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M10 and CaptureOne- what about sharpening

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Dear All, using the M10 for a little while and working with CaptureOne ‚s sharpening tool on a Mac I learned that sharpening in postprocessing considerably influences the image. What kind of sharpening value are you using? Do you have separate values for different lenses? What is your standard procedure to adapt sharpening in postprocessing? I am aware that sharpening is dependent on the final output media, but how to start? Would be very interested to learn from your experiences.... Thx!

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I do postprocessing with Photoshop.

There is an addition of Dan Margulis with a very featured sharpening function (see Picture Postcard Workflow).

But I also use the PS sharpening function.

Jan

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amount depends on the shot..but i always keep the radius low and threshold hig..and halo suppression med-high

 

 

 

Dear All, using the M10 for a little while and working with CaptureOne ‚s sharpening tool on a Mac I learned that sharpening in postprocessing considerably influences the image. What kind of sharpening value are you using? Do you have separate values for different lenses? What is your standard procedure to adapt sharpening in postprocessing? I am aware that sharpening is dependent on the final output media, but how to start? Would be very interested to learn from your experiences.... Thx!

 

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Thx for your advices, really appreciate them. Probably, I see sharpening a bit to ‚difficult/weird‘ .... and it’s probably an art by itself. Do you estimate sharpening by your visual impression on your PC Screen (kind of shot, emotional impact of shot, not to oversharpen it) or are there any ‚rule of thumbs‘ advices? How to estimate sharpening in relation to the output medium? Thx!

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A simple questio which has no simple answer, as it is one of the essential basic skills of photo editing.  I find Photoshop the best program for sharpening. This is in the M FAQ in the M9 forum - the values need to be adjusted a bit for the 24 MP M10 files:
 

Question:
What is a good way to sharpen my images?

Answer:

Many users still use single-pass sharpening. Nowadays we know that , for maximum quality, we need a multi-pass sharpening workflow. If you apply single-pass sharpening you are attempting to account for image source, image content and output process in a single round of sharpening. Mulitipass sharpening takes account of the sometimes contradictory requirements of the different steps in sharpening.
To begin with we need a content optimized master image that can be used in further processing to apply creative sharpening and the finally sharpening for specific output.
I will take the case for ACR/CS5 because that is what I am used to.
Always work at 100% or larger!
The object of this capture sharpening is to create an artefact-free ( as far as possible) optimally sharpened file to process further. The image content can be divided in three types:
high-frequency images ( think of a landscape with plenty of leafy trees, large amounts of small detail) and
low-frequency images ( portraits with smooth skin) and
mixed images.
The three require different approaches.
The main tool here is the radius slider: The higher the frequency, the lower the setting 0.5 to 1.0
Low frequency images require settings between 1.0 and 1.5 That is about the maximum you can use.
Typical amount settings would be 15-30 for M9 files, 5-20 for M8 files.
The obvious problem is the mixed image. Think eyes and eybrows/hair in that low-frequence portrait.. There are several approaches.
1. Set the radius to 1.0 and try to correct in Photoshop
2. Set for low frequency in sharpening and use the correction brush on areas that need more detail
3. Make two smart objects for different frequencies and blend with a layer mask in Photoshop.
You can (in ACR 6.0) create an edge mask using the masking sider. Enlarge to at least 100% and hold the ALT key whilst sliding. You can see where the sharpening will be masked.
Then you can bring back detail by using the detail slider in the same way. It is not a simple slider, because it influences a number of parameters. Never mind what it does, the results are quite visible.
Then you can switch back and use the clarity slider to enhance your settings. Don't forget you have local control with the adjustment brush.
When you are in Photoshop you can sharpen creatively by enhancing areas. You can either use the sharpening brush or make a layer, (over)sharpen it, use a layer mask and play with opacity. In general, always sharpen on a layer, to work non-destructively.

There is also the trick of setting USM to a radius of 50 and threshold to 1, using the amount slider for control (normally around 20) to get midtone contrast enhancement to bring out extra detail, but I digress
When you have the image to your taste you flatten it and go to output sharpening.
For printing you can use your Scott Kelby technique (*) and learn the optimum setting by trial and error or you can delve into the theory and set the sharpening haloes mathematically.
The avantage is that you have an optimally sharpened image to start with so you won't have any nasty surprises.
(*) Use Unsharp Mask to taste and go to "fade unsharp mask" in the edit menu and fade 100% on Luminosity

Lightroom works a bit differently, but I do not have the expertise to explain that clearly .

LR addition by Marquinius
Lightroom works mostly like you describe. When you are used to the ACR (the RAW editor upon opening a photo in photoshop), you'll get used to LR in a jiffy.
For sharpening you have the same tools, to be found under DETAIL. What I do (in simple steps):
1) I import a photo in LR with the standard primary sharpening (very low, just to get rid of the softness resulting from RAW).
2) I work the photo until it's "perfect" (all conversions, editing, even side stepping to CS, whatever) BUT (and this is important) WITHOUT any further sharpening.
3) I make a virtual duplicate of the edited photo
4) I start my sharpening on this virtual, following the same logic Jaap just described.
In this way you always keep the unsharpened image separate from the sharpened ones: printing for screen asks for a different approach the sharpening for print (and for print you can even go to small print/big print, soft paper, toned paper, whatever). You use the unsharpened photo as a starting point.
Of course you could make a snapshot and return to that point every time you want to sharpen for a different output, but the you'd overwrite previous efforts.

Follow-up question:
How do I prepare an image for display on this forum?
Answer:
My favorite technique is to set the crop tool to 960 px wide (and 640 px high if desired) and crop the full image. Then add Unsharp Mask at maybe a 15-30 amount at radius 1.0 and threshold 0 for a bit of sparkle. Go to Edit, fade Unsharp Mask, choose "Luminosity" in the pull-down menu.
Save as JPG using a quality that gives a maximum file size between 200 and 300 Kb, max 360 Kb.




This link is essential reading:

 

http://www.pixelgenius.com/tips/schewe-sharpening.pdf

 

 

 

Buy Jeff Schewe's book:

 

Real Life Image Sharpening.  A bit dated, but still fully applicable.

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I use the whole bag of tricks the full version of Photoshop provides - I almost never sharpen in the raw conversion process (Adobe Camera Raw's sharpening, similar to the C1 dialogue shown above, or LR) although I apply that temporarily sometimes as a "preview" of what I might see, and need to do, in Photoshop (I reset ACR sharpening to zero before completing the raw conversion).

 

High-ISO noisy pictures: I usually use Photoshop's "Smart Sharpen." That allows me to "fade" the sharpening in the noisy shadows to zero - avoids that "snowstorm of dandruff" look.

 

Images at web resolution: I give them a plain "Sharpen" filter after sizing to final screen size, faded 50%.

 

With M images generally - not too much sharpening, thanks to the lack of an AA filter in the camera. A plain "Sharpen" filter is usually enough. Canon/Nikon images made with stronger AA filters on the sensor usually require more.

 

I tend to only use USM with film images, to overcome softness from the scanner optics. Usually - amount: 500, radius: 0.3-0.6 pixels, threshold: 0 most of the time (and no more than 4 when suppressing excess grain - too high a threshold setting gives pictures a "compressed-video" look I don't like.

 

I don't sharpen for output beyond web images - because I know full-well that unless I am printing exactly at 240 pixels per inch (some may say 300 ppi), an inkjet printer driver will "resample" the image data anyway to its own needs, blurring any sharpening I've add. If I absolutely want the crispest edges in a print, I do my own resampling of the picture down to 240 ppi at final image size - and then add a simple "sharpen" filtering to the resampled image.

 

BTW - the "Clarity" sliders now available are essentially unsharp masking with fixed settings. A very low amount (10-15%), with a huge radius (200+ pixels). Adds a touch of edge sharpening, and an increase in contrast, but based on the pattern of darks and lights in the individual picture (what is nearby, and what isn't), rather than just a global brightening of light tones and darkening of dark tones.

 

You have to understand how USM works - it sharpens the appearance of edges and textures  by comparing nearby pixels (within the radius specified) and increasing the relative contrast between those pixels (by the amount specified) - thus adding acutance (see link) or apparent sharpness. "Threshold" simply sets a lower limit on which pixels to compare and contrast ("ignore the contrast between pixels if they are only 3 or 4 or 10.9 values different in brightness") - thus avoiding sharpening individual film grains or noise specks if they are close to the brightness of surrounding pixels.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acutance

Edited by adan

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You're at odds with some heavyweight Photoshop Gurus here, Andy, but that is fine.

We all develop our own preferences over time. I, for instance hardly ever use the global sharpening tools in Photoshop, I prefer High Pass layers.

OTOH, I will give a web conversion of a high-frequency image an USM sharpening of ~20-50-1 to bring out detail.

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I primarily edit in Lightroom, but use ImagePrint 10 for final print sharpening optimization, as it supplants my Epson print driver.

 

For Adobe products, Jeff Schewe’s two books, The Digital Negative and The Digital Print, provide tons of useful information on the entire editing and print workflow, including sharpening. He and Bruce Fraser were early consultants to the Camera Raw engineering team to help incorporate Fraser’s multipass sharpening workflow into the control panels. Schewe additionally created some simple LR sharpening presets to try as a starting point for different types of images.

 

With sharpening, I find that the premise of ‘less is more’ often applies. Too much sharpening seems common. As with every part of photography, learning the tools is important, but the best tools remain between the ears.... a good eye and good judgment. That comes with experience and by looking at lots of pics and prints. One needs a desirable end point.

 

Jeff

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I only use Capture One Pro and shoot in RAW.  I am a bit aggressive with sharpening for flower macros, but less so with wide shots showing tree limbs and foliage, where over-sharpening can ruin an image,

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Thx a lot to the ‚gurus‘

.

 

Although I do not understand every item, it provides a good starting point! Thx a lot! Really great to meet you here!

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Thx a lot to the ‚gurus‘

.

 

Although I do not understand every item, it provides a good starting point! Thx a lot! Really great to meet you here!

 

Here is the Webinar from Capture One on sharpening. I use C1 and the final sharpening is highly dependent on your intend output, using the "proof" view will give you a much better idea of what is happening, if that doesn't make sense set aside an hour to watch, it's not a few minutes to explain what is happening.

 

1) Capture sharpening. Corrects lost sharpness due to diffraction - 
 
2) Creative sharpening. Provides the ability to sharpen an entire image, or different elements within it. (using masks which is easier than it sounds in C1) 
 
3) Output sharpening. Enables precise sharpening of the final output medium, letting you take into account the how viewing distance and scaling of the final image. (varies with output to screen or print and output size)
 
Thank goodness for the edit button: 
Edited by chris_livsey

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Sharpen at 100% and it generally is done in stages, raw image and then at final size.    Do not over sharpen. Raw is the same for all subjects.  Different subjects require more or less at final size and some require selective sharpening only,  i.e. no sky or skin areas.

 

Whole books have been written on this broad subject.

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Actually the output sharpening can look oversharpened, as it is a mathematical exercise, to create the haloes that make the final print sharp and disappear in the printing/viewing. In fact, that is exactly the same as the edge effect in chemical printing.

Raw sharpening depends on the frequency of the subject.

 

Agree that it must be done at 100% and preferably using an edge mask for viewing  (ACR does this on the fly by holding the alt/option key.)

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I have Capture One and use it almost exclusively for final output to print. I have played around with the output sharpening, but haven't really settled on anything. I just sent another batch of files to be printed without any output sharpening. I was a little lazy, and it's just a batch of 5x7 proofs which tend to look plenty sharp with 253 Amt. / 0.7 Radius / 1.2 Threshold. 

 

But I think the best way to get familiar with the impact of the output sharpening is to try a range of values on a photo which has a person, preferably a female with messy hair strands sticking out (halos), and some good DOF for background detail.

Check the prints and see what seems like too far and what seems like not enough. Go for the middle. And I would have different settings for 5x7 vs large. 

 

I think the Leica images are so sharp and have such good contrast and detail that little sharpening is needed in general. I find that good contrast and color goes a long way towards providing a pleasing image and then a little sharpening is just icing on the cake.

 

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I do nearly all my processing in Lightroom nowadays. 

 

Image sharpening is a three pass affair. Exactly how much is needed depends... And for the following description, my thanks to the late Bruce Fraser who taught these techniques at his image processing seminars and workshops back in the distant past. 

 

Note: I am speaking exclusively of raw image files out of a camera rather than "JPEG originals."  Any JPEG file has already been processed and quite of the original data lost; the sharpening operations are more restrictive as a result.

 

1- Import sharpening

 

Most digital cameras have an anti-aliasing filter, designed to minimize moire and other artifacts of the digital capture and its interaction with real life subjects. Older cameras with lower resolution sensors required a stronger anti-aliasing filter than modern cameras with their much much higher resolutions. Leica's 18 to 24 MPixel sensor cameras generally speaking have very light to almost zero strength anti-aliasing filters as part of their sensor stack ... this is one reason why Leica camera images generally have a very crisply defined image with good so-called micro-contrasts in the midrange tones. Import sharpening is applied globally as a correction to the sharpening losses of the anti-aliasing filter. Little anti-aliasing generally means high detail retention even with small amounts of corrective sharpening. 

 

Lightroom's raw processing defaults are somewhat simplistic: it generally applies the same defaults to all raw files (in Develop under the Detail panel—Amount: 25, Radius: 1.0, Detail: 25, Masking: 0. One size definitely doesn't fit all across all cameras and raw files. What you're supposed to do is to tune these defaults for YOUR camera and save those settings as the default to be applied whenever raw files from your camera are imported. The settings should also be slightly different depending upon the ISO setting used for a capture with the same camera, since elevated ISO settings change the dynamic range and black-point (or noise threshold). 

 

My default settings for the M9, M-P 240, and now M-D 262 are pretty similar. For the M9, I reduce Amount to 10, push up Radius to 1.2, set Detail to 20, and set Masking to 30. For the typ 240 and typ 262, I set Amount to 13, Radius to 1.3, detail to 20, and Masking to 25. This nets what I consider to be a good starting point with ISO 200.  I have these settings saved in Lightroom to apply as the default whenever I open a raw file from these three cameras and modify from this starting point per an individual image's needs due to ISO or other issues. Note that I only rarely change these global settings by very much unless I have a problem image that I made some exposure or focus mistakes with. 

 

2- Creative sharpening

 

Creative sharpening is generally done to enhance micro-contrasts in localized areas of a photo in order to bring up areas of interest or suppress areas that are distracting. Lightroom is not a great tool for Creative sharpening since its localized sharpening tools are somewhat limited ... however, it's amazing how much can be done with just the settings available in the Graduated Filter and Adjustment Brush. Photoshop and its like are where most of this kind of image editing happens: they have far more tools for this pass of sharpening. 

 

How much creative sharpening to apply, and what kind, is entirely an aesthetic decision on the part of the person doing the image processing with respect to a particular image. My own aesthetic in this regard tends to be fairly minimal, I do only very little creative sharpening in general.

 

3- Output sharpening

 

Between the Import and the Creative sharpening passes when working with the full resolution raw file your image should be fully rendered to its final form. The purpose of Output sharpening is to retain what you rendered on the full resolution image at the final output size in pixels either for display presentation or for printing. The reason this sharpening is needed is that the process of outputting an image for a particular pixel dimension for display or print is an interpolation of the original image and the specific micro-contrasts that establish the look you rendered on the full resolution image will change as the pixels are interpolated. For printing in particular, the needs here can be quite subtle and dependent also on the printer and inkset, and how they interact with particular papers and paper surfaces. Overall, the adjustments are usually fairly small in absolute terms, but vary a bit based on the type of image. 

 

Lightroom incorporates output sharpening with an adjustable, adaptive algorithm sited in the Print module's Print Job panel. It does slightly different things when you elect to print vs output a JPEG file, with three strengths (high, standard, and low) and two output types (Matte and Glossy) as well as interacts with the quality setting on outputting JPEGs. 

 

For my usual subject types and general print or JPEG outputs, I find the Standard setting and the Matte setting generally does what I want well, retaining what I see on my reference display with the full resolution image in prints or sized output JPEGs to high fidelity. Some papers, and some images, require a change here but its rare for me. (BTW, I usually output JPEGs this way to a quality level set to 75.) 

 

How do you get familiar with the sharpening settings and find what you ought to be using? Simple: EXPERIMENT with typical images of the types you make until you get a feel for the controls and their effects. I once spent a great deal of time doing that and learning what I liked and how to get there.

 

Nowadays, I find I rarely spend more than ten seconds changing the defaults I've created on any particular image. Just as with film capture, the best photographic results happen by finding proper focus and proper exposure at the time of capture, once you know what you want and how the image processing tools affect the image. The effects of the right focus, the right aperture, and the right exposure are much more important, and more powerful, than any amount of rendering work unless you've moved into the graphic arts end of photographic manipulation.

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I suppose you might want to change the title of this post to Sharpening Flows in Lightroom. The majority of the responses are regarding Lightroom. I am a Capture One user and would like to see more responses for what people do in Capture One, but at this point you might want to change the title of this post and start a new one with a Capture One title though I suppose history may repeat itself!

 

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There is not difference in the basics of sharpening for any postprocessing program.

 

1. Initial sharpening - maximum microcontrast without artefacts

2. Creative sharpening - enhance detail selectively

3. Output sharpening - create haloes of precisely the right width for the print intended to obtain maximum print sharpness. Or any other output.

What software you use is irrelevant.

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I assume the OP is into PP, but for anyone like me who finds it a tedious, boring chore, I use a Photoshop plugin called Focalblade.  It has "novice" and "advanced" modes, the latter which I explored but haven't found the need to ever use, as the novice mode has plenty of flexibility.  It allows me to set sharpening to off, low, medium and high along with "screen" and "print" modes along with fine, medium and coarse details.  Altogether lots of possible permutations.  Btw I used and know Capture One and LR but dislike both and have stopped using and upgrading them.  I use Photoshop for everything, in fact I'm still on CS2 and don't find it lacks anything I need to get great print quality, however I'm not into doing major image manipulation. 

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All this discussion has been about the Unsharp Mask sharpening algorithm. Another one is RL Deconvolution. You can try it in Raw Therapee, for example. (RT is donation-only and works on .tif and .jpg files, too. And it has Unsharp Mask if you wish.) RL Deconvolution does not degenerate into halos as quickly. Just seems more subtle.
 

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