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Lusting after PhotoKit Sharpener

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  #1  
Old 05-08-2005, 05:56 PM
dnobel dnobel is offline
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Question Lusting after PhotoKit Sharpener

Hi, Richard!

My wife and I are involved in the production of handmade, fine-art ceramics, which requires extremely high-quality slides and digital images for submissions, prints, magazine articles, Web site construction, etc. We are doing all photography-related work ourselves, and have a substantial investment in related equipment. I was drawn to HPPE3 by the hope that it would allow me to get away with using PE3 instead of the expensive/complex full PhotoShop.

I have been working with HPPE3 for over a month now and am blown away by the whole concept. All else aside, this is the best intro to digital imaging theory and practise that I can imagine. Were I to have bought the book and PE3 for only the education, it would have been well worthwhile!

That said, I am now finding myself having severe PhotoKit Sharpener envy--you know, the fabulous plug-in with the great interface and three-part work-flow, which only works with PS CS. (I perhaps wouldn't be so tempted if we weren't currently able to purchase the entire Creative Suite for $215.00, academic price.) Nothing else I am aware of comes close to PK Sharpener's ease-of-use/functionality combo, which effectively deals with a huge issue for me.

But we are ceramics professionals, not professional photographers, so I still hesitate to commit to a very expensive upgrade path and to working around the many features which I will never use. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Regards,

David
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Old 05-08-2005, 08:34 PM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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New in Photoshop CS2 is the ability to hide any menu item. Also new is Smart Sharpen. So it sounds like it might be worth upgrading.
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Old 05-11-2005, 11:57 AM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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What are you trying to accomplish with the Sharpener? I am not of the opinion that you would need to move to Photoshop if you are just manipulating images. This is what Elements is made for. Photoshop is more-or-less a professional tool for those who have specialized imaging needs. If you are going to be producing a LOT of CMYK images, that is one thing, but quite another if you are just processing RGB.

Let me know what you want to do, beside just 'run the plugin' and perhaps there is another way to do it in Elements.
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Old 05-11-2005, 02:18 PM
dnobel dnobel is offline
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Thanks for both replies.

Richard, I need the sharpening to get the very best printed output from scanned fine art slides. The image quality on these transparencies is absolutely superb, and we want to be able to approach this with output from the scans. The main issue is clarity of detail lost in digitizing.

We have been using an Epson 3170 flatbed with a TPU for slides for most work up til now and find images need a lot of sharpening for printing on a high-quality inkjet. But even the images I get professionally output from a Nikon CS 4000 film scanner need some sharpening to restore detail. We plan to upgrade to a Nikon CS V in the near future.

I find the current native sharpening tool in PS/PSE to be finicky, unintuitive, and quite time consuming; sometimes I simply can't get them to sharpen for printing without running into creating unacceptable noise in the deep, black/dark-grey art-shot backgrounds. And the process seems to be relatively arbitrary. Although I am no photo expert, I now see that this is a fairly common complaint among some respected pros in the field, and these people recommend moving to plug-ins such as PK Sharp and FocalBlade.

Another reason to take this academic deal on Creative Suite Premium 2 is that it includes the InDesign upgrade. I use InDesign as a core program and for me to upgrade this alone would be only $15 less than to purchase the entire CS2.

Regards,

David
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Old 05-12-2005, 06:29 AM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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Sounds like you made up your mind already. Would I be able to get a look at one of those scans, though? I'd like to see if I can develop a smarter sharpening process that will fit your needs...and perhaps it is a salable item. What are the key features you think PhotoKit has?

I think you identified your initial problem in that scanning with a flatbed (even with a transparency adapter) will not generally get great results. I have advocated using Kodak Photo CD for years, but haven't used it myself since switching to almost 100% digital. This is not the corner drugstore Kodak CD, it is a professional high-quality scan that can be had for about $2/image which will open at 5 resolutions (these are not JPEGs).

PSCS is still $600 on Amazon ( http://www.aps8.com/pscs.html ), but I guess if you get an academic discount a CS package may work OK for you. Seems like overkill to me just to sharpen images...As you use indesign, that may be a deciding factor.
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Old 05-19-2005, 09:17 AM
dnobel dnobel is offline
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Sorry I am so late replying to you, Richard, but I have been utterly consumed with more pressing business the last few days.

I will provide the scans and information you asked for shortly. Since Sharpener comes with a fully functional 7 day trial, I will be able to provide you with a real-world evaluative experience rather than a theoretical one. On the face of it, the three-stage Sharpener work flow fits with the way I would like to work: 1) initial sharpening for basic, on-screen clarity 2) tweak sharpening, which includes the ability to selectively sharpen areas or aspects of the image, and 3) output sharpening, which takes into account the reality that sharpening optimized for specific output devices typically makes the image look oversharpened on screen.

The academic deal is better than I thought. For US$215, I get the Creative Suite Academic, which then is upgraded automatically to the full, commercial CS2, shipped separately, at no extra charge, deal presently available only to Sheridan College (Oakville, Ontario) students. Wow! I will wait for the CS2 package, install Sharpener into PSCS2, then report back to you. By then our CoolScan will have arrived, and we can really see what's what.

Thanks for your input.

Hidden Elements still rocks.

Regards,

David
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