Fine Art America - Art - Prints - Canvas Prints - Framed Prints - Metal Prints - Acrylic Prints

Every purchase includes a money-back guarantee.








Fine Art Discussions

Keyword Search  | Main Menu

Search Discussions


Ouput Sharpening

Posted by: Nature's Details on 05/14/2013 - 6:30 PM

I am a little confused by this. Do the FAA printers add sharpening to the image, prior to the file going to the plotter. I do some sharpening in ACR when processing and then a little more in Photoshop if required. But this is more for viewing on-screen and is not what I would consider "output sharpening". (I guess in a way it is out-put sharpening for viewing on a monitor).

It is impossible to add "output sharpening" to our images for printing, prior to uploading to FAA, because every media type and size, requires different sharpening. We would have to upload a different version of each image, for every size and media type offered. I have read on other threads, that the FAA printers do "nothing" to the image.

The reason I bring this up:

Today I had some prints done at the local Costco (lab prints). I sharpened the way I normally would and thought everything looked great. I am testing out the Costco equipment, so I had one print done with "Auto Corrections" and one done with "No Corrections". I was not happy with the change in colour for the corrected version, but the sharpening was MUCH better. The in-focus areas, popped! The non corrected print, was great for colour and brightness which means my screen is decently calibrated, but it was not sharpened enough. I know that in Lightroom, there is an option while "exporting" to add sharpening based on media type (matte / gloss paper). I may try this next time.


Does anyone have a proven workflow, that helps with "Output Sharpening"? I have a great script that makes it easy to sharpen for "SCREEN", but I am struggling with sharpening for "PRINT".


"Tiny by Nature"


Oldest Reply

Posted by: Paul Cowan on 05/14/2013 - 9:00 PM

As I understand it, the printers will apply necessary output sharpening.
I think the main issue is that a lot of people who are not to clued in to printing might be inclined to sharpen quite severely what they see in a fit-to-screen view. If they upload that and it sells as a 40 inch wide print the sharpening artefacts will be blown up to a horrible degree. Remember, most images will already have in-camera sharpening applied before they are even viewed on screen.
My approach is generally to apply a tiny bit of sharpening in the 100% view, but nothing that creates a halo or visible sharpening edges. My normal sharpening of a completely unsharpened image would be something like 160/0.3/0


Posted by: Dean Harte on 05/14/2013 - 9:21 PM

The printer will apply output sharpening if needed.


Posted by: Jane McIlroy on 05/15/2013 - 4:24 AM

I turn off in-camera sharpening completely and set ACR sharpening to zero. I make whatever adjustments are necessary in ACR and then open the image in Photoshop for further processing. Any sharpening I need is done as a very last step, at 100%, and always on a separate layer so I can return to the image at a later date if I see something I want to improve.

After that, it's over to FAA's printers. I'm not a printing expert, so I happily leave it to them to add whatever extra is needed to make a good print.


Posted by: Bradford Martin on 05/15/2013 - 9:36 AM

Glad this was brought up as I have heard they do nothing. My workflow has been no sharpening at any stage and just a little before printing, applied after re-sizing. Everything I upload for stock has absolutely no sharpening. It is assumed that it will get sharpened according to use. So when i started here I just uploaded those same images and made plenty of sales on them. I never saw the point in sharpening, the printer has to determine that after re-sizing. Now I add a small amount of sharpening when I process for FAA. Not sure why I do it. Maybe it helps in the preview. I really think this should be spelled out when you sign up.


Posted by: Chris Kusik on 05/15/2013 - 10:38 AM

I agree with Branford. With few exceptions I do not sharpen. I learned when I began printing my own images that sharpening is the last step before printing. It is based on the size
of the print. You can really mess up a print by sharpening in advance.


Posted by: Catherine Fenner on 05/17/2013 - 9:03 PM

I sharpen.


Posted by: Steven Ralser on 05/17/2013 - 11:48 PM

I sharpen. If you read Bruce Frazers book, you will see that sharpening is multi step process. If you use Lightroom, and use RAW images sharpening is an essential part of th e workflow. All RAW images need to be sharpened. This is what the detail panel is for in LR. Consider it to be input sharpening. There are 2 defaults scenic and portrait; these are good starting points but most image send to be sharpened more (this is from Jeff Schewe, who consulted with Adobe about sharpening in LR). You can also do some localized sharpening.
Of course everything is different if you start with jpg files; they already have sharpening applied.

Then images need to be sharpened for output, again with LR room this has been simplified to matte and glossy. Matte papers need more sharpening then glossy papers (the ink will spread more with matte paper). The amount of output sharpening also depends on the size of the image. FAA must be doing output sharpening. When you export a file from LR you have an option of sharpening for screen, glossy or matte paper. It would be nice to know what option I should select for my files.


Posted by: Amy Weiss on 05/18/2013 - 1:53 AM

It was my understanding that sharpening wasn't a part of the printing process. How confusing! I always add a bit of sharpening to my images... a POD should print a file as is, not according to their determination.


Posted by: Jane McIlroy on 05/18/2013 - 2:08 AM

I'd agree that all RAW images need to be sharpened, i.e. they're too soft to print straight from the camera. However, I've found by experience that even the least amount of sharpening in ACR creates artifacts in the form of a 1 pixel wide black line along high contrast edges, which persists through any second-stage processing and has to be removed manually later on. On the other hand, a single application of sharpening at the final stage of processing can be controlled so as to avoid this unwanted effect.

I believe FAA applies extra output sharpening IF REQUIRED. This suits me fine. I can submit images that are sharp enough to look crisp on screen, for the benefit of the viewer, and let FAA's printers decide if any more is needed for them to look good in print.


Posted by: Chris Kusik on 05/18/2013 - 12:25 PM

Admittedly I don't work with raw images that much as I work primarily with negative scans. When I do shoot digital I use raw but I don't sharpen that much if any. I do mostly color and
exposure adjustments. Any trade publication will tell you that sharpening is the last step before printing as it varies with output (print size). This image was processed in raw with no

Art Prints


Posted by: Chris Kusik on 05/18/2013 - 12:25 PM

Admittedly I don't work with raw images that much as I work primarily with negative scans. When I do shoot digital I use raw but I don't sharpen that much if any. I do mostly color and
exposure adjustments. Any trade publication will tell you that sharpening is the last step before printing as it varies with output (print size). This image was processed in raw with no

Art Prints


Posted by: John Ayo on 05/18/2013 - 3:28 PM

There's sharpening and then there's sharpening,

My current favorite method is deconvolution. There is more than one program offering it, and from what I've seen they all do it a little different in terms of user controls. Basically, it does a mathematical reversal of the blur caused by flaws & design compromises in the optics, or camera motion. Theoretically it can do so near-perfectly if it has the right data about your particular lens, iris, etc. In practice you're mostly doing blind deconvolution which makes an educated guess at the blur matrix and does a reversal based on that.

I've seen it pull details out of an image that were all but invisible before.


Posted by: Nature's Details on 05/18/2013 - 3:32 PM

@ John,

That is so cool! I will give it a deeper read later this evening!! Is this method of sharpening, more for digital display or printing? Can it be useful for both?

Thank you.


Posted by: John Ayo on 05/18/2013 - 4:48 PM

I suppose it would be as useful for both as a better, sharper-focusing lens would.


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 05/19/2013 - 4:42 AM

Surely there is a fundamental difference between deconvolution and sharpening? Deconvolution is about correcting distortions, such as the aberrations that cause the three different colour channels not to fall precisely on top of each other. Correcting that actually improves the image. Sharpening with USM or high pass filters alters edge contrast and creates artificial edges which actually degrades the image.
Deconvolution increases image quality, so you can't have too much of it, sharpening degrades image quality creating an illusion of sharpness and so has to be done with care.


Posted by: Gregory Scott on 05/19/2013 - 5:32 AM

It is interesting to note that "deconvolution" can work best when you have the actual lens to get data on the imperfection of that specific lens. This is done with spy satellite cameras, scientific imaging, and for optimal detail from surveillance cameras. It is the closest actual thing to the fictitious image sharpening you see on CSI tv shows.


Posted by: Jane McIlroy on 05/19/2013 - 5:50 AM

I read the links John posted above, and they seemed to indicate that deconvolution could also be used on blur caused by movement of the camera or subject. That wouldn't be lens-specific, but would be very useful if it really did work. Does anybody here have first-hand experience of using one of these programs, and if so, which one?


Posted by: David Schrader on 06/03/2013 - 7:57 PM

New member here...

This is an important topic for those of us who are familiar with working in Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw, so I submitted the following question to FAA:

"There is a current discussion regarding the necessity of sharpening image files prior to uploading. I would imagine that the FAA printers must employ some type of post-sharpening to each uploaded image file dependent on the final output size and substrate. I would greatly appreciate it if you could confirm this for me. Also, your recommendations regarding the application of post-sharpening to image files (do it/don't do it) would make a good topic for your FAQ database. Any information will be greatly appreciated."

If I get an answer from FAA, I'll be sure to post it here. I'd be willing to bet that some type of post-sharpening for different sizes and papers/substrates must be done. Also, if this is true, then it's almost certainly performed by an automated script. I think this is very important information to know for those of us doing our own sharpening. For the record, I do apply some "pre-sharpening" in ACR. After final edits in both ACR and Photoshop, I use Photokit Sharpener 2 by Pixel Genius for output sharpening when making my own prints. It's a great little program.


Posted by: David Schrader on 06/04/2013 - 1:34 PM

Here's the reply I received from FAA:


You only sharpen if your image quality demands it per image. If the image does not need sharpening then you do not need to sharpen. Do not sharpen just for printing. Sharpen only if the quality of your image editing demands it

Hope that makes sense

Abbie Shores
Technical Support"


This discussion is closed.