More need for heavy USM when I shoot with either my D70 or D80, but not so with my D700. The AF system seems to be significantly improved. Also, I set the in-camera sharpening setting to the highest level, because I am a stickler for sharply focused photos. On rare occasion there will be a shot taken with the D700 that will require some USM, usually about 85%, and even more rarely will there be a photo that will need 100%. But, that's usually because of improper technique on my part, which causes a slight camera shake. Crank the in-camera sharpening setting to the highest level, always hold the camera steady, and you will find you hardly need any USM with a D700.
Depending on your raw converter, there are multiple ways to go. If you use the Adobe ones, I'd try settings like 40, 0.8, 50, 0 for detailed subjects and 35, 1.2, 25, 50 for less detailed ones (like people). The sharpening tools in the newer versions of ACR or LR are much better than USM. Those numbers are independent of the camera model since Adobe normalizes them for you (very convenient).
If you use NX or NX2, I'd strongly recommend not using the in-camera sharpening in your postprocessing. It's fine to have it on when you take the picture, but it's not the best sharpening algorithm and there's no way I would crank it to the max unless you're looking for point and shoot results. You'll have too many sharpening artifacts in subsequent post-processing if you do this. A setting of around 40, 5, 2 is pretty good as a USM sharpening setting in NX/NX2 for that camera. For others, it varies, since the parameters aren't normalized for the camera.
In both of these cases, you should follow-up with another round of sharpening that is optimized for your output, whether it's a small jpeg for the computer screen or a big print. The print surface also matters, too, with matte papers needing more sharpening than glossy ones. A couple of very good tools for output sharpening (and the initial capture sharpening, too) are Photokit Sharpener and Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0. Both make this process easy since you don't worry about parameters: you just tell them the output device, paper types (when appropriate), the kind of subject, etc.
I guess I was under the misconception that in camera sharpening, and some of the other photo settings only effected jpg and tiff files, not RAW images. Unless I am misinterpreting what you are saying. I wish the manuals were a little clearer on this.
The pursuit of photography drives me to go places and see things I otherwise would only view through the eyes of others.
If you use the Nikon converters (Capture NX2 and ViewNX), they're the initial conditions you start with in the raw conversion process. To change them, you have to actively do something. With other products, those settings are ignored.
>As a new owner of a D700, I'm curious to know how much >sharpening you do to your files typically... Unsharp Mask in >Photoshop 100%? 200%? more?
Wow, it depends on the output -- sharpening for a 900 pixel wide image for the Web is a whole different matter than sharpening for a 20x30" print. For the Web I might do a radius of .3 and 125%, give or take depending on the details in the image. For a print going on my wall, it might be a radius of 1.5 or even 2 and the % depending on the details, tweaked by eye. Some images with fine detail look best at low radius and very high %, others are the opposite.
Bruce Fraser's book on sharpening is brilliant and a must-read if you're doing any serious printing.