Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Workflow Technique #026

Fractal Sharpening

review note by Uwe Steinmueller

Fractal Sharpening by Noel Carboni

When people ask me what I use for sharpening I answer: More often Fractal Sharpening.

Here is the story:

About five minutes after I published the review on PhotoKit SHARPENER (provides an excellent sharpening workflow) I got an email from Noel about his Fractal sharpening. Because I read many postings by Noel in different news groups I gave it a shot and got hooked.

Let me start with the downsides of his method:

  • You need a version of Genuine Fractals (that is not cheap, I hope Noel comes up soon with a PS CS only action)
  • It is very, very slow (mainly because GF is slow)
  • Needs lot's of memory


The fact that I do not stop here might tell you something. We think Noel's actions are even worth this hassle.

In principal Noel uses a well known technique but refined it in his actions. You upsize an image and use strong sharpening, then you downsize in steps to the original size. The use of Genuine Fractals seems to get smoother results.

Here is a sample treated with his "Med Sharp Max Texture" action.

Test Shot with the E-1 and the tele zoom


100% pixel, image looks a bit soft

GF sharpening 100% opacity


As Noel's actions create a new layer you can later tone down the strength of the sharpening effect by using the opacity setting.


GF Sharpening at 50% opacity

Sometimes you get some white halos that are mostly the result of very light halos created during the raw conversion process. In these cases Noel also included an action "Bright Halo Reduction" to minimize this effect.

If you own Genuine Fractals we would urge you to get Noels actions. For some it even might be reason enough to buy Genuine Fractals.

Noel writes on his page "I've designed a great set of sharpening actions that do something different: They actually sharpen images!". We find that this is not just marketing.

Recommended (we would say highly recommended if speed and the cost of GF would not be issues)
You can get Fractal Sharpening here.

For Comments post in our News Group

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