Saturday, October 11, 2014

Is PICCURE + a Good Sharperner?

Capturing a REALLY SHARP digital image depends on the following...

a) A high quality lens with minimum optical aberration and defects.

b) A fast shutter speed to combat camera shake.

c) Able to focus accurately on your intended subject.

However, sometime; you thought that you have fulfilled all those three requirements BUT your picture still look "a little soft". Especially when you view it at 100%!

What breaks?

Let us examine those three conditions again...

a) 99.99% of photographers, including you and me, CANNOT afford a $4,000 lens with minimum optical aberration and defects. Most of us use the kit lens, at less than $300, you get what you pay for ;)

b) Fast shutter speeds? No problem, or we can use a tripod!

c) With modern digital camera, accurate focussing is a given.

To counter condition a), enter PICCURE+

According to them...

"piccure+ is a new software program capable of correcting optical aberrations that cause a lack of sharpness in your images. With piccure+, it is possible to recover much sharper images."

Sound very impressive and being one of the "tester" in the last few months, I find the software impressive too. How come, then, they were getting some negative feed back after last week's launch?

I decided to give piccure+ another go, to find out once and for all if it is a good image sharpener.

My first image...

A picture with plenty of detail! I shot this picture of my wife trying to capture the "beauty" of this frightening looking (some said) tree at our botanical garden.

The lens was the compact Lumix 45-175mm f/4-5.6 ASPH X on my OM-D E-M5. The zoom was set at 52 mm (104 mm eqv), f5.6 and shutter speed was a lowish 1/50 second.

You might notice that I already broke rule a) and b)!

To make matter worst, it was quite windy that day, so I expect some blur in the vegetation!

Lets zoom in 100% and see...

As expected, the crop looks soft, a combination of slow shutter speed and wind movement.

The image was put through Piccure+ with setting to remove "micro shakes" and some noise.

This is the same area of crop, AFTER Piccure+, notice how sharp it became?  I was amazed how Piccure+ managed to remove the "shake" and softness!

A combo crop, left was from the original image and on the right, after the Piccure+ treatment.  Can you see the improve of sharpness?  Impress?

My second picture is a close-up shot of some cup cakes at our office function.

This picture of the cup cakes was shot with my little Lumix GM1 and the LUMIX G VARIO 12-32/F3.5-5.6 kit zoom.

The image was created at 22mm (44mm eqv) @ f5.6, 1/200 second and ISO 800.

The little kit zoom, good as it is; cannot fulfill our condition a), requirement b) and c) were met though!

These are 100% (top) and 200% crop of the cup cakes picture.

The cup cakes shot was put through Piccure+ with relatively conservative settings.

The enhanced 200% crop after Piccure+ did it's magic. Look great!

Famous Last Words...

Personally, I find Piccure+ fulfill the role of a good sharpener in more way than one.

Piccure+ can make an image sharper than using the classic UNSHARP MASK, it is able to do this by removing MICRO SHAKES in the image which the USM cannot.

I think a lot of users got carried away, when they first started using this software by expecting it to fix a really shaky image.  It can, to a certain extend, but the resulting image will still appear shaky though.

I rather like using this incredible software to make my pictures sharper by removing MICRO SHAKES created by either the vibration from the shutter mechanism or the minute shakes from our human body while releasing the shutter.

Please look at my settings again and may be, you will find Piccure+ as useful as I found it.




cy.leow said...

Andrew Pettengell via Facebook -
Nice post Cy, as you say it is about understanding the tools and what they are designed to do and using them accordingly - Hope you are well my friend and catch up sometime

Dudley Rose said...

Wondering about the line of controls:
I don't see these.

cy.leow said...

Dudley, are you sure you are running Piccure+ and not just Piccure? Both the plug-in and stand alone version of Piccure+ have those settings.

Dudley Rose said...

Thanks for your response. I downloaded it a few days ago, and it's definitely Piccure+. Also, the Handbook and the on-line screen shots at the Piccure+ site don't show them. I wonder if you have an early version, or conversely, a newer release.

cy.leow said...

Hi again Dudley, I was one of the software tester for Piccure+ for the last 3 months and I get the latest releases. I wonder may be the trail version do not have that settings. I will ask them, let you know the next day. Cheers - CY

cy.leow said...

Hi Dudley, the version I was testing was a beta just before the release. I have just installed the latest version and yes, that line of controls is no more. I was informed by them that the said control; is now automatic.
I ran the same test in the new version and they came out the same.

Dudley Rose said...

Thanks so much.