Raw PreSharpening vs Output Sharpening

The Nik stuff built into PL3 has two sharpening plugins, one Raw Pre-Sharpening and the other Output Sharpening. Beyond what I assume to be the obvious (Raw Pre-Sharpening is for sharpening raw images before further processing and Output Sharpening is for sharpening image before export) what is the difference between them?

That is, what does pre-sharpening do that is different from what post-sharpening does? What is the difference between sharpening raw images vs tiff? What is the difference between the Nik modules and the USM sharpening already in PL3? Or the Lens Sharpness module? Or the sharpening in the local adjustments?

I looked for some manual on DxO’s site and came across this page.
According to this page, the pre-sharpener might interfere with sharpening settings of the camera… Anyway, most info deal with the sharpening tool as it were one, while it consists of two different things with different scopes. This might deserve some extra effort on the support page. Also, the name “raw pre-sharpening” is a bit misleading because it cannot be applied to raws …

I saw that statement but don’t really understand how it applies to raw images as they are just raw data with no sharpening applied.

Yes. That is something else. The module is called raw pre-sharpening but PL creates a tiff and sends that to the module. I assume the idea is that the tiff has no sharpening already applied but it does seem to me to be misleading and it still does not tell me what, if any, the differences are in how the sharpening is handled.

It is all quite confusing to me.

indeed, but check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HODCTN07uHE and then watch the other video about output sharpening too. I find them to be helpful in the way that they describe the particular features and reasons for use.

There’s a good video here, presented by Anthony Morganti … explaining how the tool works.

Yes, and as Anthony points out (in video listed above) it doesn’t make sense to do “pre-sharpening” because, in order to send the image to the Nik pre-sharpening tool PhotoLab (or LR, etc) must first convert the RAW file to a TIFF file (at best!) - and by doing so a lot of the benefits of having a RAW file to work with in the first place are lost (such as “expanded luminance levels, extra colour depth, etc” and ability to adjust White Balance, etc).

I reckon this is just one of those tools that we, as lucky/smug PhotoLab users, can happily ignore altogether.

Anthony also has a video explaining output sharpening. The main point of this tool is that it provides for different sharpening approaches depending on the intention one has for the image: eg. Posting to a web-page, displaying on a HD screen, printing to paper, etc.

Again, tho, it looks to me like something that LR users might use - - 'cos it does not have the “intelligent” sharpening capabilities that we take for granted with PhotoLab (via the Optics Module PL uses for each {body+lens} combination).

John M

1 Like

Yes. Thank you. That was really helpful.

I had been playing around with the PreSharpener but had never realized that there was a color range selection that I could use to control where the sharpening got applied. I tried this on one of my images and was very pleased with the result.