D800, 50 mm f/1.4G, Lightroom Sharpening, and Imatest

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Scott McMorrow
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D800, 50 mm f/1.4G, Lightroom Sharpening, and Imatest
6 months ago

If you're like me, you may wonder what in the world the various Lightroom sharpening sliders do to a D800 file, and where a reasonable optimum sharpening setting would be.

I used my 50mm f/1.4 G at f/5.6, which is about the sharpest aperture to photograph an Imatest 72" test chart. I imported that into Lightroom with no Lens correction, auto white balance, and minimal noise settings (see the readme file). I then created multiple virtual copies of the file, each one with a different setting for the Sharpening sliders: Amount, Radius, and Detail, and then exported the results as full size 100% JPG files with no additional sharpening.

The resulting files were then processed in Imatest using the SFRplus MTF analysis on the center Horizontal and Vertical edges. The results are compiled at the links below, with a spreadsheet for all resulting values. I found the results to be quite interesting.  It turns out that in sharpening with Lightroom there is a balance between sharpness and artifacts (duh). I found that the results I liked the bested tended to be slightly undersharpened, with a small amount of overshoot, and a fairly low MTF at Nyquist.  Generally I found that the MTF value at Nyquist was a good indicator of the amount and quality of noise due to sharpening.  While overshoot generally indicated the amount of halo artifact.

FWIW, the setting I ended up liking is  Amount = 80, Radius = 0.6, Detail = 15.

Since then I've processed several 100's of photographs and continue to like what I see.

YMMV

Feel free to peruse the results and play with the NEF file yourself.  I'd be interested in any thoughts and feedback.

Readme

Spreadsheet of Sharpening Results

Imatest Plots

NEF and Processed JPGs (warning, this is a 2.5 MB zip file)

Information on Imatest and evaluation of sharpening can be found on the Imatest website. Here is one link

http://www.imatest.com/docs/sharpening/

Nikon D800
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