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geoff s

sharpening

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Could anyone point me to Alamy's recommendations on sharpening

or, alternatively, give me some advice. 

I usually shoot RAW and process via Elements 13

 

thanks

Geoff

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Here's what I do. 

 

On conversion from RAW I have all sharpening turned OFF

Then, when I edit in PSE, I typically apply a touch of sharpening as a final step using the "Adjust Sharpness" tool with the following settings.

 

Amount : 20%

Radius : 1 pixel

Remove : Lens blur

More refined : Ticked

 

The idea being to remove the slight softening introduced by the AA filter in front of the sensor in my camera.

 

Why don't I simply apply sharpening during RAW conversion?  (it's often suggested to leave the RAW conversion sharpening at default levels).

 

There are several reasons for this.

 

1) I prefer to control the sharpening on an image by image basis, and to check for any sharpening halos/artefacts.

2) If my image contains high contrast edges I may reduce the sharpening to avoid edge halo.

3) If my image contains shadow or highlight areas where I've boosted the contrast, then I want to check I don't exaggerate any noise in these areas.

4) I found that if my image contained CA, that it was harder to remove from sharpened images. So I remove CA first, then sharpen.

 

NB. The sharpening settings above are those that I have found work with my camera, sensor, ISO setting, and the zoom lens and aperture I use most of the time. 

 

Those using prime lenses with sensors with no AA filter probably shouldn't apply sharpening at any stage.

 

The trick is to remove the "softness" introduced by the AA filter but not to go so far that the image looks sharpened or contains any sharpening halos or artefacts or extra noise.

 

Sharpening cannot be used to correct for incorrect focussing. 

Edited by M.Chapman
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A well considered argument by Mark, but I have always used the standard LR default sharpening only and never had a failure due to excessive sharpening. (Always dangerous to say things like that, makes me nervous....... )

 

I do, however, often make two raw conversions, one with little or no noise control and the other with it heavily applied. The two images are combined in PS to ensure maximum clarity of detail with minimum noise in, typically, skies, but also in any zone of uniform tone that would otherwise show noise

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I think Alamy have changed their guidelines at some point in the last year or so and it now seems to be "don't oversharpen" rather than don't sharpen. It seems that a lot or even most people have been applying the LR default sharpening in any case as Bryan says.

 

On that point, I would say that it is far better to sharpen and apply noise reduction at the same time in the raw conversion for several reasons. Firstly, this allows you to balance noise versus sharpening visually at the same time. Secondly, the sharpening and noise reduction algorithms are acknowledged by the experts (Martin Evening et al) to be far better in LR/ACR than in PS or PSE and there are additional controls available in LR/ACR. Thirdly, it is better to do as much as possible on the raw file in 16-bit before the conversion.

 

I've never heard of Bryan's idea of merging two different files - interesting but I wonder does it have any benefits.

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Whatever LR does. (I think it's 25).

Some images just look unsharp so you can add a bit more- I think I've sometimes edged up to 40. But I do downsize to 4000 long side these days.

I think NR also affects apparent sharpness. I have some on an import default.

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I've never heard of Bryan's idea of merging two different files - interesting but I wonder does it have any benefits.

 

Sorry to drift off topic a tad.  

 

I remember a discussion some while ago when John Mitchell had an image fail QC due to excessive noise in the sky when using a NEX camera and that served as a warning to me as a fellow NEX user.

 

There is generally not a problem with photos taken at base ISO but if you start to push the histogram then noise becomes apparent. This is particularly evident in areas of smooth tone and, if, like me, you customarily process the sky as a separate layer in order to increase the saturation and contrast, noise becomes a problem. However, if you have previously killed the noise in the raw conversion - there's no detail to harm in the sky - then you can get away with this.

 

But this technique is not just useful for sky shots, another example would be the interior of a building where the main subject is reasonably lit and detailed but there are dark shadows. Often you will be using a high ISO and noise is evident. That noise is typically not a problem in the brightly lit main subject, but does become a problem elsewhere. Two raw conversions will deal with this effectively. Your shot is not going to fail QC because the shadow detail is not 100% sharp, provided that the main subject is OK. 

 

There are other situations, I could go on, and on........

Edited by Bryan

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I find that noise in the sky and other featureless areas can be cured by using the masking slider in the sharpening menu in LR.

 

By using the mask slider and pressing the "Alt" key simultaneously you can see the amount of masking being used in the negative image.

 

 

Allan

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I've never heard of Bryan's idea of merging two different files - interesting but I wonder does it have any benefits.

 

Sorry to drift off topic a tad.  

 

I remember a discussion some while ago when John Mitchell had an image fail QC due to excessive noise in the sky when using a NEX camera and that served as a warning to me as a fellow NEX user.

 

There is generally not a problem with photos taken at base ISO but if you start to push the histogram then noise becomes apparent. This is particularly evident in areas of smooth tone and, if, like me, you customarily process the sky as a separate layer in order to increase the saturation and contrast, noise becomes a problem. However, if you have previously killed the noise in the raw conversion - there's no detail to harm in the sky - then you can get away with this.

 

But this technique is not just useful for sky shots, another example would be the interior of a building where the main subject is reasonably lit and detailed but there are dark shadows. Often you will be using a high ISO and noise is evident. That noise is typically not a problem in the brightly lit main subject, but does become a problem elsewhere. Two raw conversions will deal with this effectively. Your shot is not going to fail QC because the shadow detail is not 100% sharp, provided that the main subject is OK. 

 

There are other situations, I could go on, and on........

 

 

It's always interesting to hear about different ways of doing things. An alternative for skies is to increase the saturation and decrease the luminance on the raw file. This darkens and increases the contrast in the sky relative to clouds while leaving everything else that is  not blue alone. It doesn't always work as it can put a white line on the area bordering the sky but, when it does work, it can work wonders with little labour. The high contrast situation with dark shadows can equally be dealt with by HDR or may not even be necessary with a high dynamic range sensor. The ability of LR6 to do HDR on the raw images again has the advantage of doing it all on the raw.

 

As Allan has just effectively said, the LR sharpening controls are very advanced compared to those in PS.

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I find that noise in the sky and other featureless areas can be cured by using the masking slider in the sharpening menu in LR.

 

By using the mask slider and pressing the "Alt" key simultaneously you can see the amount of masking being used in the negative image.

 

 

Allan

 

 

Is that different to my suggestion of using the brush tool? Maybe just different terminology, but you did say you use it "in" the sharpening menu. I've had a look in there and cannot see how you can use a mask from within that menu. Maybe this is a major feature of LR I didn't know about and could be very useful for all sorts of adjustments? Anything to save a trip into PS would speed up workflow.

 

Geoff.

https://photofocus.com/2014/08/26/how-to-sharpen-photos-using-adobe-lightroom/

 

As you drag the masking slider to the right sharpening becomes less pronounced White areas in the negative are sharpened, black aren't. It's fun to watch.

Discovering the feature  was a light-bulb moment for me too.

Edited by spacecadet
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I find that noise in the sky and other featureless areas can be cured by using the masking slider in the sharpening menu in LR.

 

By using the mask slider and pressing the "Alt" key simultaneously you can see the amount of masking being used in the negative image.

 

 

Allan

 

 

Is that different to my suggestion of using the brush tool? Maybe just different terminology, but you did say you use it "in" the sharpening menu. I've had a look in there and cannot see how you can use a mask from within that menu. Maybe this is a major feature of LR I didn't know about and could be very useful for all sorts of adjustments? Anything to save a trip into PS would speed up workflow.

 

Geoff.

 

 

 

 

When sharpening is carried out in LR it can and does introduce "noise" in flat areas of colour too. By using the masking slider within the sharpening menu (draw it to the right to increase it's effect) it will reduce the noise in the flat areas while leaving other edges sharper.

 

Click on the mask slider and press alt key together. The image turns to black and white negative. if you look at the sky, for instance, you will see lots of mush. Drawing the mask slider to the right reduces this mush until it goes completely black. Now release the alt key and there should not be any noise in the sky or other flat areas.

 

Allan

 

EDIT :  Mark beat me to it.

Edited by Allan Bell
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thanks for replies.

The default settings in my Adobe Raw are at.....

 

Sharpening :

  amount     25

  radius          1

  detail        25

  masking     0

 

Noise Reduction :

  luminance           0

  luminance detail  -

  luminance contrast  -

  colour                25

  color detail        50

 

As you might have gathered the above is all Greek to me, should I leave it all as above 

or would anyone recommend any alterations ?

 

thanks

Geoff 

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Same defaults here in LR. Leave them pro tem but learn what they mean. For high ISO you may need to bump up NR somewhat.

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I find that noise in the sky and other featureless areas can be cured by using the masking slider in the sharpening menu in LR.

 

By using the mask slider and pressing the "Alt" key simultaneously you can see the amount of masking being used in the negative image.

 

 

Allan

 

 

Is that different to my suggestion of using the brush tool? Maybe just different terminology, but you did say you use it "in" the sharpening menu. I've had a look in there and cannot see how you can use a mask from within that menu. Maybe this is a major feature of LR I didn't know about and could be very useful for all sorts of adjustments? Anything to save a trip into PS would speed up workflow.

 

Geoff.

 

 

 

 

When sharpening is carried out in LR it can and does introduce "noise" in flat areas of colour too. By using the masking slider within the sharpening menu (draw it to the right to increase it's effect) it will reduce the noise in the flat areas while leaving other edges sharper.

 

Click on the mask slider and press alt key together. The image turns to black and white negative. if you look at the sky, for instance, you will see lots of mush. Drawing the mask slider to the right reduces this mush until it goes completely black. Now release the alt key and there should not be any noise in the sky or other flat areas.

 

Allan

 

EDIT :  Mark beat me to it.

 

Yes but your explanation is clearer.

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I wouldn't be happy with no default sharpening at all. I don't think Alamy expects that. My images definitely look a bit soft at zero.

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thanks for replies.

The default settings in my Adobe Raw are at.....

 

Sharpening :

  amount     25

  radius          1

  detail        25

  masking     0

 

Noise Reduction :

  luminance           0

  luminance detail  -

  luminance contrast  -

  colour                25

  color detail        50

 

As you might have gathered the above is all Greek to me, should I leave it all as above 

or would anyone recommend any alterations ?

 

thanks

Geoff 

 

For noisy images (e.g. higher ISO on skin or skies - depends on camera and exposure), you may want to use a bit of luminance noise reduction and maybe increase the colour noise amount as well - just try it out - the effects are clearly visible.

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I think Alamy have changed their guidelines at some point in the last year or so and it now seems to be "don't oversharpen" rather than don't sharpen. It seems that a lot or even most people have been applying the LR default sharpening in any case as Bryan says.

 

On that point, I would say that it is far better to sharpen and apply noise reduction at the same time in the raw conversion for several reasons. Firstly, this allows you to balance noise versus sharpening visually at the same time. Secondly, the sharpening and noise reduction algorithms are acknowledged by the experts (Martin Evening et al) to be far better in LR/ACR than in PS or PSE and there are additional controls available in LR/ACR. Thirdly, it is better to do as much as possible on the raw file in 16-bit before the conversion.

 

I've never heard of Bryan's idea of merging two different files - interesting but I wonder does it have any benefits.

 

Like Bryan I rarely touch sharpening settings. These days I do ALL my image processing (including layers) as part of raw conversion - I don't store converted files (except a few for frequent web use) but recreate them from the keyworded raw master as and when I need them. It has the advantage that as my raw converter (and my skills) improve so do my results even for old images. I use C1Pro but have LR6 for backup/occasional usem(useful until a new camera is supported by C1)

 

I only use PS when I want to add text or to crop a screen grab. Most months I never touch PS. I don't do composites but even if I did I would probably use C1Pro to do them.

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I wouldn't be happy with no default sharpening at all. I don't think Alamy expects that. My images definitely look a bit soft at zero.

 

 

Agreed. I believe, from my experiences with a few camera systems, that all RAW images appear soft and need some sharpening.

 

Allan

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thanks for replies.

The default settings in my Adobe Raw are at.....

 

Sharpening :

  amount     25

  radius          1

  detail        25

  masking     0

 

Noise Reduction :

  luminance           0

  luminance detail  -

  luminance contrast  -

  colour                25

  color detail        50

 

As you might have gathered the above is all Greek to me, should I leave it all as above 

or would anyone recommend any alterations ?

 

thanks

Geoff 

 

For noisy images (e.g. higher ISO on skin or skies - depends on camera and exposure), you may want to use a bit of luminance noise reduction and maybe increase the colour noise amount as well - just try it out - the effects are clearly visible.

 

 

 

It pays to be careful with luminance noise reduction on skin as it can appear plasticky if taken too far. Especially with Fuji sensors.

 

Allan

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Thanks for the advice folks

(If it makes any difference, I'm using  Fuji XT1 and Xe1)

 

Geoff

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I wouldn't be happy with no default sharpening at all. I don't think Alamy expects that. My images definitely look a bit soft at zero.

 

 

Agreed. I believe, from my experiences with a few camera systems, that all RAW images appear soft and need some sharpening.

 

Allan

 

 

Yes they do, as I replied earlier the nature of how RAW images are produced means they need sharpening. Just not to a set amount across the whole frame by default, especially as high as 25.

 

Geoff.

 

 

Even for cameras with no AA filter?

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Geoff:

 
If you set Masking to 0 in ACR then you are sharpening everything. You do not want to do that, because you are sharpening the noise in sky and the shadows. You are sharpening the edges of clouds that should remain soft. You are sharpening intentional out of focus areas that should remain soft.
 
In Camera Raw set your magnification so you can see the entire image. Set masking to 50. Now on a Mac press the option key.
 
When you press the option key, the image will turn into a only black, only white, high contrast mask. The black parts of the mask will receive no sharpening. The white areas of the mask will receive sharpening.
 
Holding down the option key move the slider between 0 and 100 and watch the masking function pick out only the edges you want to sharpen. Watch the skies and shadows go black, on the mask, and therefore unsharpened, around a setting of 40. Watch the clouds go black, on the mask, around a setting of 65. The hard edges, that you want to sharpen, will remain white on the mask until around a setting of 70.
 
Every image requires a different masking setting, but it only takes a second or so per image. For images that are all detail set a mask setting around 0 to sharpen all detail. For an image that is mostly no detail, like a bird against an out of focus background set a high mask setting so that the out of focus background is masked as black, and only the edges and detail of the bird are white and therefore receive sharpening.
 
In old versions of photoshop there was a mask filter called “find edges” that did the same thing. By using masking you are finding the edges that you want to sharpen.

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A well considered argument by Mark, but I have always used the standard LR default sharpening only and never had a failure due to excessive sharpening. (Always dangerous to say things like that, makes me nervous....... )

 

I do, however, often make two raw conversions, one with little or no noise control and the other with it heavily applied. The two images are combined in PS to ensure maximum clarity of detail with minimum noise in, typically, skies, but also in any zone of uniform tone that would otherwise show noise

 

Bryan, I know that you often use legacy manual focus lenses. I find that my RAW images taken with these old lenses usually require some sharpening in order to make them presentable for QC-- i.e. they don't produce the "crispness" (for lack of a better word) of modern lenses designed for digital cameras. Do you find this to be the case?

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I shoot with an X-T1. On the Fuji X forum, I once read that for images with trees/foliage, because Adobe doesn't handle RAF foliage files well, you can sharpen up to around 38 using the masking as described above. You turn the sky black in masking and don't introduce artifacts. I do this, always paying attention to the image at 100% in LR. I've never had a failure due to over sharpening yet.

I leave it at the default 25% for other subjects.

Sometimes, if I have just a bit that needs extra, in PS I use the selection tool, select that bit, blur edge of selection, and only add a bit of extra sharpening to that bit.

Works a charm. BLIKEY! I'm starting to talk like you blokes now! ;)

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Sometimes, if I have just a bit that needs extra, in PS I use the selection tool, select that bit, blur edge of selection, and only add a bit of extra sharpening to that bit.

Works a charm. 

 

Is there a sharpen brush in PS? There's one in PSE. I leave mine set to a soft edged brush at 25% strength. The radius of the brush can be very quickly decreased with the [ key, or increased with the ] key. Once the brush is setup you can use it to "paint" extra sharpness where you need it. It's really quick and easy (saves having to make a selection). But it needs some care since accidentally "painting" the same area twice gives twice the sharpening. So it perhaps isn't "safe" as the method you describe.

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