Sharpness and my monitor

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5th Generation Texian
I have viewed it on my HD work monitor and my tablet. Both show an odd condition that I can’t necessarily attribute directly to a lack of sharpness. It may be more of a compression issue, altho usually that shows as a clear loss of sharpness and in extreme cases color banding and pixilation of angular lines. It appears a bit ‘foggy’, ‘hazy’ or something else that I just cannot explain. Definitely not bad, just since you asked I really strapped on the pixel peeper lenses!

Here’s my question: what was your workflow to get it posted? The preferred sequence would be to complete all the edits you want, then resize to fit the forum limits, then sharpen, then save as JPG and post. That typically gets you the best possible results, altho how your editor resizes and how much you compress when saving makes a big difference. Also, how many times you’ve saved the image (as a jpg) makes a big differences as well.
I don't know, it's really close, but there is something just a smidge off with it. My only other thought other than what Ken said was a slow shutter speed, but you have plenty of light and the BNSF just doesn't move that fast there at 7th street, so I would probably rule that out.

I would be interested to hear what you find out.


Photo Critiques Welcome
If you lean in and look at it, something look a bit off right around the lead tuck and the cab side. Set back at arm’s length (literally) and it looks better. My first impression is maybe the point of focus is forward a bit and the high overcast is softening the light.

If you look at the ballast in the lower left it is fairly well defined but follow it back and it quickly gets fuzzy. The fine detail is getting masked by pixelation but it transitions quickly just short of the first wheel. Up on the cab the nose looks pretty good and the yellow edging and crisper blacks help edge contrast. The 8775 on the cab side looks off but it also has a touch of glare washing the color which lessens edge contrast. There is not much contrast in the silver truck frame to get much detail. The quantity of light is good but the quality of the light isn’t helping.

Follow the hood back and things look better again which would imply movement. As a viewer our expectation is also different from the fuel tank back. The number boards look good and I find movement stands out at the number boards.
Thank You. I went back and studied the raw image and noticed that it is a little soft. I will go back through the camera settings and I may need to make a few changes. ASA 400, 1/200 at f/14.


5th Generation Texian
With that data, I’m thinking the problem may be camera shake or some motion blur: 1/200 is a bit slow for my tastes. Depending on how much you had zoomed in (mm) the 1/200 shutter may be too slow to adequately freeze the train’s motion (even a slow train) or it could be that your own motion (panning with the movement) or just normal ‘shakes’ vibration is the culprit. Or a combination of the two. The more you are zoomed in, the faster the shutter speed needs to be.

For most daylight trains, moving or not, I prefer to stay around 1/500s shutter or faster. It totally avoids any questions.

edit: this may help:
Last edited by a moderator:
One of my lenses is soft and I have sent it to Canon 3 time and nothing has gotten better. Someone suggested I do a "Micro Focus Adjustment". I haven't done it yet.
OK look at this one for sharpness and focus please. Approximately same location as the first one in this thread, light a little later in the day. Noise reduction shut off, it was on before. 1/400 at f13 400 ASA. No edits except resize on JPEG from Nikon D3200.


Thank You. Tom Z


5th Generation Texian
What editor are you using? The reason I ask is that there are many methods to resizing, and some work better than others. Usually the biggest differences are noticed when enlarging but reducing can have significant impact on image quality. My primary editor PaintShop Pro has several resize choices and I find a big difference between the results. Even tho it is free and not a very powerful editor, I find Picasa does a pretty good job of converting RAWs and resizing. In the last few years many of my web posts use Picasa because it is some simple and quick.
It still looks off. You said "No Edits" but are you re-sizing it? You photo is only 1024 pixels wide and the file size is only 131 KB? Shooting a high resolution photo and re-sizing it can create a soft image depending on how you do it.

With those settings in that much sun at that location, that image should be tack sharp.
I use DigiKam which is a Linux based software. Here are 2 versions of the same picture downloaded from the camera via the Nikon NX software and then resized in Arcsoft on a windows based computer. The 2nd one is lightly sharpened. Look really close please. I am at the point of changing software or lens on the camera. Thank you for your observations. Tom

UP 2363 Arc Soft.jpg Resized in Arcsoft

UP 2363 Arc Soft Light sharp.jpg Lightly Sharpened in Arcsoft.
I think the second one looks good. I think almost everyone using an DSLR uses some sort of sharpening tool because we are reducing the number of pixels so drastically to get it down to the 1024+/- range.

I usually get the photo the way I want it for print and save it. Then re-size it, sharpen it, and save it again with a different name for the web.


Engineering Student
Ah! I understand what's going on here! Check your settings to make sure that you don't have AF-area set to "single point" but instead "dynamic area". The camera locks in to one point in "single point" and that's usually some random point on the locomotive like the numberboard. Your F-stop is pretty high too so most of the frame should be sharp and clear w/o post-processing. I had the same problem initially with my D3300. Make sure you also set your ISO low like 100 or 200. Try shooting in S (Shutter Priority Mode) from now on as well. It's the only mode I use for trains. My shutter speed is always above 1/500. The train in the photo attached was moving at about 75 mph. Play around with the settings till you get what works best for you.



Forum Host
Staff member
This is an old discussion, except for Alex's comment, but most of it still applies.

Depending on what software you use, sharpening is almost always required. Lightroom is notorious for looking "soft". Why is that? They don't apply any sharpening while most other programs apply at least some.

There are an amazing amount of factors here. Are you shooting raw or jpg? What software are you using? If you're shooting jpg, are you applying sharpening in camera?

In my opinion, the very last step, or close to it, is when sharpening should be applied. If you apply it and then re-size the image, you'll lose some sharpness.

Also, keep in mind, that unless your image is under 1600 pixels, the forum is re-sizing it for you. That will cause loss of sharpness as well. Especially if it started out close to that size to start with, it's hard to go from say 1800 to 1600 than from 3000 to 1600.

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Out of the box Canon dSLR cameras shoot soft in jpg. I have adjusted the sharpness settings of all of mine to the maximum.

Also check the ISO setting. I have had people complain to me that their photos were not in focus when in fact the photos were soft due to a high ISO setting. Each camera handles ISO settings differently. You will find the maximum "good" ISO setting for each camera.


Forum Host
Staff member
Out of the box Canon dSLR cameras shoot soft in jpg. I have adjusted the sharpness settings of all of mine to the maximum.
Is there a reason you shoot in jpg? I prefer raw since you can do so much more in post processing. I know one person who shoots jpg, but she does it since she sells the photos, and takes hundreds of images at events. No time to post process them all, so she shoots jpg and we try to get it as good as we possibly can in camera. Other than that, most folks I know shoot raw now.

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
I shoot a lot of wildlife photos every day that I don't want to spend all night down loading and processing. I enjoy the challenge of getting the perfect photo in the field and not spending time in front of a computer. My photos print up fine and I have exhibited many of them at our annual Bird Fest. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.