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Author Topic: ACR 6.0 Sharpening  (Read 5616 times)
charleski
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« on: May 04, 2010, 08:51:45 AM »
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I haven't seen this mentioned before (apart from a little discussion re sharpening in the Lightroom thread), so I thought I'd post this heads-up.

If, like me, you've got used to using ACR to perform capture sharpening and you open the raw file as a smart object in PS, then be careful when going back to old psd files. The new 2010 demosaicing algorithm applies far more aggressive sharpening than the old 2003 process, and ACR6 uses it by default.

Try the following: (See my notes at the end, this will be most noticeable on noisy images from APS-C and below sensors.)
1) Open an old psd file that is based on a raw which has had sharpening applied in ACR and been saved as a smart object.
2) Click on the raw file's layer icon to re-open it in ACR.
3) Do nothing.
4) Click OK.

Once PS has updated the smart object, your image will now be grossly over-sharpened, since the sharpening controls will remain unaltered from the values suitable to the old process. You can re-open the smart object in ACR and set the process back to 2003 in the Camera Calibration tab. This brings the sharpening process back to where it was before, but it doesn't seem to be entirely faithful - I've found a couple of images where getting back to the original state required dialling-back the detail slider and this is most noticeable on images that didn't have any luminance noise reduction applied.

Most annoyingly, if you've set it back to '2003' and you then reopen the smart object in ACR again, the process will revert back to 2010, so if you want to stick with the old algorithm and settings you need to set it to 2003 every time you reopen the smart object. If you didn't use ACR to perform capture sharpening, then the changes are much more subtle - the new algorithm will produce some small changes that are generally only visible at a pixel level.

Note that this only happens if PS re-renders the smart object (when you get the 'Preparing Smart Object' progress bar). If you simply edit other layers then there's no change in the base image coming from the raw file. But as someone who thought he was being really smart by developing a workflow based around smart objects and smart filters, this development is a little galling.

I sincerely hope that ACR6.1 will detect the process used previously in a smart object and set it accordingly. I also hope that 6.1 fixes the '2003' process option so that it really does revert back to the way it was sharpened before without any need to twiddle the detail slider.

Aside from the shock that this induced, I must say that the new '2010 process' sharpening algorithm seems very nice, once you've got used to it. For APS-C sensors you'll probably want to dial-in a bit of luminance noise reduction even on shots that you previously considered clean, but shots from a large sensor sharpen very nicely, and the new noise reduction process is a marked improvement. In general I've found I need to set the amount lower than I'm used to, and the detail slider is particularly sensitive to noise.

[Edit]BTW, I forgot to mention: this only applies to raw files edited through the smart object function. Raw files that have previously been developed in ACR and had the settings stored in an xmp file will automatically revert to the original 2003 process if you open the raw file directly in PS.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2010, 09:48:11 AM by charleski » Logged

cybis
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2010, 12:10:34 AM »
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@charleski,

I'm finding the same problematic behavior; it does look like a bug.
I also find the new sharpening to be an improvement with most images. But it seems to me that the new sharpening algorithm brightens the highlight side of edges way more than it darkens the shadow side, resulting in an unwanted significant brightening of the image and less than optimum sharpening of some edges (Windows 7, ACR 6.0).

Has anybody else noticed this?
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Schewe
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2010, 12:57:55 AM »
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Quote from: cybis
I'm finding the same problematic behavior; it does look like a bug.


It's being looked at...obviously, nothing can be done for ACR 6.0. But it was a good catch that might be able to be addressed...we'll see.
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scott morrish
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2010, 03:55:06 AM »
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Quote from: charleski
[Edit]BTW, I forgot to mention: this only applies to raw files edited through the smart object function. Raw files that have previously been developed in ACR and had the settings stored in an xmp file will automatically revert to the original 2003 process if you open the raw file directly in PS.

Are there any good reasons not to store xmp files with the raw files?
I guess storing them with raw files is insurance against catalogue problems... but are there any downsides?
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scott morrish
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2010, 04:06:09 AM »
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And... is CR6 only for LR3 and later?
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cybis
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2010, 12:51:40 PM »
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Quote from: scott morrish
And... is CR6 only for LR3 and later?

Yes, only CS5 and LR3.
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charleski
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2010, 11:18:48 AM »
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Quote from: cybis
I also find the new sharpening to be an improvement with most images. But it seems to me that the new sharpening algorithm brightens the highlight side of edges way more than it darkens the shadow side, resulting in an unwanted significant brightening of the image and less than optimum sharpening of some edges (Windows 7, ACR 6.0).

Has anybody else noticed this?
Yeah. I think you've got a point here. I'm still playing around and trying to get a good feel for how the sharpening settings work on the new process and had noticed this brightening, but thought it was the result of using too much in the Amount slider. Now you mention it, there might be an issue with the balance of the light and dark halos.

I can see why they went with this particular balance: on some images it does add sparkle without the crunch. But this should really be a decision left to the photographer. Maybe Adobe's wary of adding yet another slider to a panel that's already pretty intimidating for the newbies.

Quote from: Schewe
It's being looked at...obviously, nothing can be done for ACR 6.0. But it was a good catch that might be able to be addressed...we'll see.
Cheers, that's great to hear.  As with CS4 before it, the changes that will really make a difference to image quality and workflow are mostly in ACR. The new process really does represent a significant step forward, it's a pity (but predictable) that the press missed the important bits to pick up on the frills like CAF.
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charleski
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2010, 08:22:41 PM »
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Looks like this is fixed (as far as possible) in 6.1.

Now, if you open an old psd file with a smart object containing an embedded RAW file, the raw processing will still default to the 2010 process on clicking the smart object, but if you change the process back to 2003 and click OK, that choice will be saved and will persist if you open the smart object in ACR again.

I suspect the old data structure lacked a means of identifying which process was used, so if you want to keep the 2003 method you need to signal that explicitly using the latest ACR. The important thing is that this no longer needs to be done each time you re-open the RAW file to make a small change.

Thanks to Jeff for flagging this, and thanks to the Adobe team for putting in a swift fix.
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madmanchan
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2010, 09:18:42 PM »
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Yes, you got it right. Thanks for catching the error in the first place. Your info helped a lot.
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Schewe
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« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2010, 10:53:10 PM »
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Yep...to follow up with what Eric said, your discovery was an edge case we hadn't discovered at the point you mentioned it but it was in time to fix it for 6.1. Thanks go to you for finding it and Eric for fixing it just in time to make it into 6.1.
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Nill Toulme
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« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2010, 11:13:27 AM »
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Jeff, while we're on the topic of ACR v6.1 sharpening... where does PK Sharpener fit into the new mix?  I've long been a very happy user of PK's capture sharpening in my workflow.  Does ACR's (and LR's) improved sharpening obviate the need for PK capture sharpening, or does it still have a place?

Nill
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Schewe
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2010, 04:56:10 PM »
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Quote from: Nill Toulme
Jeff, while we're on the topic of ACR v6.1 sharpening... where does PK Sharpener fit into the new mix?  I've long been a very happy user of PK's capture sharpening in my workflow.  Does ACR's (and LR's) improved sharpening obviate the need for PK capture sharpening, or does it still have a place?

Nill

PKS isn't really needed if you are A) doing capture sharpening in ACR/LR _AND_  output sharpening in LR for printing...at this point in time unless you can explicitly size your output files in Camera Raw Save (which is very limited) you can't really use ACR's output sharpening.

Also, while ACR/LR has incremental improvements in creative sharpening, that is where you still need PKS and the next version will have more creative sharpening...
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Nill Toulme
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« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2010, 05:06:29 PM »
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Thanks Jeff, that makes sense.  Heretofore I have used PK for capture sharpening and Qimage (my favorite print app) for output sharpening.  Sounds like going forward it will simply be LR (or ACR) and Qimage.  But I'll look forward to the creative sharpening improvements in PK v2.0.

Nill
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