I just put up a small update. It involves a couple fixes and an update on the RAW loading, described below.
- The Tooltips were not displaying on Windows XP (any non-Vista or Non-Windows 7 version).
- Some RAW files were getting a message, “An Unknown Error Occurred.“. This was an issue caused by a bug in retrieving the EXIF info from the RAW file.
- The Contrast Options Menu (in the Kayak/PQE mode) would keep disappearing before you could make a selection.
A Raw Update and Addition
Reluctantly, I added a post-sharpen to the RAW image when it is loaded. I’ve spoken out against doing this before (I think sharpening should be done last, not first), but there are a few things causing it to make sense.
Also, as Sagelight becomes more powerful, I want to make sure that power is easily accessible where possible, as adding functions and elements can really make a program harder to use if it isn’t put in the right places. Adding sharpening where it makes a visible and tangible difference for general editing, but with the option to control it or turn if off, I’m finding is a good happy-medium. So, something I ended up doing fairly reluctantly at first turned out to be something I ended up appreciating.
Reasons to Leave the Sharpening on:
- The sharpen applied is very light, 1-pixel radius with a strength of .75. It’s minimal, so it’s not intended to be “the sharpening” for the image.
- It sharpens only on the C*I*E L (luminance) channel, avoiding color noise.
- It avoids edges — it’s not edge-sharpening, per se, as much as it is a graduated sharpen, not touching smooth areas and then getting stronger as in areas that have more definition. You can also turn off the smooth-area avoidance and turn it into a general sharpen.
- Cameras are taking much higher resolution pictures. It’s a lot more like film now. A few years ago, with 8 Megapixel or below, you really wouldn’t want to pre-sharpen. But, with the newer cameras, the RAW images — defintion-wise — are starting to look like film negatives, where you aren’t getting high-definition on a 1:1 pixel level. So, a small amount of pre-sharpening starts to make sense visually and also from a practical level, since it doesn’t really hurt the image like it did on lower-resolution images.
- It’s also making more sense now because of the Definition Sliders in the Power Box. After doing some testing, I found that doing just a small amount of sharpening doesn’t affect editing very much and it helps the Definition layers really bring out the.. well.. definition.., in the image (if you’re not familiar with these sliders, the basic premise is otherwise known as “focus” or “clarity” in some other editors)
- I think that RAW editing really needs to be a two-step process, and this helps keep it into one editing session. The main example is that when you get a JPEG image from your camera, you still want to make it look nicer, add color, sometimes sharpen, etc. — it turns out this is basically the second edit to it, since the camera has already edited it for you. So, RAW is really the same way, and adding that little bit of sharpening that, by itself, is really not that much of a change, really does help the image look much better with fewer steps (mostly because when you use the definition sliders, it adds onto the definition on a non-linear fashion, i.e. it has more of an impact than you’d think)
- You can turn the sharpening off. You can turn it off in the general settings or use Load RAW image with options to specify what you want.
- Realistically, though, it is just easier to work with. This is because sharpening an image first makes it more crisp and vibrant throughout the editing process, where it seems a little dull when it needs sharpening.
- You can turn it on as an afterthought. If you like your work in the Quick Edit or Kayak/PQE mode, but realize you might want to try it without sharpening, you can simply save the current settings, reload the file without sharpening, and then reload the settings. So, you don’t really lose anything.
- You can probably tell I worked hard to convince myself about all of this — which I have!
Reasons not to sharpen, even lightly (i.e. turn off the setting and sharpen last)
- Some cameras have a lot of sharp, edgy color noise — or, sometimes, luminance noise.
- From a purist standpoint, it’s better to sharpen last. Sharpening can cause noise, even when the L channel is the only part sharpened. It’s not a big deal in the scheme of things. Sharpening first can bring out this noise later in the process as you add color or otherwise tone your image. Like I said, it’s really from the purist standpoint.
Anyway, the latest install version can be found at http://www.sagelighteditor.com/Sagelight4.0.0.exe, which can be loaded if you already have it installed (it just replaces the current files); or if you have it installed already and just want to load the main .exe file, it’s at http://www.sagelighteditor.com/SagelightExe4.0.0b.exe (They’re both almost exactly the same size at 17.5 Megs — because the .exe is compressed in the intsaller).
Let me know what you think about the sharpening issue. Again, keep in mind that I purposely did it very lightly in order to keep it from causing noise and to let it work with the Definition Sliders.