Today’s Question: What are your thoughts on camera settings where you can adjust level of sharpness, etc.? Is it good or bad to use these options?
Tim’s Quick Answer: The in-camera adjustments that alter the overall appearance of a photo will not actually apply to a raw capture, and of course I recommend using raw capture in general. So, for raw captures the only reason to use these in-camera adjustments is if you find it helpful for reviewing the preview on the camera’s LCD display, which will reflect the adjustments you apply.
More Detail: The general in-camera adjustments that enable you to refine saturation, sharpness, or even convert to black and white, will not actually apply to a raw capture. If you apply these adjustments in-camera you’ll see the effect in the preview on the LCD display, but when you process the raw capture on your computer those adjustments will no longer be visible.
So, for raw capture the only reason to consider applying these in-camera adjustments is if those adjustments are helpful for reviewing the image on the camera’s LCD display. For example, if you tend to convert most photos to black and white, it can be helpful to set your camera to convert to black and white at the time of capture. The raw capture will still be in color when you download the image to your computer, but the black and white preview on the camera can be helpful for evaluating the image at the time of capture.
For other capture formats, such as JPEG, these in-camera adjustments will indeed alter the appearance of the image. While that can be helpful in some cases, I generally recommend saving those adjustments for later in your workflow when you are at your computer with a larger display and more control over the adjustments being applied.