Rumor has it I'm supposed to know a thing or two about how to use Photoshop. So I want to start by saying that I've used nik Sharpener Pro 1.0 for so long, I have actually forgotten how to sharpen in Photoshop using the Unsharp Mask filter.
As far as I'm concerned, sharpening with USM in Photoshop is akin to trying to take a picture with a dinner plate. So when I was asked to review Sharpener Pro 2.0≠--which meant I would get to see it before anyone else≠≠≠--let's just say I was a bit excited.
First off, Sharpener Pro 2.0 works entirely in 16--bit.
Second, the software allows you to pre--sharpen any image file from any digital camera. This matters because all digital files from all digital cameras need to be pre--sharpened.
It has to do with the way the RAW image data is interpolated from the CCD's array to the selected file format you choose to save in. While it's true that digital cameras offer the pre--sharpen option, if you think you can decide the optimum pre--sharpening by looking at the camera's LCD, then we're back to that dinner plate again.
We know a digital file needs to be pre--sharpened, either in the camera--with the camera's image editing tools, such as Nikon Capture or Canon Digital Photo
Professional, in Photoshop, or now with nik Sharpener 2.0.
The nik Sharpener Pro 2.0 software makes sharpening not just fool--proof, it makes it Vinnie--proof. No calculations or guesstimates for the right radius or amount of sharpening are required. Just select the viewing distance, paper type, and printer resolution in the filterís user interface and the software will do all the heavy calculations and optimize the image.
So you can either sharpen with Unsharp Mask in Photoshop and print out to see if you guessed correctly, or you can use nik Sharpener Pro 2.0, which figures all this out for you, based on selections you made while the image was in the filter.
Sharpen By Color
But what's really whiz bang about the new software is that it lets you sharpen by color!
Take the image of trees in fog (right). Let's say I want to sharpen the leaves, but not the fog. I sample the color of the leaves, set them at different levels of sharpness, select the color of the fog, and completely turn sharpening off for this color.
The results? The fog is not sharpened, even where it overlaps the trees. And the leaves are sharpened, even where they are covered by fog. Wow!
Now consider the image with the purple flower (left, below). Let's say I want to sharpen the purple of the flower, but not the green of the leaves. I just sample the purples, set the sharpening the way I want it, then select the greens and turn off the sharpening.
Oh, then I want to sharpen the whites and blacks, so I select them. Bingo! The image is sharpened how and where I want it to be. Talk about being the ultimate happy camper. . .
It's beyond paradigm shifting how well and how quickly this software accomplishes the task on a global level within a filter. As we know, different levels of sharpness within an image can be used to direct the viewer's attention to specific details within the image. So to have this level of granular control at a global level, well, just pinch me.
It's also great for making people look younger and more attractive by reducing the sharpening applied to skin tones in portraits.