Photoshop CS2s Filters Take Sharpening to New Level

Tech Analysis: The Smart Sharpen filter hides sophisticated unshaking and deblurring technology, while the Reduce Noise filter may see better use as a sharpener.

Hello, and welcome back to our tour of Adobe Photoshop CS2. This tour is intended specifically for photographers, and it visits areas where extensive renovation has taken place.

In the previous installment, we looked at ACR3, which is Adobes Converter for Raw files. ACR3 is so great that its well worth upgrading the package just to get those new Raw workflow features. But today, well move to the main Photoshop program, which contains a number of new features of specific interest to digital photographers.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here for a look at how Photoshop CS2 improves handling in the Raw format.

The new filters that stand out most at first glance are Smart Sharpen, Reduce Noise and Lens Correction. Well have a quick look at the first two today, and keep the Lens Correction tool for later.

In digital photography, sharpening is a bread-and butter matter. Its a novelty to photographers coming from film, but its inescapable in digital. The need arises principally from the softening anti-alias filter covering the sensor of almost every digital camera.

Furthermore, digital printing tends to soften detail yet again, which is why shots are usually sharpened somewhat at some point in every digital workflow.

Photoshops main tool for sharpening so far has been the USM (Unsharp Mask) tool, with a slider-driven interface that is as obfuscating as its name.

CS2 brings us a new Smart Sharpen filter, which adds to but does not displace the old Unsharp Mask workhorse. Smart Sharpen offers some new abilities—it can reduce Gaussian blur, lens blur or motion blur.

For motion blur, you need to tell the software the direction and the amount (in pixels) of the displacement for which you wish to compensate. The result seems to be a sharpening effect with no halo, unlike anything you could get with USM.

It would seem that the new Smart Sharpen filter hides under an assumed name. It is in fact an unshaking and deblurring tool!

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