How to get sharp pictures… pt 2

… continued…

The next part of sharpening is actually done outside the camera. The sharpening of an image is a vital part of post processing, which quite a number of people neglect before showing off the final version of the image.

For the purpose of this sharing, I will use CS5 as the editing tool to show this. Also I will share the method I use to share photos over the internet, in other words the final print will be in the dimension of 720×480 at 72dpi. Most of my output is around the 6×4 size format.

Once you have downloaded the image from your camera to the computer, open it with CS5 & do the necessary editing that is required. Once you have satisfied with the final image it is time to resize it.


1. Click on Image > Image size. Or alternatively you can press ctrl-alt-I as a short cut.

2. Under Resolution, change this to 72 pixels/inch.

3. Under Width (if this is a portrait shot, then select Height instead), change the value to 720 pixels.

4. Click OK.

At this time, the photo will be rendered to a really small size which can be hard to see. You will need to zoom it up to 100% crop size. To do this, press ctrl-alt-0 (0 as in zero). This will zoom automatically to actual pixel size.

This is a cool short cut to remember especially when you are editing the actual size photo & you need to see 100% crop to check things like details, noise or sharpness.

We are almost there but not quite yet.

If you are posting on Flickr or any other site which does not compress your image further, you can skip to the sharpening part. But if you are posting on Facebook, you will need this one extra step.

Additional step if uploading to Facebook

Click Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast

When the Brightness/Contrast window comes up, select Brightness & alter the 0 value to 10.

The reason I do this is because photos uploaded to Facebook tend to boost up contrast at the expense of brightness. So all I am doing is actually compensating for this change.


1. Click on Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen (before CS4 we would have been using Unsharp Mask, but since CS4 & after, use Smart Sharpen)

2. Make sure Preview is checked

3. Select Lens Blur under the setting Remove.

4. For Amount select 150%

5. For Radius select 0.1 px

At this point, if you left click on the image in the Smart Sharpen window, you will see the before… & if you remove your left click, it will preview the image as after. With the settings I just recommended, you should see a distinct difference between the before & the after. Make changes to the Amount or Radius to suit your tastes & your intentions. I normally stick to 0.1 px radius for all my 720x? output & use either 100% or 150% depending on how much sharpening I require. Generally for portraits, I use 100% for a slightly less sharp finish. Anything else is usually 150%.

6. Once you are satisfied, hit OK

At this point you can still compare the before & after by pressing alternately ctrl-Z.

I’ve posted both products, before (the first photo) & after (the second photo) below. Notice even the colors are more vibrant in the second photo. I didn’t turn up any color saturation, this is purely the sharpening effect.

What’s scary about this is that, if you look closely to the two photos, you’ll see that the sharpened photo seem to contain detail that was NOT available in the original photo in the first place!!! Crazy ass eh? That’s why this is called Smart Sharpen… muahahahaha!


11 responses to “How to get sharp pictures… pt 2”

  1. Sunsun says :

    “you’ll see that the sharpened photo seem to contain detail that was NOT available in the original photo in the first place!!! ”
    Gees…This is like trying to solve out the Jigsaw Puzzle.. but I still couldn’t find what’s the NOT originally available spot..I can see the changes in the objects which turns up to be very sharp and 3D.. but couldn’t find whatelse are added after the sharpening effects.

  2. Sunsun says :

    wow. you “Yum” me ah…Mou Yum Gong LOL.. in cantonnese..

  3. chaie says :

    why resizing the picture is very important to make the picture sharp??

    • Adrien says :

      When you share a photo on the internet, the web page is usually much smaller than the images from your digital camera. An 18MP image’s resolution is 5184 x 3456 so there is no way to display such a large image on a web page if you want to view the complete image on one page. Usually we resize to something a little more manageable like in this case 720 x 480. If you don’t resize it, sometimes the website will resize the image to something smaller & you don’t want it to do that because you will loose sharpness.

  4. Ashley says :

    We now know resizing or saving file to JPG conversion, antiliasing which occur thus sharpening is best to be done last step only.

    From the blog, i know that after resizing we will apply smart shapen. But then what about the part save to JPG, do we apply the sharpening again? or do it only after Resize >> Save to JPG >> then finally sharpen the final JPG?

    • Adrien says :

      I’m not sure I understand your question completely.

      You should only apply sharpening on your final image you wish to display. If you want to resize to 720×480 for web content, you perform the sharpening after you resize the image to 720×480… not before.

  5. Ashley says :

    Q1) Support this is my workflow

    Open RAW, work in NEF file format,
    Finished Edit final Image then Resize,
    “Sharpen here?”
    Save to JPG
    “Sharpen Here?” after save to JPG?

    Q2) If i save in TIFF/PNG no data loss then i no need to sharpen after save from RAW NEF to TIFF/PNG right?

    • Adrien says :

      Don’t really understand. Why would you sharpen an image if you’re not going to save it? You’ll need to save your file after sharpening of course, otherwise why sharpen at all?

      Sharpening has nothing to do with the file type. Sharpening (in the context of this article) is meant to eliminate softness that is a result of resizing an image. The moment you resize an image, you’ll need to sharpen it… unless of course your intention is to create a final image that is meant to be soft.

%d bloggers like this: