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Author Topic: Input sharpening, what to use now? (C1,fm,ai clear, ai sharpen, or what)?  (Read 1200 times)

Steve Gordon

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Now there are a plethora of input sharpen options for taking a C1 image into PS including the C1 sharpening, focus magic, ai clear, ai sharpen, as well as the old standards like PK sharpener and the other 3rd party products like Nik and the other standalone Topaz products.

So I dont know which way to turn. Have been using ai clear recently which works well on some images but not all.

Would like a 1 stop shop!

Advice much appreciated!
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Mike Dale

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I知 surprised nobody has chimed in for this question.

I知 currently  starting in C1 using the built in preset for Capture Sharpening. For noise reduction I知 using AI Clear which is excellent. I知 currently trialing the Sharpening AI but I知 not buying it in its current form as it痴 ridiculously slow on my D850 files.
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Now there are a plethora of input sharpen options for taking a C1 image into PS including the C1 sharpening, focus magic, ai clear, ai sharpen, as well as the old standards like PK sharpener and the other 3rd party products like Nik and the other standalone Topaz products.

So I dont know which way to turn. Have been using ai clear recently which works well on some images but not all.

Would like a 1 stop shop!

Advice much appreciated!

Hi Steve,

It may depend a little on your images, but I'm gradually switching From FocusMagic to Topaz Sharpen AI. One of the reasons is that Sharpen AI not only sharpens fine detail, but is also offers a Stabilize mode. I try shooting from tripod whenever possible, or with Image Stabilization if shooting handheld and the lens offers that option, but subtle subject-motion may be erratic in a single image. Focusmagic can handle linear motion, but Sharpen AI seems to correct different directions in one pass.

Attached a crop from an old test image that was shot at the optimum aperture for the lens, but the leaves wriggle in all directions due to wind. It was at the time converted with an old version of Capture One. Sharpen AI in Stabilize mode seems to have hardly any issues with it.

Cheers,
Bart
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Steve Gordon

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Thanks Bart

I got Topaz Sharpen AI last night and a few trials looked impressive.

Just have to work out now how to integrate into my workflow particularly noise reduction.
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Mike Dale

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Bart, may I ask what your workflow usually is with C1 and Sharpen AI and if you introduce AI Clear into the mix?
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Bart, may I ask what your workflow usually is with C1 and Sharpen AI and if you introduce AI Clear into the mix?

Hi Mike,

I use some default sharpening settings in C1 which helps to judge if critical-focus is achieved, but in the TIFF export recipe, I have sharpening deliberately disabled. The unsharpened TIFF output is then loaded in an image editor. I usually duplicate that layer and then sharpen that.

Until recently, I used Focusmagic for deconvolution Capture Sharpening of that layer, but now I'm starting to use Sharpen AI more often. Sharpen AI can be used as a plugin in Photoshop or Affinity Photo. I then usually switch that sharpened layer to Luminosity blending. That also works very well with Sharpen AI in Sharpen mode (not always optimal in Stabilize mode though).

Cheers,
Bart
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Mike Dale

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Thanks Bart.  :)
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julianv

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I知 currently trialing the Sharpening AI but I知 not buying it in its current form as it痴 ridiculously slow on my D850 files.

That might be an understatement.  After reading Bart's favorable comments, I started a trial of Topaz Sharpen AI.  Some of the results I am seeing are quite impressive.  I thought my late 2014 Retina iMac, running Sierra 10.12.6, would still be considered a reasonably fast computer (SSD, 4 GHz Intel Core i7 with 32GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M295X with 4GB VRAM).  But I am really disappointed by how long it takes to process a D850 tiff.  We are talking "go get a cup of coffee" for one file.  Maybe even "go get a cup of coffee and make yourself some lunch".

What kind of performance are other people seeing on newer computers?
« Last Edit: March 16, 2019, 04:20:47 am by julianv »
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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For those who feel that Sharpen AI is slow, they are correct. But let me remind you that development of better and maybe(!) faster, well-trained models is something that the folks at TopazLabs are working on, it's just that that too is a very slow laborious process, as anybody with some experience in Neural networks and AI knows, especially when images are involved.

We usually take it for granted, but Human vision (most of which takes place in our brains) has evolved to solve complex tasks in a split second. Computers are not there yet, for quite some time. So when the computer/software makes a mistake, we can often spot easily.

The reason that I'm optimistic is that TopazLabs have shown a dedication to improving the performance (quality and speed). Another thing is that I'm participating in some of the beta trials, and I know that there are better (in various aspects) versions of some of these AI products being worked on as we speak, and serious progress is being made.

Will Sharpen AI be fast in the future? I doubt it, given the need for millions of calculations per pixel. It will take much faster hardware than we use today, and maybe some more optimizations of the software will also help a bit. But quality should not suffer too much if any.

So who knows, maybe we'll end up with being offered a choice, between faster results or better quality. I'd place my bets on higher quality, otherwise, there would be no use for such products anyway ...

Cheers,
Bart
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jedbest

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Bart,

Do you have any suggestions for starting values of the three sliders and formsharpening, focus and stabilize. I know I am asking for a large amount of advice but cannot seem to find any article with suggested values except what Topaz has as default.

Thank you.

Jed
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Bart_van_der_Wolf

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Bart,

Do you have any suggestions for starting values of the three sliders and formsharpening, focus and stabilize. I know I am asking for a large amount of advice but cannot seem to find any article with suggested values except what Topaz has as default.

Hi Jed,

There is no best default.

The optimal values differ mostly with one's input image quality. Personally, for certain types of work like architecture, or product photography, I'm mostly shooting from tripod and use magnified Live View for focusing. In such cases, one can assume that "Sharpen" is the best mode to use because there won't be 'defocus' involved, and the chance of subject motion is minimal, and camera shake should be zero.

When shooting action, subject motion and or "Defocus" is likely, even at high shutter speed. If some subject motion adds to the sensation of a dynamic situation, then "Stabilize" would not be the best starting point, but "Focus" could be. But if the AF nailed the focus, and there is still some residual overall motion blur or camera shake, the "Stabilize" would be worthwhile as a first attempt.

The best amount setting to choose depends on the amount of blur in the original image that we're faced with, and which we need to match with the right model strength.

In my experience, it helps to learn to judge what is required by starting at 0 (which already does a bit of sharpening). Then try 10, 20, 30, etc. Zooming in to 400% helps to see minute changes, and because a smaller Region of Interest is chosen, the calculations will be a bit quicker. Usually, at 20 I already see a significant difference, and if I do, then 30 or 40 might already be too much (not much sharper but more artifacts can start to develop). In other cases, it may take 60 or 70 to see a noticeable impact. You'll gain experience as you try that more often.

By now I can often see (on my own images) approximately where the better starting point lies, without having to slowly hone in on the IMHO optimal value. But when faced with someone else's images, I may need to start searching again, because the different lenses and shooting technique pose a different challenge to solve.

Another thing to keep in mind is that better AI models are still being trained, so the software may behave a bit different with certain images after a new update is released. More functionality is also being added, so when we might have learned to be a bit more conservative in the amounts chosen, in order to avoid artifacts, we may need to go further, or less far, before that happens on a new version. One potential area of needed improvement is with very small text in images. I assume that only a relatively few images with text have been used to train the AI models. That may be a good thing to avoid random structures being replaced by text where there is none...

So again, values of 30 to 60 are more commonly required on my images, but on other images it may be different. However, it is also important to keep in mind that we are applying Capture Sharpening here, and we only should restore Capture process losses back to fine focus. Sharpening for output is another next step, with other tools (like e.g. Topaz Precision Detail).

Cheers,
Bart
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jedbest

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Thank you very much.

Jed
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