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Author Topic: Smart Sharpen  (Read 1938 times)
Ben Rubinstein
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« on: January 28, 2006, 03:27:50 PM »
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I've been using Smart sharpen set to Lens Blur for a while now. I find that the sharpening looks far more natural even at 100% than USM. For landscape pictures it works extremely well, I'm not missing having to layer sharpen and mask out water/sky noise.

The problem with the other side of my business (wedding/event) photography is that it works a tad too well. What I mean is that in sharpening just the edges, and leaving the OOF/lighter areas such as skin alone, the prints don't look as sharp as they should. Yes the shadow areas are well sharpened and the eyelashes are sharp, but the rest of the face is too soft in comparison. This looks great for portraiture but not for anything else where the 7X5" proofs just look soft.

This incidentally is a problem that I've had with any edge sharpening method, the difference between sharpened and non sharpened areas is too stark. I had this issue with Photokit sharpening as well. When I was using edge sharpening I would make the mask then sharpen the edges but then reverse the mask and sharpen everything else, just a bit, to give the impression of detail and resolution in the features other than the eyes/nose/mouth for a more natural effect.

I'm not sure exactly how to tweak the advanced settings to apply some more of the sharpening to the lighter tones as well, or at least to give a better result than just upping the radius. I tried applying a base low amount of USM then applying smart sharpen on top of it but it didn't work that well.

I know that 'X' program works for you    I just want to work out how to get what I want from Smart Sharpen.
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Mark Muse
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2006, 10:58:49 AM »
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My subject matter is quite different from wedding photography so perhaps this comment will not be useful to you. But FWIW, I routinely use several rounds of sharpening that usually include smart sharpen (lens blur), USM with or without masks, and high pass filter sharpening. I mix these and use different radius settings depending on the specific subjects, the nature of light, camera used, amount of noise reduction applied, etc., and I don't have any specific formula.

For me a good place to start is with Smart Sharpen (lens blur and no HL or Shd masking) radius ~1.3 with amount ~60. This is pretty subtle but seems to set up the image nicely for the application  of other types of sharpening.

Then usually as a last step I like to apply very small (0.30.5) radius USM. The amount is sometimes very high depending on how much surface texture I want to accentuate. And sometimes I find I have to revise some previous step then come back to this one to get the results I want.

I expect to be doing some studio shooting soon and it will be interesting to see how I adjust my sharpening routines to suit the change from landscapes.
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