CSpro Plugin series

Introducing the CSPro
Plugin series.

Taking image sharpening to the next level.

The CSpro Plugin is a custom sharpening technology specifically designed to work with certain digital SLRs (List of supported cameras can be found on the main Software page).
This plugin is compatible with JPEG files straight from the camera or TIFF/JPEG files converted from RAW files.
Although the CSpro's interface appears simple and intuitive, complexity makes this plugin very smart. It provides haloless sharpening, edgesharpening, luminance sharpening, mode sharpening, and more with just the press of a button. With this plugin you can choose from low or high ISO settings. Other options allow you to sharpen fine detail. There are pre-designed intensity levels and options to reduce color noise from high ISO files. Another feature unique to CSpro, is that you can save and load your own sharpening profiles. In addition you have the ability to preview settings and tweak intensity results for maximum control over your work.

New to CSpro is the ability to obtain 2 custom sharpened files. One for your printing work and another for web presentation.

*CSpro works with 8-bit and 16-bit files when using Photoshop CS or above. When using Photoshop Elements 1, 2 and 3, Photoshop 6.0 or 7.0, it will only work with 8-bit files.

A generic CSpro interface will be used as example. Similar options are available with the CSpro plugin designed for your camera files.

 

Learning the CSpro plugin interface:
Full instructions included in the CSpro User Manual PDF file

Settings: CSpro allows photographers to save and load their own custom settings. You will be able to create as many profiles as desired to ease your workflow. In the example below, you can see that I have saved settings for landscape, portrait, Epson 2200 printing, Lab printing, etc...

 

How to save custom settings (profiles):
For example, I set CSpro with the following:

  • Low ISO file
  • Sharpening level = Level 4
  • Sharpen fine detail level (checked)
  • Low Halo setting
  • Reduce Color noise (checked)

In order to save these settings for future use, I then clicked on the "Save" button and created a custom setting called: "My landscape settings".

If you would like to back-up your custom settings, you can find them using the following path. Every setting you create will be added to this path automatically.

For Photoshop 6.0, 7.0 or CS:
Photoshop X.X > Plug-Ins > Adobe Photoshop Only > Automate > FM Settings > CSpro setting

For Photoshop Elements:
Photoshop Elements X.X > Plug-Ins > Automate > FM Settings > CSpro setting

 

Image Type options: The CSpro plugin works with most common file extensions including 8-bit TIFF and JPEG files. Under Photoshop CS, it will work with both 8-bit and 16-bit files. Under "Image Type", you will be able to select from "Low ISO File" or "High ISO File".

  • Low ISO File: This option should be used with low noise files.
  • High ISO File: This option should be used with "grainy" files. It also works best with portrait work. ("Sharpen fine detail" is not available with this option).

 

Sharpening Level: You have the option of choosing the sharpening intensity (Default shown below)

Depening on your camera model, Level 1 provides the lightest custom sharpening effect and Level 5 the highest. If more strengh is required, you could always run the plugin again. For example: Run Level 5 followed by another run using Level 1. (However, this is not recommended for optimal results as the pre-selected intensities were carefully designed for your camera model)

  • Sharpen fine detail level: This setting can be used with any Intensity level and will sharpen very fine detail in your images. However, it will make the plugin run slower (especially with 16-bit files), but is recommended when maximum sharpening is desired. It works great with landscape images but it's disabled when using "High ISO" under "Image type".

After choosing your desired sharpening intensity, you will be able to "preview" the results on your original file by clicking on the Apply button. When you finish running the plugin you will see the results of the selected intensity. At that point you also have an option to tweak the intensity of the sharpening effect by decreasing from 100 to 0. (Zero will be the original state of the image before applying the plugin and 100 is the result after applying the plugin -- so you have all of the options in between to work with). For example, if you would like to see half of the sharpening effect, move the "Intensity Tweak" slider from 100 to 50 and you will be able to preview the tweaked results on your file.

If you desire to experiment with different intensities, click on Undo and your file will be brought back to its original state. Otherwise, click on the OK button if you are happy with the results.

 

Halo Settings: The default halo setting is "Normal Halo" and it's the best compromise between detail sharpening and halo size. Under "Normal Halo", the plugin will already provide minimal halo around high contrast areas and therefore it's my recommended setting. However, if you would like to tweak this setting and sacrifice some sharpening for an even smaller or non-existent halo, select "Low Halo" or even the 0% halo option.

 

Reduce color noise: Check this setting if you desire to reduce color noise from your files during sharpening. This setting is recommended when editing High ISO files but can be used with Low ISO files as well.


"Reduce color noise" is included with this custom sharpening plugin because in some cases it will improve the sharpening results.

 


Levels and sharpening Tweak option: The Levels and sharpening Tweak option is for advanced users only. It provides photographers with the flexibility to fine tune a pre-selected CSpro intensity.

After selecting an intensity level and checking the Levels and Sharpening Tweak option, the CSpro plugin will stop twice. The first stop will be a "Levels" window.

These controls are very powerful and geared for the advanced user. With this feature you can fine tune what gets sharpened on your photograph. Here's how: you will have 3 Input Levels sliders, 2 Output Levels sliders and the eyedropper tools to work with. Use the sliders/eyedroppers to select the areas you want sharpened. The black areas will receive the most sharpening effect. The gray areas will receive moderate sharpening and the white areas will receive only a light global luminance sharpening effect.

The second stop will be a "USM" window.

It's recommended to leave the Amount, Radius and Threshold with the default settings. But as an advanced user, you have the option to fine tune the values and input your own settings. However, noise, artifact or extreme halos may appear on your images when entering your own settings.

 

Resize for the Web: The CSpro plugin was designed to run on your camera's original file size. The ultimate goal is to provide the best sharpening results for "Printing". However, by checking on the "Resize a copy for the web" option, you will be able to downsize your original file and custom sharpen it for the web as well. As a result you will have 2 custom sharpened files: One for Printing and the other for the "Web".


Intensity Tweak slider:
The Intensity tweak slider is a powerful and flexible option included with this plugin.

As mentioned earlier, after selecting any intensity level and clicking on the Apply button, the Intensity Tweak slider will be available to tweak the results you see on screen. As you move the slider from 100 (default) to your desired level, you will see the results changing on your image.

You may choose from 100 to 0 within the selected intensity level. The intensity you choose will bring you closer to the desired effect that works best with your files.
For example, when clicking on the Apply button to preview level 4, you will be able to move the Intensity Tweak slider from 100 down to 50 ---by doing that, half of the level fourty sharpening effect will be applied and shown on your image.

 

VERY IMPORTANT: When moving the Intensity Tweak slider to choose the perfect sharpening strength, make sure to view your photograph at 100% magnification. Inspecting your images at the actual pixel magnification is always the best way to edit your files.

This can be accomplished by either using the Control+Alt+0 shortcut or by using the plugin's Image Zoom.

 

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Below is an example comparing a RAW file with no sharpening as camera parameter against a basic USM setting and the CSpro plugin.

Orignal file (no sharpening parameter)

Photoshop's USM (Unsharp mask)

CSpro plugin

Notice the accentuated halo effect from the Photoshop's USM setting compared to the CSpro result. Also pay attention to the amount of noise created by USM. CSpro does not increase noise or artifact and sharpens only what needs to be sharpened.

It's worth noting that CSpro can be used with any type of images, from portraits, landscape, still-life and especially with HIGH ISO files. It sharpens your files without adding noise or artifacts.

How to order CSpro for my SLR camera?

To order CSpro for your camera, go to the software page, then find the CSpro designed specifically for your SLR camera and click on either the PC or Mac link.