Sharpening Follow Up and Winners

Thanks for all of the comments the other day about my upcoming sharpening class. I have to say I love the way this community jumps in to help and I honestly appreciate all of your time. I know we don’t have a lot of it, and I’m grateful you spend some of it here. While I always have some general ideas on what I want to teach, it’s questions from you that make sure I cover the stuff people want to know.
First off, I have some thoughts I wanted to mention before moving on and then I’ll let you know the winners.

A few common trends I noticed:
• A large number of you already know A LOT about sharpening. Even if you don’t know it. I can tell in how your questions were formulated. When a question mentions capture sharpening, then creative sharpening, then the various output sharpening methods you can definitely consider yourself in the advanced group. What I took from this is that, while you know a lot about sharpening, there’s confusion because there’s almost too many conflicting reports. Lab sharpening, channel sharpening, Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen… you get the idea. So instead of adding to the confusion, I’m not going to talk about all the of the ways you “could” sharpen – I’ll just stick with my sharpening techniques.

• Lot’s of people wanting to know about Nik’s Sharpener Pro. I wasn’t going to talk about it, but I probably will spend a few minutes on it now.

• Multiple questions on how sharpening interacts with noise reduction. Great topic!

• Lot’s of “How do I know when enough is enough” questions. I’ll definitely make sure I show examples.

• Multiple questions on when to sharpen. Before retouching? After retouching? I’ll make sure I cover that.

• I found a large number of questions on how do you know when you’ve added enough output sharpening for print. That’s always a tough one and something that can’t be solved with soft proofing. I can save you the suspense and tell you that my answer is going to be to do a test print. If you do enough of them you’ll start to figure out what the sweet spot is and eventually you won’t have to do a test print as much.

• There seemed to be an overall feeling of “I must be missing something”. Again, I saw a lot of questions from people that know how to sharpen but still felt like something was missing. I think it all goes back to the multiple sharpening techniques out there. Because there’s so much information on sharpening techniques (and so many places to actually apply sharpening), connecting it all together was the main concern. My overall theme for this class will be to keep it simple. If you start with good photography techniques and capture a sharp photo, sharpening should be a piece of cake. My main goal will be to help you figure out where the best place is to do the sharpening and what the best tools are for the job.

OK, now for the winners. You’ll be getting an email in the next couple of days about your choice for the prize.
• Bob Israel
• John Slaughterbeck
• Scott Prokop
• Dave Duzy
• Miguel Palaviccini

Thanks again for all of the help folks! You feedback truly does help.



  1. Bob 20 October, 2010 at 12:20 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    I’m really looking forward to seeing what you come up with. I’m even more excited that I won something!!! I look forward to the mail on how to claim my prize.


  2. Paul Atkins 16 October, 2010 at 10:17 Reply

    Sorry about this Matt but, anyone shooting with Canon try and get a copy of the latest EOS magazine (Oct-Dec), published in the UK. It has a good article on how much sharpening your camera is going to need / want in PS-cs and Elements, Camera RAW, as well as LR.
    For USM:
    Amount: 200-250%
    Radius: 0.3-0.4 Pixels
    Threshold: 0 or 1
    These are Canons recommendations for low iso shots.
    High iso are 250-350%, 0.3 pixels, 4 or 5.
    Theres more in the article.

  3. Nic 15 October, 2010 at 10:28 Reply

    HI…thanks for ALL your tips…??? Now that my images are sharp for print how do I use them to make a book? like Blurb. As you know they have to be taken into their program to design it…Do you export all the pictures to a flodr on your desktop to choose from or can you do it from lightroom?

    • E.B. West 15 October, 2010 at 19:21 Reply

      I did a couple books, but before I got LR. I just sharpened them as I would for printing and then put them into their own folder to make it easier to find and place them in Booksmart.

    • jk 17 October, 2010 at 18:07 Reply

      I wouldnt apply a specific sharpening on yr images for print, cause the software of blurb or whatever will sharp them again or at least before printing, I would make them sharp for general use, like a standard sharpening. And sRGB. Cause most people don`t care about color spaces, they do not even know what that means.


  4. Andrew D Rodney 15 October, 2010 at 10:16 Reply

    Lets also recognize the work of the late Bruce Fraser, say a pray for the man who put the concept of capture, creative and output sharpening in the Photoshop community in the first place with his ground braking article and later book on the subject ( Bruce was fundamental in introducing capture (in Develop) and Output (other modules) sharpening in Lightroom, working with the engineers before his untimely demise. To Bruce!

  5. Dennis Zito 15 October, 2010 at 08:59 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks again for bring up this topic. It really does need a discussion. You mentioned that some folks were asking about Nik Software, Sharpening Pro. I had the same questions and went to their web site and found several tutorials and they also have some Webinars (that I’ve attended) that really helped me. I use their Sharpening program exclusively now.

    Thank again!


  6. William Chinn 14 October, 2010 at 21:01 Reply

    Your comments triggered another question. Is there any sharpening consideration when you know the output paper has texture, say canvas?

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