When and How to Use Sharpening?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Dulouz, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. Dulouz

    Dulouz TPF Noob!

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    I've been a long time user of Photoshop and have recently taken up Lightroom.

    I have messed with the Sharpen tools before, but never really got my head around how they work and when I should use them. Can anyone shed some light on this for me?

    I have been using the Clarity tool in Lightroom, which seems like a sharpen tool for dummies.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Personally, I might use the "unsharp mask" on the whole image if I'm not happy with the overall sharpness, but I keep it subtle. If I do any major sharpening, it's always constrained by a mask to very specific areas - like eyes and hair in a portrait.
     
  3. Dulouz

    Dulouz TPF Noob!

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    Would you mind elaborating on this a bit?
     
  4. STINKY PICTURES

    STINKY PICTURES TPF Noob!

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    do you mean there`s a way to sharpen some things and not others?
     
  5. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes. Use the selection tool or create a layer mask.
     
  6. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Stinky, are you using photoshop? If you are, then how could you be surprised by this? If layer masks impress you, wait 'till you see what else photoshop can do!

    (That should also answer your questions. Google "photoshop layer mask ~tutorial" and you should understand pretty quickly.)
     
  7. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    I use DxO software's calibrated to the body/lens/focal-length/aperture sharpening modules so that I don't have to guess or screw around. If I'm not using a combo they have a module for and I need to add some sharpening, 150% @ 0.3px radius usually does the trick. I set the sharpening threshold to either 2 or 4 if there's a lot of noise in the shot, or else it'll end up sharpening the noise and making things worse, lol.
     
  8. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    Mav, a technical description like that is not going to help someone who doesn't even know what a layer mask is yet. :(
     
  9. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    If you use the sharpening feature in Camera Raw 4.0, you will see a mask slider that will selectively allow you to remove sharpening from the total image to only edges. Hold the alt key while you are moving the slider and you see it's effect as it works. Easier to use and easier to understand than masking.

    I don't know if its a better or worse tool than using a layer mask, because I haven't got to layers yet in my photoshop book. The layer mask method probably gives you better control in specific areas.

    From what I have read, the clarity slider in Camera Raw and Lightshop is not a sharpening tool. What it does is increase contrast in the mid-tones. Does make a picture pop though.
     
  10. If you're serious about sharpening, the greatest tool out there is called Nik Sharpener. It's extremely expensive, but it is so awesome and superior that I will never print a file without using it first.

    You effectively use a brush in various strengths across the areas in various layers. You can also just sharpen certain color ranges. Most importantly, you set the assumed viewing distance. A 5x7 print you hold in your hand, a 20x30 will be seen from a few feet away, and a billboard from a much greater distance.
     
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am not sure if it is the best or not, but it *is* expensive if you go for the complete edition ($329US). I purchased it after reading about it on the Nikonian forums.

    I am not sure how or what it does exactly, but it seems to have an uncanny ability to do something that other sharpeners cannot... and that is to bring a picture to razor clarity without making it look grainy. One can easily go overboard with this tool without the harshness that smart sharpening or even Camera RAW sharpener can produce (though RAW camera sharpener is my 2nd fav form of sharpening now).
     

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