Sharpness setting: does it actually control the amount of NR?

Started Jun 14, 2013 | Discussions thread
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edu T
edu T Senior Member • Posts: 1,174
Sharpness setting: does it actually control the amount of NR?

I observed this with a G15, but it possibly applies as well to SX50 and S110.

Having shot a handful of JPEGs with sharpness set to max (under "my colors"), they looked, well... sharper. But none of them seemed (to me at least) to show any telltales of sharpening, such as haloes or the odd too abrupt transition.

In the other hand, the noise in the shadows was very noticeable. Here' a couple of 200% (yup, the G15 lens is that good ) crops:

Left: MIN sharpness; right: MAX sharpness.

The relative mushiness on the left sample (see the scant foliage) makes me wonder whether the "sharpness" control from min to max is in fact a disguised "noise reduction" control from max to min.

If this is truly the case, it would follow that when shooting JPEG we'd be better off leaving "sharpness" set to MAX at all times. (Counterintuitive, I know. But my hypothesis is that this "sharpness" has nothing to do with "sharpening".) Because you can always try to denoise an image later if needed, but you will hardly ever be able to recover detail eaten away by NR.

Of course, this experiment is easily repeatable by anyone interested. Am I missing anything, though? (Let's say this is the way it was supposed to work. But then... why isn't the setting called, say, "noise allowance"?)

 edu T's gear list:edu T's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR
Canon PowerShot G15 Canon PowerShot S110
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