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Thread: "smart" sharpening software

  1. #1

    "smart" sharpening software

    I've read numerous comments about "smart" sharpening algorithms in use. Bill Atk inson mentions them. Charles Cramer refers to a script by Deke McClelland called "Sharpen Only Edges". I have also been refered to Nik SharpenerPro software.

    Anyone tried comparing these. What works well. I am interested in output to a Li ghtJet, but want something that won't kick up grain as much as Adobe's build in unsharp mask algorithms.

    Thanks for any input.

  2. #2

    "smart" sharpening software

    Someone just e-mailed me the Deke sharpeninmg method, and I haven't had time to try it yet. It sounds very fiddly.<be> I've never found the unsharp mask in PS to exaggerate grain, but I seem to use different settings from most people. My settings are usually around a 3 to 6 pixel radius, threshold level setting of 7, and 40 to 50 percent sharpen.I see people advocating sharpen settings of up to 500%, ridiculous!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2000

    "smart" sharpening software

    go to: and try out Robert's Ultrasharpen 3 tool. I have been using his Ultrasharpen 2 action for quite some time and find that it works really well. I just downloaded 3 yesterday and haven't had a chance to try it out yet.

  4. #4
    tim atherton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1998

    "smart" sharpening software

    Try here: the Deadman tool is by far the best, but I don't know if the instructions are with it.

    Just load it into Photoshop in the Actions Palette. To get bck on topic, it does amazing things with many of my 4x5 scans - way better than Photoshop USM.

    Tim A
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn blog

  5. #5

    "smart" sharpening software

    Sharpening is best done while making the scan. The LinoColor Scansoftware has an excellent sharpening filter.

  6. #6

    "smart" sharpening software


    A lightjet cheatsheet I got from somewhere (maybe the Calypso site?) says not to sharpen too much (not over .9 pixels and 0 threshold) and to do it in photoshop NOT the scanner. The scanner sees only one line a time so how can it calculate lines it hasn't seen yet or lines it has passed over and "forgotten" about?

    If you're getting too much "grain" you need to mask off some parts of your image before applying the USM; for instance, I never apply USM to the sky or water with reflections, etc.

    As for you actual question about other sharpening tools: I haven't tried any but plan to do so now that so many have been mentioned.
    John Hennessy

  7. #7

    "smart" sharpening software

    Question- In large format photography, why is electronic sharpening necessary? We all know that it's nothing but the augmentation of local contrast - hence, not "real" sharpness - and it doesn't add detail. So why is it so popular? Is it necessary to make up for a loss of sharpness in the scanning process? If so, why scan? For all the hoopla I hear about the "incredible sharpness" of Fuji Frontier digital prints, for example, every one I've seen looks totally fake- like video tape. Seriously. . .uniform, square-like, totally unnatural texture across the whole image, passing off completely binary tone differences that don't exist in the visual world (i.e. lines never look as sharp in a scene as they do in a digital/video rendering of a line which is basically "on" or "off") as "sharpness." Can anyone enlighten me?

  8. #8

    "smart" sharpening software


    Why do photographers go to so much trouble making unsharp masks in a wet darkroom? To enhance the appearance of sharpness. It is absolutely possible, and in the case of digital USM, not unlikely to over do it.

    But, assuming sharpness is a legitimate goal for a given image, a wet USM or its digital namesake is a wonderful tool if correctly used.
    John Hennessy

  9. #9

    "smart" sharpening software

    Josh: Yes, it is easily possible to overdo sharpening. On the other hand, I disagree that all sharpening is not "real" sharpness. First, lenses and film loose contrast at edges by virtue of the falloff of their MTF. Restoring that is actually restoring "real" edge sharpness lost by the behavior of optics and emulsions. Second, to accomodate the "unreal" limited contrast range of photographic papers, overall contrast is lowered in the scanning process. Restoring that at edges is essential. A good raw scan is much softer in appearance than the original image.

  10. #10

    "smart" sharpening software


    Thank you very much! That's exactly the kind of answer I was looking for, and it makes total sense

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