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Zoom in Sharpness

AmandaKay

Photography mom
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Hello everyone.

Basic question. In Lightroom, when I zoom in by clicking on the photo I have in the library module what I focused on in the camera should stay sharp. Right?

I did a brick wall test with a new lens that I bought. I decided to also do it with a couple other lenses I have as well. They all look great on the histogram and in the library module....but when I zoom in every single photo is slightly blurry. I am confused!
 
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Not necessarily.

Many lenses attached to DSLR cameras do not focus exactly on the sensor. That is because the focusing mechanism on a DSLR relies on the mirror. The sensor, lying behind the mirror, needs to exactly aligned for perfect focus. Truth is, more often than not, the alignment of the sensor relative to the mirror is not perfect...
That is why professional-level DSLR cameras often have the ability to correct focus as a built in function.
Some of the most expensive lenses that I own have required a lot of correction!

However, even if the problem is not a focusing issue most modern high-resolution cameras, DSLR or mirrorless, require extraordinary camera technique when shooting. Even the slightest movement of the camera will be visible as blur.
Using the 6-10MP cameras of yesteryear the problem was much less evident.

The quality of the lens itself may be in question.
Every camera (lens) manufacturer has needed to update their lens line-up once resolution reached 16-20 MP. Many lenses, once thought to be stellar performers at lower resolutions really show their imperfections at higher resolutions.
It is also possible that your new lens is a bad copy of an otherwise really good performer.

Not knowing anything more about your situation - camera system, lens in question etc, it is a little difficult to be more exact...

Tony Jay
 
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Also ...

What kind of files are you looking at? Are they JPGs or RAW files? Are they already processed in some way, or straight out of the camera? If they are JPGs, do they look sharp when viewed in another application? If they are RAW files, have you applied sharpening to the images?

Also, if peformance is particular bad on your computer, it can sometimes take a bit of time for Lightroom to fully load and process the image, and during this time a lower quality preview image will be shown. Are you sure this is not happening?
 

Zenon

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What camera? So many variables here it is difficult to pint point your concerns. As Tony said it may need a microfocus adjustment if your camera offers it. It could be from camera shake from shutter speeds that are too slow, etc.

Define slightly blurry. That could mean different things to different people. Like prb said what about sharpening? Depending on your camera it probably has an anti aliasing (AA) filter which reduces Moire. Some are stronger than others and the stronger the more it effects sharpness. You use the sharpening slider in the the detail window to correct for that and this is called the capture sharpening phase which compensates for the AA filter.

There is creative sharpening phase is local sharpening which I won't get into. Then you have output or export sharpening. In LR you select the size, media type and amount of sharpening for said media type.

Guide to Image Sharpening

What do your final exported images look like? It might be helpful to show an example of fit to window and a zoomed in example and the amount you zoomed it in. I don't know what type of lenses you have but I'm not a big on brick walls. I like to test my new lenses on birds. Eyes, beaks, feathers tell me what is going on.

If you are still unsure something else you may want to try. Put your camera on a tripod. Tape some money to a wall and shoot it and make sure you have adequate shutter speed. Money has more detail. A remote would be best but you can use the shutter button. Take 10 shots in a row and de-focus between shots. Now take a few in live view and compare them all. This is just a focus consistency test and live view is most accurate so it can be helpful to trouble shoot.
 

AmandaKay

Photography mom
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Morgan hill, CA
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Thanks everyone for your help.
I did have my camera on a tripod with a remote. I refocused after each shot. I shoot in RAW and did not process my photos at all. The histogram said the photos were good. I noticed that in LR I was on a zoom ration of 4:1 and it was blurry. At 2:1 it is sharp. I had a few printed at 8X10 and they looked sharp.

I am going to try the dollar bill idea. Then possibly borrow my neighbors D500 to rule out my camera. I think that I can rule out the lenses since they all were fuzzy and test 4 different ones.

I am happy that the 8X10s came out well. I would like to see the sharpness in LR when zoomed in more that 2:1.

Amanda
 
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Thanks everyone for your help.
I did have my camera on a tripod with a remote. I refocused after each shot. I shoot in RAW and did not process my photos at all. The histogram said the photos were good. I noticed that in LR I was on a zoom ration of 4:1 and it was blurry. At 2:1 it is sharp. I had a few printed at 8X10 and they looked sharp.

I am going to try the dollar bill idea. Then possibly borrow my neighbors D500 to rule out my camera. I think that I can rule out the lenses since they all were fuzzy and test 4 different ones.

I am happy that the 8X10s came out well. I would like to see the sharpness in LR when zoomed in more that 2:1.

Amanda
Hi Amanda

Now we are starting to get to the nitty gritty of the issue you raise.

The issue in Lightroom that you are experiencing is all self-inflicted.
What this means, in Lightroom, is that ONLY at 1:1 can sharpness really be evaluated.
Going beyond 1:1 is completely unhelpful.
It is no surprise that at 4:1 things looked horrible!

So, yes one does want to "zoom" in to check things like critical focus, but only to 1:1.
Sometimes, for looking at noise and noise reduction, it is helpful to go to 2:1 or beyond, but this is not the case for checking focus.

Understand that when one goes beyond 1:1 when zooming that no more data is added. One cannot see more detail at higher zooming. At 1:1 what this means is that is that the data from one camera sensel is mapped to one screen pixel. Stretching the data from one camera sensel over several screen pixels (the result of going to 2:1 and beyond) just means that the same data (from that one sensel) is displayed by several pixels - i.e. no advantage in that, only disadvantages as you have already observed.

I am extremely pleased that you have printed those images and report that they are sharp!
I cannot overstate how important it is to view images in their final output form.
Until I started printing I had no real idea of how to really evaluate the technical side of my shooting (and post-processing for that matter).
Now I print mainly at A2+, much bigger than 8 X 12, and so at that size any technical deficiencies become glaringly and embarrassingly obvious. One of the key things that I discovered was that at 1:1 all my images looked a bit soft but printed large they looked fabulous. Based on the feedback from those prints I was then able to evaluate my post-processing, and, in the context of this conversation, the sharpening and noise reduction I was applying. Basically, I learned to associate a certain "look" on the monitor with a good print output.
Now, I don't necessarily need to print an image to know whether it will make a good print!
It does take some practice and repetition though...

In summary, it is still possible that there might be a camera/lens/technique issue, however, I feel that after reading your latest post that the problem is really just a misunderstanding of how Lightroom (and every other image editor for that matter) works.

Tony Jay
 

Zenon

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Amanda sometimes even 1:1 which is 100% may not look that great. It is like printing or viewing a massive poster so any thing that is a little off will really show when magnified. If a little off it won't matter as you have seen yourself the final images look good.

If one lens or camera looks consistently better you can do a little more investigation as I suggested. Comparing normally shot images to live view may tell you if a lens or body may be back or front focusing a bit. Live view or contrast detect focuses right off the sensor so it is pretty much perfect. Phase detect uses the mirror so there can be a little deviation one way or the other.

Canon calls it phase detect (off the mirror) and contrast detect (off the sensor). I'm not sure what Nikon calls it.

I shoot Canon but I took the D500 for a test run. I was impressed. Didn't Nikon come out with closed looped or self adjusting micro focus adjustment (MFA) with that body? Canon offers MFA but we have to make the adjustments based on visual observations. I used to use the dollar bill method but now I use software for that. I'm not saying you need it as it is not free but it made my life easier. Not all my lenses need it but a few need a minor tweak.
 
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