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Why Sharpen on export?

Brewder

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Hello,

I typically sharpen my RAW files somewhere between 25-70 as on import. If I'm going to export those RAW's to JPG to post on Shutterfly/Flickr, should I really also sharpen for screen on export? Seems like a "double sharpen"?

Can someone school me on pros/cons please?

//Brew
 
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There are reasons for sharpening at export, so it is not really a "double sharpen" in the sense that you referenced in quotes in your OP. There are articles that go into depth about why sharpening is done at two points in the development process, but I cannot recall where I have seen them (sine it has been a while). I suspect that a web search could provide you with more detail, but the short answer is that it is OK to sharpen at both stages (unless you have some compelling reason not to).

--Ken
 
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Sharpening actually is performed three times in the workflow,
  • First there is Sharpening of the RAW image after it is converted to RGB. This happens with in camera processed JPEGs as well as applied in ACR when when converted into RGB. This is a standard sharpening function that you have no control over the parameters used
  • The Second occurs in LR Develop and this is where you have the most controls a to affect the outcome (often this is applied too severely resulting in an over sharpened image)
  • The third is the Post processing sharpen that is tuned for the media (Screen or Print) You have limited control over the parameters used.
All three are important and are required to maximize the results for the output media. Here is a link to an older two part article that explains LR sharpening. Sharpening in Lightroom – Part 1 of 2
 
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The notion of an additional sharpening stage on printing/export, called "Output Sharpening," was first proposed by the late Bruce Fraser 13 years ago as part of his three-stage sharpening workflow (see the article "Thoughts on a Sharpening Workflow," 2003). Bruce was an advisor to Adobe, and his philosophy became integrated with Lightroom and Camera Raw. His influence is why you see a sharpening stage in the Print module in Lightroom, and in the Export/Save dialog boxes of Lightroom and Camera Raw respectively.

The idea behind it is that a specific amount of sharpening is not appropriate for all resolutions on all types of output. In the same way you might optimize tone, color, and resolution for different kinds of papers and displays and keep those output-specific optimizations separate from the master image, his idea was that you'd probably want to do the same thing with sharpening: apply an additional output-optimized sharpening value that is not applied back to the master image because it won't be appropriate for other output types.

If you want to read more about output sharpening, it's covered in the book Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom by Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe, who has also advised Adobe. Jeff also has a shorter section about output sharpening in his book The Digital Print: Preparing Images in Lightroom and Photoshop for Printing.
 
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Cerianthus

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Cletus, if you dont mind me asking, but is there any documentation on the first step you describe in LR? I always thought that the sharpening in develop was the capture sharpening; any local sharpening you do was creative sharpening + global output sharpening depending on use. From my understanding, the LR develop sharpening could be a bit of a hybrid between the first 2..
 
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I would disagree with Cletus's first step. What he's describing is the demosaicing process, not sharpening.

The 3 phases or types of sharpening are described in the article in Conrad's link to "Thoughts on a Sharpening Workflow":
  • What he called capture sharpening is in the Detail panel and is to compensate for softness in the demosaiced image.
  • His creative sharpening would include local sharpening and clarity, where you interpret and perfect the image.
  • Finally his output sharpening is in Export or Print and is specific to the output medium such as paper or screen.
John

[Edited layout only]
 
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Cletus, if you dont mind me asking, but is there any documentation on the first step you describe in LR? I always thought that the sharpening in develop was the capture sharpening; any local sharpening you do was creative sharpening + global output sharpening depending on use. From my understanding, the LR develop sharpening could be a bit of a hybrid between the first 2..
I haven't seen anything that describes what actually happens for ACR. A RAW file (if you could see it as an image) is rather toneless and somewhat noisy. You can get some idea of what an unprocessed RAW file would look like after converting to RGB if you apply one of the Develop General presets called "Zeroed". Sharpening after converting to RGB in ACR results in a Develop Sharpening amount of 25 units. I don't know if this "25" is the same as the Sharpening when converting to RGB or if the "25" units is post processing develop sharpening on top of that initial sharpening. If you let the camera process the RAW file a JPEG is produces and a similar sharpening occurs in the camera. Imported JPEGs show "zero" additional Develop Sharpening after import to LR.
 

Ian.B

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thanks for asking the questions and the answers; I never really understood the sharpening at export either
 
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thanks for asking the questions and the answers; I never really understood the sharpening at export either
Then do read that Bruce Fraser article, Ian. It's well-written, and it is the thinking behind Lr's sharpening.
 

mikecox

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Like Ian I too am thankful for this question and the responses and links. Sharpening has always been something of a hit or miss thing for me; I was never sure what I was doing or if my efforts resulted in real improvements.
 
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