What's the meaning of the "sharp"-qualification of an image?

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Sjak Senior Member • Posts: 3,307
What's the meaning of the "sharp"-qualification of an image?

Often, while browsing this forum, it seems the only qualifications that are made re. camera's, lenses and also pictures is that they are "sharp".

For now, I would like to focus on pictures (excluding test-pictures)

If the reaction of people to a picture is "It's tack-sharp" "sharp image" etc, I have to wonder what they are actually trying to say.

I believe (sufficient) sharpness is relatively easy to achieve, if wanted, with the more modern Fuji-lenses and the 16 & 24 MP bodies. Therefore, in my perception, it is not really worthwhile to comment much upon, except maybe in specific macro- or tele-applications  where the purpose is (in part) to show some intriguing detail.

If people would react to a (non-macro) picture I made with the comment "it's tack-sharp", I would wonder what went wrong. Because apparently the composition, subject matter, colours, etc are so bland that they are not worth a comment.

Or in case of a "sharp" portrait, I would be sure that I messed up big time, as the purpose of a portrait is certainly not to be able to count the nose hairs and skin pores.

Am I overlooking something? Is there a different, or deeper, meaning to the "sharp" qualification of an image? Or is it often a polite effort to try and say something positive about an otherwise uninspiring image? Or am I overlooking some other meaning or intent?

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