Output sharpening in Aperture (considering escaping to Lightroom)

Started Apr 5, 2013 | Discussions thread
Jacques Cornell
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Output sharpening - Ap, LR, Topaz & Nik
In reply to mpe, Apr 7, 2013

mpe wrote:

I am quite happy with using Apple Aperture in my workflow.

The only and biggest problem I have is that Aperture can't do output sharpening. It is very frustrating. You can do printing, exporting to photoshare services, etc. but with no sharpening at the output.

Therefore, I am looking for a solution that can get me output sharpening.

1) Ditch Aperture, and upgrade to Lighroom 4. That would cost me £59 (I am aligible for upgrade as I own previous version). Unfortunatelly, I cant use the version I have as it no longer supports my camera. I would need to start managing my pictures from scratch and access old pictures via Aperture.

2) Keep Aperture and get something for sharpening. Like Nik Sharpener Pro. Now all Nik product can be bought for $143. The disadvatantage is that this doesn't really naturally fit into my workflow. It is an extra step in my worfklow.

What would you do? Any other options?

Aperture does have "output sharpening" of a sort as part of the printing process, not the export process. This actually makes sense from a workflow standpoint, since it's at the printing stage that output sharpening needs to be tweaked for a specific output size. Output sharpening applied to an exported file might not be optimal if the file is printed at a size or via a printing technology other than intended at the time of export. That said, if you want to send a file to a lab for printing, it makes sense to apply appropriate output sharpening to the exported file. In Aperture, you could do this simply by creating an (e.g.) "8x10 print" version of the finished image and apply additional sharpening to it, then export.

For my event work, which is high-volume and mainly reproduced onscreen and in small prints, I do overall sharpening within Aperture by applying a bit of Edge Sharpening and Definition. For more critical output, such as commercial work or fine art printing, the number of photos involved is relatively small, and I take the time to individually sharpen each one. In the past I used PhotoKit Sharpener in Photoshop, then I used Topaz Labs' InFocus and Details plugins in Photoshop for a bit, and now I use Nik Sharpener Pro in Aperture. This kind of individual hand-tweaking is an extra workflow step regardless of whether it's done within Aperture/Lightroom, via a plugin, or externally. If LR's built-in sharpening is really good, then it would have the advantage of being non-destructive and applying directly to RAW data without requiring creation of a separate TIF or PSD file. Being a heavy Aperture and unfamiliar with LR4's tools, I couldn't say whether LR's sharpening tools are as good at Topaz' or Nik's.

Anyone want to chime in with some info on this?

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