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Hello there! I'm looking for some advice on using FocalBlade. I'm not new to photography, but am fairly new to these new fangled gadgets. I own 2 film cameras, 26 and 66 years old respectively. I started scanning slides and negatives a couple of years ago on a flatbed, but the results were pretty bad - soft images and terrible artefacts. I'm now starting again with a Nikon Coolscan and Elements 3.0. My photographs have been received very well on the internet, so I don't have a problem with that. I'm no Photoshop expert, but I think I do fairly well with that too. What I can't manage is the sharpening, hence my latest purchase. I've spent the last couple of hours playing with everything and it looks like a powerful tool. Trouble is that I just can't see what I should be doing. For a start I suffer from stereo blindness in that my left eye is long sighted and my right eye is short sighted. I think that means that my brain ignores everything from my left eye. Glasses don't help when I'm looking at a monitor. I've spent ages looking at other sites. They show examples of good and bad sharpening, but to be honest I just can't tell the difference. I don't seem to be able to spot halos or noise at all. I can certainly see all the changes when I move the sliders in FB, but I don't know what's good or bad. Is there anyone who could suggest sharpening levels for one of my own images so I can understand what I should be aiming for? At the moment I'm scanning everything at 4,000dpi and my files are roughly 60 Meg. Many thanks in advance!
What do you plan on doing with your pictures? I do a lot of scanning and have never used a dpi that high. Even when doing poster size pictures, I've gotten good results with 300 dpi. For slide shows and video albums I usually use 96 dpi. The reason being that when included in a video on dvd the pictures are compressed to 81 dpi anyway.
For prints some folks like to use 300 dpi. However, for inkjet printing I have found that anything over 150 dpi is just wasting ink.
I also have and use Focal Blade. I suggest you scan a couple of pictures at either 150 or 96 dpi and make some copies of the same photo and then just try the different settings. Read the recommendations for the type of photo, landscape scenery, portrait, etc., and also be sure to check whether you are using the settings for prints or screen. It has been my experience that pictures shown on screen need to be just a touch sharper than those being printed.
Zooey, you could use the values that the auto sharpening options of FocalBlade suggests. But if you want to be sure and can't decide yourself if your sharpening is fine, you should do some prints of the same photo with different sharpening applied and show them to a few people.
The problem is that sharpening is quite subjective. Some people prefer razor sharp images but other prefer more soft ones. Another factor is the eyesight of a person. A person with bad eye sight will love an oversharpened image, because he finally seems some more details, while a person with good eye sight will see all the ugly artifacts.
My recommendation is to apply rather moderate sharpening if you are not sure instead of overdoing it.
Last edited by HaraldHeim on Tue Jan 16, 2007 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Many thanks for your replies. I'm scanning at a high resolution for two main reasons. First of all I have an exhibition in London this autumn and need to produce high quality prints. (If I can't get it right soon I'm going to run out of time!). I've also built my second web site over the past few months and intend to offer a limited range of images for sale as prints or canvatex.
Now I understand why I'm drawn to oversharpened images. I've been trying to hold off on getting some test prints done for personal reasons (it's a long story, but I have 45 animals and one of my cats now requires a cystic brain tumour draining once a month - it gives her a good quality of life, but it's not cheap). I think I'll have to bite the bullet though and get a few done.
I have looked at the advice for landscapes and portraits, but I'm still a bit confused. Where would I stand regarding a photograph of a dog? I have one of a Springer Spaniel outside a pub. The dog fills the frame nicely with a bit of space to "look in to". The interior of the pub is dark and the dog's curly coat stands out nicely. I think the image is rather soft, so perhaps I need medium or heavy sharpening. What about the texture and the details though? If I leave the first two settings alone, the image appears better to me if I select rough details. Surely this can't be the case with very fine hair? Can I assume it's just my dodgy eyesight again?
Anyway, many thanks for your help. I'm sure I will get the hang of this in the end, but at the moment it's doing my head in. I know I have the right tools - I'll just have to learn how to use them.
The Details setting in FocalBlade (which actually controls the Radius slider) lets you decide if small details are emphasized in the sharpening or larger details. An example for a small detail is hair or fur and an example for a larger detail are the facial lines or outlines of a body.
If you scale up an image for doing a large print, a "Very Fine" setting for Details will have as good as no effect, because the pixels in the image were artificially enlarged and there are no real fine details in the image anymore. Of course, FocalBlade compensates it a bit by using higher Radius settings for "Very Fine" if the image is very big, but that may still not be enough, so using "Medium" for Details might produce better results.
Nevertheless my recommendation is to do several test prints if you plan to do large prints and show them to various people. You don't even need to print these test images at full size, it is enough if you only print one section of the final image at A4 size.
When sharpening it is also important to consider the average distance the viewers will have when they look at the prints. If the viewers can only see the image from a larger distance, you should better emphasize larger details in the image when sharpening. This will produce a sharper impression when viewing it from a larger distance. Otherwise use a finer detail setting.
Concerning the dog question: A dog usually has fur, so I would use a "Medium" setting for Texture to make the fur visible. If the dog has no fur you can use "Light" or "Off" for Texture. However using "Medium" for texture may sharpen the backround too much. If that is the case I recommend that you apply the sharpen effect from FocalBlade selectively. The FocalBlade manual contains a tutorial for sharpening selectively with a brush. See
http://www.thepluginsite.com/products/p ... bystep.htm
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