and also hope to contribute to picture agencies. Now having read numerous threads here I know requirements differ, and that most agencies require unsharpened images.

What Id like to know is how best to approach the sharpening issue. Work on an image and save without sharpening, so that if needs be I can create a sharpened image when required e.g. if I need to print out an image (or if sharpened images are required). Alternatively, work as I have been, as I keep the raw files backed up on CD so I can always go back and create a bespoke version when needed (given that most work will involve straightforward stuff such as levels, cropping etc.).

Any help appreciated.


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keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
16 Aug 2004 5:29PM
Best way is to mail the photo editor of the magazines concerned and ask how they like submissions to be presented.
dark_lord Plus
14 2.2k 540 England
16 Aug 2004 5:30PM
Thanks Keith.
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
16 Aug 2004 6:08PM

I would always save the image without sharpening so that you can decide at the 'sending' stage what to do.

I would say that without exception, libraries will want UNSHARPENED images so if you save after sharpening, you will have to reconvert your RAW file which is a bit of extra work that could be avoided

Carabosse 15 41.1k 270 England
16 Aug 2004 6:16PM
So, Barry, you would send a RAW file, converted to TIFF, and which has only colour correction and suchlike?
16 Aug 2004 6:39PM
Hi. I've seen RAW images from a 300D, unsharpened and they look fine. It depends on the usage. I prefer to import RAW straight into Photoshop CS, adjust levels, contrast and colour and use finally use unsharp mask - starting point for portraits: amount 100, radius 3, threshold 5, to avoid oversharpening skintones. For landscapes I use between 150-250, between 0.5-1, and 0 for threshold. Then save as a tiff. This seems to work. However, as previous writers have noted it depends what libraries want so check with them. I've had one ask for the RAW image as it came out of the camera so as tweak as required. Give libraries what they want. Geoff
UserDeleted 15 3.6k
16 Aug 2004 8:15PM
I'm with Barrie on this one.

If you save your files into your main library storage in TIFF mode, cleaned of dust/scratches/hairs, with colour corrections/levels, copyright information, IPTC description and keyword tags and named according to your standards then you are ready to dispatch to whomever you need.

If it is a library then you can up-res (if not already)and not sharpen
If it is a magazine you can ask and do so to their requirements
If it is a print then you can size and sharpen accordingly
If you need to convert to Jpeg for electronic transmission then you can, and again size and sharpen.

I used to sharpen as part of my (personal) library filing workflow and now with Alamy I have altered it to mirror the above.

agoreira 14 6.0k Wales
16 Aug 2004 8:31PM
"Hi. I've seen RAW images from a 300D, unsharpened and they look fine."

It's worth bearing in mind that some people have sharpening set on as default in camera, whereas as some agencies ask that in camera sharpening is switched off.

Frank W
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
17 Aug 2004 5:39AM
If you shoot in RAW mode, it doesn't matter what camera asettings you have (other than white balance in some cameras) they will NOT be applied to an image captured in RAW.

In Camera controls (colour, contrast, sharpening etc etc) are only applied to images captured as JPEG or TIFF. If you shoot RAW but have any settings like these set in the camera, they are tagged onto the image file for information purposes and the file converter program you use can utilise the settings if required but they are not automatically applied.

Carabosse - yes - I convert my RAW files to TIFF - apply whatever I feel is necessary to make the image look good and save it unsharpened. Then depending upon what I am going to do with the image, I will follow the procedure as outlined by Mike (Frenchie)

Barrie Smile
dark_lord Plus
14 2.2k 540 England
17 Aug 2004 7:19AM
Thanks everyone for your input.
Barrie, yes anything to reduce extra work!
Mike, I think I was coming round to your way of working, it's nice to hear it from someone who's already been there, done that.

agoreira 14 6.0k Wales
17 Aug 2004 7:33AM
"If you shoot in RAW mode, it doesn't matter what camera asettings you have (other than white balance in some cameras) they will NOT be applied to an image captured in RAW."

Perfectly correct Barrie, but we still have luddites like Caraboose that keep trying to convince us that RAW is a waste of time. Wink Perhaps some misguided souls have followed his advice. Plus of course, there are cameras that do not shoot RAW.

Frank W
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
17 Aug 2004 7:40AM
Hi Frank

My comments were just a general reminder in case some people didn't realise that any camera settings for image manipulation are ignored for a RAW file, (they were not in repsonse to anything anyone else had said) Smile

agoreira 14 6.0k Wales
17 Aug 2004 7:56AM
No problem Barrie. Wink Thought I'd just mention it. Whilst most of us are convinced RAW is the way to go, in previous threads here, there are still a lot it seems, that like to shoot jpg, presumibly that's why it's mentioned in the advice given by some agencies.

Frank W
digicammad 15 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
17 Aug 2004 8:26AM
Perfectly correct Barrie, but we still have luddites like Caraboose that keep trying to convince us that RAW is a waste of time. Wink

Sorry Frank but on this occasion I'm more with CB than against him. I think if you have a DSLR raw is almost certainly the way to go. However my argument is that, although it gives ultimate control and wider colour range than jpeg, that doesn't automatically make it right for everybody.

I have read a fair number of comparison articles, in which experienced photographers have agreed that raw is only of benefit in certain circumstances, most often experienced by professional photographers.

I am currently experimenting with raw (promised Ed kit-monster I would). I am taking identical shots, one in raw and another in high quality jpeg and to date have the following findings:

For - as mentioned above (16 bit colour and maximum control)

Against - I can't preview the images on my Archos if I need to wipe the card. Can only fit half as many on each card. Raw images can not be catalogued in PS Album (not sure about other s/w) and limited selection of image viewing programs will read them. Post-processing has to be done on each photo and can not practically be achieved with same settings each time. No noise correction is done and removing it in post processing is a pain. Accurate colours are more difficult to achieve. After all this, no perceivable increase in quality.

I am sure that some of the above is due to my lack of expertise with PS and the noise is probably less of a problem with a DSLR. Far from negating my argument, these points strengthen it. It's early days and I will keep trying (when I have time) but so far I have failed to achieve anything like the quality with raw that I get from jpeg and the camera's algorithms.

So if you have a DSLR, by all means use raw, but if you don't, my advice would be not to blindly follow the DSLR users' advice because it isn't necessarily better. There is no point having the extra control if you end up with lower quality, nor in having the additional colours if the difference is not evident on screen or in print. Do some comparisons and see what suits you.

Sorry if this sounds like a rant, it isn't supposed to be.

keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
17 Aug 2004 8:31AM
Accurate colours more difficult to achieve!!!!!?

Colour accuracy is paramount in my field of work and only by using RAW can this be achieved with absolute results.
To get the best from the files you need good quality image conversion software. PS just isn't up to it.

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