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Sharpen and Edge Sharpen Adjustment Blocks #1
John James's picture
by John James
June 11, 2014 - 7:48pm

So, it is my understanding that with my camera (Canon 70D) that unlike jpegs, RAW images get no in-camera sharpening. So that means that probably some sort of sharpening is required in post.

Is it fair to say that the “Sharpen” adjustment block should be used to provide an overall sharpening of the image and that the “Edge Sharpen” block wold be used for more finite sharpening?

How do you folks deal with the sharpening issue? 

Thoughts appreciated. 

Milt Anglin's picture
by Milt Anglin
June 12, 2014 - 6:13am

This is from the Aperture User Manual: “If you’ve already applied sharpening in a previous version of Aperture using the Sharpen adjustment controls, the Sharpen adjustment controls are still there so that your adjustments remain intact and unchanged. However, to do further sharpening on other images, it is recommended that you use the Edge Sharpen adjustment controls, which generally offer more precise control over how sharpening is applied.”  In other words, only use Edge Sharpen. When I bring in a RAW file I may sharpen in with the Raw Fine Tuning Brick. Using Definition in the Enhance brick will apply subtle sharpening. Then, if it needs it, I will apply edge sharpening. 

Milt

David  Moore's picture
by David Moore
June 12, 2014 - 6:47am

The rule of thumb (Boondock Saints quote)  is mild sharping on import  small to medium in post and save the heavy work for when you know the actual size and type of printing.  I don’t always sharpen but when I do.  Output sharpening is for one specific size and printer.  Books have been written on sharpening,  the best… Imaging Sharpening by Bruce Fraser.  But Im sure there are others by now.    Stay Sharp my Friend.

davidbmoore@mac.com
Twitter= @davidbmoore
Scottsdale AZ

John James's picture
by John James
June 12, 2014 - 7:06am

Not sure I fully understand this “sharpening on import” suggestion. How is that done exactly?  And it says it remembers it? Hmmm…Can yo guys elaborate a little more. And does that mean y’all don’t use the “sharpen” brick at all? Sorry little confused. 

Thanks. 

 

 

Milt Anglin's picture
by Milt Anglin
June 12, 2014 - 11:53am

Under Add Adjustments you can add the RAW Fine Tuning brick. I don’t think it is part of the standard setup. (I have had a custom setup for so long I don’t remember what the default setting looks like.) There are adjustments for Sharpening, Noise, Moire and other things in this brick. Sometimes I add a little sharpening from this brick before I start my regular adjustments. Sometimes I will do an adjustment for Noise from the same brick. I think you can set it up as a preset, but I prefer to do my adjustments on each picture rather that a “one size fits all” basis. 

Milt

John James's picture
by John James
June 12, 2014 - 12:18pm

Thanks @Milt

bjurasz's picture
by bjurasz
June 12, 2014 - 7:43am

John, I’m not aware of ANY camera that applies sharpening to RAW files (not just your 7D).  In general I apply a certain amount of edge sharpening to all my RAW files upon import using a default adjustment that Aperture applies during the import process automatically.  I’m not picky enough to sharpen specifically for the final print size the way some people are, so this works well for me.  So in a nutshell, yes you should be sharpening your images in post.  Yes, use edge sharpening.

Bill Jurasz
Austin Texas

John James's picture
by John James
June 12, 2014 - 8:02am

@Bill…

Thanks for the reply. So what are the exact steps for setting up some minimal overall sharpening upon import? I get the sharpen edge thing in PP but most RAW images can use some sort of global sharpening as you started on import. Not a lot but some…

I have been reading the manual but it’s just not clear to me how to do that. 

Thanks a gain for the help! 

bjurasz's picture
by bjurasz
June 12, 2014 - 9:55am

I’m not at Aperture at the moment, but you will want to create your own adjustment preset with the sharpening you want (and for that matter, want to add a bit of contrast and saturation at the same time, etc.?).  I name my preset “Default Import Adjustments” so that I know exactly what it is.  Then when you import images you can select which preset to use, so choose that one.

My default import preset adds some edge sharpening, a touch of contrast and saturation, a very mild curve.  It works very well for the majority of my photos.  I hand tweak what I need to change on the few images that need it.  (Note, I’m not working with images that I sell, so my needs are not as extensive as others would have).

Note that upon import you can also set metadata automatically, and I do that as well to put in my name, contact information, copyright notice, etc.  And you can also rename the files upon import as well, if you wish.

Bill Jurasz
Austin Texas

John James's picture
by John James
June 12, 2014 - 10:42am

Thanks @Bill…I’ll try and setup a preset (on import) and incorporate some sharpening and a couple of other things as you suggest. 

Richard's picture
by Richard
June 15, 2014 - 10:44pm

Am I the only one who finds Edge Sharpen causes artifacts (even when not used aggressively), and doesn’t look at natural as Sharpen?

Jim Burgess's picture
by Jim Burgess
June 16, 2014 - 8:03am

@Richard… I agree. Most of the time I find the Sharpen tool does a better job. On some photos Edge Sharpen is a better approach, but for the most part I use Sharpen.

And the discussion points out how far behind Aperture is when it comes to sharpening. They need to rethink, and redesign, the whole process. The lack of output sharpening is a major omission in the current scheme. 

Richard's picture
by Richard
June 16, 2014 - 7:58pm

The annoying part about it is how far ahead it is in many areas, well before it’s time. I just want to use one program, to edit and manage my photos with the best image quality available. 

Lightroom doesn’t work for my brain.

Capture One has better image quality than Aperture (for me), does lens distortion and perspective corrections, but catalog and local adjustments are behind, no healing brushes, plus no plug-ins.

DxO Optics Pro image quality is again better than Aperture, does distortion and perspective corrections, integrates beautifully with FilmPack, but no local adjustments at all, and again catalog is lacking.

It’s beautifully empowering and a superb time to be a photographer and have access to these powerful tools, and slightly frustrating that none of them do all aspects really well.

Richard's picture
by Richard
June 16, 2014 - 8:00pm

For example, something that I often do in Aperture, which nothing else I’ve tried can do as simply - Brushing in multiple sets of curves - So much control, so easily done. 

Kodora's picture
by Kodora
June 23, 2014 - 3:13am

As they say, sharpening is an art and a science. The below is based only on my non-expert knowledge and amateurish experience.

RAW files are not images. RAW files contain the data from which the images are constructed. Sharpening can be applied as part of the RAW conversion (demosaicing) process, and/or after the image is created (in the RGB space). There is no 1-size-fits-all sharpening method. The ideal sharpening strategies, and hence “recipes”, should be determined based on, among other considerations, the camera/lens characteristics, the specific image, personal taste and output requirements.

Aperture automatically applies some sharpening in the RAW conversion process based on default adjustment values set for specific camera models. You can see these settings in the RAW Fine Tuning brick. For a lot of people, this is enough, especially if the images are going to be significantly downsized and published to the Internet. To add more sharpness, there are a number of tools available in Aperture that do a pretty good job in my view.

There are the Sharpening and Edges or Details (depending on camera model) sliders in the RAW Fine Tuning brick. I never increase the Sharpening amount above the default value. I would decrease the Sharpening amount in certain cases, such as when I am applying Noise Reduction in Aperture. The Details slider (AFAIK, only available for newer camera models) improves local contrast and makes fine details more prominent. I occasionally pull this up by a very small amount. 

Then, there is the Definition slider in the Enhance brick. It also improves local contrast, but gives you finer control, i.e. its effect being subtler. It works well for images with high frequency details, and can bring out subtle textures that would otherwise be hard to notice. I often use this adjustment in small to moderate amounts. When I do use the Definition adjustment, I would pull this up to a value such that the effect is barely noticeable or even unnoticeable.

Apple advises not to use the Sharpen adjustment anymore, and I don’t use it. Some people like it and some even find uses for it that is beyond, strictly speaking, sharpening. My understanding is it works in a way similar to the classic Unsharp Mask method, whereas Edge Sharpen works off a more sophisticated algorithm to enhance edge contrast.

I am quite happy with the results I get from using the Definition (when I use it) and Edge Sharpen (I apply it to the majority of my images) adjustments together. It’s a little tricky to set the optimal values for the Edge Sharpen adjustment. Here’s how I do it.

Zoom to 100%. Look around your image to see what would benefit from sharpening (e.g. in-focus edges) and what should not be sharpened (e.g. noise, soft edges, out-of-focus objects). Move the Intensity and Falloff sliders to the highest value, 1. This way, you can see better the changes being made to the image. Gradually move up the Edges slider until you start to see unwanted artifacts and/or textures appearing on supposedly smooth surfaces. Back it down a bit. Lower the Falloff value to lessen the harshness of hard edges and restore the smoothness of soft edges. Lower the Intensity value to make the image more natural and pleasing to the eye. You may have to do some back-and-forth adjustments with the 3 sliders (particularly Intensity and Falloff) to get the best results. Again, the optimal values for these adjustments depend on many things. But after you have done this for a few images from a particular camera/sensor/lens combo, you’ll develop a sense for what ranges of adjustment values would work for similar images. You can save the settings as presets if you’d like.

For normal global sharpening, I usually use a fairly low to moderate amount of Edge Sharpen. I aim to subtly enhance the “crispness” of the images in a way that can be felt but not seen. If you understand what I mean. For my usual needs, the results from the above workflow are good enough. You can spend more time and add some selective sharpening by brushing in additional Definition/Sharpen/Edge Sharpen adjustments. Or if I have specific output requirements for very sharp images, I will use some output sharpening plug-in (e.g. from Nik Software or Topaz Labs) as an additional, final step. 

I’d be happy to hear about how others go about sharpening images in Aperture also!

 

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