Sharpening with PL4

Typically, after applying Lens Sharpness settings, as determined by the Optics Module for my [body+lens} combo, I apply output-sharpening via the Bicubic sharper interpolation method (as part of the Export to Disk process) … which I find quite effective (compared with the “mushy” affect produced via the straight Bicubic or Bilinear method.).

Recently, however, I took some shots at a lavender farm, with most of the images completely filled will spikey lavender stalks … and the result via the Bicubic sharper interpolation method is much too sharp (for my liking).

Given we cannot control the amount/degree of output-sharpening applied by PL4 - does anyone have any suggestions on how to better handle such situations.

Perhaps the basis for a PL4 feature request ?

John M

True, Greg - but that’s an extra step … and, as I’ve found with some experimentation using Sharpener Pro Output; it’s a very hit-&-miss type process - - as I still need to apply some type of interpolation (in order to resample to a smaller JPG size) … so, it’s then matter of comparing results from Bicubic Sharper versus just Bicubic - and/or trying different degrees of sharpening with Sharpener Pro … It’s all rather tedious !


Good tip, Greg … I’m finding -1.5 for Global to be pleasingly effective - and much better than fiddling around with Nik Sharpener.


Hi John,
you might know, that resize / resampling (part of Export to Disk process) via

  1. < bilinear > interpolates / adds pixels and you might more or less end with softer results
  2. < bicubic > cares for smooth gradiants / normal contrast
  3. < bicubic sharper > is commonly used for downsampling (only)

And as you experienced, with high contrast pics / details + bicubic sharpener you most likely end with ‘over sharpening’. – Now, that depends on the purpose of your photo.

Output-sharpening for screen is ‘easy’ in that way, as at least you see (can control) the output on your screen. Same is true when reducing pic size for web purposes, which demands different setting.

[In the past, when running pages for a local photo club, I had to handle all kinds of photos / profiles. Depending on the contrast, basic sharpness and size of the available pictures, I used to resize them to exactly fit the page for maximum sharpness and sharpened with Nik output sharpener (Adaptive / 20%) if necessary (PS batch mode), otherwise just left them without any additional sharpening.]
– Well, it’s an extra step …
In PL I would suggest to experiment with a virtual copy and export from there, in case you don’t want to make use of Nik Output sharpener.

Output- sharpening for printing is a completely different story.
For Inkjet print (now Epson P800) I still don’t use PL for different reasons. – The file, already been resized to the exact output size and specially treated to match the specific paper (full softproof) will get a final output sharpening with Nik output sharpener with these settings
– viewing distance = automatic (sharpening according to output size)
– paper type = glossy (always, also when using matte paper)
– printer resolution = 1440 dpI (always, fits glossy and matte paper)
– output sharpening 100%
– everything else 0%

For printshop printing you will have to experiment.

important note: any creative sharpening (Local Contrast etc.) has been applied before printing

Hope this extended version is not too boring. Have fun, Wolfgang


There are already some open feature requests for this, John. Hopefully, enough interest to lead to improvements soon.

Search results for ‘output sharpening #dxo-photolab:feature-requests’ - DxO Forums


Hi @John-M

Please have a look at this one:

1 Like

Thank you Wolfgang for a good lecture for me about sharpening as such! I really understand better how to do the job on every individual picture.

I am also novice about using NIK and the sharpening’s there. If I have - say - 20 images similar to be sharpened the same way, I have to make the adjustments individually for each and not only for the first one and then copy the sharpening adjustments to apply to all 20 pictures. Am I right with that?


Nik Output Sharpener

As explained → Batch processing in NIK,
I use Nik Output Sharpener mostly for prints.

The individual creative “sharpening” is done per pic with global and / or local settings within PhotoLab,
but no more with Sharpener Pro.

I doubt you could do “batch processing” with Nik Sharpener.
The screenshot shows my presets for output sharpening

  • Anzeige 20%
  • Epson P 800 Druck (highlighted = showing below the equivalent custom settings)

a side note (just in case you read about)
In PhotoLab, the profile for a recognized camera + lens combination takes care for the so-called presharpening and therefore one does not apply the Nik PreSharpener anymore. – In case there is no profile for your combination, you can apply distortion, vignetting and global (pre)sharpening manually.

I have 2 Full Frame EF lenses that I use on my Canon M50 (APS-C) with a Canon Adaptor. Even though DXO has the lenses in their database apparently they don’t recognize the combination. In PL5 Customize/Detail it does not show Lens Sharpness. So how can I do it manually"? Or did you mean in that case to use NIK? I own Topaz Sharpener AI but would prefer to stay within PL.

Thanks, Rod

When your camera + lens combination isn’t recognized, you can use PL’s Unsharp Mask tool.

Screen Shot 11-04-21 at 11.34 AM

Thanks Wolfgang. I saw that but thought it was a different type of sharpening than what the automatic one does. If I properly adjust it do you know if it will do as good of a job?

Hi Rod,
it all depends what and how you want to.

  • PhotoLab works on raw-file as well as with tif- and jpg-files,
  • Nik(Output)Sharpener with tif- and jpg-files.

You have to see yourself what works for you.
(see tips above for screen and inkjetprinter)

The Nik Output Sharpener is an old piece of software with some adaptions
(still problems with HiDPI screens – Nik 4.1.1 / v 3.3 // didn’t check Nik 4.2 yet).

Screen Shot 11-04-21 at 05.19 PM

  • screen
  • inkjetprinter
  • (photo paper ?) → check manual
  • halftone
  • hybrid

Creative sharpening
Screen Shot 11-04-21 at 05.25 PM

  • Strenghth
  • Structure (= Texture)
  • Local Contrast
  • Focus (= USM)

Selective sharpening

  • with Control Points
    Screen Shot 11-04-21 at 05.26 PM 001
  • with Colour Range Selection
    Screen Shot 11-04-21 at 05.27 PM

Thanks for all that good info Wolfgang!

I like to stay in RAW as long as I can so it would seem the logical choice will be the PL Unsharp Mask for PreSharpening. For output sharpening I will need to do some comparisons of NIK and Topaz AI using TIFF.

@Wolfgang, I think this is what you’ve been explaining to me recently, how to sharpen my images within PL5 rather than use external software.

Just one quick question - Topaz AI Sharpen used to select between focus blur and motion blur. Does PhotoLab 5 treat them the same, or does it have a method to allow a person to correct the specific type of blur in a photo, either being out of focus, or the camera (or subject) moved during the exposure? (I didn’t want to start a whole new discussion, as this is something I need to work on until I’m familiar with it.


First I assume you are referring to PhotoLab’s Lens sharpness tool, not the Unsharp mask.

Topaz is great at improving poorly focused images which are slightly blurry due to focus blur and motion blur. This can save images which might otherwise have to be discarded, but it is not a panacea for blurred images. It is also intended as a sharpening enhancement tool for images that were captured correctly in focus.

PhotoLab’s Lens sharpness tool is intended to enhance the sharpness of otherwise good images not fix poorly captured blurry ones. When used for its intended purpose on a well captured image the result will be superior to Topaz sharpen in my experience.

I no longer use Topaz Sharpen myself because I don’t keep blurry images and PhotoLab does a better job on the non blurry ones.


PhotoLab’s lens corrections, including sharpening, are awesome. PL’s lens sharpness adjustment can truly sharpen an image without a lot of edge artifacts. It also does some deconvolution. I once compared it to my Olympus camera’s built-in diffraction compensation mode and was very impressed with PL all the way. But it can’t do what Topaz Sharpen AI can for motion blur or missed focus. It isn’t meant to. What PL can’t sharpen, Topaz can work wonders with (to a point). It can truly eliminate blur from camera shake or a too-slow shutter. It can also convincingly sharpen somewhat out-of-focus areas.

For me, both are essential tools and are entirely complementary.

AFAIK, output sharpening is still underdeveloped, though.