Output sharpening in Aperture (considering escaping to Lightroom)

Started Apr 5, 2013 | Discussions
mpe
mpe
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Output sharpening in Aperture (considering escaping to Lightroom)
Apr 5, 2013

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?

Howard Moftich
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Re: Output sharpening in Aperture (considering escaping to Lightroom)
In reply to mpe, Apr 5, 2013

you could use Adobe's DNG converter and that will let you open the images in LR3.

If it was me, and I liked using Aperture (which I don't), I'd suck it up and modify my workflow to facilitate whatever method of output sharpening you choose ala some plugin.

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Alpha Doug
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Re: Output sharpening in Aperture (considering escaping to Lightroom)
In reply to Howard Moftich, Apr 5, 2013

First, could you explain a little more about your need for "output" sharpening.  Mainly, in the past, this has primarily related to saving your sharpening for the last stage in your workflow, not necessarily adding it to your actual output "step".  It is primarily the act of the final preparation for printing, since inkjet printing tends to "blend" the pixels a little, so "over" sharpening tends to offset this a bit.  I find that I can get my images adequately sharp for printing, by using a combination of Camera RAW Fine Tuning (as a RAW presharpen step - a lot of people don't know how to use this), and then use only Edge Sharpening only as the last sharpening step (the older "Sharpen" tool is more related to "Unsharp Mask" in Photoshop, and is considered inferior to Edge Sharpen, which is more of a frequency related sharpening filter).  Try using the combination of the Intensity, Edges and Falloff controls to achieve the sharpening you want prior to output.  If this still doesn't accomplish what you want, Aperture also has a Print Sharpening feature if you are printing at home.  (Never use this as I find I can achieve what I want without it).  Aperture does not have a feature to apply some sort of sharpening upon export (although I fail to see the utility of a "blind" final sharpening).  If using the above does not get exactly what you want, then you must move to a more sophisticated sharpening algorithm.  I suggest that you will get an even better, more accurate and adjustable result from a third party sharpener such as nik Sharpener Pro.  It is way more sophisticated than even the sharpening step in LR.  And, in the package, you also get HDR Efex Pro, which is my favorite HDR program, and Silver Efex pro, likewise my favorite B&W conversion program.  Not to mention the dFine is probably the best noise reduction program available.  While it does add another step to your process, it achieves better results.  And it eliminates the problem of having to either move one image at a time to LR, or having to "reprocess" all your existing images.

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Alpha Doug
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Re: Output sharpening in Aperture (considering escaping to Lightroom)
In reply to Alpha Doug, Apr 5, 2013

P.S.  Photokit Sharpener (PK Sharpen) was developed and maintained by the two authors of the seminal book on Sharpening for all computers.  All of these sharpening plugins have free trials.  Some even work as stand alone programs.

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f8BeThereToo
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Nik Bundle Discount Code
In reply to mpe, Apr 5, 2013

If you use the coupon code DZISER at checkout you will receive an additional 15% off. The final cost is $126.65.

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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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Alpha Doug
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Re: Output sharpening - Ap, LR, Topaz & Nik
In reply to Jacques Cornell, Apr 7, 2013

Lightroom's sharpening, taken by itself, compared to "edge sharpening" in Aperture, is slightly better.  Hard to say if you can actually achieve a significantly better printed image using a combination of Edge Sharpen, Camera RAW Fine Tuning and Definition in Aperture, compared Sharpening and Clarity in LR.

nik Sharpener Pro is in a different category.  The algorithm is much more sophisticated and analytical.  It compensates for the physical size of the print, the expected viewing distance, the type of output device, allows you to play with focus, structure, local contrast, & output sharpening strength.  You also can add control points to sharpen selective areas.  Also, you can change how aggressive the Adaptive sharpening  is.  Of course, in both Aperture and Lightroom, you can "paint" in sharpening in selected areas, and you can stack those adjustments.

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Jacques Cornell
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Thanks for the info! N/T
In reply to Alpha Doug, Apr 7, 2013
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mpe
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Re: Output sharpening - Ap, LR, Topaz & Nik
In reply to Alpha Doug, Apr 7, 2013

Alpha Doug wrote:

Lightroom's sharpening, taken by itself, compared to "edge sharpening" in Aperture, is slightly better.  Hard to say if you can actually achieve a significantly better printed image using a combination of Edge Sharpen, Camera RAW Fine Tuning and Definition in Aperture, compared Sharpening and Clarity in LR.

nik Sharpener Pro is in a different category.

True, but all these sharpening options are done on picture with full (like 24 megapixels) resolution. When I finish the editing I want to a 1440x960 version for my website, then 960x640 for facebook (using facebook uploader) and 1024x682 version for the iPad. Once I downsample the sharpness crispness is lost. I need to open these exports in an edition and do the sharpening again. That's why I like sharpen on export feature of lightroom.

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Jacques Cornell
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Re: Output sharpening - Ap, LR, Topaz & Nik
In reply to mpe, Apr 7, 2013

mpe wrote:

Alpha Doug wrote:

Lightroom's sharpening, taken by itself, compared to "edge sharpening" in Aperture, is slightly better.  Hard to say if you can actually achieve a significantly better printed image using a combination of Edge Sharpen, Camera RAW Fine Tuning and Definition in Aperture, compared Sharpening and Clarity in LR.

nik Sharpener Pro is in a different category.

True, but all these sharpening options are done on picture with full (like 24 megapixels) resolution. When I finish the editing I want to a 1440x960 version for my website, then 960x640 for facebook (using facebook uploader) and 1024x682 version for the iPad. Once I downsample the sharpness crispness is lost. I need to open these exports in an edition and do the sharpening again. That's why I like sharpen on export feature of lightroom.

Does LR automatically sharpen differently for different file sizes? Or do you just choose different sharpening settings for each size? If the latter, you can do the same thing in Aperture by creating versions and applying different sharpening to each.

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Najinsky
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Re: Output sharpening - Ap, LR, Topaz & Nik
In reply to mpe, Apr 8, 2013

mpe wrote:

Alpha Doug wrote:

Lightroom's sharpening, taken by itself, compared to "edge sharpening" in Aperture, is slightly better.  Hard to say if you can actually achieve a significantly better printed image using a combination of Edge Sharpen, Camera RAW Fine Tuning and Definition in Aperture, compared Sharpening and Clarity in LR.

nik Sharpener Pro is in a different category.

True, but all these sharpening options are done on picture with full (like 24 megapixels) resolution. When I finish the editing I want to a 1440x960 version for my website, then 960x640 for facebook (using facebook uploader) and 1024x682 version for the iPad. Once I downsample the sharpness crispness is lost. I need to open these exports in an edition and do the sharpening again. That's why I like sharpen on export feature of lightroom.

For that you can use Reinhard Uebel's free Plug-In BorderFX

It adds both an edit plugin and an export plugin.

To sharpen on output, from within Aperture you just choose "Export->BorderFX'.

It has a standard edge sharpen tool. You can just use that and ignore the border feature (but the border feature is cool too).

You can create presets for your different image sizes, and you can export multiple images at once using the same settings.

I'm pretty sure the older versions of BorderFX used the standard sharpening tool rather than edge sharpening version, and personally I preferred that for output sharpening, but Edge sharpen works too if not overdone.

-Najinsky

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