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Thread: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

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    Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    Hello! While I am proficient at many things photoshop, I must admit to being least comfortable/adept at sharpening. I recently traded in my Leica M9 gear for the new D800 and would love some advice on sharpening settings in photoshop. All advice is greatly appreciated! Many thanks! --rob

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    Senior Member Antonio Chagin's Avatar
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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    This has been tried very good for low ISO. 60, 0.7, 70, 20. 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 Produces very sharp result because not using Luminance correction. If you do so you'll get softer image.
    If you shoot high ISO is another story..

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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    In the Yahoo Groups, there is a group called colortheory : Applied Color Theory in Photoshop . In the files section there is a file called Actions with Documentation, there are several actions including sharpening. You may have to join the group to download them but I have found them very good, of course YMMV.

    Mr.Gale

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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    I strongly believe sharpening (not talking about capture sharpening, which is largely about what looks good at 100%) is determined by the qualities of an individual image and your final print size. The characteristics of the image will determine the sharpening amount, and the the print size will determine the radius.

    I always make a separate layer for sharpening, set to luminance blend mode, with the blend sliders set to exclude the darkest shadows and brightest highlights. There's no reason to sharpen noise or to send pixels all the way into clipping.

    I calculate radius based on the perceptual psychology of human vision. We perceive clarity and sharpness primarily from the MTF at frequencies between 1 and 5 lp/mm. I've found that setting the radius to emphasize 5 lp/mm gives the best control over subjective sharpness, with the least risk of artifacts. This means a radius of 1/10 mm on the print.

    For example, if your print will be 360 ppi, that translates to 14 pixels/mm. A 1/10mm radius will then be 1.4 pixels. This may look like crap at 100%, but will look great on the print.

    I always create a separate file (or at least a separate sharpening layer) for printing, becuase if there's a need to reevaluate this, or to print at another size, I want these settings to be reversible.
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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    I strongly believe sharpening (not talking about capture sharpening, which is largely about what looks good at 100%) is determined by the qualities of an individual image and your final print size. The characteristics of the image will determine the sharpening amount, and the the print size will determine the radius.

    I always make a separate layer for sharpening, set to luminance blend mode, with the blend sliders set to exclude the darkest shadows and brightest highlights. There's no reason to sharpen noise or to send pixels all the way into clipping.

    I calculate radius based on the perceptual psychology of human vision. We perceive clarity and sharpness primarily from the MTF at frequencies between 1 and 5 lp/mm. I've found that setting the radius to emphasize 5 lp/mm gives the best control over subjective sharpness, with the least risk of artifacts. This means a radius of 1/10 mm on the print.

    For example, if your print will be 360 ppi, that translates to 14 pixels/mm. A 1/10mm radius will then be 1.4 pixels. This may look like crap at 100%, but will look great on the print.

    I always create a separate file (or at least a separate sharpening layer) for printing, becuase if there's a need to reevaluate this, or to print at another size, I want these settings to be reversible.
    your explanation sounds so interesting and useful, but Im not sure if Im understanding very well, if I could do it following you. May you go a little deeper and at the same time translate it for who are not so understood as you are. Im out when you translate the mount of sharpening in numbers.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    Gustavo,

    There are two kinds of sharpening you need (assuming you shot RAW)

    1) Capture sharpening. In Lightroom or Photoshop at low to mid ISO, D800 files look best if you sharpen them with a so-called 'deconvolution' (which means mathematically reversing blur) sharpening setting as someone above has said of 60, 0.7, 70, 20 and with all noise reduction turned off altogether. You then tweak this according to the subject, the capture, the lens you used etc... I have this set up as my import preset for all D800 files.

    As ISO gets higher you need to make choices about the right balance of noise versus sharpening and this is a matter of taste, capture specifics and subject matter.

    2) Output sharpening. This varies according to whether you are going to print the file (and if so, whether onto gloss, matte, pearl paper and what size and therefore output resolution) or whether you intend to use it for example on the web, or whatever.

    If you are printing the file I strongly recommend that unless you are using a RIP, the easiest quickest way of getting it right (maybe not perfectly right, but pretty damned good) is to set the print options in Lightroom according to the size and paper type and so on. There are really good tutorials on this at LuLa.

    You could spend years learning the dark arts of sharpening. Everyone has their own secret juice, most of which seems to involve long complex routines in Photoshop with curves and layers and masks and modes. Go there if you dare. Otherwise, start as I have suggested above and you will get great results out of the can for most captures.
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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    Gustavo,

    There are two kinds of sharpening you need (assuming you shot RAW)

    1) Capture sharpening. In Lightroom or Photoshop at low to mid ISO, D800 files look best if you sharpen them with a so-called 'deconvolution' (which means mathematically reversing blur) sharpening setting as someone above has said of 60, 0.7, 70, 20 and with all noise reduction turned off altogether. You then tweak this according to the subject, the capture, the lens you used etc... I have this set up as my import preset for all D800 files.

    As ISO gets higher you need to make choices about the right balance of noise versus sharpening and this is a matter of taste, capture specifics and subject matter.

    2) Output sharpening. This varies according to whether you are going to print the file (and if so, whether onto gloss, matte, pearl paper and what size and therefore output resolution) or whether you intend to use it for example on the web, or whatever.

    If you are printing the file I strongly recommend that unless you are using a RIP, the easiest quickest way of getting it right (maybe not perfectly right, but pretty damned good) is to set the print options in Lightroom according to the size and paper type and so on. There are really good tutorials on this at LuLa.

    You could spend years learning the dark arts of sharpening. Everyone has their own secret juice, most of which seems to involve long complex routines in Photoshop with curves and layers and masks and modes. Go there if you dare. Otherwise, start as I have suggested above and you will get great results out of the can for most captures.
    Tim,
    Incredible clear. Thank you very much.

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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    Quote Originally Posted by tashley View Post
    1) Capture sharpening. In Lightroom or Photoshop at low to mid ISO, D800 files look best if you sharpen them with a so-called 'deconvolution' (which means mathematically reversing blur)...
    Are you talking about the lens blur setting in "smart sharpen," or some particular plugin?

    I've read that smart sharpen's lens blur was some kind of rudimentary deconvolution algorithm, but I haven't been able to confirm it. I do find that when comparing carefully to gausian blur, I often prefer the latter. I don't know why this would be.

    I'd love to try a really good deconvolution sharpening scheme.

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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    Quote Originally Posted by gustavo View Post
    Im out when you translate the mount of sharpening in numbers.
    Just talking about output sharpening, the idea is to calculate how many pixels in the final print will equal 1/10 mm. And set the sharpening radius as this.

    At the very least, it's an excellent starting point. I almost never have to deviate from it.

    Edited to add:
    This advise is for prints that will be viewed closely. The farther away the viewer will be, the larger the most effective sharpening radius. Images for billboards can be thought of as similar to ones for 8x10 prints, because viewing distance compensates for size.
    Last edited by paulraphael; 11th May 2012 at 09:18.

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    Subscriber Member tashley's Avatar
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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    Are you talking about the lens blur setting in "smart sharpen," or some particular plugin?

    I've read that smart sharpen's lens blur was some kind of rudimentary deconvolution algorithm, but I haven't been able to confirm it. I do find that when comparing carefully to gausian blur, I often prefer the latter. I don't know why this would be.

    I'd love to try a really good deconvolution sharpening scheme.

    Hi Paul,

    I do it in LR4 but I have seen screen shots of it in ACR, with the same slider choices as LR, rather than in Photoshop itself. The formula I gave above is the classic deconvolution package in LR for a camera with a reasonably weak or no AA filter and good noise performance. Give it a try... some D800/E files can take more sharpening and detail than above if they are at low ISO and well exposed: the C1 default sharpening for D800 is more aggressive still and IMHO goes too far

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    Re: Need unsharp mask settings advice - D800

    Quote Originally Posted by paulraphael View Post
    Just talking about output sharpening, the idea is to calculate how many pixels in the final print will equal 1/10 mm. And set the sharpening radius as this.

    At the very least, it's an excellent starting point. I almost never have to deviate from it.

    Edited to add:
    This advise is for prints that will be viewed closely. The farther away the viewer will be, the larger the most effective sharpening radius. Images for billboards can be thought of as similar to ones for 8x10 prints, because viewing distance compensates for size.
    thanks Paul. after yours and Tims posts Im closer. I usually use the sharpening options but without theory background, just my eyes and I would like to improve my technique. I understand the idea of the print resolution but not all your concepts. Now, why are the referents numbers is 1/10 mm, the camera, the monitor, the pp programs??

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