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Thread: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

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    Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    I am a Nikon D3 shooter and would feedback and opinion on post-processing Nikon NEF files, specifically ACRs sharpening settings for an overall best result.

    I mainly shoot mixed martial arts (MMA) RAW at f/2.8 (24-70mm) in the ISO 800-1600 ballpark and 500+ shutter speed.

    My workflow is Bridge and ACR only, no post-processing in Photoshop or Lightroom. As a result (I theorize) of ACR only, my images lack tack sharp quality. I went the Bridge & ACR only route to save time. Now I'm wondering if I should begin post-processing in Lightroom to apply sharpening not available in ACR. .

    For my fellow D3 shooters, what are your ACR settings, sharpening and luminance? For the record, my ACR is 7.3

    I can't be the only one who performs 100% post-processing in ACR. Is this too simple of an approach to expect stunning results?

    If anyone is willing to share, attach (or email) your xmp settings file.

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Ray there's been a fair bit of discussion on this forum from time to time about this subject. The most recent thread is here.

    I think you'll find that the general consensus is that the sharpening available in ACR is not sufficient on it's own. Why not apply some more "creative" sharpening and "output" sharpening in PS ? Often that's about all I use PS for after doing most of my processing in ACR.

    Dave

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Quote Originally Posted by ultravista View Post
    For my fellow D3 shooters, what are your ACR settings, sharpening and luminance? For the record, my ACR is 7.3
    I'm not a D3 shooter but we have about the same pixel pitch. My ACR 5.4 default sharpening works for me - 25% sharpening, 0.5 pixel radius, 25% Detail, 0% masking (i.e. everything gets sharpened). Using a slanted edge test, these settings give me a good (small) edge spread, without or with only slight overshoots, according to QuickMTF. I only try to restore the scene sharpness using ACR - if you want to do it all there, perharps 0.7+ and maybe 50% amount and trying playing with masking if you haven't already. I'd leave the "Detail" as is, but it's your call really . .

    Hope this helps,

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    When shooting sports such as MMA, Boxing, or Muay Thai, the typical evening yields 400 to 800 photos. Manually touching each of those in PS or LR would be insanely time consuming.

    I now select & IPTC tag the best in Photo Mechanic, open each fight folder (e.g. fight 01, fight 04, etc.) in Bridge, then process in ACR. In ACR, I have a default profile that fits nearly every fight with only minor tweaking for the exposure, contrast, etc. ACR is my goto for RAW conversion and cropping. It is simple and effective.

    What "output" sharpening do you suggest and how do you propose I do it to minimize time and keep it simple? Would this be a batch run in PS?

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Hi Ray,

    Quote Originally Posted by ultravista View Post
    What "output" sharpening do you suggest and how do you propose I do it to minimize time and keep it simple? Would this be a batch run in PS?
    I don't know how, but I'm sure it's possible to 'script' the application of say 90%, 0.3px and 1 threshold sharpening to batch run in Photoshop.

    I have little doubt someone will be along shortly to say how, they may find it useful to know which version PS you have?

    Welcome to the CiC forums from ....

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Hi Dave, thanks for the quick response. I am using CS6.

    "90%, 0.3px and 1 threshold sharpening to batch run in Photoshop" is this USM?

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Quote Originally Posted by ultravista View Post
    Hi Dave, thanks for the quick response. I am using CS6.

    "90%, 0.3px and 1 threshold sharpening to batch run in Photoshop" is this USM?
    Yes, sorry.

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Ray you can do this in CS6 with a Batch process centered on an Action. eg I use an Action which does the following at the click of a button

    • Flatten Image
    • Re-size image
    • Smart Sharpen
    • Convert image to 8 bit
    • Convert to sRGB profile
    • Save As



    To use the batch process

    • Select File/Automate/Batch
    • Select the Action you want to run on each file
    • Select the source folder and the destination folder



    This will allow you to perform the action on every file in the source folder and save the modified files in the destination folder.

    I use mild sharpening (0.3 pixels at 30%) because I've already done most of my sharpening at that stage and am merely compensating for a small loss of sharpness due to the image downsize for the web. If you are output sharpening for printing, it may be different but I don't have any expertise in this area.

    You would be best to experiment a bit to find the sharpening settings that work for you in your situation.

    Dave

    PS let me know if you need further detail.
    Last edited by dje; 27th December 2012 at 06:15 AM.

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Ted - I tried your ACR 5.4 suggestions but my image looked flat. I'll have to play with the sliders to see what brings it around. I don't have the MTF tool to really see what's happening.

    DJE - will you post your post-processing action?

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Quote Originally Posted by ultravista View Post
    Ted - I tried your ACR 5.4 suggestions but my image looked flat. I'll have to play with the sliders to see what brings it around. I don't have the MTF tool to really see what's happening.
    It will - those settings are only for capture sharpening where you're compensating for demosaicing, digitization, and anti-aliasing. You then need to do the next phase (crative/content sharpening) where you'll need much higher radii - typically an unsharp mask around 4px @ 50% @ 0 threshold (evaluate with the entire image showing on the screen)

    Lastly, you'll need output sharpening - another USM - typically 0.3px @ 50 to 100% after you down-sample the image for internet display (evaluate at 100% magnification).

    I wrote a bit about sharpening here if it helps ...

    When/How to Best Sharpen a Digital Photograph

    Sharpening and Noise Reduction Sequence

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Quote Originally Posted by ultravista View Post

    DJE - will you post your post-processing action?
    I've posted a sample action here. This simply sharpens the image using the settings Colin mentions above. There is not much point in posting the action I use because it wont do exactly what you want anyway. But you can use this sample to try out the process. I strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with actions if you want to go this way - then you can create your own and fine tune them to suit your exact needs.

    To get this underway, save the ultravista.atn file in a folder of your choice (call it something like "myactions"). Then open PS , select Window/Actions which will bring up a dialogue box (click on image to expand).

    Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Click as shown above and you'll get a list to choose from.

    Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Select Load Actions and find the Ultravista.atn file where you saved it and double click on it. This will import the Action set into Photoshop.

    Load up a test image and then select Sharpen under Ultravista in the Actions box. Then hit the Play button and it will run.

    Once you've got this process going properly, you can use it in a batch process either from PS or from Bridge (Tools/Photoshop/Batch).

    Dave
    Last edited by dje; 14th January 2013 at 06:02 AM.

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Quote Originally Posted by ultravista View Post
    Ted - I tried your ACR 5.4 suggestions but my image looked flat. I'll have to play with the sliders to see what brings it around. I don't have the MTF tool to really see what's happening.
    Yes, images can look flat but it's not always the sharpening that causes that look. Often, lack of image contrast and/or lack of exposure (same thing really) can contribute. Would you be able to post the flat image as it comes out of ACR? A 100% crop of part of the image, saved in .png form perhaps?

    You don't need the MTF tool to assess the degree of sharpening in your images, a look at the tutorials on the subject will give you enough info to assess your image directly by just looking at edges at 100-200% in your editor. If you can clearly see a lighter band on the light side of a dark edge (called a "halo") then maybe it's a little over-sharp - although many here will disagree. All the MTF tool does is show the same effect as a geeky curve:

    Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Note the blue dashed line which is showing slight sharpening (not intentional) by virtue of the overshoot (peak). Not wishing to tread on any expert toes but the plot (ignoring the CA) is about right for pre-sharpening in ACR, IMHO. For that image, it was 25%, 1px radius, 25% detail, 0% mask.

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    Quote Originally Posted by ultravista View Post
    I mainly shoot mixed martial arts (MMA) RAW at f/2.8 (24-70mm) in the ISO 800-1600 ballpark and 500+ shutter speed.

    . . . my images lack tack sharp quality.
    Ray, I just noticed your aperture setting. Some might say that f/2.8 on a zoom lens will never be "tack sharp". By which I mean lenses are generally sharper somewhere between f/4 and f/8. I do understand that you need the shutter speed to "freeze" the action. Is the use of a good camera-mounted flash allowed? Or are blinded martial artistes liable to retaliate?

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    Re: Adobe ACR Sharpening for Nikon D3

    I convinced that you can't take "D3" + "24-70mm" + "ISO" as input for a fixed setting for ACR sharpening. I've been shooting with a D3 for a bunch of years - plus anything from D1 to D4. The setting of ACR sharpening depends on the motive, exposure, colors, background, details ... and a lot of other things.

    The only way to really take the power of ACR sharpening (and the rest of processiong things) is to dig into the tools and see what works in different situations. Eg I've done really many work in dark rooms with fast moving dancers - with a D3 and a D3x. Even though these photos are much alike I use a varity of sharpening settings. I know the sliders and look at the picture - thats the secret - for me :-)

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