Sharpening Your Images for Online Viewing

Looking back, I can't help but go "Doh!" It's one of those moments when I realise I should have known better. After all, I've been at this photography thing for quite a while. But hey, better late than never, right?

Recently, I was browsing some images on another website and was in awe of their crispness. In comparison, my own photos always seemed a bit fuzzy. Naturally, I started questioning myself - was it my focus, my camera, or perhaps the lenses?

I have two Nikkor lenses, the 35mm f/1.8 G and the 85mm f/1.8 G, both highly regarded. So, that couldn't be the issue. Maybe it was my eyes? Being 50 and dealing with diabetes and a cataract didn't help either.

Determined to find an answer, I turned to Google for some "research". After thirty minutes of digging, I found two websites that shed light on my problem. It seemed like the culprit wasn't my gear or eyesight but rather how I prepared my images for the internet.

I decided to experiment. I had some photos taken during a brewery event and sharpened them using Nik's Output Sharpener as suggested. The difference was remarkable - the noise reduction before sharpening made the pictures stand out.

These images were captured in low light conditions, which meant shooting at higher ISO to avoid motion blur. I applied Nik's Dfine 2 to reduce noise for some of them, and the results were worth it.

Alex Helms, Troon Brewing
Alex Helms, Troon Brewing · Saturday 10 December 2016 · Nikon D5100 · AF-S Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8
Alex Helms, Troon Brewing
Alex Helms, Troon Brewing · Saturday 10 December 2016 · Nikon D5100 · AF-S Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8

When dealing with images containing noticeable noise, I've discovered that reducing noise before applying sharpening yields better results. For this purpose, I found Nik's Define 2 to be quite effective in reducing noise in the original image. With Nik Dfine 2, I can independently adjust contrast and reduce colour noise, tailoring the noise reduction for each picture. Typically, I stick to the default settings or add just one additional noise measurement control point to remove noise selectively.

These particular images were taken during Troon Brewing's Grand Opening at Brick Farm Tavern, where the indoor lighting posed a challenge. To counteract the low light conditions and prevent blur, I had to shoot at ISO 1600 and above to maintain a sufficiently fast shutter speed.

I must admit, doing this sooner would have drastically improved the quality of my "beertography". But hey, learning and growing is part of the journey.

So, here's to sharpened images and continuous improvement! Cheers! 🥂

Troon Brewing Grand Opening Brewery Tour
Troon Brewing Grand Opening Brewery Tour · Saturday 10 December 2016 · Nikon D5100 · AF-S Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8

Author: Khürt Williams

I work in application security architecture and I live in Montgomery Township, New Jersey with my wife Bhavna. I am passionate about photography. Expect to find writing on cybersecurity, tropical aquariums, terrariums, hiking, craft breweries, and bird photography.

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