Previous 1 2 Next 17 Replies Latest reply: Jan 15, 2011 10:00 AM by Pauline MYRE
apple_enthusiast Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
I'm a long-time Aperture user that just bought CS5 Photoshop. In learning it's capabilities, I discovered how sharpening improves crispness. On the down side, it is a discipline unto itself, and can be complicated.

Sharpening can be done at 1) capture (camera), 2) pre-processing (RAW brick in Aperture, Camera RAW in Photoshop), 3) creatively (sharpening, edge sharpening, and quick brush sharpening in Aperture, numerous ways in Photoshop), and 4) +on export+ (more sharpening for small photos, less for larger photos).

I am still learning the methods used in Photoshop for sharpening. However, I'd rather sharpen in Aperture.

Has anyone had experience using the three sharpening methods in Aperture and know the pros/cons?

Has anyone had experience in operating in both Aperture and Photoshop? Does Aperture come close to producing the same results under most circumstances?

The reason I ask, is I perform most of my adjustments in Aperture, and like the ability to keep all adjustments on one physical image. Need to adjust RAW sharpening? All changes are reapplied and cascaded through to the result. Plus, I don't want a TIFF from Photoshop for every file I sharpen.

My initial tests show Aperture produces good results for small images, but not as smooth and clean as photoshop at 100%.

I realize Photoshop allows much more control in the number of tools, masking, and the nearly limitless number of approaches one may take to sharpen.

But, I'd like to stick to Aperture for the majority of my images.

Your comments and insight are welcome!

2.8 iMac, 2.6 iMac, 2.6 MBP, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • William Lloyd Level 7 Level 7 (20,925 points)
    Aperture does capture sharpening and creative sharpening. And the tools are pretty good, though you don't have as much control over them as you would in Photoshop (actually much of it is in ACR now). Still, the "edges" largely controls the mask that Aperture uses, even if you can't view the mask.

    Aperture's output sharpening is fairly weak. I don't know that there is any for export, and for print sharpening the tools are fairly broad and not really tuned to the output type. Photoshop (with toolkits like Photokit Sharpener) are better here, but it's sorta up to you if you can notice the difference in the end product.
  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)
    Any pic I intend a large print from goes to Photoshop and Unsharp Mask (CS3, cannot afford the $600 to upgrade the Premium CS yet). Other pix get Aperture's sharpen sliders, quickly.

    -Allen
  • CorkyO2 Level 4 Level 4 (1,290 points)
    After reading Bruce Fraser's work (continued by Jeff Schewe), I have adopted the three stage sharpening process as needed: Capture, Creative, Output.

    Aperture's apparent lack of output sharpening for anything other than print (at least I have not found or read anything to the contrary) is limiting and therefore requires a third party alternative (plug-in or a program like Photoshop).

    Therefore, I just do capture and creative inside Aperture and use Photoshop for output sharpening using an edge mask layer (usually in luminance mode). This allows me to final size my image and then view sharpening at 100% on that size. I export as original size PSD and then keep these outside of Aperture in a dedicated folder once the work in PS CS5 is done.

    It would be nice if the Aperture team addresses this in the next version.

    Note - here is a quick run down article on Aperture 3 sharpening that seems to support this:

    http://www.bobrockefeller.com/blog/sharpening-with-aperture-3.html

    I would also love to find that output sharpening for use in the digital format (e.g., web sites) is available in Aperture and I have overlooked something.
  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)
    CorkyO2 wrote:
    After reading Bruce Fraser's work (continued by Jeff Schewe)...


    I have used PS since the mid-1990s and in the first eight years of the 2000 decade lived in PS all the time. I still consider PS to be a wonderful app, but since Aperture my PS usage has dropped way, way off due to the speed and convenience of the Aperture workflow and (to my eyes) the slightly superior RAW conversion of Nikon NEF files as compared to Adobe ACR.

    Bruce's book continued by Jeff Schewe is very useful, but it is important to take it as a book written by folks paid by Adobe or therwise dependent upon Adobe for their income. The various versions are very Adobe-centric, to the point of being misleading if not factually incorrect. Take it with a grain of salt and independently establish what works best for you as per your own eyes/cameras/workflow.

    -Allen
  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)
    CorkyO2 wrote:
    I would also love to find that output sharpening for use in the digital format (e.g., web sites) is available in Aperture and I have overlooked something.


    I do not understand what you mean. Aperture edits go through to whatever output. E.g. when I sharpen an image in Aperture using the radius and intensity sliders then publish that image in a web album the sharpening is in place.

    -Allen
  • William Lloyd Level 7 Level 7 (20,925 points)
    Well, yes, but you don't necessarily have control over how much sharpening is applied for output at specific resolutions (i.e. 1024x768, 800x600, 2500x1600, whatever). The monitor is an output device, the same as paper:

    http://www.creativepro.com/article/out-of-gamut-thoughts-on-a-sharpening-workflo w?page=0%2C1
  • CorkyO2 Level 4 Level 4 (1,290 points)
    SierraDragon wrote:

    Bruce's book continued by Jeff Schewe is very useful, but it is important to take it as a book written by folks paid by Adobe or therwise dependent upon Adobe for their income. The various versions are very Adobe-centric, to the point of being misleading if not factually incorrect. Take it with a grain of salt and independently establish what works best for you as per your own eyes/cameras/workflow.

    -Allen



    I can understand that this may or may not now be influenced by Jeff's association with Adobe, but I believe that Bruce's take was based on the fact that he did not agree with the (at the time) current thought process of sharpening once at output and therefore his wish to influence the main tool at the time (Photoshop) and it's development to incorporate this line of thinking.

    It makes sense to me to capture sharpen to remove the softening that can occur during the conversion from camera data to a digital image. This is what I use to give myself the best possible base image which attempts to capture what I saw with my own eyes.

    I mentioned it due to the respect many people have expressed for Bruce Fraser and my own understanding of the arguements, as well as matching (to some degree) the OP's listing of sharpening stages.
  • CorkyO2 Level 4 Level 4 (1,290 points)
    SierraDragon wrote:

    I do not understand what you mean. Aperture edits go through to whatever output. E.g. when I sharpen an image in Aperture using the radius and intensity sliders then publish that image in a web album the sharpening is in place.

    -Allen


    As William pointed out, I was referring to working at the final resolution and applying the sharpening that looks correct to me there.

    I do not know that Aperture modifies the sharpening on export for a specific image size after it has resized it. Since the manual and available options do not offer any information on output sharpening other than the print dialog I do not have any inside information to offer the OP as to whether or not it is automatic for all other final output functions.

    I can see and control the amount of sharpening in Photoshop and feel confident both using and recommending this as a viable option for output sharpening (which seems to be the original thought process for sharpening).

    I will fully admit that I have not done any conclusive testing to determine whether Aperture runs the sharpening routine on the resized export file after resizing. This would be a great question for the engineers.
  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)
    The world lost a great human when Bruce passed in 2006. I am one of those folks who had huge respect for Bruce Fraser and hung on his every word when he was alive.

    Bruce's books Real World Color Management and Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS were very important to me. Since Bruce's passing the writing of the last three versions has been done by Jeff Schewe. Both authors are true experts and both are intrinsically tied to Adobe. I do not denigrate their expertise (far from it) but do suggest that the five versions of Real World Camera Raw very much lead folks away from non-Adobe solutions.

    Perhaps because PDF has been such a hugely profitable proprietary standard for them, Adobe has expended much subtle as well as non-subtle effort trying to influence the world to adopt ACR as the only ideal for RAW conversion (ignoring the fact that folks like Nikon and Canon keep rapidly evolving digicam algorithms to bring us better pix, and keep those algorithms secret). IMO it is up to us as consumers to look beyond single relatively proprietary-oriented information sources.

    -Allen
  • CorkyO2 Level 4 Level 4 (1,290 points)
    SierraDragon wrote:

    IMO it is up to us as consumers to look beyond single relatively proprietary-oriented information sources.

    -Allen



    I'll agree with that!

    I am a huge fan of Illustrator, but even that has become bloated (a bit off track other than a reference to Adobe here).

    I like Photoshop for the control it offers for many procedures, but would much rather use Aperture for all things camera/scanner image based (if I can). Photoshop is really cumbersome in most ways when compared to the easy global and local options in Aperture (not to mention the obvious organizational features which really are fantastic).

    Aperture - IMO - is a brilliant idea and the way of the future for me (assuming Apple continues advancing it and pushing the envelope for we the consumers). As you say, it is up to us to support the things we like.
  • apple_enthusiast Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    Great discussion. I was trying to participate, but had a keyboard that kept me from typing.

    I rarely send anything to print, and if I did, using photoshop as you both infer or suggest would not be a problem. Output sharpening is not as much of an issue for me.

    It appears from many of the forums that the capture sharpening is likely good enough as is, and with the use of sharpen or edge sharpen.

    When do you use sharpen vs. edge sharpen, or do you use them both? I've learned much about Photoshop sharpening techniques from other forums, but have found very little for Aperture, as has been reflected in some of the responses.
  • CorkyO2 Level 4 Level 4 (1,290 points)
    apple_enthusiast wrote:

    When do you use sharpen vs. edge sharpen, or do you use them both? I've learned much about Photoshop sharpening techniques from other forums, but have found very little for Aperture, as has been reflected in some of the responses.



    For my part (since I did not move fully to Aperture from ACR\PS until version 3) I use the Apple recommended Edge Sharpen if needed to get my base image where I want it for all future work (basically trying to get the look I saw with my eyes to be reflected by the image).

    Note - the recommendation I speak of is at the base of page 573 in the user manual where they indicate that the sharpen adjustment controls are really intended for backwards compatibility with adjustments made in earlier versions - similar situation with the new Retouch vs. the Spot & Patch adjustments (I know! I am guilty of reading the user guide to get my bearings).

    I tend to use the Sharpen quick brush in conjunction with the Blur quick brush for creative sharpening if needed for artistic reasons. Otherwise, I pretty much just use the final adjusted base image in various sizes for use in personal projects.

    I am not a professional photographer and am stuck running a Windows based machine at work with PS, Illustrator and InDesign for publication work - so using Aperture is really fun and refreshing for me.
  • robogobo Level 2 Level 2 (290 points)
    Aperture's sharpening is pathetic, to be honest. Just as its noise reduction is. Since buying into Aperture 3 years ago, I've come to realize a slimy truth that some tools are intentionally underdeveloped so the favored plugin developers can sell their tools that unfortunately defeat the whole purpose of a nondestructive workflow. That I have to make a tif just to go through nr and sharpening is beyond ridiculous when the whole point is to edit in RAW until output. So, with that in mind, I do all my nr (which is limited to chroma) and sharpening (USM) in Photoshop, and just for fun, I print from PS too (oh yeah, printing is terrible in Aperture as well). I'm still left with that nasty tif or psd though, which I can ditch once I'm all done with it.

    After all that, I still love Aperture for what it does well. It's a heck of a DAM tool.
  • apple_enthusiast Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
    After all that, I still love Aperture for what it does well. It's a heck of a DAM tool.
    robogobo wrote:
    some tools are intentionally underdeveloped so the favored plugin developers can sell their tools that unfortunately defeat the whole purpose of a nondestructive workflow.


    I've been wondering the same. Is noise reduction, in particular, that difficult to do when there are now four or five reputable plugin developers for noise reduction? I also don't find myself doing much at all in Photoshop that Aperture couldn't do itself if it did a bit more, such as content-aware fill.

    That said, I realize that Aperture cannot be everything to everyone, and I was blown away with the features in v3. Also, just one plugin necessitates creation of a TIFF. But noise reduction and sharpening are increasingly the part of a majority of photographs. The difference in output between Aperture and plugins, at least for noise reduction, is like the difference between using the RAW exposure controls vs. only contrast on a JPEG.

    To me, the perfect example of a plug-in that should remain as is, is SilverEFX. It's not something everyone wants, and something that will not be used all the time by those who have it, but the depth is great enough that it provides value.
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