Tag Archives: Unsharp Mask

Sharpening – in camera, in ACR or in Photoshop? (plus the benefit of RAW)

For a while now, I have been unhappy with the artifacts created by the sharpening algorithm in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw), so I thought I should do a comparison of the different places where sharpening can be done.

1. If you shoot JPG in-camera (or RAW+JPG), then some sharpening is applied in the JPG by the camera’s processor.

2. If you shoot RAW, then when you first open the image in Adobe’s ACR, there is a tab which allows you to apply sharpening.

3. Once opened in Photoshop, there are several Filters available for sharpening. My normal choice is Unsharp Mask.

To see the results of each, I set my camera to shoot both RAW and JPG at the same time (normally I only shoot RAW).

Sidenote: On this shot, one of the obvious benefits of shooting RAW is apparent: the sky in the JPG is totally blown out and cannot be recovered. However, with the RAW image, a quick tweak of the Highlights slider and a very subtle gradient and the clouds are rescued.

Firstly, the whole image, downsized to 1296 pixels wide (25% of the original).

a) In-camera


b) ACR Sharpening


c) Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask


And now for 100% centre crops to see any artifacts.

a) In-camera


b) ACR Sharpening


c) Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask


What do you think?