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Author Topic: sharpening using a layer  (Read 66440 times)
stevenrk
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« Reply #40 on: May 06, 2006, 03:54:28 PM »
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The Capture Sharpening presets and Creative Sharpening presets really are just starting points...

With the Creative Sharpeners, a preview makes even less sense...

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).
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Bruce, all well said and very pleased to hear that you will be keeping the old markers for those of us who use your product and who have learned to use some of the presets (that could just as well be called generic nos 1, 2.., although that would raise a different set of howls, and the visual cues are helpful) as good starting points that we build from based on the shot, outpout, etc., and experience using PK.

And also happy to hear you will be continuing to focus in on making a product that works well for you, because it works brilliantly for many of us.  Look forward to downloading Version 2 and giving it a spin.
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bruce fraser
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« Reply #41 on: May 07, 2006, 12:49:55 PM »
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Bruce, all well said and very pleased to hear that you will be keeping the old markers for those of us who use your product and who have learned to use some of the presets (that could just as well be called generic nos 1, 2.., although that would raise a different set of howls, and the visual cues are helpful) as good starting points that we build from based on the shot, outpout, etc., and experience using PK.

And also happy to hear you will be continuing to focus in on making a product that works well for you, because it works brilliantly for many of us.  Look forward to downloading Version 2 and giving it a spin.
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Thanks for the kind words.

Those of you who would rather roll your own may find this column helpful.

[a href=\"http://www.creativepro.com:80/story/feature/20357-1.html]http://www.creativepro.com:80/story/feature/20357-1.html[/url]

Bruce
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #42 on: May 07, 2006, 02:13:31 PM »
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Bruce

I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on the Smart Sharpen filter. Do you feel it's of much use? And if so, when? Have you evaluated it in it the context of that article?

John
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bruce fraser
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« Reply #43 on: May 07, 2006, 08:00:19 PM »
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Bruce

I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on the Smart Sharpen filter. Do you feel it's of much use? And if so, when? Have you evaluated it in it the context of that article?

John
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64719\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I've struggled with Smart Sharpen since well before it was released. I think it has some potential as a sharpener for web and other screen-rez uses, but it's extremely slow, and I haven't yet been able to get it to do anything that I can't do quicker using a masked luminosity layer with USM. All in all, other than making images look nice on screen (hence web sharpening) I've found it disappointing
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jlmwyo
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« Reply #44 on: May 21, 2006, 02:57:26 AM »
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Just for the hell of it, I went back and play with NIK a little bit, specifically the  Epson Output sharpener.  Wow, if you want to see GNARLY on the screen, check it out. PK looks nowhere near as crunchy on the screen as NIK. I'd have to say I much prefer PK's output as well.

Bruce, you might be reluctant to do this, but do you have any comments on how NIK goes about doing it business? I DO like their RAW Presharpener module, and have used that in the past, and PK for output.
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bruce fraser
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« Reply #45 on: May 22, 2006, 06:20:14 PM »
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Just for the hell of it, I went back and play with NIK a little bit, specifically the  Epson Output sharpener.  Wow, if you want to see GNARLY on the screen, check it out. PK looks nowhere near as crunchy on the screen as NIK. I'd have to say I much prefer PK's output as well.

Bruce, you might be reluctant to do this, but do you have any comments on how NIK goes about doing it business? I DO like their RAW Presharpener module, and have used that in the past, and PK for output.
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For a variety of reasons, no comment....
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jlmwyo
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« Reply #46 on: May 22, 2006, 06:30:05 PM »
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For a variety of reasons, no comment....
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=66303\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Okay, I can live with that. Pretty much tells me what I need to know anyway  
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #47 on: May 23, 2006, 03:50:39 AM »
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Given that some of the gentlemen are here on this thread and i can't participate on the PK forum unless I buy it...

I've been doing some extensive testing with PK Sharpener as well as running to and from the lab with print orders as I try to get my head round the program before my time runs out!

Couple of questions:

Firstly, it has been explained extensively including on this thread how it is impossible to use the screen to verify sharpening. How then is it possible to use creative sharpening? I just can't see or predict what the results will be based on how much I'm painting in.

For example, I know that I get a sharp print at 15X10" (300DPI on a fuji frontier) using USM 250,1,0 for a regular 5D RAW file. I know that I need a Smart Sharpen setting of 250, 1.2 for the same result (albeit better defined). Those look sharp on screen and look sharp in print.

But the PK approach, though sensible and certainly suprisingly good in print (looks worse than horrible on screen, artifacts etc), leaves me without a 'reference point' for sharpening.
Is it that capture sharpen + Output sharpen = standard sharp print and any creative is adding more sharpness or less to specific parts? Or does capture sharpen + my choice of creative = standard sharp and the output is on top of that and should be ignored? Meaning should I work blind through all stages or should I sharpen to 'look on screen' at the capture and creative stages and stop looking the moment I hit output? If it is the first then how do I apply creative on screen or even know what the heck I'm doing?

Couple more questions if I may.

I like to give at least some sharpening to all parts of facial features and certainly want to sharpen even non edged areas on landscape photos such as the face of a rock, etc. Having no sharpening at all doesn't look 'right' on areas of skin, especially when it jumps to super sharpened eyes and mouth. All of the sharpening in both capture and creative seems to ignore the 'non edges' completely. How would I set up a standard minimum of sharpening over the entire frame without having to work individual masks which is very time consuming?

The sharpening seems to change the colour somewhat, especially the output sharpening. How do I stop this happening? Eyes change colour as does hair, they seem to take on a lighter tone which is no longer accurate and I don't see with either USM or SS. This is shown in print of course.

I've seen that hair seem to take on a 'ropey' appearance even in print, thicker than it should be or is with equivelent levels of normal methods of sharpening. Any comments?

I want to buy this program, hell, just in testing it I've spent almost the buying price on prints! But I'm still confused as to how to use it and the other points above.

If you can answer my questions and especially set me straight vis a vis first point I would be most grateful.
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Chris_T
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« Reply #48 on: May 23, 2006, 06:34:39 AM »
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But the PK approach, though sensible and certainly suprisingly good in print (looks worse than horrible on screen, artifacts etc), leaves me without a 'reference point' for sharpening.
Is it that capture sharpen + Output sharpen = standard sharp print and any creative is adding more sharpness or less to specific parts? Or does capture sharpen + my choice of creative = standard sharp and the output is on top of that and should be ignored? Meaning should I work blind through all stages or should I sharpen to 'look on screen' at the capture and creative stages and stop looking the moment I hit output? If it is the first then how do I apply creative on screen or even know what the heck I'm doing?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=66332\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I have not tried PK sharpening, and cannot comment on how painting area for selective sharping works. But with another tool, painting is done after sharpening is applied and the results are observable. But you seem to wish to be able to preview before appling sharpening, which would be difficult with any tool.

There is no sharpening 'reference point' (as opposed to a gray scale for tonal evaluation, for example). The amount of sharpening and where you want to sharpen is subjective. The sharpening tools do not offer a preview before sharpening. Evaluating a sharpened image on a monitor is at best an approximation of what the final print will look like. All these are facts, and therefore the ultimate sharpening evaluation is by looking at the prints. But this can be a long and iterative process.

Hence my suggestions for the sharpening tool developers to offer two features to alleviate the process:

- Provide a set of images as 'reference points'. Being able to sharpen these images well with different settings will be great starting points for similar images.

- Provide a test strip printing action so that a portion of an image with different sharpening amounts can be printed on a single sheet for evaluation.
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bruce fraser
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« Reply #49 on: May 23, 2006, 12:26:51 PM »
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The very rough rules of thumb:

1.) Capture Sharpening + Output Sharpening (with no creative sharpening) will produce an acceptably sharp print. It may not be as sharp as it could be, but it should produce better results than one pass of sharpening. This is what I think of as full auto mode. (It can be completely automated using Actions.) The choice of edge width for the Capture sharpener is fairly critical—if you apply wide edge sharpening to a high-frequency image, you'll wipe out detail, if you apply narrow edge sharpening to a head shot, you'll get moonscapes on the skin tones.

2.) If you use Capture+Creative sharpening to make the image look as sharp as you want it on screen, then apply Output sharpening before print, you'll get a better result than 1.

3.) Beyond that, displays vary enormously in how they render sharpness, and you simply have to learn the behavior of yours. Some day in the far-off future, display profiles may contain a sharpness parameter to which the display architecture responds, but I'm not holding my breath.... That makes the notion of a "standard sharpen" for the capture and creative phases problematic. (Output sharpening is different because the pixels always get turned into dots in the same way.)

Capture Sharpening always applies some sharpening to the entire image, though we try to minimize it on large flat areas like skies. Some of the creative sharpeners ignore non-edges, but most don't—they just sharpen whatever you point them at. If you can give me more details I can probably answer the question better.

Sharpening always involves tonal shifts, since it's a localized contrast boost. That's why we return two layers—sometimes a high-frequency component takes on an objectinable 'glitter' that can be mitigated by reducing the Light Contour layer opacity.

I haven't seen Output Sharpening introduce color shifts. You can send me examples at bruceatpixelgenius.com, replacing the at with @ (to fool the spambots).
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #50 on: May 23, 2006, 01:24:03 PM »
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Bruce, you're on the point of making some money.

As I understand it, sharpen using capture. Then apply creative till it 'looks' sharp same as I would with USM. Then close eyes and apply output making sure not to open them again until I have the print in hand.

If you could describe the difference between the different creative brushes, what type of image uses which (wide/medium/narrow)? are those 'edge' sharpening? Which of the global creative sharpeners are confined to edges (apart from the edge one!  ) and is there a comparative amount of sharpening between the different amounts, i.e. could you very broadly describe '2' as approx 50 more USM amount (or whatever) than '1' for example? Or should I be trying to forget any comparisons to USM and work with what I see?

The colour shift I mentioned should have read color brighness shift. Blue becomes lighter blue. If reducing the opacity of the output opacity layer helps then I'll try that. Does not reducting the opacity harm the overall sharpening effect though?
Thanks again for your time.

p.s. if you don't mind me asking, what will the upgrade policy be when PK2 does come out?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2006, 01:32:01 PM by pom » Logged

bruce fraser
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« Reply #51 on: May 23, 2006, 01:55:08 PM »
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Bruce, you're on the point of making some money.

As I understand it, sharpen using capture. Then apply creative till it 'looks' sharp same as I would with USM. Then close eyes and apply output making sure not to open them again until I have the print in hand.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=66380\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When you're getting used to the tools, and learning to judge the relationship between your display pixels (which may be anything from about 50 to 120 ppi) and the print, a certain amount of blind faith is heplful (I hate that, but since your display really may be  anything from about 50 to 120 ppi, I can't really tell you much more). With experience, you'll learn how far you can push things.

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If you could describe the difference between the different creative brushes, what type of image uses which (wide/medium/narrow)? are those 'edge' sharpening? Which of the global creative sharpeners are confined to edges (apart from the edge one!  ) and is there a comparative amount of sharpening between the different amounts, i.e. could you very broadly describe '2' as approx 50 more USM amount (or whatever) than '1' for example? Or should I be trying to forget any comparisons to USM and work with what I see?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=66380\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

For the image types, I refer you to pp 13-17 of the manual, which you can find easily by clicking the Help button in the plug-in.

On the comparative amounts, the effects that are numbered apply less sharpening for the low numbers and more for the high numbers, but they don't really translate to USM amount because we're varying the radius, fading to Luminosity, and letting you use variable-opacity brushes. Most of the routines do something other than simply applying USM to the pixels.

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The colour shift I mentioned should have read color brighness shift. Blue becomes lighter blue. If reducing the opacity of the output opacity layer helps then I'll try that. Does not reducting the opacity harm the overall sharpening effect though?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=66380\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'd still like to see the example, but yes, reducing the opacity does weaken the sharpening, so it should be used with caution. As a general rule, problems with the output sharpener are usually traceable to something else upstream in the capture or creative sharpeners, but I'd have a much better idea if I saw an example.

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Thanks again for your time.

p.s. if you don't mind me asking, what will the upgrade policy be when PK2 does come out?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=66380\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

We haven't set the policy yet (we need to make the software first), but there will be a substantial discount for 1.xx users. For PhotoKit Color 2.0, we gave 1.xx users a 70% discount. We'll likely do something similar for Sharpener 2.0—we love our early adopters!
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jimhuber
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« Reply #52 on: May 23, 2006, 02:13:08 PM »
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I have nothing useful to add to this discussion, but...

Thank you Bruce and Jeff for Photokit Sharpener! $100 well spent for me.

And your responses in this thread have been very informative.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #53 on: May 23, 2006, 10:32:22 PM »
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I have nothing useful to add to this discussion, but...

Thank you Bruce and Jeff for Photokit Sharpener! $100 well spent for me.

And your responses in this thread have been very informative.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=66389\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I totally agree! As the kind of guy who has a hard time reading the ... manual anyway, this discussion has helped a lot. Maybe now I'll switch from USM for the middle ("creative") stage and try "Creative Sharpening" instead.

So, thank you Pom for your persistent and useful questions, and thank you Bruce for the helpful answers.

Eric
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #54 on: May 24, 2006, 08:22:54 AM »
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Bruce I sent you the photo I was using in an email from pomsbz at yahoo dot com hope it got to you.
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« Reply #55 on: May 24, 2006, 09:24:43 AM »
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Bruce, we are very fortunate to have you and your PixelGenius colleagues sharing expertise to solve our problems.  PK Sharpener has been in my workflow since hearing you discuss it at a workshop many months ago. I'm looking forward to the upgrade.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #56 on: May 24, 2006, 04:05:01 PM »
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Just want to say that Bruce has been emailing me, including working on an image I sent him to demonstrate a point. WHAT A GUY! Now that is customer service! One order on the way the moment I have a second...
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gmitchel
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« Reply #57 on: May 25, 2006, 11:44:01 PM »
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As far as Mitch matching PhotoKit Sharpener. . .well, he's tried to copy it right down to the terminology. But he still doesn't know the magic numbers. He hasn't done the extensive testing. On the other hand, Bruce Fraser, a noted and respected author and imaging expert HAS done the testing. . .perhaps that's worth something? His actions are error prone and his scripts are un-batchable from Bridge. So, workflow wise, you're still back to trying to delude yourself that you can "see" what you should do to an image on a display.
Flexibility. . .
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64447\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When I saw the kind comments about my TLR Professional Sharpening Toolkit, I knew this sort of conversation was certain to evolve.

Although I am replying to a message from Jeff, my comments are not personally directed at him or his partners. I am making general comments. I will do my best to be fair and candid and not enflame matters.

My comments also come after reading three pages of threads replies on this thread. So they wander wider than Jeff's message.

I have not tried to match PhotoKit Sharpener. The stimulus for my scripts was a reaction to comments elsewhere from the three Pixel Genius partners participating on this thread (enough said about that), but from the start I intended to offer the best features I could incorporate into the scripts, whether those features were incorporated in PhotoKit Sharpener or other products.

My scripts offer people a free set of sharpening scripts that they are free to download, see if they meet their needs, and use in their work. I encourage people to try them and see if they help. If not, there are lots of free and commercial alternatives to consider.

I have freely admitted that much of the methodology in the scripts came from Bruce Fraser's writings. I cite them, etc. in the documentation for the scripts. Why attempt to change terminology with which everyone is familiar? I have no quarrel with Bruce's terminology (or crediting him with it). I have no problem crediting him with the three-pass sharpening methodology. He deserves to be credited for it.

The scripts include features not available in PhotoKit Sharpener, such as enhanced masks that combine tone and color boundaries to define edges that tone-based masks can miss, support for Smart Sharpen (which is being enhanced in version 2.0 and will include edge mask support), etc. I have tried to offer people a sophisticated set of sharpening scripts (and actions) that include features from a range of sharpening tools.

I am not aware of any outstanding issues with errors or bugs in my scripts. If anyone is having a problem with any of the features, I would be glad to know about the problem so I can fix it. E-mail me or post a message on the Yahoo! Group forum for The Light's Right. I have tried to be responsive to the user community with fixes and enhancements. PhotoKit Sharpener has not been without its maintenance releases. No software is.

Regarding magic numbers . . .

Jeff does not know how many hours I spent on the presets in my scripts, so he really should not comment. Like the partners at Pixel Genius, I invested hundreds of hours, hundreds of printed samples, etc. on images of my own and images supplied by the Photoshop user community to develop the presets in my scripts. It was literally several months of work. I also compared the results against a number of sharpening products, including PhotoKit Sharpener, Focal Blade, Nik Sharpener, and Power Retouche Sharpness. I found you can get equally good results with my scripts or any of these products. None of them consistently or clearly out performs the others. Once you understand sharpening and become familiar with the features in any of these products, you can get equally impressive results.

Left to my own preferences, there would be no presets whatsoever in my scripts. I do not accept the argument that there are magic numbers that are optimal for a wide range of images. I have seen no independent, scientific evidence to support the claims that the presets in PhotoKit Sharpener are optimal.

I invested all that time and energy on the presets in my scripts to help others. I give away all of the result from that effort. It really is not fair to have that effort diminished by understating the effort that went into them.

It was already mentioned, my scripts are totally open to examination. You can see the values for the sharpening settings. You can change them, if you like. Version 2 will make those settings even more transparent and user configurable.

I have encouraged the partners of Pixel Genius to be forthcoming about their sharpening settings. If you are going to claim optimality, prove it. Publish the settings and people can easily put them to the test. There would still be much to recommend PhotoKit Sharpener as a commercial product, even if the world knew those "magic numbers" in PhotoKit Sharpener. I own it and the other products I mentioned, and I have not been unsatisfied with PhotoKit Sharpener. It's a competent package that can give you excellent results. But it's not unique in that regard.

In the end, the argument about the optimality of the settings in PhotoKit sharpener has always come down to trusting the reputations and expertise of the Pixel Genius partners. That's an argument I do not accept. I'm not diminishing their expertise. But you can test the results for yourself and trust your own judgment when it comes to selecting a sharpening tool.

Run PhotoKit on a set of images of your own choice. Then see if you could improve on their apparent sharpness in any way. If you can, then clearly the settings were not optimal. See if any of the other products can do an equally good or better job. My experience was that for any given image, using the available presets in the tools I mentioned and my own scripts, the "winner" varies and in many cases is way too close to call. In almost every case, you could improve on the result from the presets in PhotoKit Sharpener and the others.

Trotting out testimonials is not proof that the settings are optimal. It tells you that some people are satisfied with the product. Heck, I'm not dissatisfied with it.You even have to be careful with testimonials. There are friendships, business relationships, and the like that can also affect testimonials. I can post lots of glowing testimonials, even testimonials from people who own PhotoKit Sharpener and prefer to use my scripts. I'm sure that Harold Heim, Jan Essmann, and others can do the same. It really doesn't prove much.

I have always said that PhotoKit Sharpener is a fine product. There are other fine tools out there for sharpening, too.

For an add-in, my preference is Focal Blade. Harold Heim provides an excellent product on which Michael Reichmann has also heaped praise. Harold provides excellent customer service, and he does not feel the need to belittle the efforts of others who offer people alternatives.

I fractured my spine at the end of February while doing landscape photography in Zion National Park. I slipped on some new snow over ice. I am just now free of the narcotic painkillers, muscle relaxants, etc. That has slowed my plans to release an upgrade to the sharpening scripts. I am sorry about the delay, but it has been unavoidable. Coding scripts is best not done under the influence of narcotics.  (Although it does enhance the experience of listening to Pink Floyd, etc.)

Version 2.0 will be significantly faster. The mask generation alone will be orders of magnitude faster. There will be even more user configurability. The Smart Sharpening settings will be enhanced and edge masks will be an option when using Smart Sharpen. Color masks and tone masks will be available to further restrict sharpening. Etc.

No one has asked for Adobe Bridge batch support. If there are features that others would like to see in the scripts, I am open to incorporating them in version 2. Contact me.

What should matter most is the result you can achieve with the tool. Does it provide you with Web images, prints, etc. that you and others find pleasing? Yes. If more than one does, then you should coose on the basis of cost, workflow, support, etc.

I'm obsessive compulsive about crafting a fine art print. I have found that you can get equally good results with Photoshop alone, my scripts, or the tools I've mentioned in this reply. The workflow will be different in each case. The amount of experience required and the amount of effort you might require will vary, too. Some tools automate more. Etc. Those are important considerations.

That's why I suggest people try the various tools rater than rely on claims, especially from the very people selling the tools. Put my claims to the test, too. The commercial tools all offer free trials. My scripts are completely free to try and to use. See what works best for you.

Cheers,

Mitch
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thompsonkirk
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« Reply #58 on: May 26, 2006, 12:49:11 AM »
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I've read through the thread & am puzzled by the repeated desire to 'verify' sharpening on the monitor.  Jeff & his partners are simply right about this.  What needs to be added is what to do instead - & why:

As Jeff et al. say, you have to verify from a print - but not from a whole print, which is a waste of paper.  You can readily make a tiled matrix of different degrees of sharpening to see what critical areas of a print are going to look like.  There's no way around this, if you're printing a critical image.  

1.  To establish a benchmark or a standard method of capture & output sharpening for the sizes of prints you usually make, make tiled squares for different 'balances' of capture & output sharpening, varying the layer opacities.  These will give your the starting-points - & only the starting-points - for sharpening any particular image.  (If you change cameras, for example from a 20D to a 5D, you may be surprised by differences in the 'normal' or 'average' sharpening situation.)  

2.  Expect images to differ enough in their sharpening needs so that you'll have to repeat a smaller version of this for many images.  Even when you don't want to do 'creative' sharpening, you may have to modify capture & output sharpening.  

For example:  In landscapes or urbanscapes with lots of detail (particularly with full-frame sensors), or in portraits with wayward hair, you get difficult/complicated situations where 'normal' capture & output sharpening will produce not artifacts in the strict sense, but 'unnatural' effects.  This isn't a problem with the sharpening tool, it's a problem with the detail of the image & the bokeh of the lens.  It wasn't serious with a film camera, which it had no anti-aliasing filter - & you couldn't do further sharpening anyway.  But in digital work, we don't always see the same uniform progression from in-focus through out-of-focus areas.  The bigger the sensor, the longer the focal length of the lens, & the larger the print, the more you can see little sharpening anomalies that need special treatment.  

One of these situations arises when sharpening tools to try to sharpen up tree/sky edges or slightly out-of-focus branches in the mid to far distance - edges that really 'want' to go out of focus.  When you applied 'narrow' capture sharpening to do justice to the foreground details, you didn't mean you wanted the sharpener to make these areas edgy too - but the sharpening tool can't 'hear' that.

For the best results with the PK Sharpener, you sometimes have to go back & reduce the light-contour sharpening opacity for these areas of the image, or even erase part of the light-contour mask.  And the way you sharpen interacts with the way you handle contrast within the image.  If you use Michael's local contrast enhancement or Mac Holbert's midrange contrast enhancement, you have to do the same thing, wiping out those areas & edges on a LCE or MC layer.  And sometimes you have to  repeat the opacity reduction of the light contour mask - or even erase part of it - in the output sharpening phase.

These aren't 'problems' with the PKSharpener, or any other sharpening method; they're simply examples of the kind of fine-tuning of sharpening that you can't come close to  gauging on-screen, & have to judge from printed experiments with small areas.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2006, 09:44:34 AM by thompsonkirk » Logged
jlmwyo
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« Reply #59 on: May 26, 2006, 01:36:38 AM »
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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...
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Jeff, sorry just now saw your post.

Images sharpened for on screen viewing on my CRT look too sharp on LCD's, as Andrew pointed out earlier in the thread.
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Images of Wyoming

Link To My Gallery

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