Pre-Sharpened K5II studio comparison file compared to K5IIs file

Started Apr 22, 2013 | Discussions
philzucker
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Pre-Sharpened K5II studio comparison file compared to K5IIs file
Apr 22, 2013

Since I didn't have the extra money to upgrade from my K5 to a K5IIs (price difference here in Germany is quite high) I settled for an K5II instead - and am happy enough with its results.

Of course I wanted to know how I could come close to the K5IIs' output, so I tried the RAW pre sharpener out of the NIK collection - with really satisfying results IMO.

First what I did:

  • I downloaded dpreview's ISO 80 studio comparison RAW files for the K5II and the K5IIs
  • I then imported both files to Lightroom 3.6 (default settings) - I later tried them also with the LR 5 beta, but results were identical.
  • I ran the NIK RAW pre-sharpener on both the K5II and the K5IIs files (default settings)
  • I made a series of side by side comparison at 100% with the pre-sharpened files and the original ones.

My conclusions:

  • If you compare the original files the K5IIs wins clearly - better sharpness, better detail - and occasionally some moire of course
  • If you compare the original K5IIs with a pre-sharpened K5II file the latter looks a tad clearer and sharper and with IMO roughly the same amount of detail - and it doesn't show any moire ... (if you try the same have e.g. a look at the blue VW Beetle in the upper middle left; it shows clearly visible diagonal moire stripes on the K5IIs, and none at the pre-sharpened K5II file ...)
  • If you compare both pre-sharpened versions the K5IIs again has the edge - but the difference isn't very pronounced IMO, because the K5IIs file doesn't gain as much from the pre-sharpening as the K5II file.

Have to add that I couldn't find any unwanted artifacts introduced on the pre-sharpened files at 100%. You have to go to 200% to see some. But who's interested in that?!

Also have to add that to my knowledge we're not allowed to post parts of the studio comparison shots here (or anywhere else), so you have to try for yourself, if you're interested.

My conclusion? YMMV, of course - but I do think that I really can live with the pre-sharpened K5II files and don't loose very much in comparison with the K5IIs's output. Of course running the pre-sharpening on all files is very time consuming, and you'll completely avoid that with a K5IIs - but hey, I do think that it's sort of a nice workaround anyway for those of us who have shied away from the extra cost of the K5IIs and happened to have those NIK plugins.

And remember: All findings are subjective and apply to dpreviews's studio comparison RAW shots at ISO 80 only. I didn't test any other.

Phil

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Russell Evans
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One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to philzucker, Apr 22, 2013

... to download the K-5IIs raw files and try the PhotoNinja Raw developer which claims to have a better raw conversion for cameras without AA filters on them.

http://www.picturecode.com/showcase/demosaicing.php

"Two modes are available. The standard algorithm is suitable for the majority of cameras that have adequately strong antialiasing filters in front of the sensor. This algorithm is relatively fast and yields excellent results. The enhanced mode is appropriate for cameras with weak or missing antialiasing filters. It is slower, but in many cases it can significantly reduce directional artifacts and moire patterns that would otherwise result because of the lack of antialiasing."

Thank you
Russell

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philzucker
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to Russell Evans, Apr 22, 2013

Russell Evans wrote:

... to download the K-5IIs raw files and try the PhotoNinja Raw developer which claims to have a better raw conversion for cameras without AA filters on them.

http://www.picturecode.com/showcase/demosaicing.php

Thanks for the link, Russel.

On the same page they also write:

"For most photographers, we recommend using cameras with antialiasing filters. Antialiasing substantially reduces the risk and severity of demosaicing artifacts and moire. Apparent softness can be effectively overcome with Photo Ninja's excellent sharpening filter, which uses deblurring technology that can effectively compensate for antialiasing blur."

So NIK's RAW pre-sharpener is of course not the only game in town for fighting the AA filter blur ...

Phil

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Kerusker
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Phil: Your upgrade experience? (K-5 -> K-5 II)
In reply to philzucker, Apr 22, 2013

philzucker wrote:

Since I didn't have the extra money to upgrade from my K5 to a K5IIs (price difference here in Germany is quite high) I settled for an K5II instead - and am happy enough with its results.

Of course I wanted to know how I could come close to the K5IIs' output, .........

Phil,

thanks for your IQ comparison between K-5 II and K-5 IIs.

IQ of K-5 and K-5 II seem to be very close which raises the questions:

  • What was the main reason for you to update from K-5 to K-5 II?
  • What are the main improvements to you after your update (now knowing both)?

BTW: Nice 'New bicycle route' images - thanks for posting and for the story.

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philzucker
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Re: Phil: Your upgrade experience? (K-5 -> K-5 II)
In reply to Kerusker, Apr 22, 2013

Kerusker wrote:

Phil,

thanks for your IQ comparison between K-5 II and K-5 IIs.

You're welcome.

IQ of K-5 and K-5 II seem to be very close which raises the questions:

  • What was the main reason for you to update from K-5 to K-5 II?

Reliable and fast low light focusing that matches the low light capabilities of the K5's sensor. I like to do available light photography and found the K5's AF lacking in some situations. Too much focus hunting / hit & miss for my taste ...

  • What are the main improvements to you after your update (now knowing both)?#

Exactly what I wrote above. I didn't expect more, and I got what I wanted.

And thanks for  looking at the bicycle route pics!

Phil

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Robgo2
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to philzucker, Apr 23, 2013

philzucker wrote:

Russell Evans wrote:

... to download the K-5IIs raw files and try the PhotoNinja Raw developer which claims to have a better raw conversion for cameras without AA filters on them.

http://www.picturecode.com/showcase/demosaicing.php

Thanks for the link, Russel.

On the same page they also write:

"For most photographers, we recommend using cameras with antialiasing filters. Antialiasing substantially reduces the risk and severity of demosaicing artifacts and moire. Apparent softness can be effectively overcome with Photo Ninja's excellent sharpening filter, which uses deblurring technology that can effectively compensate for antialiasing blur."

So NIK's RAW pre-sharpener is of course not the only game in town for fighting the AA filter blur ...

Phil

Photo Ninja's sharpening is a deconvolution process, and I can attest that it is excellent, the best, in fact, that I have ever used.  There are other programs that offer deconvolution--ACR/LR, DxO, Photoshop (Smart Sharpen), Topaz In-Focus and others.  I do not know if Nik's Pre-sharpening is deconvolution as well.

Rob

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philzucker
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to Robgo2, Apr 23, 2013

Robgo2 wrote:

Photo Ninja's sharpening is a deconvolution process, and I can attest that it is excellent, the best, in fact, that I have ever used.  There are other programs that offer deconvolution--ACR/LR, DxO, Photoshop (Smart Sharpen), Topaz In-Focus and others.  I do not know if Nik's Pre-sharpening is deconvolution as well.

Neither do I, Rob. But thanks for mentioning it. If I find a minute I'll try to replicate the results I got with Nik's RAW-Presharpener with LR's built in sharpening tools.

NIK's RAW-Presharpener in LR is a bit cumbersome to use - it's not only time consuming, but since you can't apply it to the raw file you have to be careful when to use it (e.g. only after lens corrections) - and of course you have the penalty of an extra 16 bit TIFF file cluttering up your hard drive ...

Well, bottom line is that I won't use pre-sharpening that often anyway, only on those occasions when I go for that big print and every pixel counts!

Phil

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gaddigad
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to philzucker, Apr 23, 2013

philzucker wrote:

Russell Evans wrote:

... to download the K-5IIs raw files and try the PhotoNinja Raw developer which claims to have a better raw conversion for cameras without AA filters on them.

http://www.picturecode.com/showcase/demosaicing.php

Thanks for the link, Russel.

On the same page they also write:

"For most photographers, we recommend using cameras with antialiasing filters. Antialiasing substantially reduces the risk and severity of demosaicing artifacts and moire. Apparent softness can be effectively overcome with Photo Ninja's excellent sharpening filter, which uses deblurring technology that can effectively compensate for antialiasing blur."

So NIK's RAW pre-sharpener is of course not the only game in town for fighting the AA filter blur ...

Phil

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How much (if at all) does their business (improving soft & noisy photos) depend on it being there?

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philzucker
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Forgot to deactivate default LR sharpening ...
In reply to philzucker, Apr 23, 2013

philzucker wrote:

  • I then imported both files to Lightroom 3.6 (default settings) 

Uh, oh - found a flaw here in my workflow: default settings in LR 3.6 (or any other version) also means default sharpening for imported DNGs is turned on. Tend to forget that. I'll have to redo my tests with this default sharpening turned off, because Nik's RAW Presharpener is intended to run on non-sharpened raw files. I'll report back here if I'll find a significant difference in the end result ...

Phil

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philzucker
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to gaddigad, Apr 23, 2013

gaddigad wrote:

How much (if at all) does their business (improving soft & noisy photos) depend on it being there?

I do not understand exactly what you mean here - whose business?

Phil

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Model Mike
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Re: Pre-Sharpened K5II studio comparison file compared to K5IIs file
In reply to philzucker, Apr 23, 2013

philzucker wrote:

My conclusion? YMMV, of course - but I do think that I really can live with the pre-sharpened K5II files and don't loose very much in comparison with the K5IIs's output.

I agree.

People often compare the RAW outputs of the K-5II and IIs without taking into account the greater amount of capture sharpening which should be applied to the K-5 II raw output. Capture sharpening should always be applied in proportion to the strength of the AA filter, just enough to avoid halos.

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gaddigad
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to philzucker, Apr 23, 2013

philzucker wrote:

gaddigad wrote:

How much (if at all) does their business (improving soft & noisy photos) depend on it being there?

I do not understand exactly what you mean here - whose business?

Phil

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Photo Ninja''s. They couldn't care less (or maybe they really do) about AA filters (or lack therof) making their sharpening tools a bit less needed. K100ds has a very weak AA filter (this is my impression from how my photos look) and when using a sharp lens, sharpening is hardly a necessary requirment.

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philzucker
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to gaddigad, Apr 23, 2013

gaddigad wrote:

Photo Ninja''s. They couldn't care less (or maybe they really do) about AA filters (or lack therof) making their sharpening tools a bit less needed. K100ds has a very weak AA filter (this is my impression from how my photos look) and when using a sharp lens, sharpening is hardly a necessary requirment.

Ah, thanks for the clarification.

I understand that some people like Photo Ninja as a RAW converter - not only, but also for its sharpening and noise reduction capabilities. I have never tried it though, just wanted to mention that Nik sure is not the only offer on the market.

Phil

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Robgo2
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to philzucker, Apr 23, 2013

philzucker wrote:

Robgo2 wrote:

Photo Ninja's sharpening is a deconvolution process, and I can attest that it is excellent, the best, in fact, that I have ever used.  There are other programs that offer deconvolution--ACR/LR, DxO, Photoshop (Smart Sharpen), Topaz In-Focus and others.  I do not know if Nik's Pre-sharpening is deconvolution as well.

Neither do I, Rob. But thanks for mentioning it. If I find a minute I'll try to replicate the results I got with Nik's RAW-Presharpener with LR's built in sharpening tools.

NIK's RAW-Presharpener in LR is a bit cumbersome to use - it's not only time consuming, but since you can't apply it to the raw file you have to be careful when to use it (e.g. only after lens corrections) - and of course you have the penalty of an extra 16 bit TIFF file cluttering up your hard drive ...

Well, bottom line is that I won't use pre-sharpening that often anyway, only on those occasions when I go for that big print and every pixel counts!

Phil

Phil,

I have never been terribly impressed with LR/ACR's sharpening, but your experience may differ.  I believe that ACR has both deconvolution and USM.

Rob

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philzucker
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Didn't forget to deactivate default LR sharpening after all ...
In reply to philzucker, Apr 23, 2013

philzucker wrote:

philzucker wrote:

  • I then imported both files to Lightroom 3.6 (default settings) 

Uh, oh - found a flaw here in my workflow: default settings in LR 3.6 (or any other version) also means default sharpening for imported DNGs is turned on. Tend to forget that. I'll have to redo my tests with this default sharpening turned off, because Nik's RAW Presharpener is intended to run on non-sharpened raw files. I'll report back here if I'll find a significant difference in the end result ...

It's even worse than I thought - just checked everything, and found out that I forgot that I didn't forget to turn default LR sharpening off. So everything I said in my original post is correct.

Phil

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philzucker
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to Robgo2, Apr 23, 2013

Phil,

I have never been terribly impressed with LR/ACR's sharpening, but your experience may differ.  I believe that ACR has both deconvolution and USM.

Rob

To be honest I never fiddled much with LR sharpening because I usually did output sharpening only. Now with the AA filter thing I began to wonder. I just tested sharpening controls in LR, and have to say that especially in combination with the masking filter LR sharpening is not that bad IMO. For a RAW capture sharpening of a K5II file an amount of around 60-70 combined with radius 1.0 and detail set on 25 (or lower) seems to work fine - and unwanted noise sharpening on uniform areas like a blue sky you can eliminate easily using the masking slider as needed.

I really like the "Alt"-press while adjusting the sliders - gives on a very good sense of what one is actually affecting.

I also tried LR sharpening on the dpreview comparison pic now and got almost the same result as with Nik's Raw Presharpener. I have to conclude that it is usable. At least it's much faster than Nik's.

Phil

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philzucker
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Re: Pre-Sharpened K5II studio comparison file compared to K5IIs file
In reply to Model Mike, Apr 23, 2013

Model Mike wrote:

People often compare the RAW outputs of the K-5II and IIs without taking into account the greater amount of capture sharpening which should be applied to the K-5 II raw output. Capture sharpening should always be applied in proportion to the strength of the AA filter, just enough to avoid halos.

Have to second that ...

Phil

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Brian Thomas
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re: downsides to NIK pre-sharpener tossing aside your RAW file
In reply to philzucker, Apr 23, 2013

Phil,

As I have NIK software, Lightroom and a K5ii I am interested in your experiment.

My main concern is that NIK plugins only work a tiff it creates from the RAW file. I often use Viveza or Silver Efex AFTER I have gotten all that i can out of the RAW file in Lightroom.

You are doing your pre-sharpening before any other processing, right?

If I were to pre-sharpen the files with NIK sharpener I would lose the ability to use Lightroom's tools on the RAW files where I suspect they are most effective. I haven't done tests, but I suspect that Lightroom can to a better job recovering highlights or detail from the shadows with RAW files than it can from pre-sharpened TIFFs.

Do you agree that you lose something by tossing aside your RAW files at the very beginning?

Or, do you think you can save pre-sharpening until after you've finished processing the RAW files?

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philzucker
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Re: re: downsides to NIK pre-sharpener tossing aside your RAW file
In reply to Brian Thomas, Apr 23, 2013

Brian Thomas wrote:

Phil,

As I have NIK software, Lightroom and a K5ii I am interested in your experiment.

My main concern is that NIK plugins only work a tiff it creates from the RAW file. I often use Viveza or Silver Efex AFTER I have gotten all that i can out of the RAW file in Lightroom.

You are doing your pre-sharpening before any other processing, right?

Well, I worked mainly with the studio comparison files to study the effect which didn't need any further processing - and thought about workflow issues later ... see my first reply to Robgo2 in this thread ...

If I were to pre-sharpen the files with NIK sharpener I would lose the ability to use Lightroom's tools on the RAW files where I suspect they are most effective. I haven't done tests, but I suspect that Lightroom can to a better job recovering highlights or detail from the shadows with RAW files than it can from pre-sharpened TIFFs.

Haven't checked on that, but would definitely do WB adjustment and lens correction (including CA correction) before using the Presharpener. Would be interesting to see if highlight/shadow recovery suffers after the 14 bit RAW file is converted to a 16 bit TIFF.

One thing though: Used in Photoshop you apply Nik's RAW Presharpener after importing with ACR - and that means highlight and shadow recovery is already being done (along with lens corrections, WB adjustment and so on) before Nik gets the chance to do his thing. So I suspect doing the same things in LR before using the Presharpener should be okay.

Do you agree that you lose something by tossing aside your RAW files at the very beginning?

Definitely!

Or, do you think you can save pre-sharpening until after you've finished processing the RAW files?

As outlined above.

See also my second reply to Robgo2 concerning using LR for capture sharpening - something I'm just beginning to learn with some interesting results. I also begin to suspect that Nik's tools may be a bit better suited to a photoshop workflow and bit less for LR - the extra TIFF files are really cumbersome ...

Phil

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Robgo2
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Re: One of the things I mean to try is ...
In reply to philzucker, Apr 23, 2013

philzucker wrote:

Phil,

I have never been terribly impressed with LR/ACR's sharpening, but your experience may differ.  I believe that ACR has both deconvolution and USM.

Rob

To be honest I never fiddled much with LR sharpening because I usually did output sharpening only. Now with the AA filter thing I began to wonder. I just tested sharpening controls in LR, and have to say that especially in combination with the masking filter LR sharpening is not that bad IMO. For a RAW capture sharpening of a K5II file an amount of around 60-70 combined with radius 1.0 and detail set on 25 (or lower) seems to work fine - and unwanted noise sharpening on uniform areas like a blue sky you can eliminate easily using the masking slider as needed.

I really like the "Alt"-press while adjusting the sliders - gives on a very good sense of what one is actually affecting.

I also tried LR sharpening on the dpreview comparison pic now and got almost the same result as with Nik's Raw Presharpener. I have to conclude that it is usable. At least it's much faster than Nik's.

Phil

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Phil,

I do not use ACR routinely and am traveling right now and do not have access to the program.  I believe that the default sharpening is deconvolution, while the USM, which is located above it, is set to zero.  In my workflow, I use USM only for creative or output sharpening.  In the raw stage, I prefer deblurring/deconvolution by itself.   If you want to see incredibly good deconvolution, give Photo Ninja a try.  PN is a pretty amazing program.

Rob

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