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Author Topic: sharpening using a layer  (Read 64893 times)
digitaldog
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« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2006, 04:28:41 AM »
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Well. . .I guess you didn't get the part about viewing an image on screen -NOT- being a good indicator of how and how much to sharpen?

Pretty easy to illustrate this by doing eye-ball sharpening on a CRT and moving it over to an LCD (or vise versa). One or the other isn't going to look so hot...
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Andrew Rodney
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Chris_T
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« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2006, 07:25:09 AM »
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But again, looking at an image at 25% will not be a real accurate representation of the final output resolution. You need to judge the final print.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64454\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Agreed, viewing and comparing prints is the ultimate evaluation of sharpening, and also for tonal/color results. In a traditional darkroom, a printer will make test strips for that purpose. Why someone has not come up with such an action or plugin for digital printing is beyond me. I think many will be more than glad to pay for it to save time and media cost.

Schewe, should you decide to take on this mission... (MI music)
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Chris_T
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« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2006, 07:31:56 AM »
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if one is too stubborn to buy a sharpening tool, one can duplicate a layer then sharpen that layer and, using the luminosity blend mode, non-destructively sharpen one's image!  or am i missing something?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64315\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I learned somewhere how to do this, not only for sharpening, but for many other editing.

Make sure all existing layer(s) are visible.
Create a new layer on top of existing layer(s). (If there is a single layer like Background, just duplicate it and ignore the next step.)
Hold down the alt key and merge visible.
Now you have a new layer to do whatever you want.

Cons:
Huge increase in file size.
Editing layers below the new layer no longer takes effect.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2006, 10:53:15 AM »
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Well. . .I guess you didn't get the part about viewing an image on screen -NOT- being a good indicator of how and how much to sharpen? While we do have previews now in PhotoKit Color 2, the next version of PhotoKit Sharpener still won't have previews.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64447\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
While quite useless for capture and output, I think previews might be handy for the creative sharpening step to get a general idea of what kind of effect each option will give.
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bruce fraser
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« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2006, 12:15:52 PM »
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While quite useless for capture and output, I think previews might be handy for the creative sharpening step to get a general idea of what kind of effect each option will give.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64482\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The problems with previewing creative sharpening are

1.) It would take as long to calculate the preview as it would to actually execute the routine—a downsampled preview wouldn't be all that useful, so we have to run on the actual pixels. (This applies to the other sharpenings as well.)

2.) With the brushes, we don't know where in the image you're going to apply them, and what brush opacity you'll use to do so.

I've thought about letting the user select an area of interest, then previewing the selection, but then the question would arise as to why I don't let the user preview output sharpening (answer, because it may well scare the crap out of them). We aren't philosophically opposed to previews—we offer them in the new PhotoKit Color 2.0—but one of the things we're trying to do with PK Sharpener is to wean people from depending on the screen for making judgements that really need to be made from the print.

Some day, monitor profiles may include a sharpness parameter that would allow applications to render the same pixels with the same sharpness on all displays, just as we can now match color across displays, but that day is not even vaguely soon!

Meanwhile, if you really want to preview an area of the image, the most practical thing to do is make a selection, copy merged, paste to a new doc, and run the routine. Even if we implemented preview like we've done with PK Color, you wouldn't have access to the post-execution controls (layer opacities and mask brushing). For that, you need an actual doc open in Photoshop.

Basically, we've thought about it and decided that the results wouldn't justify the considerable effort. But if anyone has answers that address the above issues, I'm all ears.

(One of the reasons we offer a 7 day demo and a 30-day money-back guarantee is that we recognize PK Sharpener doesn't work for everyone. Given my limited resources, I prefer to focus on making it work better for the people it does work for than to try to make it work for everyone. But I take all feedback seriously.)
« Last Edit: May 04, 2006, 12:16:39 PM by bruce fraser » Logged
jlmwyo
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« Reply #25 on: May 04, 2006, 05:39:47 PM »
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Pretty easy to illustrate this by doing eye-ball sharpening on a CRT and moving it over to an LCD (or vise versa). One or the other isn't going to look so hot...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64456\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Something that became quite apparent to me after viewing some of my images on my friends Cinema Display (or other LCD's for matter). The LCD makes things look too sharp, at least to me.
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Schewe
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« Reply #26 on: May 04, 2006, 05:48:57 PM »
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Look too sharp on the LCD display or too sharp when printing out?

This illustrates the pitfalls of trying to eval sharpening on a display...
« Last Edit: May 04, 2006, 05:49:39 PM by Schewe » Logged
Stephen Best
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« Reply #27 on: May 04, 2006, 07:28:45 PM »
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(One of the reasons we offer a 7 day demo and a 30-day money-back guarantee is that we recognize PK Sharpener doesn't work for everyone. Given my limited resources, I prefer to focus on making it work better for the people it does work for than to try to make it work for everyone. But I take all feedback seriously.)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64488\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Where Sharpener falls down is with its "just trust the experts" approach. It may be just fine for novices and possibly even produce "optimal" results for a given set of fixed parameters ... however there's plenty of circumstances where it breaks down. Just look at the contone example above, and the one I gave for "4x5 positive". To my mind, a better approach would be to make the software adaptive to individual circumstances. For example, provide a set of sample images for the user to print out, tell them what to look for (over-sharpening artifacts) and allow them to feed this back as a setting they can select for subsequent prints with the same output parameters. A slider is all that's required. A similar approach could be used for capture. At least let people use their own judgement in what works best for them, rather that just a bunch of one-size-fits-all presets. To my mind, the presets are merely starting points.

As for previews, I recognize this is problematic to implement, but it's something I'd expect with a $100 package. I was encouraged by what I saw in the updated Color module. The problem with lightweight implementations like that used for Sharpener it that it's open for anybody to simply codify the sequence as an action/script and make it freely available. I don't buy this argument that you can't trust the screen at all to judge image sharpness and overall quality. It has to be learnt, and re-learnt for a new display, but something I consider essential in my day to day work. For example, I'm asking myself how large I can print this file before it starts to break down. Can I sustain these out of focus areas etc. I'm sure you're making the same assessments yourself. For creative sharpening (haze reduction etc) I'd like to see in advance which setting will work best for a given image, rather than guessing and having to back it off. Both USM and Smart Sharpen manage previews (the latter only just) why can't Sharpener even if it's only for a selection portion of the image at 1:1, 1:2 in the dialog? It probably means having to go beyond the Automation plug-in level though.

While I don't expect you to rush out and modify the product solely to my requirements, moving the product forward to encompass wider and more serious use is probably the approach I'd take over bluster and belittling potential customers as used by others in your team.
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Schewe
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« Reply #28 on: May 04, 2006, 08:05:09 PM »
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At least let people use their own judgement in what works best for them, rather that just a bunch of one-size-fits-all presets. To my mind, the presets are merely starting points.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64537\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ah, but they're starting points based upon extensive testing by some pretty knowledgeable people-such as Bruce Fraser, Mac Holbert from Nash Editions, Bill Atkinson and people like Mike-the guy hosting this forum. There's another guy who really likes PhotoKit Output Sharpener (Michael knows him) but his day job prevents him (and us) from mentioning his name...he uses his own "Capture Sharpener".

The "presets" are based upon science such as human visual acuity, the resolving capability of halftone and ink jet printers...many hundreds (prolly thousands) of digital captures & scans have been tested (Bruce and I tailored the scan sharpeners for our Imacon 848 scanners BTW and I have a lot of 4x5 chromes that I've used the 4x5 Positive Film on)  and many hundreds (prolly thousands) of prints have been made to arrive at these "one-size-fits-all presets". We also have thousands of users all over the world successfully using PhotoKit Sharpener-we get a kick out of finding out what our users have used Sharpener for.

We know what to look for in optimizing images and we've been pretty successful at arriving at these "presets". I personally use them for my own work and print shows and I'm pretty fussy. Mac Holbert uses them at Nash Editions.

So, these "presets" must have something going for them...even if they are only "a starting point"...
« Last Edit: May 04, 2006, 08:24:13 PM by Schewe » Logged
Stephen Best
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« Reply #29 on: May 04, 2006, 08:28:06 PM »
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Ah, but they're starting points based upon extensive testing by some pretty knowledgeable people-such as Bruce Fraser, Mac Holbert from Nash Editions, Bill Atkinson and people like Mike-the guy hosting this forum. There's another guy who really likes PhotoKit Output Sharpener (Michael knows him) but his day job prevents him (and us) from mentioning his name...he uses his own "Capture Sharpener".
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64543\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I've never responded well to this big-names-use-it-so-it-should-be-good-for-schmucks-like-you thing.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #30 on: May 04, 2006, 09:29:01 PM »
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I've never responded well to this big-names-use-it-so-it-should-be-good-for-schmucks-like-you thing.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64546\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
No one - aside from yourself - is implying you are a schmuck.
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Schewe
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« Reply #31 on: May 04, 2006, 09:52:28 PM »
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I've never responded well to this big-names-use-it-so-it-should-be-good-for-schmucks-like-you thing.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64546\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I've bent over backwards to be as straight forward and as factual as I know how. Nowhere have I implied that any user is considered by me as a "schmuck". Far from it. . .the members of PG go way out of our way to be accessible and supportive of our customers and the general digital imaging community. I merely pointed out that real expert users. . .users who I consider truly knowledgeable in the field and whose opinions I respect a great deal have helped us arrive at what you call "presets". I'm rather proud of those "presets" and the fact PhotoKit Sharpener seems to have satisfied some rather fussy people.

You, on the other hand, seem to be reading entirely different posts than I've been writing. I don't know you from Adam and I have no idea what personal baggage you may be carrying, all I can say is I'm sorry if -ANYTHING- I may have said here is in the least bit insulting to you. I'll point out though that I'm not going to change my nature merely to suit you, I'm way too old and set in my ways.

:~)
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bruce fraser
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« Reply #32 on: May 05, 2006, 12:35:43 AM »
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I've never responded well to this big-names-use-it-so-it-should-be-good-for-schmucks-like-you thing.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64546\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Me neither, and I don't think that's really what Jeff was saying. While all our users are above average<s>, I'm not in the business of creating schmuckware or writing books for dummies.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2006, 12:36:19 AM by bruce fraser » Logged
Stephen Best
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« Reply #33 on: May 05, 2006, 12:59:38 AM »
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I'm rather proud of those "presets" and the fact PhotoKit Sharpener seems to have satisfied some rather fussy people.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64553\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

There's no question that Sharpener isn't a fine product and has advanced the field. I just used it to sharpen a scan from a client's 6x7cm neg (I hate scanning negs) and not in a month of Sundays could I come up with the convoluted procedure that Sharpener uses. I do have some reservations about some other more generalized presets (or whatever you want to call them) that nobody has seen fit to address ... but frankly I've lost interest :-).

In a previous life I used to make a living out of selling software on the 'net and it used to piss me off when others steered potential customers to free alternatives ... inferior in many ways though they may be. So I understand where you're coming from. The difference is that I took this as a signal to really work on my software to add value ... features/elegance/simplicity/whatever ... to differentiate mine as much as possible. Everybody, myself included, gained from this. Whether you and your team want to take the preceding as constructive input is up to you. Being told that others have been well satisfied frankly means nothing to me when I can download and evaluate the software for myself to see how it fits into my workflow etc. As I would encourage others to do.

Cheers :-)
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Stephen Best
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« Reply #34 on: May 05, 2006, 01:05:53 AM »
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Me neither, and I don't think that's really what Jeff was saying. While all our users are above average<s>, I'm not in the business of creating schmuckware or writing books for dummies.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64565\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

So how about a 400 page book on sharpening? I'd buy one ... seriously. I have an interest in the topic, which is behind my response to the original query.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #35 on: May 05, 2006, 08:21:28 AM »
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I've never responded well to this big-names-use-it-so-it-should-be-good-for-schmucks-like-you thing.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64546\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Would you like a list of so called schmucks to contact ;-)

The demo runs fully functional for 7 days. There's nothing to keep either experts, big-names, or schmucks as you like to call them or anyone in between from making their own evaluations.
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Andrew Rodney
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bruce fraser
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« Reply #36 on: May 05, 2006, 12:35:31 PM »
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So how about a 400 page book on sharpening? I'd buy one ... seriously. I have an interest in the topic, which is behind my response to the original query.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64573\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Real World Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop CS2 should hit stores late summer if I meet my deadlines, mid-fall in the worst-case scenario. It won't be 400 pages in the first edition but it won't cost $50 either.

The Capture Sharpening presets and Creative Sharpening presets really are just starting points. In Capture Sharpen, you can adjust the layer opacities of the light and dark contours, and in Expert mode you can also edit the masks. Unfortunately, that's not something that the Automate SDK lets us do in a preview—you need pixels open in Photoshop. When you combine that with the length of time it would take to calculate a preview (as long as it would take to run the actual routine), my feeling is that it makes more sense to make a richer set of presets that are tailored to specific camera types than to spend resources on generating a preview that can only be a starting point.

With the Creative Sharpeners, a preview makes even less sense. The brushes don't do anything until you brush, and the SDK simply doesn't allow brushing on previews. And again, the preview would take as long to calculate as the actual routine.

I'm acutely aware that the current Capture Sharpeners lump images into some very large buckets. For Sharpener 2, my main focus is to put the images in much smaller buckets automatically (we'll keep the old routines for those who find they serve them well). We plan to use metadata to identify the camera model, run an analysis routine to automate edge width selection, and tweak the mask generation to make it sensitive to working space gamma, among other things, but these should all help to make the presets much better starting points than they are today.

The Creative Sharpeners are what they are. If I ever find a way to automate creativity I know a fairly large number of people who'd want to kill me...

Other than adding some larger sizes for the Web/Multimedia output sharpeners, I haven't seen a reason to do anything to the output sharpeners. I've printed 10s of thousands of images through these, and I've only changed the layer opacities in a handful. Unlike all the other relationships we have to deal with in the capture and creative sharpeners, the relationship between input pixels and printed dots is fixed for any given print process, and hence is totally predictable.

I have no problem with people using or building free alternatives—in fact, I've published a great deal of the information people need to do so, both on creativepro.com and in Real World Photoshop—and I AM actively working on improving the software. But when the choice comes down to what I know I want vs what someone else thinks they want, I'm going to go with what I know I want. That's just the way we do things, and I'm not under the illusion that it will work for everyone. But I draw some small comfort from the demonstrated fact that when it works for me, it works for a fairly large number of others. If Jeff appeared to be blowing off the points you've raised, it's probably because they've been beaten to death by us internally, and he tends to forget that others weren't privy to those very long discussions, which often provoked a lot of testing that went nowhere.

Last but not least, if any of us considered you a schmuck, we wouldn't be writing at such length. I value your feedback, and it all gets factored into the mix. That doesn't necessarily mean that we'll build the product you want, but such is life. If I sell someone a piece of software that ends up being shelfware, I regard that as a failure rather than as a sale, which is why I tend to harp on the 7-day demo and 30-day MBG.

With that, I'd like to return the thread to its original topic, which was sharpening on a layer...
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Stephen Best
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« Reply #37 on: May 05, 2006, 07:09:01 PM »
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Real World Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop CS2 should hit stores late summer if I meet my deadlines, mid-fall in the worst-case scenario. It won't be 400 pages in the first edition but it won't cost $50 either.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64602\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Great to hear. I can guarantee you a sale.

For sure I'll be trying v2 when it comes out. There's no metadata in my scans though but it looks like you're doing some other interesting things. The capture "presets" have always been my main concern. Also, when you offer a range of "Sharpener Effects" it makes sense to provide a visual means of distinguishing between them ... at least on a local level ... but I do understand the constraints you're working under and with the amount of processing required.

Thank you for the time and care you've taken to respond.
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Chris_T
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« Reply #38 on: May 06, 2006, 06:57:01 AM »
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Where Sharpener falls down is with its "just trust the experts" approach. It may be just fine for novices and possibly even produce "optimal" results for a given set of fixed parameters ... however there's plenty of circumstances where it breaks down. Just look at the contone example above, and the one I gave for "4x5 positive". To my mind, a better approach would be to make the software adaptive to individual circumstances. For example, provide a set of sample images for the user to print out, tell them what to look for (over-sharpening artifacts) and allow them to feed this back as a setting they can select for subsequent prints with the same output parameters. A slider is all that's required. A similar approach could be used for capture. At least let people use their own judgement in what works best for them, rather that just a bunch of one-size-fits-all presets. To my mind, the presets are merely starting points.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64537\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I concur with your sentiment 100%. The presets of a sharpening tool is analogous to a camera's auto exposure mode: they work well for most but not all situations. A set of sample images and a description of how a tool's settings can influence their sharpening can go a long way in helping the users. Because:

1. Images with different contents will require different sharpening settings for best results.

2. The different intents of the final products (web displays, print sizes, etc.) also calls for different sharpening settings.

3. Knowing what settings work well with a particular kind of image is a good starting point. It will cut down on the sharpen/print/change_settings interative process.

4. The set of images can be used to compare and evaluate different tools. It will make shoot-out or bake-off contests more meaningful. Currently they typically rely on a single image.

Come to think of it, perhaps reason number 4 is why sharpening tool makers DON'T want to have such a set of images available. Hope Bruce's new book will cover this.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #39 on: May 06, 2006, 12:59:17 PM »
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A couple questions should be asked while criticizing the preset nature of PK Sharpener. First, can the variations of sources mentioned as examples previously really make a big enough of a difference to matter in print? And if they can, are the differences large enough that they can't be compensated for by adjusting the sharpening opacity?

Considering capture sharpening is a subtle thing to begin with, the differences between different sources might not be as big of an issue as you are making it out to be. Until you download the demo, try it out and make some test prints to compare, these objections are no more than armchair-quarterbacking.

Like you two, I was skeptical of PK Sharpener. The idea of a sharpening workflow was sound, and the science behind output sharpening was sound but I still had my reservations of how effective it could actually be due to the lack of control compared to tools like FocalBlade. After trying it, I bought it (twice since I switched platforms) because I found it to be the most effective sharpening tool available at the time (and it still is). The anal-retentive control allowed by other sharpening tools isn't really needed for great results and is only helpful in some off-cases of creative sharpening.
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