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Archive 2013 · Sharpening for small prints
  
 
bboule
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Sharpening for small prints


Lately I've been making a bunch of small (4"x3") prints for scrapbook type applications.

I've noticed my 5D3 raw images come out very soft at this size.

Is there a trick to sharpening for small output sizes? I don't seem to have any trouble even at 4x6.

There might be something just goofed up in the workflow, I upgraded to LR5 recently, got a new printer, (Canon Pro-100), and I'm using paper which I don't have an exact profile for, although I wouldn't think the profile would affect the sharpness. (I have a bunch of left over 4x6 Canon "Photo Paper Plus Glossy", but the PRO-100 only comes with settings & profiles for "Photo Paper Plus Glossy II". Unfortunately I need letter size paper to make my own profile.

I've tried "high" output sharpening in LR, I've tried cranking up the capture sharpening in LR to extreme levels, none of it seems to make a visible difference.

Any ideas? It is not the end of the world.. no one prints tiny when it's really really important. But it is interesting, as say iPhone JPGs do not have this problem.



Jul 09, 2013 at 02:06 AM
James_N
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Sharpening for small prints


Adobe has acknowledged a bug in Lightroom 5 and it appears that you're running into it:
Lightroom 5 Hot Issues

Noise Reduction and Sharpening Not Visible on export
As mentioned here, a bug was introduced in Lightroom 5.0 where files exported at less than 1/3 of their original size may not retain Output Sharpening and Noise Reduction settings. We are working on a solution and will include it in our next update.




Jul 09, 2013 at 04:55 PM
bboule
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Sharpening for small prints


Thanks! That's definitely what it is.

I wonder how you define what 1/3 the original size is.. I had print set to be at 300 dpi.. at 300 dpi "full size" for the 5D3 would be 19.2" x 12.8" and 1/3 size would be 6.4" x 4.26"...

So 4x3 with cropping would definitely be well below 1/3 size at 300dpi. The iPhone files are so much smaller they are probably still above 1/3 size for a print of this size.

Hopefully they fix it fast.



Jul 09, 2013 at 05:33 PM
James_N
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Sharpening for small prints


I think you have to consider pixel dimensions and not DPI. The pixel dimensions of a full-sized JPEG from a Canon 5D Mark III are 5760 x 3,840 so I'd image that if an imagine is reduced to 1920 pixels or less in length (1,280 in width) in Lightroom 5 it will not export correctly regardless of the DPI setting.


Jul 09, 2013 at 06:06 PM
bboule
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Sharpening for small prints


Right.. and that corresponds exactly to the 6.4" x 4.26" print @ 300 dpi if I understand correctly.

It's going to produce a 1920x1280 output image if you ask it to print at 6.4" x 4.26" @ 300dpi.

A 4"x3" print that is just cropped on one side should generate an output image under 1920x1280 for sure.

I'll have to go do a test but I'm guessing standard 4x6 prints must also trigger the bug and come out soft.

I'm going to try some workarounds.. if I tell it to print a 500+ dpi print maybe the bug won't be triggered.

it sounds like I could also export a 1/2 size image, reimport it into LR, and then print from that, but that sounds kind of gross.



Jul 09, 2013 at 06:19 PM
 

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James_N
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Sharpening for small prints


You could sharpen the images in Photoshop if you have that, or use the LR 2/Mogrify plug-in for Lightroom: http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/products/lrmogrify2.php?sec=quickguide

You could also conceivably use the Mogrify plug-in to resize the images and bypass Lightroom 5 resizing; that may enable the sharpening & noise reduction to be retained.



Jul 09, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Edward Rotberg
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Sharpening for small prints


Sharpening is too important to leave in the hands of Lightroom, IMHO. My workflow always takes every important image through PS for that and a number of other things that LR is insufficient for. Sharpening in LR is alright for proofs and the like, but IMHO, not suited for anything you expect someone to look at carefully.

= Ed =



Jul 10, 2013 at 11:27 PM
JimboCin
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Sharpening for small prints


Ed: Would be interested in knowing specifically how you sharpen in PS.

Thanks!


Jim



Jul 11, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Edward Rotberg
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Sharpening for small prints


JimboCin wrote:
Ed: Would be interested in knowing specifically how you sharpen in PS.

Thanks!

Jim


Jim,

My sharpening technique is literally too difficult to explain in a post like this. I only use this technique for images that I really care about. Snapshots for friends don't get this treatment. It takes way too much time. The quick answer is also pretty involved. I do no sharpening in LR - it's pointless since you have so little control over the process. When I first bring an image into PS I will create a sharpened layer with an edge mask that I often manually adjust after generating it with some action (this pass at sharpening is designed to recover sharpness from the anti-aliasing filter over the sensor). Further this will be done with Smart Sharpen where I have a lot of control of not only which algorithm I use, but how much shadow and highlight areas get sharpened. In extreme cases I will use blend if on this layer as well. One principle of my work flow is to never sharpen anything that is not important detail in the image.

After I do all of my other processing (which often includes other filters not found in LR or other programs) I will save this multi-layered file as my working copy. From here, I will purpose-sharpen for output depending upon the final usage. First I will flatten & resize the image as needed. Then I will create 3 separate sharpening layers, each with their own mask. One of these is a Smart Sharpen layer, the other two are High Pass sharpening. Again, depending upon the image, I will make mask adjustments and Blend If layer adjustments to each of these sharpening layers and adjust the overall opacity of each as well. In some cases, I will discard one or more of the sharpening layers if appropriate, though that is usually the exception.

In the final analysis, there is no one-size-fits-all to my approach. I use a number of actions to speed up the workflow, but there are multiple decision points and manual adjustment points in each of these actions.

Don't ask what I do to enhance detail in an image when I need to go that route. Let's just say that in PS CS 5, at one point in that process I usually crank the CPU fan up (on my 8-core Xeon processor) to keep from cooking things on the motherboard.

This is really a series of techniques that have evolved over years of use. They are constantly being tweaked and adjusted as I try and learn new things and figure out what I like and don't like. Each and every image in my gallery has been sharpened with these techniques to some extent or another.

One final comment about this. Despite all of the stuff I am doing, the bottom line is that less is more. Most of these output sharpening layers don't have extremely high opacity settings. I believe that there is an art to getting the right amount of sharpening without overdoing it. Folks on this forum are generally pretty good about it. On the web in general however, I find that most people either under-sharpen or over sharpen by a lot in both cases.

I hope this helps.

= Ed =



Jul 11, 2013 at 10:01 PM





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