October 2nd, 2013
The last month or so I’ve gotten several requests to talk about sharpening. The first request I got I blew off because I’ve never considered sharpening to be a serious problem for real estate photography. But when I got another request about sharpening from a person I knew shot exclusively bracketed photos and did HDR and Exposure Fusion processing it dawned on me why people were asking about sharpening. They shoot brackets.
I don’t shoot brackets to speak of so sharpening has never been a serious issue. I’ve always just use standard sharpening and noise reduction techniques like Anthony Morganti goes through in the tutorial to the right. Anthony’s tutorial covers the basics for any image but it all applies to real estate work.
However, if you shoot brackets (that is you use Exposure Fusion or HDR) sharpening is going to be a much bigger problem than if you use multiple flashes. Here’s why:
- The HDR and EF processes are very prone to resulting in a final result that is soft and fuzzy.
- Any camera movement while shooting brackets are likely to cause a sharpening problem.
- The quality of the light in a room has an effect on how sharp the final image is. Ambient only light is probably always going to be more diffuse than flash.
My guess is that there’s never anyway you can combine 3, 5 or 9 frames together with HDR or EF and get as crisp and sharp a result as you can with a single flash image. Here are some things you can do to help keep HDR or EF images as sharp as possible:
- Use a remote shutter release and don’t touch the camera.
- Use mirror lockup and timed shutter release as Joseph suggests below.
- Keep your ISO as low as you camera will go. This keeps the digital noise to an absolute minimum.
- Take great care to stabilize your camera while shooting brackets. I’ve heard of some people hanging a weight on their tripod.
- Use a single fill flash when shooting brackets for HDR or EF.
- Avoid using those really over-exposed brackets when blending as Simon suggests below.
Have I missed something? What do you do to keep your real estate photography results sharp?