SJ7 Sharpness - Soft option

Discussion in 'SJ7 Star' started by Jason, Dec 17, 2017.

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  1. Jason

    Jason Moderator

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    A couple of days ago I did a comparison video of the SJCAM S7 Star against the Hawkeye Firefly 8s, which given the fact that they have the same processor and sensor is a pretty good match.

    I set the sharpness to the lowest level which on the 8s is normal but on the SJ7 there's also Soft - which I figured would have the least amount of sharpening applied to it (I usually set it the Normal and just leave it there).



    Dead wrong about the setting. OK it doesn't apply sharpness but it looks as it it DOES apply a softening blur to the video making it all out of focus.

    I've done a follow up video to put the SJ7 soft/normal sharpness side by side (looks more in line with the 8S now)



    SO here's the questions -

    1. Does anyone use the "Soft" setting?
    2. Can anyone think of a scenario they would use it?
    3. Do you think this option should even be in the list?

    My answers are
    1. This was the first (and probably the last) time I've used it
    2. Possibly if I've set the EV to -2, gyro off running round the woods at twilight screaming Blaire Witch style - something that I don't do very often
    3. I think it's risky having a setting that doesn't add value and have a definite use scenario which, if selected by accident, can render all your footage totally unusable and unsalvageable. If you do want to have a defocused look to some parts of the video are you going to stop, change settings, record that bit, stop, change settings and then record the rest? Me - I'd just do it in post on the selected segments of the edit.
     
  2. Sulev Svilponis

    Sulev Svilponis Elite

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    Did you test it in the bright daylight also?
     
  3. Jason

    Jason Moderator

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    Not tested in bright daylight as these were done on the way to and from work with work taking up the sunny times (whom object to me running around with cameras during work time) - not that bright daylight is around much at the minute, more damp gloom.
     
  4. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    Settings such as sharp/soft, ISO, exposure tweaks are useful for still photos. Video is inherently dynamic, making these tweaks, at best, irrelevant and, more likely, produce poor images. SInce single and burst still photography is available, I guess having those options is not a surprise.

    IMNSHO, the notion of using any action cam as a single frame still camera is ...um... not far from trying to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of time and only annoys the pig.
     
  5. Jason

    Jason Moderator

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    Your wrong there. ISO, exposure, etc are totally relevant to video. As with photos it's all about exposure of the image. Sure you can leave all the settings on auto but that just means that the camera is doing it's best judgment but being able to adjust and control the setting yourself lets you take more control over the final image.
     
  6. Sulev Svilponis

    Sulev Svilponis Elite

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    From the Jason's samples here, It is obvious, that at least the sharpness option affects video too. So this setting is definitely not only for still images. It is strange though, that the soft option for sharpness settings not only just reduces applied sharpening level, but rather applies even some blur.
    See those stripes behind the bear.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
  7. Troy

    Troy Administrator Staff Member

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    Sharpness setting does affect the image. Just remember that it applies to the whole image, not just a part of it. So use it wisely.

    And to answer @Jason's questions:
    1. Yes, some people use it. Because they understand #2
    2. It is used in scenes where sharp, closely-spaced lines or dots that cause unsightly "moiré" need to be rectified by turning down Sharpness and using the Soft setting. Thus #3
    3. Yes It should be in there. Or otherwise you won't be able to fix this on-cam:

    upload_2017-12-21_0-9-27.png

    Of course, you can fix it in post-processing, but believe me, if you've ever encountered this on a scene and that Soft option is not there, that part of the footage will totally take away the viewers' attention from what you are trying to show.

    Somewhat like a 70's-era psychedelic trip.

    Cheers!

    TF
     
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  8. Sulev Svilponis

    Sulev Svilponis Elite

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    Because the Soft option for SJ7 Sharpness applies strong blur instead of just applying less sharpness (compared to the Normal option), it renders video quality so low, that it is unusable.
     
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  9. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    Troy's comments are very much to the point.
     
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  10. Jason

    Jason Moderator

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    Thanks for this. It's good to know what situations different settings are best used for.
     
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  11. Troy

    Troy Administrator Staff Member

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    @Sulev Svilponis
    Yes. that's exactly what "less sharpness" means. Blur.
    If you are too close to the subject, then that effect will stick out like a sore thumb. It's a trick that any experienced photographer know when to use.
     
  12. Sulev Svilponis

    Sulev Svilponis Elite

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    No, the applied blur is something very different from the applied low sharpness level. Many digital cameras have an antialias filter, that causes some blur or smudginess of the image, but then by adding some sharpness you can still get sharp images. But as shown on images above, in case of SJ7, one can't get Normal like results by adding some sharpness to the blurred Soft image. Soft option ruins the image!

    The Soft option should be either as seen by the sensor, without applying any sharpness, or applying only minimum level of sharpness. Definitely without any added blur! Normal option = some (more) sharpness applied.

    It is weird, that even el cheapo phone cameras can handle striped shirts much better and without ruining whole picture with this awful blur.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2017
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  13. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson Humbled by events

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    Sulev, you amaze me with what, unencumbered by the thought process, you can churn out. If you don't like the soft option, don't use it.

    Thinking more about when to apply an effect, including softening, I vote for "outside of the camera". Once the scene is shot, if the effect just isn't what was expected, there's no way to back it out. Done in an editor, even if things look ugly, there's always the original footage, without effects.
     
  14. Sulev Svilponis

    Sulev Svilponis Elite

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    It's possible to put the blur and the sharpness into one scale like this:
    LEVEL -3, very blurred image, with almost all details lost <-- (even more blur applied) <-- LEVEL -2, blurred image, with many details lost <-- (more blur applied) <-- LEVEL -1, slightly blurred image, with slight loss of details and contrast <-- (some blur applied) <-- [LEVEL 0, image as it comes from the sensor, the most details, the widest dynamic range and the least artefacts] --> (some sharpening applied) --> LEVEL 1, slightly sharpened image, some loss in dynamic range --> (more sharpening) --> LEVEL 2, sharp image, with some artefacts from sharpening --> (even more sharpening) --> LEVEL 3, very sharp image, with strong artefacts from strong sharpening.

    SJCAM cameras have 3 Sharpness levels: Soft, Normal and Strong.
    In my mind for SJ7 those levels match with the scale above as:
    Soft = Level -2 (too blurred to be usable)
    Normal = Level 2 (too sharp for some uses)
    Strong = Level 3 (not tested)

    I'd prefer like this:
    Soft = Level 0
    Normal = Level 1
    Strong = Level 2

    If someone needs extra soft (blurred) or extra sharp videos, then it is always possible to add blur or extra sharpness in postprocessing. But it is cruicial to keep as much quality as possible when recording. But unfortunately there is no best possible quality options (Level 0 or Level 1 or Level -1) available for SJ7 owners.

    Fortunately the SJ5000x has Sharpness scale like this:
    Soft = Level -1 (slightly too blurred for my taste)
    Normal = Level 1.2 (slightly too sharp for my taste)
    Strong = Level 2 (I dont use this option)
     
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  15. Jason

    Jason Moderator

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    I find that the normal sharpness setting is acceptable for what I do.

    Some things you have to get right in camera (fps, shutter speed, iso) But if you have a more neutral setting then other things are better done in post.

    I tend to add blur or sharpness /edge sharpness in post so don't need a high sharpness to begin with.
     

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