***Disclaimer I use an older version of Photoshop mainly because I don't need any other version for what I do. Some of these filters may be named differently.***
Basically there are four different sharpening techniques: Sharpen, Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, High Pass Sharpen. Sharpening can be very tricky to get right. I recommend sharpening just before your print, or post on facebook, whatever. Sharpening should be the last thing you do to the image. The reason we do this is to avoid haloing or pixelattion from other filters or adjustment. Fix up your photo first, then sharpen. Sharpening is also really hard to get to the right amount. During the editing process our eyes get used to the sharpness of the image which makes it very easy to over sharpen the image. I always make a duplicate layer and toggle the sharpening layer on and off to compare from the original. This helps me keep my sharpening to a minimum while retaining important detail.
|Here is what we will be working with today. This image was captured using my Nikon D700 and my 18-35mm lens. This is a very sharp lens and I get the most out of the 12 megapixel full-frame sensor with this combo.|
|Here is a 100% crop of the unsharpened image. As you can tell this photo is already sharp, but I want to sharpen for printing purposes here.|
2. Unsharp Mask
|Unsharp Mask is a much better sharpening tool. It males a nice even sharpening throughout the image. This filter was designed for scanned documents and film not for digital images. I used this filter a lot when I first started out using photoshop.|
3. Smart Sharpen
|It takes a little longer to render, but it is a better result.|
4. High Pass Sharpening:
|Most people don't know about High Pass sharpening this product isn't even featured under the sharpening window. High Pass sharpening is great for getting detail in the softer parts of the image. Like the Sharpen filter it creates a flat effect.|
|High Pass worked well to sharpen the horizon in this image.|
|Here area ll the images compared to each other. My personal favorite is the Smart Sharpen.|
I found the most effective form of sharpening to be the "Smart Sharpen" tool. It brought out the most detail while still controlling the noise (grain) levels. However, if I was needing to sharpen the entire image I would use the High Pass.
|Smart Sharpen is great for bringing out little details.|
|High Pass sharpening works best when sharpening the overall image..|