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Best Sharpening Software

D young , Oct 08, 2011; 05:55 p.m.

I have been researching post processing image sharpening software. It appears, there have been some advances in image sharpening programs, with some photographers favoring one program verses another, for various reasons or applications. Im looking for an up-to-date review and in particular, Photo.net-er's feedback on their experience "actually" using or comparing sharpening software programs.
A few that I am considering are: PhotoKit Sharpener, Nik Sharpening Pro, and FocalBlade. Right now, I am
leaning towards PhotoKit.

Your personal experience with these programs and feedback is appreciated -
Thanks!
Dee

Responses


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JDM von Weinberg , Oct 08, 2011; 07:11 p.m.

I just use Photoshop® Filter>Sharpen>Smart sharpen or do something similar in ACR.

Sometimes people (even I) post things that are way oversharpened. Like make up, if you can tell it's been done, it's been done too much.

John A , Oct 08, 2011; 07:26 p.m.

With CS5, ACR sharpening is way better than it was in previous versions--completely different algorithm than in previous versions. The best I have used for raw is maybe DxO but I don't know that it is that much better than ACR. If you sharpen your RAW file "enough to pull it together", I find that PS sharpening is all that is ever needed later in the process. Over sharpening does seems a much bigger problem than under sharpening.

John Markanich , Oct 08, 2011; 08:39 p.m.

Well, I use Nik Sharpener Pro. Not that it sharpens better than any other program/method but the interface is so user friendly that it makes clicking and seeing different sharpening strengths a breeze. Plus, with their U-Point technology I can apply different sharpening looks to specific areas of the image without having to make selections or masks. There are a few things on my wish-list about the program but they are minor and relate only to the way I work with the interface not the quality of the sharpening.

Frank Skomial , Oct 08, 2011; 09:11 p.m.

... and the best perhaps is to have a sharp lens, precise focus, and fast shutter motion blur free pictures to start with. While software sharpenning helps salvage or improve pictures, nothing beats the good quality original.

Patrick Lavoie , Oct 08, 2011; 09:21 p.m.

Frank, even with all those obvious thing .. you still need a 3 step sharpening to get the best out of your file. I have shoot with a Zeis lens on a Canon 5D and even if its the sharpers lens on earth, a good smart sharpen over a raw file is what my images need... even if the original is more than perfectly sharp and in focus.

If you know what you are doing and why.. Photoshop is all you need with one of those 3 method (or a combo of them) Smart Sharpen, HighPass or USM (for local contrast enhancement).

If you are not sure, or feel the need for a external plugin.. PK Sharpener or Nik are 2 excellent tools to add to your arsenal. I do all my sharpen with the 3 filter already in Photoshop.

Ellis Vener , Oct 08, 2011; 09:49 p.m.

My vote is for PhotoKit Sharpener 2. It is extremely versatile and I like that it is applied as layer with a mask already prepared so you can easily control exactly where it is applied and dynamically adjust the intensity of the effect.

Having said that, these days instead of using the Capture Sharpening part of PK Sharpener 2 I mostly use the capture Sharpener (detail controls) in Lightroom 3 and use the creative and output sharpening modules in PK Sharpener 2.

Robert K , Oct 09, 2011; 10:01 a.m.

The two challenges I always face when sharpening are:

- The final image may be for monitor display or for print, and each may be in different sizes. The permutations of these requirements would need different sharpening techniques for optimal results. An ideal sharpening tool would have user friendly settings for each of these requirements.

- An ideal sharpening tool would also make it *easy* to *automatically* produce several results bracketing around the chosen settings. Much like bracketing exposure on a camera. The user can then compare the results and choose the best one.

I have yet to come across a tool that will do these. Doing them manually takes a lot of time.

Dan M , Oct 09, 2011; 10:45 a.m.

Sharpening in Lightroom 3 is quite good, and it has built in output sharpening, which is nice if you are printing yourself. That is enough for many of my images. Photoshop has numerous sharpening procedures. I often create a smart object and try a number of different filters (unsharp mask, smart sharpen, high pass), picking the one I like best after I see them. I have never thought it necessary to buy additional software for this.

Andrew Rodney , Oct 09, 2011; 01:09 p.m.

- The final image may be for monitor display or for print, and each may be in different sizes. The permutations of these requirements would need different sharpening techniques for optimal results. An ideal sharpening tool would have user friendly settings for each of these requirements.

Exactly. Its spelled out here: http://www.creativepro.com/story/feature/20357.html

I have yet to come across a tool that will do these. Doing them manually takes a lot of time.

Depends on if you have to do this in Photoshop or if you own Lightroom (the later is about as automatic as you’ll find.


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