What do members think of "Smart Sharpen" in CS2? Is it really an improvement on USM? I have found it difficult to use. It takes forever to sharpen even the smallest sections of 16 bit images. I have used many different sharpening methods, including "high pass, hard light" and PK sharpener (which so many rave about). This latter, with its 3 stages, many layers and files getting ever larger, really does make me lose the will to live. After some 5 years, I am not convinced that I can beat judicious use of USM.
I should certainly be pleased to hear your comments.
It sounds like you perhaps are ready for a new faster computer?
I've found that Smart Sharpen definitely does a great job on the initial raw sharpening step; I find it produces a cleaner initial image than the PK Sharpener Capture Sharpen tool as this tends to introduce artifacts into my master images. (Nik Sharpener Pro Raw Presharpen is excellent in this respect too). Having control over the shadow/highlight and sharpen type (I always use Lens Blur) certainly helps with getting a pretty clean digital image ready for subsequent processing. I think the trick is to be relatively conservative with it and apply just 'enough' sharpening to prepare the image for later creative/output stages.
For creative and output sharpening I find that the PK Sharpen tools are easier to use to produce prints vs. on-screen sharpened images. The creative and output stages are pretty simple to use and not really that slow to use (although I do use a pretty meaty Mac setup).