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Sharpening workflow?

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by cwilt, May 30, 2005.

  1. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    I'm curious what everyone uses.

    How does sharpening fit into your workflow?
    Use USM in your editing program? Certain actions or plugins?

    Just curious. :) 
  2. Sharpening is one of the last steps. For quick and dirty web work, I'll do USM after I resize and sRGB profile, then do a save for web. For print, I'll resize and do USM with layer mask, then adjust opacity so that not everything is oversharpened (handy for portraits).
  3. After I make all my adjustments in PS, then I use a layers mask or lasso the parts I want sharpened and sharp using the custom filter found here: http://www.aim-dtp.net/aim/techniques/usm/better_than_usm.htm and fade luminosity 50%, then I resize for web in irfanview using lanczos, then back to PS for a final sharpening pass using the same custom filter (usually 100% and fade luminosity according to taste). Finally, I add my script with border, shot info and signiture. Some say I am a little conservate on sharpening, but they look rather natural on my monitor.
  4. By far the best results...

    The method I've adopted produces, by far, the best results I've achieved with any process. It's particularly good at only sharpening the details in your image, and leaving the digital noise alone. I can't take credit for coming up with the process, but I take every opportunity I get to tell people how wonderfull it is. I found it on Thom Hogan's website. Here's the link to the article:


    It's a great combination of PS tools that really comes through with great results. Again, I can't recommend it highly enough.


    P.S. As others have already said, sharpening is always my last step.
  5. Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  6. I've been using this with great results. After post processing in Capture to tweak exposure, white balance, etc. I save as a TIFF with sharpening off and no USM.

    Then, in PS CS, I run ResizePro. I've been pleased with the results across the board.

  7. I'm a huge fan of PixelGenius PK Sharpener. It's a bit complicated, involved process as there is Capture sharpener, then Creative Sharpener and then Output Sharpener. You can paint it on only where you want/need it rather than just a global sharpen which can disturb some pixels which need to be left alone.
    I think they've even got a trial of it, which I'd recommend, but with this one, read the f.... unny manual, to get the best results *LOL*
  8. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    That was a good thread Frits. Do you still use the same method? Still use the intelisharpen plugin?

    Currently I use PK sharpener because it does both screen and print. I am always on the lookout for better methods. :) 
  9. I've been using PK Sharpener for quite a while, first with the S2 Pro, and now with the D2x. (I also have used it extensively with film scans.)

    As Sandy indicates, it offers lots of flexibility and control, and it can produce outstanding results. One of the best features is that PK Sharpener's Output Sharpener is optimized for various output devices....inkjets, continuous tone, web use, etc.

    At this point, however, I'm not entirely convinced that PK Sharpener does justice to D2x files. Often, I find that D2x images are left undersharpened, compared to results with NIK Sharpener Pro. (I've also begun experimenting with Smart Sharpening in CS2, which also seems to yield sharper final results than PK Sharpener.)

    Another quibble I have with PK Sharpener is that the maximum optimal screen output size is 1024 pixels. When I want to save an image at a larger screen size (say, 1600 or 2400 pixels), there is much fiddling required to find a proper setting.

    Overall, I'd recommend PK Sharpener....but be prepared for a learning curve, and don't overlook other competing products.

    Best wishes,

  10. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Which is why I started this discussion. Looks like I am not the only one to think PK doesn't bring out the best detail from a D2x file. What do you think of the NIK sharpener? I hear there is a new version and that it now does 3 pass sharpneing. Capture, creative, and output. I tried version 1 but I could never decide what quality you would consider my printer. For the R1800 I thought it would be above average. :?

    Happy sharpening. :lol:
  11. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I like the "workflow" approach that PK Sharpener advocates. I agree with them that if you have in-camera sharpening (and RAW conversion sharpening) turned off that "post-capture" sharpening should be one of the first steps in your post-processing workflow (although for images that need it I'll do noise-reduction first and then post-capture sharpening).

    Having said that I'm not all that thrilled with PK Sharpener's post-capture sharpening tool. IMHO it's not as flexible as it should be; you basically have 3 choices in resolution and 3 choices in sharpening radius. I would like more control to fine-tune, especially since I think that their "Medium Res" sharpening is not strong enough for 6MP images, while their "High Res" is too strong. It also doesn't really have any control over the sharpening radius except to choose wide, medium, or narrow (which actually controls both the edge mask and the radius as far as I can tell). Anothe complaint I have about PK Sharpener is that since it's not a real plug-in you don't have an interactive preview to see what the sharpening will look like before running it.

    The tool I use most often for post-capture sharpening is FocalBlade. The nice thing about it is that you can run it in the basic mode when you're in a hurry or not quite as concerned about the sharpening parameters. This mode still gives you some choices to characterize the image and works better than plain-old USM in my experience. But when you want to get down to the nitty gritty you can use the expert mode, where you have complete control over the amount and radius for both edges and smooth areas, as well as the ability to tweak the edge mask and a few other settings as well. The only downside to Focalblade is that it doesn't use a layer-based approach by default, but you can easily create a dup layer to sharpen on, giving you the ability to adjust opacity and blend modes, use masking, etc.

    For "creative" sharpening I do use PK Sharpener because it's pretty convenient, but honestly I don't do "creative" sharpening all that often. I don't use PK Sharpener for output sharpening because in the case of printing QImage handles it, and in the case of web output my custom action for resizing and converting color profile adds a bit of USM which IMHO is sufficient for web JPG's.
  12. Yes to both, this has since been my standard workflow (and I love it :D  ).
  13. twig


    May 23, 2005
    I allow RawShooter to do some sharpening of the RAW when converting to TIFF (I set the slider to 0, I think -50 is true none), then in photoshop as a final step I use EasyS Sharpening plug-ins from Digital Outback Photo, which I find to be the best sharpening (I found PK to be too "crispy", Focal Blade not too intuitive, USM alone not effective and too many halos)
  14. cwilt


    Apr 24, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Some of you didn't say if you were sharpening for print or web. Do you sharpen different between these two outputs?

    I have read many times that one should sharpen more for print. Most of these articles are a few years old. Printer technology has improved a lot in the last few years and I wonder if that applies to todays printers and papers.

    Things to think about.
  15. Cory Cooper

    Cory Cooper

    May 24, 2005
    Salem, NH

    Most definitely. The sharpening required for web vs print is quite different. I find that sharpening for print is usually more dramatic.

    I use many different sharpening workflows, including:

    nik Sharpener Pro!
    Fred Miranda's Intellisharpen II
    PS Unsharp Mask & Smart Sharpen
    Quantum Mechanic Pro

    and a few others...

    It really depends on the shot/graphic. Many times I will try different ways to see which looks the best...but it's ALWAYS the last step before saving/exporting.

  16. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    [img=right:2562dd20e6]http://homepage.mac.com/cheilman1/images/workflow/quicksharpweb.gif[/img:2562dd20e6]Here is an action I use when posting photos to the web. It does a pretty good job of controlling halos while maintaining sharpness after severe downsizing:
  17. Excellent thread! Lots of good tips.

  18. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    My workflow uses NC, generally following the Ron Reznick process, with the output saved as a 16-bit TIFF. I then open the image in PS CS and apply curves, crop, resize (using the FM Resize Pro plug-in), and then add a bit of USM using the FM IntelliSharpen II plug-in. I love the way that it puts the sharpening on a separate layer, and let's you adjust the opacity to get just enough, but not too much. I'm getting the best results that I've ever achieved using this process.

    BTW, in this process, I often back way off of Ron's recommended USM settings, simply because I don't need that much to get a really sharp, halo-free image.
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