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Review: Nik Sharpener Pro 2.0

(September 2005) posted on Wed Sep 21, 2005

Builds on original version of Sharpener Pro, and adds some tremendously useful features.


By Jaxon Cook

Have you ever wanted to have more control over sharpening your images prior to output? With nik Sharpener Pro 2.0 from nik multimedia (www.nikmultimedia.com), all those yearnings can become reality.

As a plug-in for Photoshop (or other image-editing application), Sharpener Pro 2.0 has built on the original version of Sharpener Pro and added some tremendously useful features including 16-bit compatibility for sharpening, a larger preview window to see how the sharpening is affecting the image, and new tools offering more control of where sharpening is applied to the image.

Sharpener Pro 2.0 is available in two separate editions: the Inkjet Edition, and the Complete1 Edition. The Inkjet Edition is designed for those using inkjet printers as their primary output device; it can also sharpen images for display on the Internet or on an electronic device, such as a projector or monitor, and it includes a RAW presharpening filter for RAW files. The Complete Edition contains all of the Inkjet Edition's tools, and adds continuous-tone printers--including photo printers and dye-sub printers--as well as halftone printers and printing presses to its sharpening capabilities.

Adding more control

Before your sharpening session begins, you first choose how your image will be output. Depending upon the product edition you're working with, choices will range from Inkjet--such as Canon, Epson, and HP-- to dye-sub/photographic printers, to a RAW presharpening filter.

Once you have made a selection, you're then given the choice of further customizing your sharpening--options such as the width and height of your final image, viewing distance, paper type, and printer resolution, can all be adjusted by simply moving the triangular sliders for each setting.

There is also an Advanced setting, which provides additional controls to set the amount of sharpening to the entire image or to specific areas within the image. Each Advanced slider contains an Eye Dropper and a Color Patch, allowing you to eye-drop certain colors and increase or decrease the amount of sharpening for that color within your image.

The most powerful tool in Sharpener Pro 2.0, however, is the Selective Tool. This tool allows you to sharpen parts of any image with specific brushstrokes, or the sharpening can be applied to the whole image and specific parts then brushed out. If you have a Wacom tablet, you'll especially like this feature because the sharpening is also pressure-sensitive. In addition, the "Keep as Layer" option will retain a separate image layer in Photoshop, leaving your original image unaltered; it provides the option to edit and control the effect at any point in the future after the apply button has been selected. (Note: A "Launch with Photoshop" option enables the Sharpener Pro 2.0 Selective palette to open whenever Photoshop opens.)

Streamlining efficiency

The nik Sharpener Pro 2.0 is a great plug-in that produces solid results. With the many options of sharpening images for inkjet output, dye sub, or RAW presharpening, you will truly find this an invaluable tool in streamlining your workflow.

Compatible with Windows 98SE/ME/NT/2000/XP, and with Macintosh OS 10.2.4 through 10.4.x. Price information: Inkjet Edition: $169.95, Complete Edition: $329.95. Upgrades from Sharpener Pro 1.0 also are available, priced from $99.95 to $169.95.

Jaxon Cook is art director of The Big Picture magazine.


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