Sharpening in ACR 7.1

Community Beginner ,
Jun 10, 2012

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I'm reading the part of Martin Evening's "Adobe Photoshop CS6 for Photographers" dealing with sharpening in ACR.  As in his previous edition for CS5, he seems to be saying that putting the Detail slider at 100 is akin to USM in PS, while placing it at 0 minimizes halos.  I would gather this means the 0 setting is deconvolution sharpening. 

As I recall, Eric Chan indicated that the settings were the other way round: 0 was akin to USM and 100 deconvolution. Which is which?

thanks,

grampus45

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LEGEND ,
Jun 10, 2012

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I think you are misreading what Martin wrote...

100 is deconvolution sharpening similar to Smart Sharpen in Photoshop. Zero is no devonvolution and max halo supression. Forget USM as it's no longer a model that is used in ACR/LR.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 10, 2012

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Thanks for the comment, Jeff.  I'm not sure, however, how one can misread: "If you take the Detail slider all the way up to 100, the capture sharpening will be kind of similar to a standard unsharp mask filter effect applied in Photoshop at a zero Threshold setting." (caption Figure 2, page 276)

What, then, is the sharpening model when Detail is at zero?  What sort of process is being applied?

thanks again,

grampus45

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LEGEND ,
Jun 10, 2012

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The Detail slider is an interpolation between deconvolution at 100 to full halo suppression at zero. The halo suppression reduces the total amount of edge contrast the Amount setting applies. Between zero and 100, it's an interpolation between these two parameters…

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 11, 2012

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Thanks again, Jeff. It's still not made clear just what sharpening algorithm is being applied when the Detail slider is at zero.  For example, since sharpening depends on augmenting contrast, and since this requires action on some boundary pixels, does full-halo suppression entail no sharpening at all? I clearly appears to be doing something, even when Detail is 0, as you push the amount up high.

So when the Detail slider is at, say, 5, what sharpening method is being employed? And how are halos being suppressed?

Could I bother you to attempt a description? or is there accessible documentation that discusses this?

many thanks,

grampus45

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LEGEND ,
Jun 12, 2012

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My suggestion is to just move 'em around until you like the way it looks.  You're overthinking it.

I prefer, for my own defaults, Sharpening: 15, Radius 0.5, Detail: 100, Masking: 0

I got there by trying different settings on different images from my own equipment and lenses, seeing what I liked and didn't like, and finally choosing what I felt was the best compromise.

-Noel

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LEGEND ,
Jun 12, 2012

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Noel Carboni wrote:

Masking: 0…

Hi Noel,

May I ask you to elaborate on the setting for "Masking"?  What detrimental effect(s) do you see happening to the image if you apply increasingly higher values of masking?

Thanks in advance.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 12, 2012

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Back when these controls were first introduced, then again with the 6.7 beta, I did a lot of test conversions where I looked critically at the results, and I just liked this setting the best.  Honestly, I don't remember specifics with regard to this particular setting...  I suppose I must have just felt it made the image seem more natural to leave it at zero.  Touchy feely stuff.

Once I started to home in on what I felt may be a good set of defaults, I actually fully processed a number images for various uses (e.g., large prints, web output, etc.), which led to some additional tweaks to the defaults - for example when I found that the sharpening settings in Camera Raw left a few too many artifacts that later processing steps, such as fractal sharpening for output, would bring out.

In related news, I do dial in a fair amount of luminance noise reduction (40) as a default.

-Noel

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LEGEND ,
Jun 12, 2012

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Thank you.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 13, 2012

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Sharpening is much a matter of personal taste. Mine:

Defaults:

* Masking: 0

The rest depend on ISO range and are bounded thusly:

Amount: 35 - 50

Detail: 20 - 0

Radius 1.0 to 1.3

( as ISO climbs, I increase amount, decrease detail, and increase radius. At higher ISO's, I introduce luminance noise reduction )

I generally don't like the twinkly stuff that accompanies the masking. In the minority of cases when I do use it, it's typically with lower ISO, and lower sharpening amounts, and especially lower sharpening detail, to minimize said twinkly stuff.

I usually use zero luminance noise reduction unless / until detail has been dropped to zero. Why?

Because it seems detail sharpener can't distinguish noise from real detail, nor can luminance denoiser.

Thus, I almost see luminance noise reduction as a "negative extension" of the sharpening detail slider.

This is like the opposite of Noel, who cranks up luminance noise reduction *and* sharpening detail.

I crank sharpening detail up to enhance real detail in lower ISO shots, or when sharpened noise works like faux image detail (poor man's "grain").

To each their own...

UPDATE: In addition to the ISO-related radius factors, I find radius should, for the most part, track degree of inherent focus. - if photo is taken using the sweet spot with sharp lens, and well focused, then low radius. If not well focused, or very small aperture ( e.g. f/22 - f/56 ...), then +radius. Of course depends on photo and objectives etc, as well.

Cheers,

Rob

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LEGEND ,
Jun 12, 2012

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Noel Carboni wrote:

My suggestion is to just move 'em around until you like the way it looks.  You're overthinking it.

I prefer, for my own defaults, Sharpening: 15, Radius 0.5, Detail: 100, Masking: 0

Noel habitually does in ACR upsampling and a lot of post conversion sharpening which tends to break (alter) the sharpening workflow that ACR/LR was designed to use. So his way is one way but not the ONLY way...

I tend to evaluate my images at 100% zoom and sharpen for an optimal "capture" sharpening in ACR/LR at the native capture resolution. When I go to print I use LR's output sharpening after upsampling (which is an accumulated 2 pass sharpening + final rez upsampling).

Noel is intentionally undersharpening his images in the capture sharpening stages because he's upsampling and then adding substantail post processing sharpening. That is his choice (but not the way I work).

I want to get the raw capture "sharp" at the native resolution and keep that as my digital master and upsampke only at the printing stage with output sharpening applied on top.

In any event, I do view Luminance Noise Reduction as the 5th sharpening slider...while the default is zero, almost ALL raw captures need "some" noise reduction as part of the capture sharpening process.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 14, 2012

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Thanks for all who replied, but, in all honesty, I am not the slightest bit interested in what other people do with their sharpening.  What I am trying to find out from Jeff (or some other knowledgable source) is just what the sharpening algorithms in ACR do.  I gather that Detail at 100 gives a deconvolution method akin to Smart Sharpening in PS.  That's good information.  At one time, I thought that Detail at zero gave something akin to USM.  But now Jeff says not.  But Jeff does not say just what sharpening technique is being applied when Detail is a zero.

Jeff, what's happening at Detail equal to zero?  and how does it (and in what sense) does it provide minimum halos?

many thanks,

grampus45

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LEGEND ,
Jun 14, 2012

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grampus45 wrote:

Jeff, what's happening at Detail equal to zero?  and how does it (and in what sense) does it provide minimum halos?

Sorry...the best I can tell you is that Detail at zero dampens the edge amount in the sharpening and reduces halos. Somebody on the ACR team would have to decide whether or not the question of exactly HOW it does it could be answered...I wouldn't presume to answer for them. Holding down option/alt when moving the slider will give you a rough preview of the effect.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 14, 2012

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Thanks, Jeff.  That's a perfectly acceptable answer.

Now, let me readdress the question to the Adobe team (madmanchan are you around?):  what kind of sharpening is being applied in ACR 7 when the Detail slider is a zero?  And just what does it mean (and how is it enacted) that there is maximum halo suppression?

thanks,

grampus45

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Engaged ,
Jun 15, 2012

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It might be helpful if Eric and Jeff could post some suggested Sharpening settings for PV2012:

perhaps a set of settings  for Portraits; Landscapes; Fine Detail and General Snapshots?

This would at least provide some helpful starting points for Users — and perhaps those settings could be added as Presets to the next ACR upgrade?

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LEGEND ,
Jun 15, 2012

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Hi Camera Ann,

It might be worth starting another thread to discuss "What are good sharpening settings" for various photos.  Grampus seems to want to keep this thread focused on 'Sharpening Detail' algorithm(s), not "recommended settings"...

Rob

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LEGEND ,
Jun 15, 2012

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grampus45 wrote:

I am not the slightest bit interested in what other people do with their sharpening.  What I am trying to find out from Jeff (or some other knowledgable source) is just what the sharpening algorithms in ACR do.

May I ask what is your end game? Strictly curiosity? To be able to better determine optimal sharpener settings? to coordinate sharpening between ACR & other software, or choose between? Investigating on behalf of competing software company?...

???

Rob

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 15, 2012

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Rob Cole wrote:

May I ask what is your end game? Strictly curiosity? To be able to better determine optimal sharpener settings? to coordinate sharpening between ACR & other software, or choose between? Investigating on behalf of competing software company?...

Simply to understand what's happening under the hood when you move the sliders. To best understand and predict the behavior of what you're doing, it's necssary to have a proper model of what's going on.  The gray-scale images are a big help, but they're an awkward device and a far cry from telling the whole story.

I'm not quite sure how to react to your last sentence: whether to laugh at its insolence or simply to be offended.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 15, 2012

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grampus45 wrote:

Rob Cole wrote:

May I ask what is your end game? Strictly curiosity? To be able to better determine optimal sharpener settings? to coordinate sharpening between ACR & other software, or choose between? Investigating on behalf of competing software company?...

Simply to understand what's happening under the hood when you move the sliders. To best understand and predict the behavior of what you're doing, it's necssary to have a proper model of what's going on.  The gray-scale images are a big help, but they're an awkward device and a far cry from telling the whole story.

Thanks - it helps some of us to know how to respond, or not, to understand your purpose.

grampus45 wrote:

I'm not quite sure how to react to your last sentence: whether to laugh at its insolence or simply to be offended.

Neither. - take it light-heartedly. >90% joke...

Cheers,

Rob

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 15, 2012

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Here are some of Adobe's words describing how the sliders work, from their Help file:

http://helpx.adobe.com/creative-suite/using/sharpening-noise-reduction-camera-raw.html

Amount -- Adjusts edge definition. Increase the Amount value to increase sharpening. A value of zero (0) turns off sharpening. In general, set Amount to a lower value for cleaner images. The adjustment is a variation of Unsharp Mask, which locates pixels that differ from surrounding pixels based on the threshold you specify and increases the pixels’ contrast by the amount you specify. When opening a camera raw image file, the Camera Raw plug-in calculates the threshold to use based on camera model, ISO, and exposure compensation.

Radius -- Adjusts the size of the details that sharpening is applied to. Photos with fine details generally need a lower setting. Photos with larger details can use a larger radius. Using too large a radius generally results in unnatural-looking results.

Detail -- Adjusts how much high-frequency information is sharpened in the image and how much the sharpening process emphasizes edges. Lower settings primarily sharpen edges to remove blurring. Higher values are useful for making the textures in the image more pronounced.

Masking -- Controls an edge mask. With a setting of zero (0), everything in the image receives the same amount of sharpening. With a setting of 100, sharpening is mostly restricted to those areas near the strongest edges. Press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) while dragging this slider to see the areas to be sharpened (white) versus the areas masked out (black).

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LEGEND ,
Jun 16, 2012

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Rob Cole wrote:

May I ask what is your end game? Strictly curiosity? To be able to better determine optimal sharpener settings? to coordinate sharpening between ACR & other software, or choose between? Investigating on behalf of competing software company?...

Grampus45, I have to admit I was thinking the same things as Rob. 

I applaud your wanting to know more how it works, to be able to use it most intelligently.  That is a VERY effective way to approach things.  However, in all seriousness Adobe probably isn't going to give you much more.  To do so would be to "spill the beans" about what they're doing inside.  There are a variety of reasons they wouldn't want to do that, not least of which is that they might find a better way to do the same (vaguely described) things in the future.  Describing what they're doing in great detail is that far from promising to continue to do it.

I wasn't really being facetious when I said, about the controls, "move 'em around until you like the way it looks".  This is what seems necessary (to this experienced Camera Raw user) to gain an intuitive visual understanding of what the various controls actually do to your image.  Clearly we're beyond using default or suggested settings here - well into splitting hairs.  The only way you're going to get those hairs split just to YOUR liking is to take all the time you need to try combinations of settings and home in on the ones YOU like best for your defaults AND know what controls to tweak in what situations, based on what you see in an image you're opening.

-Noel

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Mentor ,
Jun 16, 2012

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Noel Carboni wrote:

I wasn't really being facetious when I said, about the controls, "move 'em around until you like the way it looks".  This is what seems necessary (to this experienced Camera Raw user) to gain an intuitive visual understanding of what the various controls actually do to your image.  Clearly we're beyond using default or suggested settings here - well into splitting hairs.  The only way you're going to get those hairs split just to YOUR liking is to take all the time you need to try combinations of settings and home in on the ones YOU like best for your defaults AND know what controls to tweak in what situations, based on what you see in an image you're opening.

I'm not sure that approach always helps. Like when they introduced all the new NR controls with PV2010. I tried sliding them around and still couldn't work out what they did exactly. Sometimes you need a bit of a clue, so you know what you're looking for, and when to look.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 16, 2012

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So, technical details to date:

Detail = 0 => "USM-like".

Detail = 100 => "Deconvolution-like".

Detail = 50 => in between...

Now, how to determine optimal settings, for you, and your photo?

In Rob's words:

* Amount - Magnitude of sharpening effect, as dictated by radius, and detail.

* Radius - How "tightly" the sharpening is "pulled in" around whatever is being considered an edge to be sharpened.

* Detail - Sharpening algorithm determiner. Algorithm at zero is biased to sharpen object edges, algorithm at 100 is biased to sharpen textural details. In between settings somehow blend or interpolate...

* Masking: Constructs a "layer mask" which modulates the opacity of the sharpening based on edge analysis... Alt-slider to see mask.

Note: The mask is not influenced by radius nor detail setting.

I have developed what I consider a *very* good feel for how to set these optimally for my taste, through *extensive* trial and error.

Note 2: How you set sharpener sliders is highly influenced by how you set luminance noise reduction sliders.

Rather than recant my own proclivities, I think I'll stop here, except for this:

If you use substantial luminance noise reduction, crank noise reduction detail slider up first to recover detail lost through luminance noise reduction (it can handle going all the way to 100 with no adverse effects), then consider uping the sharpening detail.

Legend: By "you", I mean "if the shoe fits...".

Ciao for now,

Rob

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Engaged ,
Jun 17, 2012

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The complexity of the inter-relationship between the Sliders (as shown in these posts)  is exactly the reason that I suggested that Eric might like to post his suggestions for Sharpening/Detail settings for various kinds of photography and then incorporate those settings as Presets in ACR 7.2..

Providing such Presets would help Users to get a feel for what the sliders actually do, how they relate to each other, and how and when to use particular settings.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 17, 2012

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Eric's knowledge makes him more qualified to describe sharpening algorithms, obviously, but his preferences for sharpen settings are on a par with any other experienced user's, AFAIK.

Still, I apoplogize for suggesting another thread may be better for such. That was based on Grampus comment that he wasn't interested in suggested settings, but actual algorithms employed.

Anyway, perhaps I've got my nose in where it does not belong again - please forgive.

If the end game is to be able to best sharpen ones photos, then I would think all help for such should be welcome. Eric may or may not come forth here with his words of wisdom...

Cheers,

Rob

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