Ellis Vener , Oct 12, 2003; 11:58 a.m.
All digital imagining systems are inherently "soft" this has to do, as I understand it, wit hboththe physics and mechanics of the imaging systems. What "sharpenign does is to increase the differences the imaging processing software detects between the edges of the pixels. A lot of sharpness is good for subjects that we mostly perceive as hard edged --such as he dege of a building against a sky; and less sharpening is wanted for subjects we perceive as smooth --such as skin.
My best advise is to shoot some tests of different subjects in different light and then decide what works best for you.
My sharpening routine is to turn off all in camera sharpening, and then use a three step sharpening routine (see <a href = http://www.pixelgenius.com> PhotoKit Sharpener</a> in Photoshop: capture sharpening (which I set dependent on the capture device -- scanners (and format) or cameras) Custom sharpening : which I'll apply to the lips and eyes in the case of a portrait, but not tothe broad areas of skin. And the final step is output sharpening which is tuned to the waythe image is goingto be used: inkjet printing, on the web, in a magazine or brochure.