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Hi

I'm new to Alamy having sold work through exhibitions, retail outlets and print requests for a number of years.  I am finally getting round to putting up a different selection of my images here, however, I have to admit I am feeling very apprehensive about submitting that first test batch of images that undergoes close scrutiny.  There are two areas I am mainly concerned with:

 

Sharpening - this seems to be quite an issue and having searched the forums here and on google there seems to be two trains of thought...a) that absolutely no sharpening is allowed by Alamy or B) that it is output sharpening that should be avoided and that a very small amount of sharpening is ok at the Raw file stage in ACR.  I really just want to know if there is an up to date definitive answer to this one as I have always in the past applies a small amount of sharpening to my files in ACR (as well as using a tripod when capturing an image) generally using the following settings - amount 25, radius 1, detail 25, masking 0.  Is this ok, does anyone have any recommendations re lower settings or is it an absolute no-no?

 

Size - matters! :) I just want to clarify that I've got it right in my mind on this one.  My understanding is that the uncompressed image size has to be +17mb. I found a calculation on the forums that says that if you take your 8bit, 300dpi image dimensions and multiply them together, multiply that figure by 3 and then divide by one million you get the uncompressed file size.  As an example taking one of my old images taken on a 40D this would be 3888 X 2592 X 3 divided by one million = 30.23mb uncompressed file size.  Am I on the right lines here or should I be upsizing the file when it is a tif? The reason I ask is because the actual 8bit, 300dpi jpeg I would upload to Alamy works out to be only 4.59mb compressed - is this ok? 

 

My cameras used are a Canon 40D, a 5D Mk 2 and now a Fuji Xpro-1.

 

Any advice, guidance or recommendations would be really appreciated - I am a newbie so please be gentle with me :)

 

Many thanks

 

 

Lin

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Sharpening: Alamy say no sharpening. There are some who believe that using the default sharpening in Lightroom or ACR is fine because all it is doing is restoring the sharpness that has been lost by the anti-aliasing filter, and I'm willing to bet that a large number of images submitted to Alamy fall into this category. Provided your technique is good, all three cameras you use are perfectly capable of producing the required sharpness without any problems.

 

Size: you're absolutely right - almost. A megapixel is actually 1024x1024, so you divide by 1048576. It's a small difference but it can tip the image over the edge if you're already close to it.

 

Alan

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The size limit is equivalent to 6MP. The guidelines clearly say so. If your sensor is bigger than that, cropping aside it's big enough. Simples.

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Sharpening: Alamy say no sharpening. There are some who believe that using the default sharpening in Lightroom or ACR is fine because all it is doing is restoring the sharpness that has been lost by the anti-aliasing filter, and I'm willing to bet that a large number of images submitted to Alamy fall into this category. Provided your technique is good, all three cameras you use are perfectly capable of producing the required sharpness without any problems.

Just to meniton that not all cameras have anti-aliasing filters nowadays (e.g. Nikon D800E) - may not be particularly relevant to your comments.  My camera doesn't have an AA filter either by the way.

 

I also wonder if the don't sharpen requirement is as valid with monochrome as with colour?

 

Mike

Edited by TokyoM1ke

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Thank you for getting back to me on this...

Alan - I think the reason I'm a bit apprehensive on the sharpness is because of the slight difference with and without the ACR sharpening - by comparing with and without it makes it seem that an image is too soft, maybe if I hadn't compared I wouldn't be concerned :)  I suppose the only way to go is to jump right in and test the water! Thanks for expanding on that calculation - useful to know.

 

Mark - I love simple.

 

Mike - the Fuji Xpro doesn't have an AA filter and I know that there were issues re slight blurring of foliage because Adobe took some time to catch on.  Re mono - I can see an argument for using sharpening here dependent on how graphic the image is intended to be perhaps?

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If you're still apprehrensive you could post a 100% crop to the forum from something you think is sharp. We're always happy to give an opinion. Or as you say, just test the water. Opinions are never as valuable as experience, and (once I'd got over the initial anger) I found it invaluable to get a couple of failures in my first few submissions as it taught me the boundaries and set me up for years of hassle-free QC.

 

Alan

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There's no real penalty for submitting on your test batch - if it fails, Alamy will just tell you which image failed and why. So, submit your best, but don't worry if you get a fail, it will help you understand what's acceptable and you will be allowed to submit a new image in place of the failed image.

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Saying no sharpening doesn't necessarily mean the images will not be sharpened, but rather that the AD wants to do it after final sizing prior to publication.

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"EXCESSIVE Sharpening" is a QC reason for failure. Input sharpening done properly does not interfere/limit any potential end-use or output sharpening.

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I find with all my camera models past and present that all RAW images require some input sharpening as they would be too soft.

 

Allan

 

EDIT Even with moderate sharpening I tend to still fail at times due to SoLD and never from sharpening artifacts.

 

Hope that does not lose the greenie. ;)

Edited by Allan Bell
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Guest Don

Jpegs get 'input' sharpening by the camera. All Raw files should get it too, just don't overcook them. The definitve answer was given by Alamy in one of their face to face Q&A sessions years ago (the video is up somewhere), and the response was yes to input sharpening. I use the default settings in ACR. For stock, output sharpening is what you have to be careful with. Some libraries do permit it and give instructions how to do it with a light hand (and the files are presumably fine for distribution on Alamy). I usually do not apply any O/S, and if needed it's due to a technical problem. I do sometimes use a high pass overlay (if I really get carried away, twice with different radius for different effects). This can be masked and applied to only areas that need it to add some dramatic pop.

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Don - that is really clarifying about what Alamy said - it's a shame they don't post the relevant excerpt from the video on the submission tips page.

 

Thanks everyone for some really sound advice - it's great to have such a positive environment here to get feedback. I think I became too hung up on penalties for failure that seem to be mentioned on other threads but I'll submit a test with what I think should be ok and learn from the experience.  

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"Jpegs get 'input' sharpening by the camera. …"

 

I set the camera sharpness to –1. In first stage of processing, done in Silkypix as though it were a RAW file, I add a very small amount of edge sharpness and a greater amount of detail sharpness. I think it's the telltale halos around edges that can present a problem. So far (knock on wood) images done in this way have all passed QC.

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Jpegs get 'input' sharpening by the camera. All Raw files should get it too, just don't overcook them. The definitve answer was given by Alamy in one of their face to face Q&A sessions years ago (the video is up somewhere), and the response was yes to input sharpening. I use the default settings in ACR. For stock, output sharpening is what you have to be careful with. Some libraries do permit it and give instructions how to do it with a light hand (and the files are presumably fine for distribution on Alamy). I usually do not apply any O/S, and if needed it's due to a technical problem. I do sometimes use a high pass overlay (if I really get carried away, twice with different radius for different effects). This can be masked and applied to only areas that need it to add some dramatic pop.

 

If that is the definitive answer, why does Alamy still have the following in its guidance ((http://www.alamy.com/contributor/help/digital-camera-images.asp)

Turn off all in-camera sharpening

 

RAW files should be checked for correct exposure, colour cast, etc, and any adjustments should be made at this stage. When converting from RAW, ensure all sharpening is turned off - it’s applied by default in Photoshop.

 

I did see a post on the forum a few years ago where somebody from Alamy did say that default LR/ACR capture sharpening was acceptable or words to that effect. But why have this guidance at all if it is flouted by so many contributors? From previous discussions here, there is no doubt that many people uploading in-camera jpegs are leaving sharpening on or unable to turn it off. My feeling is that Alamy state no sharpening at all  to prevent excessive sharpening (or don't overcook as you say). But this is not really satisfactory as it is effectively lying in ticking unsharpened in the upload dialog if the images have been sharpened anywhere.

 

So what is capture sharpening really - it's just a relatively mild form of sharpening and is certainly not intended to make intrinsically unsharp images sharp. It's not some magic sharpener that doesn't have side effects. Furthermore, if you read what the experts say, then one single default formula is not suitable for all images - portraits should have very different settings to landscapes, for example. And then there are the more surreptitious forms of sharpening, which go by other names, such as the clarity control in ACR/LR. 

 

Finally, it is definitely not necessary to capture sharpen all raw images to pass Alamy QC. This probably depends primarily on the cameras and lenses used, technique aside. The images do not have to appear pin-sharp on screen. My advice would be not to sharpen and test the waters with the initial submission which will be scrutinised. 

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I have to admit I gave up on Silkypix when I tried it with the Xpro files - it just felt too clunky to use so I've stuck with ACR.  With their updates they do seem to be handling Fuji files better so hopefully that will be ok for stock too.

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As a long-time user of Silkypix, I don't find it clunky at all. I suppose it's that way for whatever software one is accustomed to using.

 

I started out with ACR and found that I didn't get the same results, especially in pulling up shadow detail, that I got with Silkypix. No doubt that had changed in the intervening years, but now I'm set in my ways.

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Personally I carry out processing (incl sharpening) of RAW images as suggested in Martin Evening's book Adobe Photoshop for Photographers and not had any problems with QC. Lots great tips for other aspects of editing images in there too.

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Hi,

 

I have a Pentax K-r which does have AA filtering. I am yet to upload an image here (not built up the courage) but before I do, would it be best to switch off the default sharpening in LR of 25, 1.0, 25, 0 as described previously?  Also the "Remove CA" is switched off by default in LR so I assume I am better with that enabled even though I have it enabled on the camera?

 

I'd hate to start off on the wrong foot so would rather get things right before I take my first steps.

 

Thanks,

Rex.

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Hi,

 

I have a Pentax K-r which does have AA filtering. I am yet to upload an image here (not built up the courage) but before I do, would it be best to switch off the default sharpening in LR of 25, 1.0, 25, 0 as described previously?  Also the "Remove CA" is switched off by default in LR so I assume I am better with that enabled even though I have it enabled on the camera?

 

I'd hate to start off on the wrong foot so would rather get things right before I take my first steps.

 

Thanks,

Rex.

 

If you are shooting raw, then having remove ca turned on in camera will have no effect. Definitely turn it on in Lightroom if shooting raw. It is a magic button (although apparently not so good on longer lenses according to a recent post).

 

As far as your question about sharpening is concerned, why not email member services and let us know here what they say. The guidance is very clear but it does seem to be a very grey area. I don't apply any sharpening and I've had one qc failure in 5 years (and that was due to incorrect focusing using new kit). 

 

If I am in doubt and to test if an image is sharp, I apply the sharpen scenic preset in LR. If it's sharp, it will snap at that setting. Then I undo the sharpening and move on if intended for Alamy.

Edited by MDM

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I shoot RAW+JPG so I can see what I am doing - Good point about the inbuilt CA in RAW, that just was over my head for some reason.  I sampled a few images to Shutterstock a while back, straight from the camera, no post processing at all and every one came back stating out of focus and artifacts so I gave up!! I want to get it right now I am going to fiddle with LR before submitting to Alamy with some new images.

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Don - yes I think being set in my ways with processing tools is probably the problem for me too...unfortunately Adobe got my back in the days of Photoshop 3 I think it was although out of principle I wouldn't sign up for their monthly scheme so once my CS6 is completely out of date no doubt I will be looking elsewhere!

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Carl - yes I've only got the CS3 version of Martin Evenings book - they are brilliant books to refer to. In there he says he uses pre-sharpening in photoshop however he does say that the Camera Raw sharpening is a simple way to pre-sharpen images and that was when it didn't have as many controls.  So are you saying that you do or don't do any pre-sharpening?

 

MDM - I do appreciate your comments here.  I don't use Lightroom - only Bridge, ACR and CS6 - do you know if there is a way of doing that LR trick to check how sharp an image is in PS?

 

 

(Apologies re quoting names on every reply - I cant seem to get the "Quote" button to work for me.)

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LinCG,

I can't tell if you were addressing your comment to me or the other Don in this thread, but one of the other ways I'm set in is to rely heavily on Photoshop, also since version 3 and before. When I do sharpen there, I use unsharp mask in the Lightness channel of LAB color.

 

Where I parted from Photoshop was with ACR as a RAW converter, for a couple of reasons. One was shadow detail, as I mentioned. The other was the amount of degradation of resolution that came as a result of CA correction. With Silkypix one simply clicks an eyedropper on the offending fringe, so it's easy. Then examining resolution after the correction, I found it preserved detail better. Whether that's still an observable difference with current versions, I don't know.

 

Cheers,

Don

Edit: P.S., I've got hundreds of images on Alamy shot with Pentax cameras, mostly 10 megapixel and a few 16 megapixel. All of them passed. However, all of them were shot RAW (DNG). Pentax has a lot going for it, but in-camera JPEGs aren't so great. I would have said I never shoot JPEGs, before switching to Fuji.

Edited by DDoug
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MDM - I do appreciate your comments here.  I don't use Lightroom - only Bridge, ACR and CS6 - do you know if there is a way of doing that LR trick to check how sharp an image is in PS?

 

 

 

Yes - all I meant was to apply a small or moderate amount of sharpening and see if it snaps into focus. Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen in PS at say 50, 1, 0 should give a good idea if an image is sharp or not. I actually prefer to judge image quality in PSCS6 than Lightroom or ACR because the graphics are so much better and faster.  I've recently started doing a lot more close-up stuff and need to check images very carefully because of limited depth of field. One part of an image may be sharp and another not so with the new graphics in PSCS6 or later this can be a really fast process. You could do the same in ACR as it uses the same engine as Lightroom but it is much slower than PS.

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Don (DDoug)  I'm learning or being reminded of many different ways of sharpening an image at output here!  I've never really used any other sharpening apart from the default settings in ACR (sometimes with some adjustment) and then at output for printing there's a method by Bruce Fraser that I first came across in the Martin Evening book that seems to work well with most of my print requirements.  It's interesting to know about the degradation of resolution on CA for the Fuji files in ACR - I've not noticed anything with the latest versions but I might just go and have another good look - anticipated close scrutiny of work certainly starts to focus the mind more!!  :)

 

MDM - I've tried that tip on one image that I thought might need some sharpening - yes it did change it a little but not in an overly obvious manner at 100% so maybe that one is ok.  That tip is a useful one to use as a guide so thank you for that....now I need to have another really good look at my other test images and then just jump in and see what happens. 

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