I Used the image of Shellie to do this exercise, I wont post all of the sharpened images as the output is totally different on screen rather than in print.
So my methodology was to create a file and put a series of image layers of the same image then sharpen each one a different amount, applying the sharpening to only one layer at a time.
I started by using the Nix Output sharpener to do this and in that tool I made four prints 0% sharpening, 66% sharpening, 132% sharpening and 200 sharpening, this distributed the sharpening amount evenly throughout the range.
I printed each one at 15cm by 10cm and compared them. to be honest I was stunned how little the difference was on the prints, the digital pictures looked awful but even the 200% looked ok. In fact it was quite hard to see a difference. I wondered two things firstly was it the Nix software not being very effective or was it the size of the prints.
I tested the first theory first, and sharpened a new series in photoshop using the smart sharpen function as it was the only one that has any settings.
In this the range was 0 – 500% so I did 0% 33% 66% 100% then i did 200% 300% 400 and 500% and printed all to the same 15×10 paper.
The results were actually different though subtle on the screen the ones over 200% looked appalling, on paper they were not so bad, though the highest ones stated to have a double edge on the arms and tummy.
So the results were as follows:
Nix 66% – difficult to tell it from 0% a little more sharpness in the face.
Nix 132% – Sharper than the 0% but still very subtle though the face looks clearer
Nix 200% – still a good image hard to see any difference from the 66% however sharper than the 0%
Verdict on Nix it works and is really subtle, maybe that’s good as you really don’t want it to look sharpened, I think that if I were doing this for real I would play with Nix and some of the other settings it set for me when I defined the output type.
Photoshop 33% – Obviously sharpened but it looks good nice and crisp
Photoshop 66% – Probably my favorite a nice balance of sharper while still quite natural
Photoshop 100% – Nice and quite difficult to decide on this between the 66% however I think there is a very slight fringe appearing on the arm still a good looking print though I am being picky
Photoshop 200% – Looks good still but the fringe is evident now
Photoshop 300% – Really getting a fringe now probably not usable for a quality print
Photoshop 400% – The fringe is really strong now and the image is not viable now
Photoshop 500% – At this point I am starting to feel like I have double vision due to the fringing.
My conclusion is that the best results were the 33% and 66% Photoshop ones depending on how subtle the adjustments needed to be. I printed them out at A4 and this showed me that the choices I made from the smaller prints were correct though it did not seem to amplify the effect of the sharpening.