Magazine Article


Sharpen It Up!


Professional photographers looking for an easy way to make their images as sharp as a tack without the usual distortion, will love the amazing sharpening capabilities of the nik Sharpener Pro. This plug-in filter from the TECHnik Group had been sitting on the floor of my studio for weeks, but due to a busy travel schedule I couldn't find the time to try it out. When I finally tested it I realized that this powerful filter is going to save me loads of time in the future.

Easy To Use One of the first things that struck me about the program was its ease of use. Installing nik Sharpener Pro is simple, and the filter works equally well on Macintosh and Windows-based computers. After installation, I went directly into Adobe Photoshop 6.0 and selected some really soft images I had problems with a few months ago. When testing software, I usually avoid reading the manuals at first so I can get a better idea of how intuitive the user interface is. Of course, I'll always refer to the manual later because it's packed with helpful information on the tools as well as great technical advice on how the software works. In the image I was working on, the model's skin was very soft. The clients who sent us the job had requested that we add texture back into her face. Before the Sharpener Pro filter, this sort of request usually entailed a long and involved process. But this time we got the results the client wanted on the first try. Very cool! The program's sharpening is based on different levels of image detail. The software works well on many different types of source images such as middle- and large- format slides and transparencies, digital camera images, as well as scanned images. The "low-end," "mid-range," and "high-end" settings indicate the pixel-range resolution of images from a digital camera. Similar settings for scanners provide a source quality setting for scans taken from low- to high-end scanners. The nik Sharpener Pro offers individual calculation engines for inkjet, offset printing, web, and laser printers. The controls let you change features quickly with easy-to-use sliders and a zoom allows you to preview your adjustments.

Before using the Nik Sharpener Pro (top) and after, in a matter of minutes, the filter program helped recover the details in this pizza man's face.

Amazing Results As you can see, on page 55, we tested the filter program on an image of a 96-year-old pizza man, taken at the San Genaro Festival in New York City. We wanted to find out how well the software could distinguish sharpening without adding too much contrast and pixel noise. As you can see, the results were amazing. The details in the man's hair and the texture in his skin came out beautifully crisp with virtually no excess contrast or pixel noise. I highly recommend that any professional photographer who works in digital imaging purchase this filter. It will pay for itself on the very first job. I really should have opened the box sooner because this is the best filter I have used in Photoshop. And considering I've been using Photoshop since its inception, that's saying a lot.

Nik Color Efex Pro The TECHnik Group has several other filters, including the nikColor Efex Pro, which offers professional color, light, stylizing tools. The software contains a complete set of filters for enhancing and transforming images. The 55 filters were specifically developed for photography and graphic design professionals. Nik Color Efex Pro incorporates features that mimic conventional darkroom and stylizing effects. All TECHnik filters let the user work in CMYK, Lab, and RGB modes with advanced, proprietary color treatments. Both TECHnik programs require that your computer be equipped with the following software: Adobe Photoshop 4.0 or later, Corel PHOTO-Paint 8.0 or later, Jasc Paintshop Pro 5.0 and later, and Ulead PhotoImpact 4.2 and later. The nik Sharpener Pro retails for $329.95; the nikColor Efex Pro, for $299.95. You can order either of these programs through: TECHnik - USA, The TECHnik Group 2615, Camino del Rio South, Suite 110, San Diego, CA 92108. Tel: (619) 725-3150, fax: (619) 725-3151, or log on to

Helene DeLillo works for high-profile clients in the fashion, cosmetic, and entertainment industries. Her company, Dancing Icon Inc. in New York City, provides digital imaging and digital photography studio consulting services for companies such as Pier 59 Studios, Sothebys.Com, McCann Erickson, and Eastman Kodak.

As an expert in digital photography and imaging, her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Time Digital. She lectures internationally on digital imaging and digital photography at The International Center of Photography, Seybold Seminars, Photo Expo, and MacWorld. She will be presenting at the PPA Imaging Conference, and FotoFusion, January 23-27, 2001, in Palm Beach, Florida ( You can reach Helene DeLillo via her company Dancing Icon at (800) 626-0817 or via email at