As I am rather naive in the tools available, I have stuck to LR . I am interested in using a better output workflow. Either going with perfect resize and then sharpening with topaz detail OR printing directly through LR using qimAge fusion. I am still unclear on the steps for each workflow-and the considerations necessary to properly choose the right amount of sharpening.
There are several routes one can take to improve the output quality of images coming from LR. It depends on the required results, e.g. large volumes or single masterpieces, which route is to be preferred.
When large volumes are anticipated, or various sizes for the same image, then Qimage is probably the better route because it can do the nesting and resizing automatically and it sharpens after the resizing. All it requires is a high quality TIFF file as input. That file can come from LR, but can first
be improved by using Photoshop (or another host program that can use PS plug-ins) and be treated with Topaz Labs Detail (currently available with a 50% discount) as Creative sharpening tool before Qimage does its work. TL Detail does a much better job than LR when it comes to Creative Sharpening. Horses for courses.
When not using Qimage, the output file needs to be resampled to the Printer's native PPI, i.e. 300/360 PPI or 600/720 PPI, with another application, because the printer driver will otherwise do it, and not very well. One can use dedicated resampling software for better results, e.g. ImageMagick, or PhotoZoom Pro, or Perfect Resize. When you hold back a bit on post resampling sharpening, then TL Detail (with mostly deblur and small detail enhancement) can again be used for that Output Sharpening purpose.
Many references state that you cannot judge output sharpening on the display before printing even if you look at the image at 300% (the scaling necessary to view a 300 dpi image on a 100 dpi screen).
I think that's a bit misleading. Of course at the bloated display size, the sharpening will look different than at the smaller print size. As such it is indeed hard to predict how it will look. However, it's not that difficult to learn how that enlarged sharpening result will translate to the print. It's called experience.
When applying output sharpening, one mostly attempts to counteract the blur caused by resampling to the output size, and add a bit extra to compensate for additional losses that have yet to occur, as a result of the printing process and medium used. As it happens, all that's required is good quality sharpening at the smallest detail levels, so it becomes a simple job of adding enough halo artifact free sharpness and contrast to the already resized micro-contrast. Because we often up-sample before output sharpening, it should be relatively easy to see how far we can go before the detail starts to look obviously weird.