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Software Photoshop, Lightroom, Paintshop Pro, Painter, etc., and all their various plugins. Of course, you can also discuss all other programs, as well.

Best Sharpening Plug-ins

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  #1  
Old 06-07-2011, 02:52 AM
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AKMac AKMac is offline
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Best Sharpening Plug-ins

What are the best sharpening plugins? Is it best to buy a dedicated sharpener,or to buy a more comprehensive enhancement plugin?

(I guess this must have been discussed at length already, perhaps someone might direct me to the appropriate thread)
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Old 06-07-2011, 12:53 PM
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Re: Best Sharpening Plug-ins

Adobe Camera Raw version 6 - not exactly a plugin, but very good.
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Old 06-07-2011, 01:17 PM
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Re: Best Sharpening Plug-ins

See a large list of sharpening options here, under "Sharpening".

Check out Topaz Detail first, followed by FocalBlade.
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Old 06-07-2011, 01:48 PM
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Re: Best Sharpening Plug-ins

You can find a comparison between Photoshop Unsharp Mask and Perfect Resize. It can give you an idea of how the different sharpening tools are bear sites, for different situations. It its on my to do list, to create a comprehensive sharpening comparison. There are just so many tools available.

http://www.theartofretouching.com/bl...perfect-resize
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Old 06-07-2011, 02:24 PM
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Re: Best Sharpening Plug-ins

I'm currently checking out demos from Topaz and Focalblade.

I already use ACR v4.6 with Photoshop CS3 and I do find that very smooth, simple and effective for backed-off input sharpening.

I was initially a bit put off by the presets in Topaz which, when I zoomed in to a 100% view of a face, looked like a catalogue of rather nasty skin diseases.

So far I like the look of the interface in Focalblade, but it does seem overly complex, and I hope I don't get bogged down in slider-tweaking and lose the plot, which is something I suffer badly from.

Any further advice will be gratefully received.
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Old 06-07-2011, 02:42 PM
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Re: Best Sharpening Plug-ins

My screenshot shows FocalBlade Expert mode. There are also Easy and Classic modes, with very few and a few more options.

As for the Topaz presets, no problem. You can dial down all settings as you wish.

For faces/portraits in particular you probably don't want to sharpen too much anyway. If you go in the opposite direction, Imagenomic Portraiture is one of the best.
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:00 PM
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Re: Best Sharpening Plug-ins

Quote:
Originally Posted by lurch View Post
Adobe Camera Raw version 6 - not exactly a plugin, but very good.
OR Lightroom which is based on the work of the late Bruce Fraser:

http://www.creativepro.com/story/feature/20357.html
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:03 AM
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Re: Best Sharpening Plug-ins

Not actually a plugin or 3rd party program, but here's the sharpening actions I've created:

http://chain.deviantart.com/#/d2vvh07

I probably should have included actions for creating edge masks... but I didn't. ;p
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:43 AM
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Re: Best Sharpening Plug-ins

Thanks to all so far. I'm working carefully through the information posted. I like Gaussian sharpen action from Chain but don't understand how the steps work - can you enlighten me?
Also - as I mentioned before, there is something simple and elegant about the ACR sharpening effect, and I use it a lot at the input stage. I don't know if it is the sharpening algorithms themselves or the nature of the unadulterated raw file, but it always looks SO good. Is there any way of using ACR 4.6 to sharpen for output, i.e. how do I get my edited image back into the ACR environment after it is no longer in a digital neg format.
(I get the feeling I'm going to be doing that Homer Simpson "Doh" thing shortly!)
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:26 AM
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Re: Best Sharpening Plug-ins

Adobe Camera Raw can open TIFF and JPEG files, so you can use it to edit files that are not actually raw. Right click the file in Bridge and choose open with camera raw.

My sharpening actions were based off the work done in this giant technical thread over at http://www.modelmayhem.com/po.php?thread_id=439098 – it focuses mainly on frequency separation. Very cool stuff, but I won't get into it here more than I have to.

My action will first blur a copy of your image with the radius you decide (this is effectively the sharpen radius). Now we have a sharp image, and a slightly blurry image. We then use Apply Image to make the difference between the two into a layer (it will be mostly gray, and the settings differ for 8 and 16 bit images). Just using this "high frequency/detail" layer blended using Linear Light above the blurry image = the original image (cool?). Other filters besides GB can be used, but I find GB most useful for sharpening. I remove the blurred layer (or replaced it immediately) and the "high frequency" layer now effectively sharpens the details of the below image. Lower opacity to lower the strength. It provides slightly more accurate sharpening than the High Pass method (but is more complicated). Some color detail exists in the high frequency layer, so finally it is desaturated (with blending mode color) to avoid enhancing color noise. Tip: You can also use a clipped Curves layer to increase/decrease contrast on the high frequency layer to increase/decrease the effect.

Turned into an action it's just a click (and pick the wanted radius). Then reduce or increase the strength (opacity/contrast). Can easily be combined with masks (for example an edge mask).
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