News and Information about Photo Enlargement, Wall Mural Construction and Other Kneson Products
by Kneson Software

Vol. III, Issue 2

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> How To Make Enlargements Sharper
> Upgrade Your Copy of Imagener
> Brief Software License Explanation
> Clean Your Valuable Disk Space
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Humans have a tendency to interpret the photos, pictures and especially digital images as somewhat "soft" or out-of-focus. Intuitively scanning photos at a very high resolution should sharpen our perception, but that's not the case. All scanned images need moderate sharpening, even those scanned on high-end scanners. This fact is well known in the printing and graphics arts industries. These industries have vastly improved image sharpening over the years. Think about it for a moment. Old photos and movies were much 'blurrier' than those we enjoy today.

"Unsharp masking" is the term developed to describe a technique that printers and graphic artists use to sharpen images by emphasizing differences between adjoining areas of significantly different hue or tone.

Original Image - Image Before Unsharp Mask
When the original is rescanned with this mask, there is an increase in the degree of contrast at the boundaries of places in the image where significant content changes called tone shifts. Tone shifts have varying degrees strength themselves depending on whether the content is gradually changing from one result to another, or whether the content change is abrupt. Applying an "unsharp mask" operation to the most highly detailed areas of an image increases picture sharpness and visual optimization.

Image After Unsharp Mask
Experiment: Try to arrange your screen so that you can see both images at once. Notice the detail in the green hillsides that are blurred in the original above. Also notice the detail in the road in the distance that is less detailed in the original.
Imagener Professional and Unlimited has "unsharp mask" built in as we wrote about in our December 2004 newsletter. In this month's newsletter we are going to attempt to describe a process to use this functionality that may be clearer and easier to understand.
There are three settings for Imagener's Unsharp Mask function. If you look at the main Imagener screen, the Unsharp Mask function is the section that we renamed "Resharp." In this section, Amount is the first value on the screen (reading down), then Radius and Threshold.

Amount refers to the intensity of the Unsharp Mask or "Resharp" effect. A setting between 100% and 200% will do, depending on the Radius. The bigger the Radius, the less Amount needed. My "standard" Amount setting is 120% however, some images need more than this, and others less.

Radius refers to the dimension, in width, of every sample that will be affected by the Unsharp Mask algorithm - a piece of a program that has a specific function. Choose a setting between 1 and 1.5, depending on the image resolution of the file (see our March 2005 newsletter for more information about Image Resolution), and designate for the Amount (above) and resolution of the file. The higher the resolution of the image, the greater the setting should be for the Radius value. The formula that we recommend is: Output resolution divided by 200. This can change depending on the image content. Complex images will optimize with different settings than images with simpler content. For example, designate a Radius of 1 for a 200 dpi (dots per inch) image. Designate a radius of 1.5 for a 300 dpi image. The more Amount you use, the less Radius is necessary.

Threshold specifies how many numbers of samples in an image will be sharpened. A setting of 0 will affect every sample, whereas a setting of 50 will affect almost none of the samples. Highly detailed images such as line art require a setting of 3, whereas portraits look best with a setting of 5 to 9 (try to keep minor wrinkles down to a minimum).

It can take a while to come up with the right combination of settings for an image. That's why many photo software programs offer some form of sharpening as an option during image capture, and most commonly this functionality is the industry standard "Unsharp Mask" functionality that is also included in Kneson Software's Imagener product line.


If you have purchased Imagener Enhanced or Professional, you can upgrade easily by simply clicking Buy Now! below.
Please allow up to 40 business hours to verify your current version.

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Just a brief reminder that all Kneson Software products are not licensed per person, they are licensed per computer. You need to purchase a separate copy of any of our products for each machine you want it installed on. The reason we do this is for your protection as well as ours. With especially the Imagener Enlargement engines, this technology is extremely costly to develop and maintain. If Kneson Software does not maintain control of it, we risk becoming unable to support our thousands of loyal customers.
The Imagener Enhanced and Professional technologies began development in 1996 and has been improved over the last ten years. The Imagener Unlimited enlargement engine was acquired from a game development company that spent over two years and $1.25 million in development cost before Kneson Software programmers improved it.

Protecting this valuable asset protects you as customers because it ensures that we will be here to support you and develop the technology further. We have tried to make this as economical as possible by providing multiple license discounts. For example, please see Imagener Unlimited's order page - click here. This licensing also gives customers the advantage of allowing multiple people to use single licenses if they use the same computer. We would therefore like to request that customers needing licenses on two or more computers purchase the appropriate number - one license for each computer.

Imagener is much less expensive than any product of its kind on the market. Please make sure that all machines you need to use Imagener on are licensed.
It's too easy to accumulate junk on your PC. Simply surfing the Internet and sending and receiving email creates an excess of unnecessary files. If you participate in online gaming, download many files, or install and uninstall your fair share of sample software, you're probably storing more digital debris than you realize.
We continue to see customers that provide us with screenshots with various installation and activation errors that we cannot duplicate. The reason we cannot duplicate these errors is because of the malicious software like shareware or "free trials" that can take over the many "mini-programs" called services that are running on your computer all the time it is on. We received the screenshot to the right showing that the user had downloaded some free "toy" unknowing that it is likely this precise program that is preventing automatic activation. These programs need to be cleaned up.
We found a program called McAfee QuickClean that can do this for you. It maximizes your PC's performance, cleans out Internet and e-mail buildup, and protects your privacy. Get $5 OFF McAfee's New QuickClean - Clutter removal for peak PC performance!
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