These are actually pretty little birds. They are more of a raspberry color as opposed to House Finches which are more red with dark streaking on the breast. Purple Finches have been described as "a sparrow dipped in raspberry juice."
Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. The first picture is not sharpened but the second one has had minimal sharpening.
Here's the thing about post processing pictures, your photo has to be darn close to where you want it to be. You are not going to take a very blurry, poorly exposed, picture and create a quality photo. The more you edit a picture, the more you also degrade it. You can take a fairly good shot and make it good, but you're not going to take a bad shot and make it good.
Any editing you do should be minimal. Over-sharpening will degrade image quality very fast, especially when shooting at higher ISO settings. Now granted, I don't use Photoshop so I can't tell you what miracles it can perform. I use Nikon ViewNX 2 which came with both of my cameras and haven't felt the need to upgrade to anything else. My theory is that you need to take quality photo's from the get go and not worry about 'working magic' afterwards.
Everybody takes bad pictures now and then whether they admit it or not, I know I do on a regular basis. Familiarize yourself with your equipment (do lot's of picture taking) and learn what produces quality photo's from your outfit under various circumstances.
Learn your equipment, practice, get close to your subjects, and keep post processing to a minimum. That's my best advice, not that I'm one to be giving it out. lol
"You are not going to take a very blurry, poorly exposed, picture and create a quality photo."
This has been my experience as well. I'm not getting images as sharp as yours even after using a tripod, increasing shutter speed, and trying manual focus. I'm trying to grasp what I may be doing wrong. Most of the problem occurs at 300mm, for now I am going to back off of maximum zoom a little.
thanks for taking the time on the response
It's hard to pinpoint exactly why you're not getting the results you're looking for, as there are so many variables. I just read a very good article on this subject a few weeks ago and for the life of me I can't find it now. If you google "taking sharper pictures" there are a lot of informative articles out there. One thing, if you're shooting from a tripod your Image Stabilization should be turned off.
Both of the shots above were at 500mm and handheld. Shutter speed for the fist pic was 1/1000 sec. and the second was 1/400 sec. both at f/7.1 and ISO 400.