Using Smart Sharpen

If you are accustomed to using the Unsharp Mask filter, the new Smart Sharpen filter will fit right into your workflow and will probably replace the Unsharp Mask in no time at all. Whereas Unsharp Mask has very few controls, Smart Sharpen has controls for reducing halos as well as removing motion blur, Gaussian blur, and lens blur. Furthermore, it has the option to save the current settings and apply them in a future sharpening session.

To use Smart Sharpen, take the following steps:

1. If the image contains noise, use the Reduce Noise filter to decrease it as much as possible. View the image at 100% magnification (View^ Actual Pixels) so that you are not viewing cached data (see the section about the Unsharp Mask filter earlier in the chapter for viewing tips).

2. Choose Filter^ Sharpen^ Smart Sharpen (Figure 11-23).

3. Set the Radius by dragging the slider or entering a value in the text field. The Radius defines the width of the halo around the edge.

4. Set the Amount by dragging the slider or entering a value in the text field. The Amount defines the intensity of the halo around the edge.

5. Choose an item from the Remove pop-up menu. You can choose between Gaussian Blur, Lens Blur, and Motion Blue algorithms. Gaussian Blur is faster, Lens Blur takes up more CPU time but produces a better result in most cases because it has better edge detection and a more subtle application, and Motion Blur tries to eradicate blur caused by subject or camera movement. If you select Motion Blur, enter an angle in the text field for the blur direction or click the clock face.

6. Select More Accurate to perform multiple iterations of the filter (not recommended on noisy images).

7. If you see unsightly halos, select the Advanced radio button and then click either the Shadow or the Highlight tab, depending on which halos you want to reduce.

8. Specify a Tonal Width to tell Smart Sharpen which tones that make up the halo you wish to affect. Smaller values restrict the fade to the darkest or lightest parts that make up the halo. Likewise, specify a Radius value to set the scale of the correction.

9. Specify a value for Fade Amount; this is similar to the Amount slider under the Sharpen tab except that it fades the effect rather than increases it.

10. Click the OK button to exit or the Save button by the Settings pop-up menu before you exit. After a custom setting has been saved, you can select it from the pop-up menu in the current or future editing sessions.

Figure 11-23: Choosing Lens Blur in the Smart Sharpen dialog box; opened in Advanced view.

If you are used to Unsharp Mask, you might find that you can achieve better results using smaller Amount and Radius settings.

TIP Because the sharpening process increases contrast, you should use it before setting the shadow and highlight end points when optimizing images for output to an offset printer.

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