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Thread: Image Sharpening -

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Image Sharpening -

    I'm reading Digital Photography Outdoors by James Martin, and in the chapter on "workflow in depth" and on page 145 it suggests that...

    "the more you work on an image, the softer it becomes, so sharpening should be the last thing you do. (fine, understood) but it also goes on to say that...

    "Refrain from using the sharpening features on a scanner or in Camera RAW or other RAW editors; you never want to sharpen more than once because artifacts will multiply.." (and it goes on to explain the consequences of too much sharpening)

    From the following tutorial on Cambridge...

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...sharpening.htm

    Most photographers now agree that sharpening is most effective and flexible when it's applied more than once during image editing.

    I have my camera RAW set to 25% sharpening, is this not recommended?

    I'm confused as the information is conflicting. And it makes me wonder about whether one should not use the default setting for sharpening, contrast, etc in camera for the same reason... (artifacts)

    Thank you.

  2. #2

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    Re: Image Sharpening -

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I'm confused as the information is conflicting. And it makes me wonder about whether one should not use the default setting for sharpening, contrast, etc in camera for the same reason... (artifacts)

    Thank you.
    Welcome to the wonderful world of strong opinions. When it comes to image processing in general -- and image sharpening in particular -- you will get all kinds of conflicting opinions, all fervently held by people who do good work. As far as I can tell, the thing about sharpening is that you can do it as often as you like as long as it wasn't really needed in the first place. With most image processing, the more you need it, the worse it will work.

  3. #3

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    Re: Image Sharpening -

    Raw means no adjustments automatically set when shooting (in the camera) so that is a good start.

    The general principle is to apply a little Capture Sharpening after uploading to your computer. I normally use 50% and 0.5 pixels in ACR.

    Whether you always use some noise reduction at this stage is debatable. I normally use just a little, but it depends on the actual image.

    And yes, the major sharpen after editing. But if I'm only doing a couple of slight tweaks with adjustment layers, I may sharpen first to see the result of that before applying those tweaks.

    I think the article means don't apply multiple sharpening of similar amounts. Less severe sharpening with a couple of different settings can be the best method.

    And I usually don't sharpen scans before uploading. But some people just scan then use the item in another production, for instance mixed with text in a general publication without any other editing. In that case, sharpening while uploading would be the only option.

  4. #4
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Image Sharpening -

    I only sharpen after (or while) reducing the image to its final presentation size. For instance, if I'm making a 300dpi 8x10 print, I'll only sharpen after cropping or downsizing the image. If I'm doing a big downsize, like 18MP to 900x600 pixels for web publishing, I find that the sharpening option built into Photoshop's downsizing utility works rather well. Sometimes it gives odd results, so in those cases, I'll switch to another downsizing algorithm and follow with an unsharp mask.

    At the moment, I'm in the 'sharpen once' camp, mostly since initial Camera Raw sharpening seems to amplify noise more than the unsharp mask (depending on settings). But I'm still learning.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Image Sharpening -

    Thank you Tom, Geoff and Lex... Very helpful information, new to me and great to know.

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    GiacomoD's Avatar
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    Re: Image Sharpening -

    Thanks Lex, you are confirming something that I noticed from my (very) little experience: sharpening before downsizing can sometimes create artifacts and worsed the image.
    As a general rule, I sharpen only a little bit at the RAW processing stage (but at the same time I do some noise reduction, and I wonder if those two actions compensate each other), and then the final sharpening only on the final resized image, after editing.

  7. #7
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Image Sharpening -

    You will find all sorts of opinions about this, often very strongly held. I don't hold mine strongly, but they work for me.

    When you are sharpening in a raw editor, you are not doing anything to the image until you export/save it. AFAIK, the order in which the edits will finally be applied when you export, at least in LR, is not dependent on the order in which you enter them. So I sharpen only once, not twice, in LR. I know that everyone says one should do capture and creative sharpening, but I think of them as part of the same process: sharpening the original image to get it to look like you want. AFAIK, it does not matter at all whether you have lightroom (or presumably ACR) set to sharpen a bit when you read the image, as opposed to doing it later with 'creatinve' sharpening. I tend to do it at the end of the workflow. I then sharpen again for output, either to the web or to print, using lightroom's output sharpening.

    Sharpening in a pixel editor is another matter altogether, because that immediately changes pixels. I would do that in a separate layer, and I generally do it late.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Image Sharpening -

    I am a proponent of the 3-step sharpening process when shooting RAW. These images are soft as a result of the digital capture process / AA filter, so I do tweak things so they look good at 100%. I do this by eye and find that I need to sharpen images out of the D90 more than the ones from the D800.

    If I need to do some local sharpening as part of the image editing, I will do that to selected areas of the image, as required. I don't always do this step.

    The final step is after I reduce the image to the final size that I will be printing or posting. Again, this is done at the final image size (100%) of the reduced image. I will do the same when I use jpegs. The in-camera sharpening eliminates the need to import sharpening, but not necessarily localized sharpening and definitely not for sharpening the output size.

    As I do this work in Photoshop, I will do the sharpening in layers and often discard the output sharpening stage as I rarely save a .psd file that has been reduced in size.

  9. #9
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    Re: Image Sharpening -

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I have my camera RAW set to 25% sharpening, is this not recommended? (artifacts)
    Me too, along with 0.5px 25% detail and 0% mask.

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