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Thread: Sharpening for Printing

  1. #1

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    Sharpening for Printing

    So, I've run into another issue. I know, no one is surprised

    I'm trying to print some of the photo's that I have taken. I read through the forums and the tutorials on printing on the site here, and have cropped all my images to 8x10@300ppi, so they 'should' be ready for printing as far as that is concerned. However, in my test run of photo's, some of the images appear quite fuzzy when printed.

    The photo looks fairly sharp on my monitor, so the first question is, is there an additional level of sharpness that needs to be added to the 'to-print' photos? Is there a way to get a feel for how sharp a photo must be in Photoshop for an acceptable print [other than experience ] Do I need to sharpen the picture by full pixels in order to cause an effect on the final printed image?

    The photo-store itself isn't of much help; they just have some kiosks where you plug in your USB and click through which images you want printed.

    Also, and this may be a silly question, but: with all these photos cropped to 8x10, what happens if I try and print one at 4x6 or 5x7? will it just center the image and crop whatever doesn't fit?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    The Blue Boy's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening for Printing

    Hi Chris,

    I think you'll need to run us through your workflow mate.

    Are you sharpening before or after resizing?

    Capture sharpening?

    Tell us what you're doing and hopefully we'll be able to help.

  3. #3

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    Re: Sharpening for Printing

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisNikon View Post
    The photo-store itself isn't of much help; they just have some kiosks where you plug in your USB and click through which images you want printed.
    This can easily be part of your problem. Unless you know what happens to your files inside of that kiosk thingy - I'd assume - bad things happen to them. And all kinds of bad things can happen, potentially. "Auto-adjustments", "resolution adjustments for faster file transfer", "auto-cropping" etc... I never used those, so I don't have hands-on experience with them... because I was always scared of them...
    Good alternative to those is Costco. Do you have one of those in the area? With them you can know exactly what happens to your files, if you pay attention. They even provide their individual printer color profiles for you to download, if you want to try soft-proofing. AND they are cheap.

    And then, of course, there are great great tutorials on this site:
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...sharpening.htm
    and others:
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/col...t-printing.htm

  4. #4

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    Re: Sharpening for Printing

    Quote Originally Posted by The Blue Boy View Post
    Hi Chris,

    I think you'll need to run us through your workflow mate.

    Are you sharpening before or after resizing?

    Capture sharpening?

    Tell us what you're doing and hopefully we'll be able to help.
    For these photo's I have done some basic editing in RAW, then moved it to CS5. I then do a general sharpening, mess with the levels and brightness without a firm grasp on what I'm actually doing, and save it. The general sharpening is typically around 300% at 0.3. I have avoided doing specific creative sharpening at the moment, simply because I'm not sure how to judge the effect it will have, although I did read the tutorial on sharpening.

    This is the first batch of photo's that I've really had to work with, so I'm still very much working out how to go about processing photo's.

  5. #5

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    Re: Sharpening for Printing

    Hi Chris,

    I've written about sharpening a bit in the past, so you might find these useful ...

    When/How to Best Sharpen a Digital Photograph

    Sharpening and Noise Reduction Sequence

    Output Sharpening

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening for Printing

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisNikon View Post
    Also, and this may be a silly question, but: with all these photos cropped to 8x10, what happens if I try and print one at 4x6 or 5x7? will it just center the image and crop whatever doesn't fit?
    Not a silly question Chris - there's usually a checkbox that sets whether it will do as you say and 'crop to fit', or 'shrink to fit', so you don't lose the composition (but waste a little paper) I know which I prefer.


    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisNikon View Post
    ~ and have cropped all my images to 8x10@300ppi ~
    However, I would urge careful use of terminology, although the crop tool does have figures such as '5 x 7', '8 x 10', etc., they are usually just ratios, not hard sizes in inches, which means '8 x 10' is effectively the same as '4 x 5'.

    Physical sizes, at certain ppi figures, are more commonly seen in the resize option, but to be honest, I prefer to work in pixels and maintain the maximum I can. If you don't use inches or cm, ppi is irrelevant.

    It is oh, so easy, with incorrectly set ppi figures and careless saving, to accidentally resize to 4" x 6" (inches) at say 72 ppi and throw away loads of image detail and if you Save, then do another resize for print at 300ppi, it'll make up the missing pixels and the inexperienced may not see what's gone wrong until the print comes out looking soft (on screen, at full size, it won't be obvious).

    Which software readers of this post use can affect how easy it is to get caught out, so being too specific with advice won't help much.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 13th December 2011 at 09:20 AM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Sharpening for Printing

    About commercial printing - avoid the big names. Find a friendly shop that is willing to "balance" their machine and not do any further post processing.

    Though I do not print often the results from my friendly shop are pretty good.

  8. #8
    shreds's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening for Printing

    In general I am with Bobobird here, the big names are only generally interested in throughput = profit so not the sort of place to go to unless you can specify details and know what you are talking about.

    I do use commercial printers (www.Loxleycolour.com) but probably being across the pond, a bit inconvenient for you. The difference here is you are allowed/encouraged to specify what you want them to do or not do and the results are generally very good and back within 48 hours or less. These particular printers are utilised by a lot of top pros and for exhibition work, so if you can find a similar outfit in your neck of the woods or a little man with the machinery who is prepared to listen and advise, you should see improvements.

  9. #9

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    Re: Sharpening for Printing

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisNikon View Post
    For these photo's I have done some basic editing in RAW, then moved it to CS5. I then do a general sharpening, mess with the levels and brightness without a firm grasp on what I'm actually doing, and save it. The general sharpening is typically around 300% at 0.3. I have avoided doing specific creative sharpening at the moment, simply because I'm not sure how to judge the effect it will have, although I did read the tutorial on sharpening.

    This is the first batch of photo's that I've really had to work with, so I'm still very much working out how to go about processing photo's.
    300% at 0.3 pixels, Chris, is more like 'capture sharpening' then 'output sharpening. And if you are shooting Raw your images are likely to appear a little 'soft' straight from the camera.

    I assume some sharpening is being applied during the Raw conversion process; but have you checked the settings?

    For final sharpening, I usually set something around 80-100% at 0.8 to 1 although I find that going for a radius of 2 sometimes works better with CS5. But everybody seems to do things slightly differently.

    I would suggest sharpening the same image at several different settings then see which prints best. It is easy to add a little note in the corner of a photo during editing so you will know which is which.

    Personally, I have the opposite problem to you. My photos always seem soft on the screen but print fine. Although I do my own printing.

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