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Higher printer sharpen setting

Jan 25, 2012 7:41 AM

Tags: #print #high #sharpen #lightroom4_beta

What I always found is that, even after a good custom capture sharpening under LR, with High sharpen setting I get too soft results.

 

Maybe it's just a matter of taste, maybe it's that I don't see well (or too well?).

Most probably it's that I almost always print on baryta paper (which is softer than ultra-super-hyper-premium-glossy) or on glossy papers but for very small formats.

 

Anyway... the Sharpen setting should be a bunch of parameters for the algorithm Jeff Schewe and others worked onto, could you just create another option for more visibile effect?

Once Scott Kelby said (speaking about this matter): "Low means nothing, Medium means Low and High mean Medium".

I certainly agree.

 
Replies
  • Andrew Rodney
    1,389 posts
    Apr 16, 2009
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    Jan 25, 2012 8:16 AM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    The question is, what about your capture sharpening settings? When you say high is too low, then I question if you are either adequately applying capture sharpening upon which output is based.

     

    The algorithm’s ARE based on the work of Jeff and Pixel Genius.

     

    As for Scott’s comments, I’m not sure about the confusion! There are three strengths, duh. You can’t see them on screen, you have to make a print. Presumably this blind testing is OK for the Print Adjustment slider he loves in LR4 but not for shaprening?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 25, 2012 10:26 AM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    PaoloAvezzano wrote:

     

    What I always found is that, even after a good custom capture sharpening under LR, with High sharpen setting I get too soft results.

     

    I would argue that your Detail settings for the capture sharpening are not "good". Also, you don't mention what printer you are using and what resolution you are sending to the printer. All play a part in the optimal sharpening workflow...

     
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  • LuxMirabilis
    43 posts
    Jun 8, 2010
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    Jan 25, 2012 11:26 AM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    PaoloAvezzano wrote:

     

    I print on an Epson R3000 from Lr3 at 360/720ppi depending on source resolution (based on your algorithm <=360 or >360).

    Preparing screenshots right now...

    I suggest you routinely uprez to 720PPI (independently of image res) if you have an Epson printer or 600PPI if you have an HP printer. After all that is the printer's native res. If the photo editor does not present an image at the printer's native res, the printer driver will do the uprezing... after output sharpening. I have posted this here for years, to be argued against, until recently when those who argued started to understand the process. They still tell you to uprez under certain circumstances - I say: up rez every time.

     
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  • LuxMirabilis
    43 posts
    Jun 8, 2010
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    Jan 25, 2012 12:10 PM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    PaoloAvezzano wrote:

     

    You may be right and I'd say 70% yes, however this should present a minimal effect except for extremely high frequency detail.

    I'm talking abount "common" detail. The overall appearance is not so sharp for me.

     

    Yes, for fine detail, but to a point as you must realize that if uprezzed by the driver, it's done post-output sharpening, which is not ideal. And I add a caveat: I hope that the Adobe uprez algorithm is better than the one in the printer driver. If not, for low-res images, the latter may do a better job. But in general, one should uprez in the photo editor, prior to output sharpening, otherwise the printer driver will be uprzing smaller pre-output-sharpened images.

     

    In the Windows world QImage is an excellent printing app with a choice of uprezzing algorithms. No such thing exists in OSX, unfortunately. QImage delivers all images to the printer driver at its native resolution. [Note: I have no affiliation to QImage or its maker].

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 30, 2012 12:34 PM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    I hope you are not judging the capture sharpening at zoomed out scales as you appear to be doing here. The zoomed out preview cannot provide an accurate preview of the effect of the sharpening. Those settings are quite extreme. You should ONLY touch the sharpening sliders when zoomed in 1:1 or higher. Also the noise reduction setting appears quite high to me as this is likely a base ISO image.

     
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  • LuxMirabilis
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    Jan 30, 2012 12:39 PM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    Hard to tell on a screen capture, but that image seems unnturally oversharpened.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 30, 2012 1:21 PM   in reply to LuxMirabilis

    Hear, hear.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 30, 2012 1:55 PM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    PaoloAvezzano wrote:

     

    They're actually 1:1 crops.

    I never judge sharpening from other zoom factors.

    That's good. You're right that that makes your problem worse. I agree that the default print sharpening is fairly unaggressive and I often am at high myself. I also would note that in my exprience, the algorithm works better if you upscale less. The perceived sharpness as judged by bystanders (i.e. wife) might actually go up if you output to your printer at lower resolutions using the same sharpening setting. You might lose detail but the perception of sharpness will increase. Try printing at 240 ppi for example and compare that to 360 and 720. At viewing distance the lower resolution scaling might actually look better than the higher res ones while when you use a magnifying glass you might see more detail in the higher res ones. This is fairly subjective though and very much dependent on personal taste, the size of the print, the resolution and quality of the original, etc.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 30, 2012 2:19 PM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    That's what you would expect but that is not what happens. The physical size of the haloes appears to be greatly influenced by the output resolution and it appears to me to be the main determinant. This is confirmed by sending the output to a pdf and extracting the images in Photoshop. The haloes are larger in a lower resolution output, so if you upscale to 720 ppi, you get very small haloes, probably hiding the sharpening at regular viewing distances. Again this is all based on me making prints and showing them to others and asking them which they prefer, which they think is sharpest, etc. They often prefer the ones that were done at lower print resolution as they look more punchy when you don't look up close, while  I myself see a bit of loss of detail (I work a lot with very resolution originals). Again YMMV but worth trying out.

     
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  • Andrew Rodney
    1,389 posts
    Apr 16, 2009
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    Jan 30, 2012 3:00 PM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    PaoloAvezzano wrote:

     

    Doesn't the sharpening algorithm adjust the effect based on print size?

    Yes. Or the export size (when you ask to resize and sharpen on export).

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 31, 2012 8:15 AM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    Actually I have to qualify my statement. Andrew and I are talking about different things. I was mostly talking about how the sharpening interacts with the upscaling. If you keep the physical size of the print constant, it appears that the halo is of constant physical size (i.e. a certain fraction of a mm) of the paper. There is however a strong effect of softening of the image if you upscale. Here is the effect illustrated (you might have to click to see 1:1. These went through a printer profile (for fine art paper on our HP Z5200) sent to pdf instead of to the printer, opened in PS CS5 (extracting the exact image as it is sent to the printer from it) and were converted to sRGB for display here.

     

    Native resolution (about 240 ppi for the 12x18 size I selected) high glossy sharpening

    Lightroom-243ppi-12x18-1.jpg

    360 ppi high glossy sharpeneing: (I know the HP needs 300 instead of 360 but I used 360 here since that was used in the discussion)

    Lightroom-360-ppi-12x18-1.jpg

    720 ppi high glossy

    Lightroom-720ppi-12x18-1.jpg

     

    So the size of the halo appears physically the same regardless of the resolution setting, but it appears that the upscaled images lose some directness/contrast. The black of the branches is toned down even though if you look carefully you do see more detail in the upscaled versions. So the question is how this interacts with the printer driver and the printing process. One really has to check the final prints. My approach has been to ask casual observers which they prefer and it tends to be not what I expected. They often like the non-upscaled ones as I think the loss of small scale contrast because the blurring inherent to the upscaling counteracts the sharpening and results in something more detailed but less "punchy". This is quite subjective though. I have noticed that non-photographers tend to favor the suggestion of detail instead of the actual presence of detail.

     

    Secondly, if you keep the resolution constant but vary the print size, it is pretty clear that the physical size of the sharpening haloes is determined by the size of the print and not by the resolution setting in that case. For example, if you print a file at 240 ppi at 12x18 and compare to the same image printed at 240 ppi, 24x36, the halo in the second is twice as large physically, so it is an optical calculation that takes into account viewing distance being larger when you print bigger. This of course makes perfect sense. Lastly, If you do not check the resolution checkbox, the image that is sent to the printer for a 12x18 print is bit-for-bit identical to the image sent for a 24x36 print consistent with the previous observation.

     

    Hope this helps.

     
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  • LuxMirabilis
    43 posts
    Jun 8, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 5, 2012 10:27 AM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    PaoloAvezzano wrote:

     

    ... without having to play with PPI on print dialogs, IMHO.

    Print/output sharpening should be applied as the very last step (including final resizing) and this is, I understand, how Lr does it.

     

    Printers have a native PPI resolution (720PPI for Epson, 600PPI for HP). This means that every image is printed at the native PPI. If the image file is supplied (resized) to the printer driver at the native resolution, the driver just prints it (with a very complex micro nozzle control); if the image is under the printer's native res, the driver resizes it. The latter is the problem, as the driver will be resizing a previously output sharpened image, obliterating the output sharpening previously applied. Thus, every image should be resized in Lr to the printer's native res (independently of image size) so that Lr applies output sharpening as a last step before handing the data to the printer driver.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 6, 2012 6:49 AM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    I sure would like to visit Tuscany. 

     
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  • LuxMirabilis
    43 posts
    Jun 8, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 20, 2012 10:30 AM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    I did some testing too and I do agree with you. Lr's Output Sharpening needs to be bumped up. I would like to see 4 settings created where the new Low is the current Mid. And yes, my prints were done wih properly sharpened images.

     

    P.S. - I still insist that optimal printing is done by resizing the image (any image) to the printer's native res (720PPI Epson, 600PPI HP). If that is not done, the printer driver will do it on its own (post output sharpening which is not a good thing).

     
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  • LuxMirabilis
    43 posts
    Jun 8, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 21, 2012 11:10 AM   in reply to PaoloAvezzano

    PaoloAvezzano wrote:

     

    FWIW, I still print a lot under 720ppi.

    The scenario doesn't change: still a bit too soft.

     

    Yes. Output sharpening needs revision.

     
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