Sharpening in Aperture

by Scott Bourne

Aperture includes a RAW converter as part of its import function. While the images aren't actually finally converted until exported, a basic conversion that includes sharpening takes place on import. By the way, according to software engineers I interviewed for this story, some sharpening on import takes place with nearly all RAW converters.

Any sharpening in the conversion process is done in addition to any that might be applied by the user during the manipulation stage.

Aperture's RAW preference pane in the Inspector allows you to adjust the amount of auto sharpen applied on import. I suggest that you keep this number as low as possible since Aperture doesn't allow selective sharpening. If your image contains large areas of sky or water or other subjects that are in the background, you probably don't want them sharpened. So use Aperture's new Edge Sharpen to avoid creating digital noise or save the sharpening for your roundtrip to Photoshop or some other third-party sharpening application for best results.

Photo Copyright Scott Bourne 2006 - All Rights Reserved


2006-11-07 08:41:23
I don't concur. The sharpening that Aperture applies during RAW import actually *is* edge sharpening. It is applied to counter-balance the softness typically resulting from anti-moiree filters in the camera software and on the sensor. Thus, there's no point taking it out - you'd want to apply edge sharpening later, anyway.

Kind regards,

Scott Bourne
2006-11-07 09:07:11
Karl, I usually don't have time to respond to comments on the blog but feel this one is important.

I understand what you are saying but I don't understand the logic you've used to get to your position.

If the sharpening during RAW conversion were the same as that offered for Aperture users to apply later, the same controls would be present in each instance. They are not.

My post was based on interviews with engineers who build RAW converters for a living.

Perhaps the engineers I have spoken with while preparing this entry are mistaken and if so, it'd be great if Joe Schorr could jump in here and let us know.

Thanks for reading.

Daniel Mendez
2006-11-07 11:26:36
Hi Karl, you are saying that the sharpening *is* edge sharpening. Where do we see this documented? From what it sounds like in Scott's post, the sharpening during import is not edge sharpening. Thanks for clarifying.

One of the main premises of Aperture is that your data is intact until you export it. If any sharpening is applied during the import process, it is applied to the previews right?
You said:
"Any sharpening in the conversion process is done in addition to any that might be applied by the user during the manipulation stage."
So if I'm understanding your statement correctly, you are saying that during _export_ the same amount of sharpening applied during _import_ is applied, and then also any sharpening the user might have selected on top of that. Is this correct? Is this the reason why you recommend reducing the sharpening during _import_ ?

George Pratt
2006-11-09 11:59:59
I'm not sure where you are getting the Raw preference pane? I don't see that anywhere. What Inspector are you referring to? Just curious.
Jordan Nielsen
2006-11-12 22:09:05
I agree with George Pratt. I have no idea where the RAW preferences pane is. I hope someone can point it out! :)


Mike Ombrello
2006-11-25 05:43:54
I believe that the RAW preferences pane is part of the Adjustment (Inspector) window when you are working with a RAW image.
2006-11-28 11:19:50
say, there. i used aperture to convert my nikon d70 raw files, however, once they are imported, i get a message saying the files are an unsupported format. i'll try reading through troubleshooting section. do you have any idea what's up? thanks.