Originally Posted by mkphotovideo
Something has been bothering me lately....Is it necessary or even desirable to sharpen every image to some degree or is this more a personal preference than a necessity...I am aware of the difference between what is seen on a monitor and how it prints...
Also, if sharpening is always desirable....is there another way besides using the "Unsharp Mask" mode?
Well, yeah... it's gotta be a personal preference because, after all, it IS optional!
But, from what I've seen and heard, all digital cameras seem to produce images that can benefit from sharpening, some more than others. And, while cameras have in-camera sharpening routines built in, a lot of RAW shooters have found that shooting with in-camera sharpening set to OFF, and then using some post-processing software to sharpen the RAW image, seems to work out better.
I generally sharpen everything to at least the "normal" level (I shoot a Nikon D100 using RAW 99% of the time - In-camera sharpening set to OFF - and I import the NEF's into Nikon's CAPTURE software, and do whatever color balance, exposure compensation, and sharpening in that software. Then, when I've got the images looking pretty close, I may import them into Photoshop to finish up.
As far as ways to sharpen an image, the latest version of Photoshop (CS2) has several ways to sharpen, but USM (unsharp masking) seems to work about as well as any of them, for me.
And, even when I want a "softer" image or a glow, I'll sharpen because I want the underlying image to be sharp - otherwise it just looks like an out-of-focus image instead of doing something on purpose.
For example, here's Stephanie