Proper sharpening of SD1 images.. (+ dog)

User Usee has showed me how great those “-2.0″ shots can look when proper sharpening has been applied using Silkypix Pro 5. He writes over at dpreview’s image gallery;

This is my post processed version from Carl Rytterfalks SD1 .X3F SDIM1547. Be aware that this version isn’t for commercial use and exclusively made for Carl Rytterfalk, due to his asking in this thread: …for showing the possibilities the SD1 offers, if it is used in conjunction with Silkypix Pro 5. The hint to the source (link above and Silkypix Pro 5 as post processing software) has to be made, if this version is shown. Thank You for being decent!


Sigma, please rethink how sharpening is done in Sigma Photo Pro 5. Why not have the Silkypix people make the future SPP but using some of your processing? Silkypix Pro with only Sigma support and let the user pay extra to get the extended version? :) Just saying..

Edit: I now use the free open source based software RawTherapee and even if it’s far from perfect it has great sharpening abilities. Here’s a dog shot from a couple of days ago..

SDIM3058 RawTherapee
Original size (Full SD1 resolution)
Colors did not come out as I liked them.. They look different in SPP5 and RawTherapee AND then in Aperture as well.. :) Something isn’t right here. But still. Detail is nice.

About Carl Rytterfalk

Welcome to my blog! I'm Carl Rytterfalk, a swedish photographer who loves everything that is interesting in the world of photography. In 2002 I fell in love with the three layered Foveon sensor and has since then been an addicted user of Sigma cameras. Though I use Canon and Nikon as well. :)
This entry was posted in Full size, Sigma Photo Pro, Sigma SD1, Silkypix. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Proper sharpening of SD1 images.. (+ dog)

  1. Uli says:

    Hi Carl,

    thank You for being decent… ;)

    …however as I wanted to check the quality of my version on Your page I did get this Message in my SeaMonkey browser:

    AccessDeniedRequest has expired22355495027004752011-07-07T16:23:53ZdexAcY5Q4Q33/tSe4bFHGAtSGE2aA7XsFwFfylJSGW3IZwkUK9W5mHm4e/sVXw/K2011-07-07T18:41:13Z


    For those, who don’t know me yet…
    …I’m Usee – U see…


  2. rtbox says:

    Hey guys,

    Here’s the link for those who want to see :)

  3. Steven says:

    Why oh why did Sigma rush to get the SD1 out on schedule (late) Spring only to inflate the price so drastically whilst having the processing of the SD1 files within the camera or the SPP5 program go so wrong, leaving those few brave souls, who were tempted to bite the bullet and buy the camera, having so much work to do?

    For so many months I was looking forward to buying this beast as a means of having an affordable professional studio and wedding camera that had a unique look to it. Not only is it not the affordable camera that I was led to believe it would be but as of yet I haven’t been wowed by its performance. That is probably not the fault of the camera but the performance of SPP which up until now I have always liked for its simplicity and the results it was able to achieve.

  4. Stoneage says:

    hm…, i dont see any advantage over normal USM sharpening in photoshop. (200%, radius: 0.3 px)

    SPP just uses too big radius, which works for the previous, smaller 4.6 MP Sensor but not for the SD1.


    • Uli says:

      This may be the case…

      …and You surely don’t mind to show us Your ps version with USM sharpening, that we can see it by ourselfs…

      …and a look at Your ps colors is also interesting!


      • Stoneage says:

        “…and You surely don’t mind to show us Your ps version with USM sharpening, that we can see it by ourselfs…”

        Sure, here the two crops.
        My photoshop version:
        And the Silky-Version “Usee”:

        Different colors but i think the sharpness is comparable.


        • Uli says:

          Not bad on my notebook screen,

          but I guess that You had to use CS5 and not Lightroom… ;-)

          …and as a little hint:

          Please don’t forget to embed the color profil at Your USM version next time…

          …i will have a closer look at Your version on my grafic screen – soon.


        • Uli says:


          I had a closer look and beside the colors (esp. green) that looks in my opinion worse in Your version and the higher contrast that You applied, there is a very subtle chessboard pattern visible in some regions in Your version.

          But far better than the SPP artefact desert and in comparison to my Silkypix version more in the region personal preference than obviously better.

          I think, if You push a little harder with CS5, I would have to spend a little more time with Silkypix, to keep a visible distance – when viewed on a grafic screen…

          …on my laptop screen it is more a question of taste than something else.

          That’s fun! :-)

          This reminds me to the convereter test we did a while ago on dslr-forum. ;-)
          In my opinion, You are one of the few,
          where a discussion does make sense!

          I hope You try to push a little harder,
          that I have to tweak here and there to keep a distance…

          …with Lightroom 3, I couldn’t get that artefact free sharpness and the smoothness without loosing detail.


          • maceo says:

            I agree, i use Lightroom 3 only for “quick and dirty” image processing and mainly for archiving. Silkypix Pro 5 seems to be much more powerful. Unfortunately there is no
            Mac-version out until now, and previous versions are painfully slow (on a Mac)
            Maybe we should start a new thread in DSLR-Forum about converting SD1 images, because my english is not good enough. ;)


          • maceo/stoneage says:

            ….wrong nickname in the title, sorry for the confusion

        • Ricky says:

          see the chinese letters on the long last (except the car) blue thing on the right, on the right of the subheadings: here you can see huge the difference of real sharpness

          • Robin says:

            Yeah, I agree. Not only in chinese letters, but in faces, foliage, etc. Stoneages version out of PS with USM seems to be sharpened way too rough and looks unnatural to me.

  5. person (original person) says:

    Agreed. The SPP issue is radius.

    Also agree about the SP1 being badly hurt by SPP5, which is not doing anybody any favors AT ALL.

    • Sigma IS working very hard as we speak with a SPP5.(1) They take notes and they know what needs to be done.

      • person says:

        Thank goodness!

        I really hope they fix not only the bugs but also improve the basic gamma curves and color processing. They could also make better low-frequency NR for the SD1 shadow blotches.

        Do you have any idea when we can expect SPP 5.1? Even a vague timeframe?

        • Timeframe should be around now, as some users from countries such as Germany can’t start SPP5 on Windows machines. That’s part of what needs to be done, yesterday.

          • Gerald Peake says:

            Hey Carl, can’t agree more! What needs to be done is for Sigma to realize that to get a professional photographer to shell out that kind of money on a camera, everything has to work first time, including the software! They will also be looking to and expecting Capture One and others to support the X3F format.

  6. Uli says:

    Hi Maceo alias Stoneage,

    dslr-forum sometimes feels like “Trollhausen”,
    if I’m writing about Silkypix… ;-)

    …if You want to see some strange artefacts in Your version, just look at the face of the scooter driver on the right side near the tanks and the border of the road…

    …his nose did get weird and U see the chessboard artefacts on the “white” marking on the road.

    I’ll put especially for You another reference, which comes close to Your contrast setting and the sharpening You prefer…

    …take Your time, look precisely and don’t come back without a revised version… ;-)


    • Stoneage says:

      Uli, “Stoneage” is just fine, pls.

      Ok, here another version.
      More noise in the shadows but less artifacts.

      Your last version is nice, but maybe a little bit oversharpened.
      (motorbike-driver on the left )


      • can’t download. Why don’t you just add your images directly here on the site? as comment image? There’s so many places I can’t reach from China..

        • Stoneage says:

          Sorry Carl, i didn’t want to overload your server with this little “sharpening-competition” between Uli and me ;)

          • Uli says:

            Hi Stoneage,

            I think You did show, especially with this example, that You are able to see tiny differences…
            …even beside sharpness artefacts. ;-)

            First, as I saw Your picture I thought,
            “hmm well, not really nice” because of more grain and a bit steep contrast…

            (beside color and detail issues in the faces of the scooter drivers – they look really sick IMHO)

            …but after I had a closer look, I saw, that You love the different shades in the big white wall, probably caused from the structure under the roughcast, beside more obvious structures.

            I’m pretty sure that You manually tweaked the contrast curve by setting additional points for bending…

            I’ll show You now a special version,
            with a tiny tad less grain and a tad more sharpness than Yours…

            …but with a grey road and without the big color drift to blue in the shadows,
            which may be be pleasing, but also disturbing.


            on my cheap notebook screen there aren’t that big differences visible,
            so that I can understand that not everyone cries AH, OH!

            But sharpening is about pixel peeping and
            pixel peeping is necessary to show the advantage of the Foveon concept… ;-)

          • Robin says:

            > sharpening is about pixel peeping and pixel peeping is necessary to show the advantage of the Foveon concept…

            Can’t agree more! Most often it seems people are not able or at least not willing to peep their pixels, but that’s so true (and what thousand threads Bayer-Foveon are all about).

          • Thanks for being so considerate but what you guys are doing is good for everyone! :) Sharpening is an art in itself..

            Just be kind to each other.. That’s all I ask. :)

    • Uli says:

      You are kidding right?

      Pictures with a shallow depth of field
      (nearly no really sharp areas),
      unknown structures (missing straight lines etc.), unknown details
      (how a letter on a sign has to look like, or that a sign has no noise, or funky colors is more obvious than a nothing telling plant)
      aren’t well suited for comparing sharpness…

      …especially if they lack high contrast in real life (not in the output)…
      …even if they look nice.

      A comparison would only be possible as shown by stoneage alias maceo, because he used the same, well suited widely available RAW.

      Yes, I know, why I previously said to maceo:

      “This reminds me to the convereter test we did a while ago on dslr-forum. ;-)
      In my opinion, You (maceo alias stoneage) are one of the few,
      where a discussion does make sense!”


    • If that’s 100% crops, then they’re impressive. Although I wouldn’t have added smart sharpen at 250, it’s just too much and takes away some of that reality that the foveon provides by itself. Colors etc is fine!

  7. Dan says:

    Rawtherapee has some of the best options among all graphics programs with some fancy sharpening algorithms, and above all it is free under GPL.

    • Dan says:

      Including a crop of Carl’s jpeg from Flickr using Rawtherapee’s RL Decomposition sharpening algorithm. The output is also an 8-bit Jpeg, and while there is detail/color loss the trees look quite clear.

      • A bit harsh to my eyes – might be perfect for print. I’m downloading the only build made for Mac.. Will be interesting to see how well it works on a mac. Thanks for the tip!

        • Dan says:

          You’re welcome Carl. I hope it is stable enough on the mac. I typically use one of the latest nightly builds for pc.

          • It has lots of buttons with ? But it works really great and it’s fast as well! Faster than Aperture to open my sd1 tiffs!! :)

            I’ve done some tests that will send to Sigma as examples on my thinking as it’s clear and simple adjustments done..

  8. Finally! I installed Aperture and it has a pretty nice set of tools for sharpening. Not sure if it’s better than Silkypix but it sure is better than iPhotos built in sharpening. :)
    [img]ärmavbild 2011-07-09 kl. 12.55.31.png[/img]
    [img]ärmavbild 2011-07-09 kl. 12.59.54.png[/img]

    Showing a 100% view and when you realize how small portion of the image that really is.. The SD1 really do capture an amazing amount of detail!

  9. person says:

    Love the detail, but serious magenta cast. Seems like auto-color in photoshop (or dropper) fixes that very easily though! I tried the dpreview workflow and it seems to work well, good color.

    Can Aperture do something like that?

    • Yes, strong magenta it’s partly because if the wrong profile and me not calibrating my MacBooks screen every time I sit down in a new environment. But doing auto from a bad tiff when you have the raw isn’t the best of things.. :) the new version looks much better and sharper as well.. It’s down with that new little open source software and will be posted soon.. Rawtherapee!

  10. LionelB says:

    The bugs in SPP5 will be sorted and the camera will test better with something like the 70mm macro. Clearly, the SD1 is a great camera for spying — maybe it will sell well to the military :-) But is the extreme detail just awesome in a geek way or is it something that we photographers really want or need ?If the plan is to print extreme crops, then yes of course it is better. If that is …

    Will it mean that photographers go on safari with a short lens ? Will zooms become pointless antiques ? And what happens when the next generation sensor goes further than glass is capable of going ?

    Leaving aside our amazement at the technology, is this camera actually about delivering images which touch us more, please us more ? Is it a geek thing or a photography thing ?

  11. person says:

    Print size.

    This detail is not for pixel peeping. It’s for big prints, which is very important for fine art and some fashion/advertising work.

  12. person says:

    P.S. Ulli, your last image is amazing, how did you do it?

  13. Stoneage says:


    Your last one is the winner.
    Here my last version, trying to get your 100% sharpness.
    No correction at the “blue” road and the WB is a bit warmer, as it looks more natural for me.
    I think i’ll stop it here. :) It was fun and i learned alot about the SD1.


    • Uli says:


      due to the fact, that I enjoyed very much this constructive discussion with You…

      …I will also post my last version for this one…


      I think we are not far away from each other…
      …maybe around 100 km.

      • Uli says:

        who don’t know, why around 100 km:

        I think we are not far away from each other…
        …maybe around 100 km.”

        I know Stoneage from the (german speaking) DSLR-Forum, where one can read that he is from Zürich and I’m in a distance of about 100km from this town.

        So we can feel ourselfs a bit closer in and beside our image and sharpening discussions… :-)

        …this is just a funny coincidence,
        that I wanted to mention. ;-)

  14. person says:

    So, in the end what is the optimal sharpness workflow/settings? Very curious to know!

    • Stoneage says:

      Ok, here the simple steps:

      1. convert image to LAB color
      2. smart sharpen the lightness channel, 250%, 0.3 px
      (3.) again smart sharpen 400-500% 0.2 px (if its really necessary ;)
      4. convert back to RGB colors

      ..first i did some color and contrast corrections, but i dont remember these steps.


  15. person says:

    What is the effect of sharpening the lightness channel only?

  16. LionelB says:

    If neutral sharpness in SPP5 is around -2.0 is that true also for images taken with SD14, SD15 and DP series or is this only a discussion of how to use SPP5 with SD1 files ?

    • For SD14 / SD15 I think neutral sharpness is / was around -0,9 or -0,7.. If the image looks fuzzy then it’s too low. :) With SD1, you can still find single pixel details at -2.0 (and lots of it) that’s how I noticed that it’s real.

      When Sigma get this right (which I’m sure they will) most of our images will have a new life! :) Perhaps no more going into PS only for sharpening. Jaij!

  17. person says:

    What’s the best sharpening radius, you think?

    I was using 0.3 (with lens blur removal option), but now I’ve been trying 0.2 and even 0.1 radius – I think this might work even better.

    What do you guys think?

  18. Clive says:

    Sharpness contest is interesting, but is anyone looking at the overall results in any region under the shadow of the bridge?

    It looks like science-fiction ‘under the strange field-beam’ here, on a reasonably good Win7 laptop screen. Even the concrete piling of the bridge goes strange where the shadow crosses it.

    Partial explanation of ‘strange field-beam’ color looks quite greyed. But possibly it is not only that.

    What do you see; what do you think?


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