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Thread: Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

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    Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

    Regularly the question comes up whether it's better to apply sharpening of an image in the RAW software or to do all the sharpening on the finished images.
    Of course, if you leave the finished file at the native pixel size there's now drawback in sharpening at the RAW stage.
    But if there is any kind of resizing (up or down) I'd say it's better to process the images without sharpening initially if the best possible print quality is what you are up to.

    Here's a comparison of a small crop from a P45 resized 250%… so the actual print of the entire image would be 150x115cm.

    The upper image was sharpened in Capture One with the preset "Version 3.7 soft look".
    From the list of presets this is the least aggressive sharpening C1 provides (of course you can set any other values but "Version 3.7 soft look" is indeed not too heavy for this file).
    The image below was processed without sharpening in C1.

    Both were uprezzed by 250% with "Blow Up 2" (Alienskin) which is my preferred scaling tool.
    I left the (pre-sharpened) upper image without further sharpening.
    The image below was sharpened on several layers (basically a multi step sharpening with different sharpening settings for surfaces and edges).
    There's no noise added or other nice things that may help to create a pleasant look for a large print. This was done quite quick and rough (and it is rather screen sharpening than print sharpening).
    Afterwards I downsized the images 32% to match the print size on my monitor. My monitor is 24'' with 1920x1200 pixels so at 32% zoom the monitor image represents exactly the print size at 300dpi.
    The comparison will of course not show accurately what the actual print will look like but it will give an idea of what this comparison is about.

    IMO you can clearly see that the image below (so the one without pre-sharpening) contains much more details… it simply looks finer, more structured, richer.
    Of course I could have applied additional sharpening on the upper image but that would look even more coarse.
    If you move back 2 meters from your monitor you won't notice any real difference anymore. But if you look from about one meter distance - which is a bit close for a print at 150x115cm (on the other hand not really too close) - there is a noticable difference.

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    Re: Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

    Interesting, but I'm not quite sure what exactly we are seeing in terms of comparison. For example, would the same conclusions hold if the test was done in Lightroom? FWIW I have done this with different software and in general seem to come to the same conclusions -- what ever software you are using, it seems best to uprez in the raw processor (assuming the software has that capability) and sharpen in the final size (Photoshop, plugin, etc.). I have been processing with Raw Photo Processor and then sharpening in Photoshop with Photokit Sharpener. Unfortunately that currently leaves me without any uprez capability at the raw stage.

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    Re: Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_Green View Post
    Interesting, but I'm not quite sure what exactly we are seeing in terms of comparison. For example, would the same conclusions hold if the test was done in Lightroom? ...
    you are right. You have to try it for yourself and compare different tools and uprezzing/sharpening at different stages of the process. I've done these tests several times in various combinations and with different tools... and my conclusion is: it's always better to apply sharpening to the image after resizing (up or down). The comparision above is just an example. But it shows the potential difference.
    As to uprezzing in the RAW software it depends very much on your workflow in general - it might be better in some cases. I've never seen a clear advantage in favor for RAW software uprezzing. But a lot of disadvantages for my workflow: huge files to work with and to store, lens corrections possibly won't work correct on resized files etc.

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    Re: Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

    First off, I have to ask why you start with C1 3.7 soft look? IMO it is so far behind C1-4, let alone the newer C1 5 settings and algorithms, it shouldn't even be in a current workflow. Secondly, I feel ASBU is also long outdated. I actually can understand why one would use C1 3.7 sharpening if they still are using software like ASBU, but if you use more modern -- read better -- capture sharpening, then the need for 3rd party up-rezzers like ASBU or GF become questionable, and in fact their deficiencies become more obvious...

    I know I am not alone in this thinking, as I am sitting with three other folks who all shoot MF and also regularly print fairly large on a variety of Epson and HP printers. Here is a consensus from this group:

    We all capture sharpen as optimally as possible -- and agree that using the latest versions of software usually deliver the best capture sharpening. (This group uses C1, LR/ACR and Focus depending on camera.) Optimal sharpening means fine detail is enhanced but not noise, and there are no obvious sharpening artifacts like halos or speckles. None of us bother with targeted frequency sharpening anymore except in rare cases, usually where edges need some pop. Once you have the capture sharpening optimized, all of us rely on the time-proven Photoshop process of uprezzing to 120% of desired final print size via Bicubic Smoother, targeted edge sharpening if needed, then downsize to target size via Bicubic Sharper.

    We've all tried ASBU and GF at a variety of settings and all agree that for the last three years or so, the simple CS procedure generates the most consistently good result. We also all agree that most of the better printing software now uprezzes a properly processed and sharpened native file very well in itself, and often won't bother with any other uprez protocol for most large images unless we're going over 2x native file size for the print.

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

    Jack - there's a misunderstanding on your side about the sharpening preset "version 3 soft look". It has nothing to do with the sharpening in C1 V3 - it is simply a preset for sharpening values (namely 130-0.8-1.0) that look similar to the former preset "soft look" in C1 V3. So it is a V5 sharpening. And it is a quite soft (less agressive) setting. That's all.

    If capture sharpening "as optimal as possible" is your target you should use Lightroom or ACR or sophisticated tools in Photoshop as in Capture One you literally always produce sharpening artifacts in highlights even at very low amounts of sharpening (and there are those infamous white dots; you can see them very good in your image here: http://forum.getdpi.com/gallery/files/2/far-1swing.jpg ).
    Anyway: my findings also go for a sophisticated capture sharpening workflow in Photoshop - I do not gain anything with pre-sharpening (why, BTW, would I?), but mostly I lose options for a fine sharpening on the uprezzed file.

    I wasn't referring to "Blow Up". I was referring to "Blow Up 2" which was released some months ago and has actually noting to do with the predecessor.
    Besides I am using "bicubic", "bicubic smoother" and "Blow Up 2" depending on the actual image.
    I've recently posted a comparison of bicubic, bicubic smoother and BUP here: http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/...dpost&p=349609

    I wonder why an amount of 120% for bicubic smoother might be useful - I always thought it's better to resize 200% or 400% (see articles of Jeff Schewe for instance).

    I know I am not alone in this thinking
    :-)) well, me too!

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    Re: Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas View Post
    Jack - there's a misunderstanding on your side about the sharpening preset "version 3 soft look". It has nothing to do with the sharpening in C1 V3 - it is simply a preset for sharpening values (namely 130-0.8-1.0) that look similar to the former preset "soft look" in C1 V3. So it is a V5 sharpening. And it is a quite soft (less agressive) setting. That's all.
    Got it -- you use those settings only.

    If capture sharpening "as optimal as possible" is your target you should use Lightroom or ACR or sophisticated tools in Photoshop as in Capture One you literally always produce sharpening artifacts in highlights even at very low amounts of sharpening
    Disagree -- my C1 settings do not produce an "over" sharpened file at any frequency that I can detect. It may not be as aggressive as possible at lower freq detail, but it is more than adequate enough to be "optimal" in my book.

    I wasn't referring to "Blow Up". I was referring to "Blow Up 2" which was released some months ago and has actually noting to do with the predecessor.
    Okay, and good -- AS BU 1 was atrocious.

    I wonder why an amount of 120% for bicubic smoother might be useful - I always thought it's better to resize 200% or 400% (see articles of Jeff Schewe for instance).
    That was 120% beyond via smoother, then 20% back via Sharper for 100% net gain. That is a sort of quasi fractal sharpening that works extremely well for output. (Try it ) As an aside, I normally also move in 100% increments, but when I need the sharpening step going up, this is how I get there.

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

    Sharpening generally obliterates fine tonal transitions - that's what it is for; that's how local contrast is enhanced.
    The issue with Capture One's sharpening is there is no masking for highlights and blacks as it is provided in LR, ACR, CS "Selective Sharpening" or, much more enhanced, in tools like Focal Blade.
    So a small bright ("white") detail renders into a "bigger" white detail (as the smooth, natural "halo" is being equalized) due to sharpening.
    Sharpening basically always does that but, of course, in highlights and blacks it's much more prominent.
    Actually it doesn't really matter as long as you do not transform/interpolate pixels (distortion correction, rotation, resizing etc.). But if you do you easily create a more coarse look if the images was presharpened in C1.

    Here's a small detail of a P65+ shot of Capture Integration (from the P40/45/60 comparison).
    On the left with sharpening 80-0.6-1.0, in the center without sharpening, on the right the image w/o sharpening but sharpened with Focal Blade (black and white halos fixed and sharpening for highlights/blacks smoothed).
    80-0.6-1.0 in C1 is really quite a moderate sharpening… as long as we look at the midtones. But looking at the blacks and whites it's already quite aggressive even at these moderate values.
    Now we certainly won't resize 3200% (as the pixels in my comparison)… but my comparison clearly shows the rudimentary sharpening in C1 and the (potential) implications regarding uprezzing.

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    Re: Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

    Thomas,

    please now show the 100% view of those crop areas...
    Jack
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    Re: Sharpening of RAW files in conjunction with uprezzing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Thomas,

    please now show the 100% view of those crop areas...
    that's what my first post is about.

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