Confused About Lightroom/Photoshop Sharpening?

Hey everyone. I’ve been wanting to do a class on sharpening your photos for a while now and I’ve finally got some breathing room to get it done. I hope to record the class later this week but I need your help. Basically, I want to make sure I cover the stuff you want to know. I’ve even got a little reward for your help.

In a nutshell the class will go like this:
1) Tips on capturing sharp photos (very quick though, this stuff isn’t rocket science).
2) How to keep your sharp photos sharp while working in Photoshop (basically what you can and can’t do that will harm or degrade the photo).
3) How to make your sharp photos sharper – I’ll talk about the different types of sharpening (capture, creative, output), the various sharpening tools in both Lightroom, Camera Raw and Photoshop, and some sharpening techniques for different types of photos.

I’d like to get your input though. What kinds of questions do you have? This isn’t going to be the super-techie class. I don’t expect it to be more than an hour or so. I’m not going to talk about a sharpening “workflow” or anything like that because that’s overkill. Sharpening should be simple, and I want to make it simple. But I also want to make sure I cover the things you want to know.

As a reward, just for trying to help, out I’m going to randomly pick 5 comments (only legit comments though) and give you your choice of a 1 month subscription (which is where this course will reside) or a signed copy of my new Layers Book (which should be out next month). Sound good? Thanks in advance for your help.



  1. Becky 14 February, 2011 at 11:49 Reply

    In you “The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book for Digital Photographers” you have a chapter on sharpening, but I was surprised to find that none of your “7-Point System” examples have a sharpening step…???

  2. Kevin McGowan 2 December, 2010 at 13:38 Reply

    Whenever I sharpen in photoshop, my last step is “fade to luminosity, 100%”. Is this part of the Lightroom export sharpening presets? What are the actual settings are for the various components in the LR export presets (radius,etc)?

  3. Randy Lamie 8 November, 2010 at 08:51 Reply

    Matt, One of my questions is how do you know when you are just over the edge of too much sharpening? It is fairly obvoius when you have way too much, but how do you know when you have just enough when you are looking for maximum sharpness?

  4. Michael Montalto 3 November, 2010 at 10:43 Reply

    I’ve been waiting for this course!

    My problem that I’m running into is that my RAW files look good through my sharpening workflow in Lightroom. When I view the exported JPG’s on screen however, there is obvious “jaggies” in people’s hair, etc.

    -I typically use export sharpening of Screen Standard if I’m not looking to print.

    The bottom line is that I need to fully understand sharpening and there is a bit of inconsistency in my photographs due to this lack of knowledge.

    I am REALLY looking forward to this class! When will it be up?!

  5. Linda Scarbrough 22 October, 2010 at 15:34 Reply

    At the Orlando NAPP convention I purchased a Tamron 28-75 for my Nikon camera to take portraits.
    Following the convention, II volunteered my time to take pictures of a local school function…between shootings, I check my view finder and the pictures looked great. It also confirmed all settings and metering looked great.

    Then when I came back home and used LR, I quickly found that the pictures were not real sharp. I fooled with my Nikon camera and adjusted anything that could be adjusted. Then kicked myself 100 times for now doing something right.

    This monday, I started taking sample shots of a mannequin I just purchased and switched from one lenses to another —between the Tamron 28-75 and my Nikon 18-200 lens. Well guess what. The Tamron has a focus problem on each shot.

    Again while looking through the view finder, it looked great. But in LR… I immediately saw the image – took with the Tamron – was not crystal clear and in focus. The Nikon lens shot everything in focus. with no adjustments in LR

    So you might want to make sure your equipment is checked out before doing an assignment – even if it is strictly – to volunteer

  6. Robert Jensen 19 October, 2010 at 20:39 Reply

    Matt, Would like to see you also cover masking and selection when doing sharpening in Photoshop and Lightroom.

    Here’s a question I don’t think I’ve seen asked before… since the brighter areas of a photo contain the most information, and darker areas the least, does this effect sharpening? Should you do sharpening in light/midrange/dark areas as separate steps?

    I appreciate all the work you and the rest do with this and the other PS/LR sites.

    Robert Jensen

  7. Michael Montalto 19 October, 2010 at 17:42 Reply

    Fantastic idea Matt! This is one of the most confusing topics to deal with in my workflow.

    The question that I have is, why do some of my exported JPG’s look so oversharpened as compared to my RAW files that I have applied sharpening to. The I know to use my output sharpening in LR3 as Screen | Standard (to post on the web).

    I need this class big time!!! The detail sliders make NO sense to me!

  8. Mark 17 October, 2010 at 15:37 Reply

    My biggest issue is trying to figure out how “much” to sharpen. I don’t see any difference when I sharpen, so I wonder what I am doing right or wrong. So I just set to the lightroom standard or normal amount (typically when I am exporting to email to friends).

    So how do you determine how much and what is ‘right’? How do you tell if you even did it (other than looking at history)?

  9. kate 15 October, 2010 at 09:51 Reply

    I look forward to your class on sharpening… it continues to be a weak spot in my workflow and I really want to gain a better understanding of all the sharpening issues you mentioned in your post.

  10. Viktor 15 October, 2010 at 05:06 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    thanks for putting this together. I haven’t had the time to read the other posts, so I may be repeating my request as to what I would like covered and that is selective sharpening. I have a photo of a tiger in which I would like to sharpen the only nail that can be seen in his claw. If this nail was sharp it would give the foto the ultimate kick. I would like to do it in LR as I do my post production to 95% in LR and only a few special effects in PS but as one gets more and more plugins for LR e.g Nik I find I am doing less and less in PS. So thanks for any help.

  11. Leslie Kobrin 14 October, 2010 at 18:18 Reply

    I know a few people who use PS actions or Lightroom Presetts to sharpen. I would like to know how to best manually handle sharpening images and specific areas of an image in LR and PS and is one better than the other.


  12. Steve Curcuru 14 October, 2010 at 15:30 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I know there’s different sharpening for screen vs prints, and even based on the size of the finiahed image – but – OTHER than the eye, which is subjective – are there any reasonably priced & easy to use tools and/or techniques that actually measure sharpness?

    Thanks – keep up the great work !

    The Wiz

  13. Brad 14 October, 2010 at 15:14 Reply

    Thanks for putting this together, Matt! Sharpening has to be the one thing about LR that I can’t really make work as well as in PS using a combination of USM and High Pass Sharpening do. Especially for screen/web exports, I can’t get the proper balance of sharpness and noise control, even using the mask slider in LR3. I just have to export my photos directly into CS5, then sharpen there. I don’t like this, as I would prefer to do everything possible in LR3. Can I achieve the same sharpening detail/noise control in LR as I can in PS CS5 with USM and HPS?

  14. ReneG 14 October, 2010 at 15:12 Reply

    I don’t know if it’s been asked, I haven’t read all of the above comments. But can you sharpen a high ISO picture to which you’ve already applied Lightroom’s Noise Reduction to it? Let’s say to a sport picture you took at 1600 ISO.

  15. David S 14 October, 2010 at 14:55 Reply

    I’ve heard that sharpening just the lightness channel in LAB colour mode can be very effective. Can you explain the benefits, if there are any, and how and when to use this method? Also, I mostly use Nik’s Sharpener Pro but also Smart Sharpen in Photoshop. Any opinions on which is better?

  16. Nikolaj 14 October, 2010 at 14:17 Reply

    Hi Matt. I’ll be looking forward to the class. One thing I have wondered about are the sharpening settings in Lightroom 3. Especially, to which extent it is possible to apply presets, how they work (are they dynamic to the specific photo or completely generic), and what the relation is between the noise control sliders and the sharpening slider. Sometimes I reduce noise only to find that increasing sharpening in fact increases the noise that I had just removed.

    Best wishes,

    Nikolaj Borchorst (a Danish regular reader of your blog)

  17. Brian P 14 October, 2010 at 13:31 Reply

    What about some of the common plugins to Lightroom, such as Nik? Are those helpful/better than photoshop? In general, I am affraid of photoshop, so I try to do most of my work in Lightroom or one of the plugins. Thanks!

  18. Laura 14 October, 2010 at 13:29 Reply

    I am a real newbie with Photoshop and Lightroom for those of us just starting out a good explanation of what the sharpening tool can and cant do would be great. Also how is the sharpening tool most used.

    I am sorry is this is too basic but I am teaching myself and have had very little success with sharpening my photos so how to better use this tool is great but again I am really green with Photoshop!!

    Thank you!

  19. Jim Greif 14 October, 2010 at 13:26 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Some sections on sharpening would be excellent. Please explain the difference between sharpening done in Lightroom vs. output sharpening. Why not do it all at once? Also, a look at selective sharpening would be very useful. Finally, could you compare methods in Photoshop (ie, unsharp mask) vs. tools like Nik’s Sharpener Pro?
    Thank you,

  20. Dirk Wentling 14 October, 2010 at 13:05 Reply

    Technical issues aside, is there a standard of some kind of what the average client would percieve as being too sharp or not sharp enough? When a viewer is looking at a portrait (head shot) might be different that when the same viewer is looking at a landscape or group of people. Would the different types of subject matter call for different sharpening processes?

  21. Thomas 14 October, 2010 at 12:40 Reply

    I would love to see something on sharpening plug-ins. When do they make sense compared to sharpening in either LR or Photoshop.

    Also, it would be great to show the different sharpening tools in photoshop compared and contrasted (including high-pass).

    I am definitely looking forward to this course.

  22. dee 14 October, 2010 at 12:26 Reply

    I tend to sharpen every picture the same amount. I’m conservative because I don’t want to oversharpen. Can you discuss what to look for in each picture when sharpening, so I can give each photo just what it needs?

  23. dee 14 October, 2010 at 12:15 Reply

    I tend to sharpen every photo the same amount. I tend to be conservative because I don’t want to over-sharpen. Can you tell me what to look for so I sharpen just the right amount for each photo?

  24. David Gluckman 14 October, 2010 at 12:13 Reply

    Matt – Because I primarily photograph birds, I use LR sharpening extensively on each image, mainly concentrating on the Detail section. With all the feather edges to work with, sharpening and the required noise reduction has a major impact on each image, usually resulting in a “glossy” appearance. Though I generally like this result, I would be interested in learning the techniques to reduce it without adding more noise to the backgrounds, if that’s possilbe.

  25. André Ferrari 14 October, 2010 at 12:11 Reply

    I usually apply selective sharpening on Photoshop, specially because I tend to make a lot of low depth of field shots. But when I use smaller apertures, I just apply some sharpening on Lightroom and export it to print or for the web.

    It may seems laziness at first glance but it isn’t. I simple don’t know how, and there really is more to know about controlling sharpening.
    It’s kind of tricky, and I don’t quite understand the different types of sharpening you mention earlier on third point, so it should be, and I believe it would, a great opportunity to learn more about it.

  26. Paul 14 October, 2010 at 11:30 Reply

    1. How to determine how much sharpening is enough when looking at image at 100% in Develop module, since the print is usually not as sharp as the image on the monitor.. Do you dial it up so it is just a little too much, as Scott recommends? Seems way too imprecise!
    What if you’re using Nik Sharpener Pro? Do you?
    2. Having determined “perfect” sharpening in #1, what effect does amount of sharpening in Print module have? If you have a highly detailed, highly sharpened image, to print on glossy paper, will you lose sharpness with “Standard”? Will you oversharpen with “High”?
    It makes NO sense to have a special window in the Develop module to view your image at 100% so you select the right amount of sharpening, and then show you NOTHING when you select sharpening amount in Print module, RIGHT?

  27. Shaun 14 October, 2010 at 11:01 Reply

    Great idea! It would be interesting if you discussed options when photos have “screen” sharpening before web uploading but then additionally sharpening applied to the already sharpened image before printing.

  28. Bob 14 October, 2010 at 07:46 Reply

    Great idea. I would like to see you comment on a general approach to 1) General sharpening. We know that all raw images benefit from sharpening but is there a general sharpening base level to incorporate in our workflow. 2) How does this differ from sharpening for web and 3) How does this differ from sharpening for print.


  29. Bryan 14 October, 2010 at 07:40 Reply

    Difference between output and non output sharpening?
    When/how much to sharpen in lightroom and then when/how much in Photoshop?
    What sequence to attack the sliders and what to look for in the close up view?
    Should we always sharpen or just sometimes?
    Are sharpening presets worth doing or does each image need its own unique type of sharpening?

  30. Alex 14 October, 2010 at 05:55 Reply


    Reading all this comments, it’s obvious that a lot of people don’t know the difference between RAW sharpening, normal sharpening and Print sharpening in the workflow of developing a photo.
    Although there are different places on the web where the sharpening sliders are explained, it stays a speculation how far one can go with them. It’s a matter of try out but it still cost some printing paper and ink before obtaining the right result, so I’m very curious to see your summary of all suggestions in these comments.
    Living in Europe I can’t participate to your classes, so it would be fine to be able to download your resulting work in PDF format or another media.


  31. Karel Kuran 14 October, 2010 at 05:09 Reply

    Hello Matt,
    I would like to know couple things about the sharpening in LR3. How much does a sharpening on export effect the final image and how important is it to set it right when I’m exporting the image. The second question is what in these days is the optimum sharpening? If I have sharp image from my camera, do I still have to apply more sharpening in the LR3? A lot of the times I don’t feel that I have to apply any sharpening but then you read that people sharpen their images all the time.

    Thank you very much and I’m looking forward to see you class.

  32. Aaron Kyle 14 October, 2010 at 04:52 Reply

    One of my frustrations is the relationship between sharpening and noise reduction. It seems as though the two are on a teeter-totter relationship with one another. If I increase sharpness, I lose noise reduction capability. Or if I increase noise reduction, I lose sharpness. Is there a way to be able to effectively use both?

  33. Pete 14 October, 2010 at 03:03 Reply

    Sharpening and noise reduction…where’s the balance? Sharpening a well exposed, already sharp, low noise photo is pretty straight forward. The challenge is in balancing the softness of noise reduction with sharpening and bringing back noise. I’m interested to hear your recommendations and personal preferences regarding sharpening of noisy photos.

  34. Luiz Flavio Oliveira 13 October, 2010 at 21:51 Reply

    Hello Mat,

    I would really love to understand the diferences between lightroom and photoshop sharpening tools. Which I should use to obtain the best possible results and how to get sharpen photos just like the recent football pictures at Scott kelby´s blog.


    Luiz Flavio Barros

  35. John T. 13 October, 2010 at 19:52 Reply

    I am a little confused on using clarify vs. sharping. What is the difference between the two options? I am not an expert on Lightroom, so excuse me if I am unclear here.


  36. Ben 13 October, 2010 at 19:48 Reply

    i would like to have some real-world examples of the different sharpening methods in PS and when you would most likely use them.

  37. Ryan Miller 13 October, 2010 at 18:06 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    I actually would like you to get more into the technical details. I would like to know the rationale behind why you apply a certain type of sharpening to a certain type of photo and/or output medium.

    I seem to just click the presets and trust that lightroom does a good job, but I know I am missing some deeper understanding that I have been constantly been curious about.


  38. Martin 13 October, 2010 at 18:05 Reply

    Here’s my question: I’ve read the theory about what the Lightroom sharpening sliders do, but how do we know from looking at the image what is the optimum setting for a particular photograph? For example, I hold the Alt key down and move the Detail slider and I see the amount of detail changing, but what exactly am I looking for in the image which tells me I’ve reached the correct setting.

    Similarly with Radius – I hold the Alt key, I see the radius changing,and I know I’m supposed to avoid halos (whatever they are!) but where do I stop, bearing in mind this is only input sharpening?
    Thank you

  39. Christina 13 October, 2010 at 17:16 Reply

    Great subject! I would like to know about sharpening and print sizes. I’ve heard that you should sharpen based on output size or if it’s for web…but for example I use zenfolio/mpix lab and do not know which size they will order.. So what are the best ways to do this in this case? Also related to this should we allow the lab to correct also (which can be color and sharpening settings) . So far I have been doing this and prints have been perfect. For me at least lol

  40. Paul 13 October, 2010 at 16:48 Reply

    Are there any disadvantages to sharping in Lightroom 3 vs going into Photoshop or are they both just as powerful at this task?

  41. Bob Kerr 13 October, 2010 at 16:23 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I find sharpening in Lightroom 3 very confusing. Is the amount of sharpening done in the workflow taken into account at the time of export? I am always worried that I will over sharpen if I use both. Also how can I turn off sharpening in Camera Raw? I usually further manipulate my images in photoshop and plug-ins and would like to sharpen in the final step.
    I look forward to your planned lectures.

  42. Brenda Godwin 13 October, 2010 at 16:21 Reply

    Please be specific about modes/settings to obtain the sharpest possible images in the camera. Can’t wait to see/take/listen to the class.
    Thanks. —brenda (kelby training member)

  43. Wade Holler 13 October, 2010 at 16:19 Reply

    So I import my photos into LR, RAW and it applies some default sharpening.

    Then I maybe use the adjustment brush to sharpen eyes on a portrait. Then I output to JPEG for print to say MPIX. Have I over sharpened?

    Also if I apply a say B&W preset ( doesn’t contain sharpening changes ), but then I want to apply the “sharpening for portraits” preset, does it stack? If not can I get it to?

    Is there a correlation between the LR sharpening sliders and the PS sharpening settings that Scott Kelby usually recommends in the PS books?

    Just a few questions, looking forward to your whole post as I am rather confused about sharpening and what stages I may apply not enough or to much.

  44. ricardo 13 October, 2010 at 16:12 Reply

    Long thread! I have not read all the answers/tips(*) … basically I was wondering:

    – Can you do a two pass “sharpening” on Lightroom?

    i.e. Sharp it once at 1, R1.2, D2.0, M80 and then a second sharp at 2, R1.5, D2.3, M90 — this is an EXAMPLE


  45. Michelle D. 13 October, 2010 at 16:05 Reply

    I tend to always start with a preset (yours) when I sharpen. Are there any examples of times when I would NOT want to start with a preset? Also, I am not super meticulous about my sharpening. I know it’s important, but it seems minimal compared to so many of the other things I need to focus on when I am editing photographs, unless it’s a really nice portrait and I want to the use the adjustment brush to do selective sharpening on the eyes, for example. Is this your approach?

  46. Max 13 October, 2010 at 15:45 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    I’d be interested to see sharpening focused on what I can do in Lightroom 3. I’ve seen a number of classes but none seem to stick. Also how this all relates to other sliders in the Effects pane, i.e. noise reduction.

    Essentially something that’s easy to remember, easy to follow and gives me the best bang for the bucks…

  47. Bob 13 October, 2010 at 14:44 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    It would be good if you would include the ideal percentage that the image should be viewed at when sharpenning. Viewing sharpening for the web surely must be different than sharpening for printing. Tjis would help me and i am sure others too. Thanks, Bob

  48. JoeH 13 October, 2010 at 14:32 Reply

    Although this is supposed to be LIghtroom-centric topic, I’d like a high level discussion of which sharpening actions you carry back and forth into Photoshop.

    This can also be extended into noise reduction since noise reduction is on the other side of the sharpening scale.

    Looking forward to the class

  49. Steve Hughes 13 October, 2010 at 14:22 Reply

    It would be good to try and clear up the confusion over pre-sharpening and output sharpening either within Lightroom or using external apps and plug ins such as Nik Sharpener Pro. Is it better to do pre-sharpening in LR and use Nik for Output or use Nik for both, for example.

  50. Wil 13 October, 2010 at 11:54 Reply

    When is the best time to sharpen, while viewing or before printing. I done while viewing where does it fit in your workflow.

  51. Carrie 13 October, 2010 at 11:30 Reply

    I use the sharpening in lightroom 3 and it looks great on my monitor and then I get the photo printed and then it looks “fake”. What have I over adjusted to cause this?

    Also, when using the sharpening tool, does this effect the pixel quality in the photo?


  52. Alan Garner 13 October, 2010 at 11:23 Reply

    I do my sharpening in LR but basically I just use the Amount and Luminance sliders – not the Detail, Radius, Mask, etc. I would like to understand how best and when each slider should be used. Are there situations when I should move to CS5 and use Unsharp Mask or some other tool instead of sharpening in LR?

    Excellent topic choice!

  53. Lyle 13 October, 2010 at 11:02 Reply

    You should really do this in a book so you can provide blow-in photos with actual optically printed images on photo stock from a place like Mpix. (my $.02)

    Whatever you do, please provide a link where the user can download the actual files you do your examples on – so they can see for themselves exactly what it looks like on THEIR screen… using their version of PS/LR…. with the parameters/process you’re calling out….. one of the problems with the descriptions out there is that there’s no standard reference someone can see on their own gear… those references to “it’ll look grainy but print fine”… well, that’s kind of unhelpful in its own right as it’s subjective as all get out, especially for someone without other live users around them.

    Also useful to know what distance, output sizes and media the parameters being used are intended to be viewed from. (I think that’s a dangling participle, sorry.)

    Good luck with it, its a great topic to take on and I’m sure you’ll add something very useful to all from it. 🙂

  54. Joe McAlhany Jr 13 October, 2010 at 10:18 Reply

    Matt—-if you apply a filter ( HDR), should the photo be sharpened in the HDR software and sharpened again in LR3? Thanks for all t he help

  55. Josh 13 October, 2010 at 09:46 Reply

    Very good topic Matt. I’m new to LR 3 and the digital photography world. I’m an avid hiker and have decided to take up photography as a way to enjoy my hiking even more.

    One of my challenges is that I am red/green color blind, so working with color photo’s can be difficult. I mostly shoot landscapes and tend to have similar adjustments for my clarity, sharpening and vibrance sliders. My question is how do these controls affect one another? Is the a proportional relationship?


  56. Craig 13 October, 2010 at 09:00 Reply

    My big thing is when to sharpen. I touch up the image in Lightroom bounce to Photoshop do some work– clean up the noise then sharpen. Is this the right order? Is there a right order? Sometimes I almost want to sharpen a bit first to get a clean look at my image crisp and clear before I retouch– to give me an idea of what this image will look light crisp and clean.

  57. Nick Van Zanten 13 October, 2010 at 07:43 Reply

    Sharpening, wow, the tutorial is certainly needed. Where to start – how much is too much, what do the numbers really mean? What really happens in Photoshop, why do I need to be concerned if I bring it back to Light Room and finish there?

  58. gwbenson 13 October, 2010 at 07:01 Reply

    Couple of thoughts:

    Scaling photos after sharpening and the potential advantage of sharpening after scaling, also any thoughts on the actual visible benefits at viewing distances.

    I think some people may benefit from selective sharpening techniques, masking?

    What not to do?! Always a good angle 😉

    Any thoughts experience on plug-ins that do a better job? Maybe in particular detail sharpening?

    Using sharpening techniques to enhance photos without sharpening, clarity, contrast.

    How sharp can a printer print 😉



  59. Allan Johns 13 October, 2010 at 06:32 Reply

    This would be very helpful and perhaps clear up the understanding (misunderstanding?) around how sharpening works between Lightroom and Photoshop. Will it also include comments on plugins like Niks Sharpener Pro 3 etc?

  60. Andrew Macpherson 13 October, 2010 at 05:51 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Interesting project. I’m not convinced about the desirability of losing resolution, to increase acutance. Back in the 70s there was a big split between proponents of Leica’s high-resolution lenses, and those in favour of Japanese designed glass which gave a better emphasis to edges, and of course the consumer market preferred the latter.

    Nowadays we still look to the early days of photography, with the definitions of depth-of-field still harking back to a 10×8 print viewed at 1’6″ which gives a visible spot a ‘circle of confusion’ diameter of 7 pixels on a 20 megapixel sensor. We tend to expect better than 10×8 output though, so can expect to get tighter than those 7 pixels, but this is getting tight if we allow the camera to mess with the captured image.

    if the detail is lost by increasing the acutance in camera, or in the raw processing stages, before the output is determined, then one limits one’s options. There are situations where the target is sufficiently well known (and poor quality) that this loss is within what would be expected anyway, eg TV, newspaper, web illustration. In general however sharpening should be turned off everywhere except as the very last thing before output.

  61. M. Faust 13 October, 2010 at 05:08 Reply

    get us some infos why sharpening looks slightly different in BRIDGE and LR.

    i don t mean the exported files i mean onscreen at 100% size.

    when you compare a 100% image screenshots from BRIDGE to a 100% image screenshot from LR and the exporte´d TIFF file you see small but visible differences.

    the BRIDGE screenshot is not as sharp as the LR screenshot or the exported image. i used no extra sharpening at export in LR and yes i setup BRIDGE to create the best possible preview in the preferences.

    when you compare these three images (the screenshots from LR and Bridge and the exported image) in photoshop you will see what i mean.

  62. Irene Strowe 13 October, 2010 at 04:57 Reply

    Severe oversharpening is fairly obvious, but is there a tool or method that can show the beginning of oversharpening? The point would be so we can get the maximum of sharpening before the side effects/artifacts show up.

  63. Becky phillips 13 October, 2010 at 04:01 Reply

    I am glad you are doing this one! I am not sure that I have a suggestion, but I come across this problem a lot! Photoshop seems to do a much better job at sharpening, but I cant sync it to multiple photos to save time. So I guess I am just anxiously awaiting the correct way to do it in lightroom that is effective!

  64. Ozzie Alfonso 13 October, 2010 at 01:47 Reply

    Frankly I’ve never been totally pleased with any sharpening I’ve done in PS or LR, not in RAW, TIFF, JPEGs, or PSD. The sharpening introduces too many artifacts I can do without. For example, one I can’t find a way around is the sharp light outline that appears running along two areas of high contrast. If you want to cove a topic that’s top on my list, this is the one.

  65. Steve Osborne 13 October, 2010 at 00:55 Reply

    Great topic.

    For me, there is a couple of areas that I could benefit from more knowledge on. One, using sharpening to rescue a slightly soft, but otherwise great image. Two, how to determine how much to sharpen for print. Generally, I see a sharp image on screen that doesn’t quite cut it in print.


  66. de Mengin Pierre 13 October, 2010 at 00:50 Reply

    What is theimpact of the conversion process from raw to jpeg? Does it incraese sharpening when compressing from 16 bit to 8 bit colour.

    Thanks for the work done to help us improve our work with lightroom.

    Meilleurs souvenir de Paris

  67. Ted Thelin 12 October, 2010 at 23:45 Reply

    Hi Matt, You tutorial will be much appreciated. Is it necessary to apply capture sharpening in LR or just wait to apply sharpening at the time of output for either printing or the web? Thanks. Ted T.

  68. Stefan M 12 October, 2010 at 23:22 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    Sharpening is always a point of contention I find. Many do too much, and yet it’s sad when there’s too little!
    I think your ideas are great, but I’m curious what you think of two areas.
    First, using LAB to sharpen. I think you probably know what I mean? When I sharpen in Photoshop, I almost always use this technique as it allows me to control my lights and darks separately.
    Second, plug-ins for sharpening, both in Lightroom and Photoshop. I have been impressed by the Sharpening Plug-In from Nik Software, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it and others.
    Lastly (I guess there were three), RAW Pre-Sharpening. It’s importance, and how to do it properly.

    Thanks for your countless hours of immeasurable help.

  69. Steve 12 October, 2010 at 22:54 Reply

    Thanks for asking for input. I would like to have you cover sharpening for different sizes of printed photos. Also do you need to do different sharpening for different sized images on the web.

  70. ChuaAL 12 October, 2010 at 22:32 Reply

    Hi Matt. Thanks for continuing the show. I’ve got LR3 (personal) and a corporate copy of Photoshop CS5 (from work). I usually only do capture sharpening as import preset, then do the develops, and a final output sharpening in LR3 (for screen or 4R prints with resizing).

    I read that the best creative/output sharpening is performed in photoshop but I prefer not open photoshop each time just for sharpening. So if possible, can you teach us to action droplets on a general sharpening in photoshop so we can use LR to batch process with droplets?

    Thanks Matt

  71. Doug Johnson 12 October, 2010 at 22:20 Reply

    Despite extensive reading and experimenting, I still am confused about output sharpening. Input sharpening and content sharpening, I get. Old school rule of thumb was you couldn’t tell onscreen, ever, at all, whether you had applied enough or too much sharpening. Haven’t read the extensive collection of replies you’ve already received but hope you can help. Love your work in PhotoshopTV, this blog, and other places I see your stuff.


  72. Kathleen D 12 October, 2010 at 22:18 Reply

    Since I’ve upgraded to LR3, I’ve had some pictures turn out just too sharp when I open them up in PS. Do the older sharpening presets not “jive” with the newer software?

    Also would like you to go through the difference between using the sharpening presets in the develop module and the print presets for sharpening.

  73. Bruce Ring 12 October, 2010 at 22:11 Reply

    I am very excited about this class. One of the things that has confused me is the differences between using the “Clarity” slider and the sharpness sliders in Lightroom and ACR. I also have trouble telling what Unsharp Mask and Fade unsharp mask do.

    Thanks for putting this together!

  74. Alton Marsh 12 October, 2010 at 21:36 Reply

    Are you going to cover Photoshop Elements? I use CS5 at home and PSE on the road. if you cover PSE, what do you think about the automated sharpening? I do either the custom or the automated depending on how much time I have. Which method in PSE is best? What are the settings?

    In CS5, any standard settings I should use as starter settings in unsharp mask? I have read lots of books, all of them offering different starting points, and now I forget which ones I originally set as a good starting point in, say, unsharp mask.

    What about high pass filter methods? Are they less destructive than unsharp mask methods? Are they also better? Is there any one best way and is the high pass filter method that one best way?

    At this point in my Photoshop training I am thoroughly confused. I took formal classes years ago in Photoshop from Eliot Cohen in the Washington D.C. area. But the program changed and the old method is now, well, old. So by now I have Scott’s low, medium, and high actions, I have a two-pass LAB sharpening action probably from Scott, but who knows? I have an action I call Katrin Eismann Contrast Sharpening. I have a Sharp Image Brilliance action that I got some someone in a book, I have your Smart Image Popping that you said you use all the time. That one action is it, I guess. But WAIT! There’s more. I have the Strobist Subtle Pop sharpening action, not to mention the Popular Photography Simply Sharp action that was in an article. Yesterday I bought a new filter called PSKiss Clarte, a sharpening filter with I think a one-stop slider. I have Focus Magic, too, that runs as a separate program. Is it any wonder I don’t know what the heck to do anymore?

    In smart sharpen, isn’t there a limit on the radius you are supposed to use? Isn’t it 1.9? And 1.3 is the most you usually go?

  75. Howard Ignatius 12 October, 2010 at 20:28 Reply

    What a great idea Matt! I think I have watched every sharpening podcast that both you and PhotoshopUserTV has ever recorded. Is there a way to decide before you begin to sharpen which method will yield the best result? For example, if you are sharpening a portrait, would one method be more advantageous than the other from the get-go? If you could include third party sharpening products in the mix, that would be great! Understanding your decision criteria really helps me.

    Thanks! Keep up the good work and thanks again for the plug last month!

  76. Iza 12 October, 2010 at 20:17 Reply

    Hello Matt, it is a great idea for a tutorial, and I am looking forward to it. I have few questions of my own regarding sharpening. I usually use only Lightroom, hardly ever process my images in Photoshop. I know that Unsharp mask is preferred by many to sharpen. I am wondering if new Lightroom sharpening is as good? Also, with Local adjustment brush in Lightroom, now sharpening can be done only on parts of the images. Can you show some examples when and why it is important? And one more- what exactly is Masking option doing in Lightroom and when it is important to use it?

  77. Danielle Factor-Consolini 12 October, 2010 at 20:02 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I would like to know the best way to sharpen a photo after you have performed a refine
    edge mask and placed the photo onto a gradient background and (performed Scotts workaround for the blended edge) in PS. Once you return to LR for your final adjustments to the image,
    the edges do not respond to any of the tools/methods tried as yet to eliminate some
    soft and light edge areas noticeable upon zoom.

    Would greatly appreciate your expertise. Thanks very much.

  78. Steve 12 October, 2010 at 19:35 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    You must of heard my cries. I have been practicing with different lenses how to get my images sharper out to the camera to start. So when you cover that part could you talk a bit about different lenses and how to figure the best f stop for a sharper images.

    Thanks can’t wait to watch it.

  79. Don Myers 12 October, 2010 at 19:34 Reply

    I look forward to whatever you do with this subject. Many of the comments cover the items I am interested. Would appreciate information on the sliders, but also would appreciate “web” sharpening and “print” sharpening. Thanks for asking.

  80. Digital Lady Syd 12 October, 2010 at 19:31 Reply

    I would like to know how to get the sharpening to work both at +100 and -100 which is supposed to give a blurred look when used with negative Clarity – good for directing your eye to another part of the image. I cannot seem to get this effect in either direction when using the Adjustment Brush. Thanks for your help.

  81. Milton 12 October, 2010 at 19:23 Reply

    I want to know your defaults – what are your “go-to” sharpening settings for different situations.. What are good settings to use?

    I also could use a little bit about the output Lightroom 3 settings – what should we use? How do they (or just do they) differ from version2 and just simple defaults that could be “set and forget”


    Hey – maybe another blog post on this could make us all winners 😉

  82. Shawn 12 October, 2010 at 19:15 Reply

    Matt, when I sharpen, I notice that the luminance noise seems to increase dramatically. It is because I am sharpening the noise. What is the correct procedure for using the entire “Detail” dropdown panel. Should I reduce luminance noise first and then sharpen or vice versa? I also would like to add that I tend to oversharpen. I just love seeing supersharp images on the screen. Then when I print out my photo, I add high sharpening on glossy paper and things tend to get way too sharp. How can I avoid this? Is there a good reference to use when adjusting the sharpness in the detail panel? I only use Lightroom 3.2 btw. I don’t own photoshop.

  83. John Ahern 12 October, 2010 at 18:44 Reply

    My question relates to taking portrait images from Lightroom to Photoshop to do full retouching, skin, eyes, hair etc.
    Most retouches recommend doing no sharpening on the RAW file as it makes the retouching harder, especially on the skin as it increases the local contrast. Do you agree with this or are the sharpening tools in Lightroom that allow masking of the sharpening make the above advice incorrect?

  84. Mike 12 October, 2010 at 18:28 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    Great topic and thanks for asking for feedback from your loyal viewers 🙂 Here’s a question with likely an obvious answer, but I’m just curious about your thoughts on it anyways.

    I shoot the majority of my photos (landscape primarily) using Aperture Priority. Now obviously the f-stop I use has a significant bearing on depth of field and unless I specifically choose to blur the background with a larger aperture (say 2.8 or 4.0..etc) how much can I actually stand to gain using a smaller aperture where I’m clearly going to get better depth of field (i.e. f11, f13, f16…etc). Is there anything that truly does play into this to improve my overall end results?


  85. Scott Prokop 12 October, 2010 at 18:07 Reply

    In a perfect world, I want a program or Photoshop feature to:
    1. Evaluate the image (size, ISO, EXIF for camera type, megapixels of the camera, etc)
    2. Determine the best sharpening for the output (Print, Screen, digital image sales…aka stock photography).

    From Raw to final output. That would be awesome! The same way that Lens correction can get the EXIF information of the camera and lens to determine what the image should look like.

  86. Alan Huntley 12 October, 2010 at 18:02 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    Yes, I agree that sharpening should be simple, but I rarely find it to be a “one stop shopping” type of thing for all images. I know that the basic concept of sharpening is to lighten the light side and darken the dark side of edges to make them appear…well…sharper. 🙂 But, different tools out there do different things…for example,

    1. Pixel Genius’s output sharpener separates the light and dark sides providing user control in this regard.

    2. The latest sharpening tool from the folks over at pushes the dark side MUCH more than the light side which does a very nice job of sharpening, but the image appears slightly darker overall.

    3. Nik’s Sharpener Pro pushes things pretty hard, but has quite a bit of control to allow the user to get pretty much exactly what they want/need.

    4. Photoshop’s built-in sharpening (unsharp mask, smart sharpen, etc) don’t allow much control; it’s kind of a love it or hate it affair. I rarely use these tools.

    Therefore, I guess my question is: Does sharpening your photos have to be this difficult? If you need to use different techniques based on the image, how does one decide which to use? OK, that’s two questions…sorry! 🙂


  87. Scott Prokop 12 October, 2010 at 18:02 Reply

    I want to know the best technique for sharpening in Lightroom & Photoshop. My questions are:
    1. Unsharpen mask or Smart Sharpen? Which is better?
    2. Does the amount of megapixels on your camera factor into the amount of sharpening you process on your images? I always thought that a 12MP camera image would have different sharpening levels than a 22MP image.
    3. Does ISO also factor into the equation? At ISO 1600, wouldn’t you just be sharpening the noise?
    4. What is the best 3rd party sharpening program?

  88. Laurent 12 October, 2010 at 17:40 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Nice idea. I’d like to understand the use of all the sliders for LR3 sharpening. How do you use them ?

  89. Don Horne 12 October, 2010 at 17:37 Reply

    One of the things that persistently plague me about sharpening in LR is the masking slider. One thing that helped me keep it straight is the old saw about photoshop: White reveals & Black conceals. So, when using the slider, I adjust the amount until the areas I do not want highly sharpened show black and vice versa.

  90. Dennis Zito 12 October, 2010 at 17:27 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I haven’t read through all 140 comments so I maybe duplicating here. Print sharpening has always a mystery to me how much for different situations (portraits, landscapes, HDR, etc). When to sharpen. I’ve hear to sharpen last and I’ve heard to sharpen just before printing. How noise affects sharpening … remove noise before? Some rule of thumb would help! Third party plug-ins and when to use them.

    Great idea! Thanks for all you do for us!


  91. Tom 12 October, 2010 at 17:12 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Please include a tip about how to sharp “right”. Of course, this might be objective to the viewer / person that does the sharpening. Still there might be rule of thumb for sharping on screen, print, etc. Now that I just think about it: Why should I actually sharp differently for screen vs. print? And how much?


  92. Jay B 12 October, 2010 at 16:28 Reply

    Matt –

    Great idea.

    I’m interested in the specific thresholds you use for sharpening, detail etc. Do those vary by the type of print? What about different types of paper? How should I sharpen for the online printers.


  93. Mau Orozco 12 October, 2010 at 16:21 Reply

    If an image has been sharpened selectively in Lightroom should I still use the sharpening when exporting to a file?

    Same when it comes back from Photoshop where I have sharpened everything already?


  94. Lorri E 12 October, 2010 at 15:58 Reply

    I think a good explanation of exactly what each slider is affecting would help people understand the sharpening process a little better.

    Also, what techniques work best for sharpening photos without causing too much noise to show up in higher ISO images. I think there was improvement in CS5/Lightroom 3/Raw for this.

  95. dave duzy 12 October, 2010 at 15:50 Reply

    so many legit questions here…I would like to see many of the answers you come up with (and also win the subscription 😉 ) Maybe you could address the radius slider and how that affects sharpening. I don’t really see any changes in my images when I use it.

  96. Ed 12 October, 2010 at 15:47 Reply

    I guess I’m a newbie… how about a quick intro about what sharpening is and why you use it. Maybe start with a before and after image to set the stage, then delve into the “how to”…. something like that?

  97. Rick Bangart 12 October, 2010 at 15:40 Reply

    In several places I’ve read that each camera lense has a “sweet” spot, an F-stop where you’ll get the sharpest image. Have you ever experimented with this or done side-by-side comparisons for a lense’s f-stops? I’ve been unable to notice any significant difference, but I’ve wondered if this is something to consider when developing a sharpening workflow.

    Also, I’ve read that when printing to desktop printers (e.g., inkjets) it’s usually advisable to oversharpen a little. I’m assuming this is to counter ink spread on the paper. Does oversharpening help? How much should you oversharpen? What if you’re printing to coated paper, where ink spread is typically minimal?

  98. Robert 12 October, 2010 at 15:34 Reply

    Not sure if this fits your scope, but how to avoid or reduce stair-casing jagged edges on thin diagonals (chain link fences, wires, etc.)

  99. Jennifer Shoer 12 October, 2010 at 15:34 Reply

    Just finished editing a couple of hundred pics from my daughter’s horse show – pics of all the girls. My question is this…if I adjust the color noise and luminescence, I then feel I need to sharpen. I think I like the results (reduction + sharpen), but am I actually just undoing the reduction when I sharpen? Hope my question makes sense.

  100. Tom Hargreaves 12 October, 2010 at 15:27 Reply

    Hi Matt, you Kelby guys are really using this reader comment thing to great advantage, I wish others would as well. Here is another vote for: (1) LR slider effects and how to use them, (2) output sharpening compared to Develop Module sharpening, (3) the trade-off between noise reduction and sharpening and in what order to use which (e.g., I’ve read that one should reduce noise first then sharpen, but the order in Develop suggests the opposite).

    Whatever you choose, I know you will produce something that will help me and a lot of other aficionados. Thanks for doing all you are doing, and thanks to Kelby Training for supporting and offering the many free photography explanations and tips — as well as the great courses. (And no, I don’t have any connection with Kelby Training.)

  101. Clint Johnson 12 October, 2010 at 14:59 Reply

    Is there a way to really tell if you have crossed the fine line of sharpening too much without printing the picutre? ie, if you zoom to 251.5% and look at and area with the greatest contrast and see pixilation then you know you have gone too far, back off before printing.

  102. Tim McAdam (Subconscious Sight) 12 October, 2010 at 14:24 Reply

    I’ve started using the live view and zooming in and focusing on manual, especially with landscapes to get certain areas sharpest for the DOF.

    Keeping sharp in PS…
    I’m using Lightroom because I haven’t had the time yet to really learn PS… I would say though… sharpen LAST before printing. I do a little “spot” sharpening with the adjustment brush when necessary too.

    Making them sharper…
    If you are posting to the web, I learned a little trick from some Flickr friends. Sharpen at full res. then export to the resolution you will be posting it (ex. 1024 x ??) then resharpen it again and post.

    One thing I will be trying soon…( if UPS ever brings it), I purchased a “Spyder Lenscal” from Datacolor to calibrate my lenses.
    I shoot a Canon 5D MKII so I can do the “in-camera” adjustments.

    My biggest question on LR would be what to look for when doing adjustments while holding down the “alt” key.

  103. Dan DeRyckere 12 October, 2010 at 14:22 Reply

    Please try to cover sharpening for printing and how it relates to matte & gloss paper as well as print size. Another aspect of sharpening find myself unsure of is the relationship in Lightroom 3 between sharpening & noise reduction modules — sometimes I end up going back and forth between the two and fiddling until it looks right. Any insights into the relationship of the two modules and what to look for would be a big help.

    Thanks, Matt, for all you do for us.

  104. Rhozzy 12 October, 2010 at 14:16 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    I always hear about unsharp mask sharpening in Photoshop and I’d really like to know the pros/cons of sharpening in LR as opposed to PS. Thanks!


  105. Juan 12 October, 2010 at 14:15 Reply

    I noticed sometimes that its not a photo’s overall sharpening but WHERE its sharpened that counts…maybe you could go over some of your tips to where and when to selectively sharpen:) Thanks!

  106. London 12 October, 2010 at 14:13 Reply


    In LR3, I’m just wonderin’ if you should sharpen your photos first and then reduce the noise afterwards or vice versa?
    David F. got me thinking… hmmmm

  107. Tom S 12 October, 2010 at 13:44 Reply

    I would like to better understand the use of the Alt key when sharpening in LR3. I would also like to know what if any effect export output sharpening has on a photo that was already sharpened.


  108. David F 12 October, 2010 at 13:37 Reply

    Looking forward to the video. And I’m wondering why the sharpening sliders come before noise reduction in LR3 – shouldn’t one sharpen after reducing noise?

  109. Karl W 12 October, 2010 at 13:12 Reply

    I am looking forward to the course. It needs to explain in simple and practical terms what kinds of sharpening are available in both PS and LR and when to use. Differentiate between sharpening for screen and print. Identify the sequence for sharpening, especially for output – and especially for print. Compare the various plugins and what Adobe has built in. Are there other sharpening techniques like high pass that will work.

  110. Jeremy Proffitt 12 October, 2010 at 13:04 Reply

    1.) When is the best time to sharpen your photos?
    2.) Best way to do selective sharpening.
    3.) Noise Reduction Software and Sharpening.
    4.) Whats the correct amount of sharpening. How do beginners know when enough is enough.

    Those are the ones I think would help a lot of people.

  111. William Chinn 12 October, 2010 at 12:56 Reply

    1. Please comment on when sharpening cannot be done to improve a slightly out of focus picture.
    2. Any tips on sharpening an HDR with slight motion with no sharp image.
    3. In the last Kelby book there are other and new techniques on sharpening, can you discuss your views on when to use?

  112. Barry 12 October, 2010 at 12:54 Reply

    Hi Matt
    A great subject to pick as I’m never sure what and where to sharpen in Lightroom. If you could give us one tip on what place to sharpen to give the greatest benefit that would be ideal and when to do it I.e. Just before printing.?

  113. Linda Quinn 12 October, 2010 at 12:53 Reply

    Matt – I am sure this have been mentioned already, but I would like to see you overview how the various types of sharpening play out in the Lightroom-Photoshop-Lightroom workflow. Thanks!

  114. Ross 12 October, 2010 at 12:52 Reply


    My problem seems to be oversharpening when printing. What looks good on screen doesn’t on paper. What would be neat is to have an action that applied various amounts/types of sharpening and put each on a separate layer. That way, you’d have one type/amount on each layer depending on what you wanted to do with the photograph.

  115. Rick 12 October, 2010 at 12:50 Reply

    Great idea & great suggestions from others! I would like to learn more about “creative sharpening” within LR. Specifically, how do you control LR sharpening parameters when using its adjustment brush for localized sharpening?

  116. Monty 12 October, 2010 at 12:47 Reply

    Have to admit I like to keep the processing time down to a minimum. I wonder if there are some types of photos that benefit more from spending additional time on sharpening such as landscapes vs interior shots vs portraits. I also would like to know more about using the brush for added selective sharpening and any pitfalls or tips on its application.
    Keep up the fantastic work Matt.

  117. Joe 12 October, 2010 at 12:45 Reply


    I am always confused whether or not an image needs output sharpening on top of the regular sharpening that I do in Lightroom or Photoshop.

  118. TJ 12 October, 2010 at 12:39 Reply

    Looking forward to the class. I would like to know your thoughts on the various plug ins (or action/presets) avaiable for LR and PS that deal with sharpening. How do they compare to actually doing the work yourself, i.e. are they quicker, do they do a good job, is the quality worth the time saved? Or maybe once we learn how to efficiently sharpen after taking your class the plug in would be a waste of money. Just curious on your thoughts here.

  119. alex 12 October, 2010 at 12:14 Reply

    Would I sharpen b&w photos differently than color? I find that a lot of my B&W photos made in LR turn out a little on the soft side. Would something like Silver EFex help with that?

  120. Rob M 12 October, 2010 at 12:12 Reply

    I am interested in what you look for when you are sharpening. As you move the slider, what areas are you looking at and what changes do you watch for as you narrow down the value.

  121. Tony 12 October, 2010 at 11:58 Reply

    Looking forward to your new recirding Matt –

    One item that I would appreciate some information being touched on would be when working between LR & PS. What tips, or traps to avoid, are there when processing in both the tools in your work flow? Is there a time it is better to sharpen in LR as opposed to PS, or vice versa?


  122. Josh 12 October, 2010 at 11:51 Reply

    I would like to be shown how to tell how much an image should be sharpened. I always have a hard time deciding whether I have sharpened too much. Because of that fear I think I usually leave my images under sharpened.

  123. Lawrence 12 October, 2010 at 11:51 Reply

    I would like you to include something about balancing sharpening and noise reduction in LR. I often find myself reducing noise only to ‘bring it back’ again when I sharpen.

  124. Dan 12 October, 2010 at 11:48 Reply

    Based on all the comments already, looks like you hit on a great subject.

    I also struggle with sharpening sliders and noise reduction and how they interact with each other.

    I use LR3 NR on nature heavy cropped images with great success, and would love to learn more about these options and how they effect web/ipad viewing.

  125. eli 12 October, 2010 at 11:32 Reply

    This is a great material!!!
    I’d like to see how to use just LR for sharpening (capture, creative and output)… I’ve been exporting my photo to PS just to sharpen (I use a kind of “edge sharpening” in PS – USM with a mask for the edges), but I believe I can get the same results in LR… just didn’t figure how!

  126. Andy 12 October, 2010 at 11:31 Reply

    I’m baffled by the various Lightroom sharpening settings. Would love a simple and practical overview. It’s overwhelming to think about a comprehensive sharpening workflow…

  127. eli 12 October, 2010 at 11:17 Reply

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the other posts, but I would like some more clarity (pardon the pun) on the difference between the sharpening slider in lightroom and output sharpening. Should you do both? without exhaustive testing is there a way to know how much output sharpening you want. low standard and high aren’t that specific.
    thanks for doing this. I hope to get a subscription to as soon as verizon finishes installing fios in my apartment later this month so I can access it from a high speed connection.

  128. Jordan 12 October, 2010 at 11:12 Reply

    What exactly is the difference between PS and LR sharpening? LR has a much more complicated interface, and I am not sure what these various sliders do on an individual basis. Is there a significant difference in quality between the two?

  129. Fabio Bernardino 12 October, 2010 at 11:12 Reply

    Different cameras have different low-pass filters. Canon had a white paper for one of their 1Dsomething that had a Photoshop sharpening recommendation (USM) of 300/0.4/0 (If i recall correctly) to compensate for the low pass filter (capture sharpening).

    Since in LR I think the order you apply your develop settings doesn’t matter, I’d like to know how do you develop your sharpening technique for different media (web, tv, print).
    There is a sharpening option when you export your images (screen, matte, glossy, low, standard, high) but I don’t think it is very useful as I don’t know what is happening. I think it’s very trial and error.

    And since Adobe develops different camera profiles and lens profiles, I think Adobe could have a white-paper regarding some recommendation sharpening (starting point) for different cameras to compensate the effect of the low-pass filter.

    Thank you. Great job you’re doing here.

  130. Mike 12 October, 2010 at 11:07 Reply

    I can’t wait for the class. What most confuses me is that everyone who is asked what is the best sharpening tool the majority say NIK Pro Sharpener. I would like to see how this compares to the Photoshop family and if I can get by without the NIK product.


  131. DJ 12 October, 2010 at 11:07 Reply

    I would be interested to hear about output sharpening. I never use it in Lightroom and I don’t think I miss anything. I just use the regular sharpening tool until it looks okay and that’s it. Why would I want to use output sharpening, where you can only see the outcome after exporting the photo?

  132. Bob Slie 12 October, 2010 at 11:07 Reply

    Hey Matt,
    Thanks for tackling this. My question is if I sharpen in Lightroom when I export, should I also sharpen in Photoshop after edits are done using either Unsharp Mask or Nik’s Sharpener? Or will this oversharpen things? When and how much is appropriate?

  133. jim boyle 12 October, 2010 at 11:07 Reply

    I’d like to understand where I should draw the sharpening line between Photoshop and Lightroom. With most of my workflow in LR, I’d like to know how to tell when I should go in PS and when I can stay in LR. In addition I do a lot of low light action sports (soccer, football, lacrosse) all with ‘poor’ field lighting (often ISO 6400) , how do I strike the right balance of Noise Reduction & Sharpening.

  134. James 12 October, 2010 at 11:04 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Great idea for a topic because I rarely pay much attention to this although I know I should. The main reason I don’t is that I send my printing to a lab instead of printing at home so I’m never sure how much to sharpen. Would love any tips you have on this.

  135. LR USER 12 October, 2010 at 10:58 Reply

    LR sharpening has always confused me and I never get decent results. I would like some instruction on LR sharpening and it’s limitations. And then, when it’s best to use sharpening actions in PS over Lightroom.

  136. Larry Loar 12 October, 2010 at 10:55 Reply

    Hi Matt!
    I know I’m concerned about over sharpening my images. I shoot in raw and don’t sharpen anything in the camera. I try to do it in the post processing.
    My questions are:
    1) I’m not sure how much is just right or too much? Unless it is real obvious, I’m never sure.
    2) If you sharpen in Lightroom to create jpgs, do you need to create another set of jpegs to print from and another set to post on the web?

    Thanks for putting up a class on this. I’m anxious to see what you have to share! Larry

  137. Cheryl 12 October, 2010 at 10:45 Reply

    I appreciate you tackling this subject. My question: If I sharpen in LR3 & then export into PhotoShop CS5, do some editing work, but keeping the same files size & resolution on the image will I need to sharpen the image again?
    Thanks, I look forward to your upcoming class.

  138. Misty Dawn 12 October, 2010 at 10:44 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I would like to know the best way to sharpen in LR3. ie, should you sharpen in the develop module or what about the sharpening feature in the export window? Is the best sharpening method in LR able to be made into a preset? Thanks!


  139. debi anderson 12 October, 2010 at 10:37 Reply

    1. My Sharpening Questions for Lightroom would be how to do selective sharpening using the Adjustment brush. I’m just not getting that method!

    2. In CS5 – There are so many ways to sharpen – high pass, smart sharpen, unsharp mask, lab sharpen.. etc..
    I have some older settings that I used in CS4 – but I think these are OVER sharpening my photos – I guess I need a refresher course on sharpening – and what choice to use on what type of image
    For example – a tiny kitty, a bridal shot, a flower, something out of focus you are trying your best to maybe bring into focus.. etc.. So, more of a refresher course on sharpening
    I do a pre-sharpen on my raw images in Lightroom – so I’m sure that’s part of my problem..
    help Matt..
    and, that stupid Hawaii 50 song is still going on in my head – make it STOP! please.

  140. choergi 12 October, 2010 at 10:35 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    please tell me about the best sharpening tool in the LR-PS universe!

    I would also like to know more about the RADIUS slider in LR. Should I worry or leave at 1.2 – if this question is not too specific.

    PS: Sharpening – Very interesting issue!

  141. Michael amos 12 October, 2010 at 10:33 Reply

    How do you recogonize/avoid over-sharpening?

    What about sharpening levels for different kinds of prints: matte, glossy, canvas?

  142. Duluk 12 October, 2010 at 10:24 Reply

    As silly as it sounds, I’d like to *see* what haloes and over-sharpening look like, especially right around the point of oversharpening (at the capture sharpening stage). That is, I can tell when something is grossly oversharpened, but sometimes I think I oversharpen, but I’m not really sure because maybe it’s just “slightly” oversharpened.. 🙂 I know it’s mostly subjective, but….seeing obvious examples of what it looks like would be helpful to me.

  143. Dave 12 October, 2010 at 10:11 Reply

    Hi Matt
    I would like to know more about why you sharpen at all. From some of your podcasts I have some idea but don’t truly understand.

    Also, in the video it difficult sometimes to see the difference in before/after photos. Could you provide a couple of downloadable photos to review along with the video?

  144. alex 12 October, 2010 at 10:10 Reply

    I never understand why anything that sharpens can be called “unsharp mask.” I heard so many great things about sharpening and noise reduction in LR3… but I can’t tell a huge difference in sharpening.

  145. Mike Macdonald 12 October, 2010 at 10:09 Reply

    I’d love to know about the different sharpening tools in photoshop and what the difference is between them. Also how good is the lightroom sharpening tool or is it worth getting separate software for it.


  146. jude 12 October, 2010 at 10:07 Reply

    A simple explanation/definition of the different types of sharpening available in both applications would be nice. Also, a definition of “radius” that makes sense would probably guarantee you entry to the Pearly Gates.

  147. Tracy 12 October, 2010 at 09:56 Reply

    I would love some basic guidelines for how to tell if a photo needs more sharpening or how to tell that it has been oversharpened. I realize this might seem a bit basic but I think it would really help put anything else in context.

  148. ThomasM 12 October, 2010 at 09:52 Reply

    I would like to know when the sharpening shall be done.
    As the very last step or earlier.

    And if changing the color space makes a difference

    Whats about channel sharpening, which channels best?

  149. Scott 12 October, 2010 at 09:47 Reply

    I shoot alot of motorcycle races and some images are slightly out of focus. It would be helpful to know which images can be saved with sharpening and which ones should be dumped.

  150. Patrick 12 October, 2010 at 09:47 Reply

    Great idea! personally, since I’m still just starting out, it’s always been hard to figure out when is too much and when sharpening is just right.

  151. Paul N. 12 October, 2010 at 09:43 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Great idea. I’d like to see you address how the noise reduction section of the detail panel relates to the sharpening panel. More specifically, an explanation/example of what changes occur when adjusting the detail and contrast settings for luminance and color noise reduction. I notice that when I zoom into an image, and apply sharpening along with the noise reduction adjustments, the noise reduction adjustments seem to negate the sharpening adjustments to a degree. What’s a good way to tell if you’ve struck the correct balance?

    I’ll hang up and listen…


  152. Whit 12 October, 2010 at 09:31 Reply


    I think the most valuable tip I could ask for is how to replicate the jpg that comes out of my camera. I always shoot in RAW so that I have the ability to tweak away if needed. However, for the majority of my family/travel photos, I just want to quickly process them in LR and create something that will look as sharp as a jpg that came straight from my D90. Is there a standard amount of sharpening that is applied and does it vary based upon the “scene”? In other words, does the camera use different parameters for portrait vs. landscape or sports.

    Thanks a lot,

  153. Gavin 12 October, 2010 at 09:30 Reply

    This is a great topic for a short class. Would love your insight on when to sharpen and how much for certain situations (landscapes, portrait, sports,etc) I always follow your general rules and find them to be right on.

  154. Christopher 12 October, 2010 at 09:27 Reply

    I would really love some focus on LR3 new changes. Suggestions on what your best setting would be for all around photos, and then where you would take it for specific images.

  155. Morgan Jackson 12 October, 2010 at 09:26 Reply

    My main sharpening concern is mostly what the different functions are/can do! I usually use Lightroom, but on the occaisions where I work in PS I’d love to know whether Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen is my better option. Also, a brief overview on using layers for sharpening would be a cool topic as well!

  156. Shannon White 12 October, 2010 at 09:26 Reply

    Awesome!! In Lightroom…. I would love to know more about how exactly the radius and sharpening amount work together to give the perfect amount of sharpening to portrait images.

  157. John Swarce 12 October, 2010 at 09:24 Reply


    Could you touch on the different sharpening techniques when working on different types of photographs (i.e. portraits of people, landscapes, wildlife)?

    Is selective sharpening with the brush (in LR3 or CS5) more beneficial than an overall sharpening to the entire image?

    Should sharpening be done in LR3 first before importing it into Photoshop for retouching, or should it be done afterwards? My concern is having any edits done in Photoshop being more noticable when sharpening is applied at the end.

    What can be done with high ISO, noisy photos that exhibit a lot of grain and become too soft if you try to reduce the noise? How do you keep them sharp?

    Also, I think you should touch on making sure your photos are as sharp as they can be when taking a photo. It all starts in the camera!



  158. Sara 12 October, 2010 at 09:08 Reply

    Thanks for this Matt – I look forward to it! My question is on the basics of sharpening in LR. When I primarily used PSE for my editing, I would rely on the settings that you and Scott provided in your book as my default and never changed that. Now that I mainly use LR, I’m not sure what settings to use – when do I use sharpening in the Develop panel and when do I use it on JPEG export? And what are some general good settings?

  159. John LeJeune 12 October, 2010 at 09:06 Reply


    It would be helpful to cover how other adjustments affect the sharpening of a photo like noise reduction and the clarity slider. This interconnection is important when considering when and what to sharpen.


  160. Tom Rhyne 12 October, 2010 at 09:06 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I post images to a nature photography forum for image critique and getting a sharp image at the small image size limits (750 px on long edge, 200 MB max file size) on the forum is always a concern. The webmaster has suggested oversharpening to a file twice the size allowed, then resizing to posting size and doing a final sharpening for posting to the forum. Sounds kind of crazy, and anyway I’m not sure how to go about this sequence in Lightroom, which is my preferred software. Any hints on how to get sharp images for posting to this size limit?

  161. Steve 12 October, 2010 at 08:59 Reply

    I would like to understand the difference between unsharp mask and lens unblurring. It seems that removing lens blur is what we are trying achieve when we unsharp.

  162. Don Brown 12 October, 2010 at 08:54 Reply

    Sounds like a great class to look forward to but a lot of technical stuff. My motto is “keep it simple sharpening” (KISS). The simpler techniques, the better!


  163. Arnold Klein 12 October, 2010 at 08:49 Reply


    I think it would be useful to understand EXACTLY at the pixel level what each of the sharpening sliders is doing. I think sharpening is looking at the edges of pixels at the point of contact for differently colored pixels and then the radius expands the number of pixels that are affected at those edges but I really have never read or seen a good description of what is happening.

    Anything you can do to illuminate the subject would be useful.



  164. Julie K 12 October, 2010 at 08:44 Reply

    I questions how much sharpening to do in the camera, LR and then printing-especially to say MPIX where the consumer site sharpens again. I will often set to low and hope the combined effect is ok. As compared to printing on my Epson2400. That may be more of a workflow question, but it is what I consider.

    How sharpening is effected by other settings inLightroom would be helpful too. I normally do my edits in LR (haven’t really learned PS yet) so really understanding sharpening and how it relates or is affected by the other LR settings would be helpful. I always sharpen last.

    Great topic.

  165. Helge Johannessen Bjorland 12 October, 2010 at 08:41 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    This seems like a class I could be interested in taking and which I think many could benefit from. It would be useful with some advice both on the best techniques for capturing sharp images, but also how to use the sharpening tools in LR and PS to produce the best results.
    In some situations I have only had available my mobile to take a picture. These usually turn out grainy, and so it would be handy with some tips on how you can best manipulate these to look sharp 🙂


  166. Glyn Dewis 12 October, 2010 at 08:39 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I guess like a few others have already touched on, a ‘starting point’ or your ‘fail safe’ settings for certain types of photos ie portrait, landscape, food and so on… would be very useful.

    Also, when it comes to sharpening, it might be worth touching on using it during a retouch as in the eyes are generally sharpened during the process but would you then add overall sharpening to the image when outputting it for print (Does that make sense?)

    Great idea though; looking forward to it,
    All the best to you,

  167. ceb 12 October, 2010 at 08:35 Reply

    what about un-sharpen ?
    i personally use sharpen on the opposite direction (so un-sharpen) in combination with clarity within the gradient tool to create some fake tilt shift effect
    sometime i have to add more than 1 gradient per direction but the effect is not so bad ( i hope Adobe will add gaussian blur on the gradient tool one day)

  168. Christopher 12 October, 2010 at 08:34 Reply

    Well, I have 2 questions: First, in LR, how do sharpening and Noise reduction work together? If you can have a lot of noise and need to crank it up, can you gain additional contrats and structure back by increasing your sharpening? Upside? Downside?
    #2: High Pass seems to be much easier to use as a sharpening tool in PS than anything else. In large part because I can clearly see it and brush in what I want/don’t want etc. Any problem with doing that rather than unsharp mask?

  169. Benita 12 October, 2010 at 08:26 Reply

    Good idea. Maybe you could talk about purpose/outcome of the different types of sharpening, and how they all work together. For example, if you do capture sharpening is output sharpening necessary? How do you prevent oversharpening if you do the different types of sharpening? If you’ve doen capture and output sharpening, where does creative sharpening fit in? Also, it would be great if you talked a little about sharpening with the High Pass filter.

  170. Julian Adams 12 October, 2010 at 08:24 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I’m glad you are doing this as I use both Lightroom and Photoshop CS5 and am always wondering what are the benefits of sharpening in Photoshop over Lightroom. I also like to keep it simple and am much happier if I can stay in Lightroom for the majority of adjustments.

    Lightroom 3 sharpening is definitely better than version 2 but I still see people doing sharpening in Photoshop when watching tutorials online.

    I’d also like to know whether Sharpener pro is a better system even though it adds extra images to the computer taking up more space!!


  171. Tyler 12 October, 2010 at 08:23 Reply

    I would like an explanation of when to use all the different sharpening options in LR. There is sharpening you can do across the whole photo, then there is the Adjustment brush and when you export.

  172. Alis in Wnderlnd 12 October, 2010 at 08:22 Reply

    I get some wonky results when I do sharpen in the develop module and then there is a little added in the print module or save for web. It just gets over sharpened. I’m willing to dance around it for printing and add no other sharpening in the print module, but anything saved for the web looks soft or over sharpened. I haven’t found a good balance unless I leave it all alone, take the photo into PS and then run a simple action for saving for web and save it from there, not from LR. I’d love to just save for web in LR.
    My prints always turn out better when I print through LR. I am not sure what the difference is.

  173. Benita 12 October, 2010 at 08:19 Reply

    Learning more about sharpening and how to do it effectively without going to far is a great idea. I hope you’ll consider covering how the different types of sharpening work together. For example, if you do capture sharpening in Lightroom, is output sharpening necessary? Or if you’ve done capture and output sharpening, where does creative sharpening fit in? How do you balance the different types of sharpening to avoid oversharpening? And it would also be great if you could talk about sharpening with the High Pass filter too.

  174. Adam Silversmith 12 October, 2010 at 08:19 Reply

    I would love to see how you use plugins also to help with your sharpening workflow. I also want to know how much sharpening you use in Camera raw/Lightroom and then how much you sharpen in Photoshop if you are using both programs for an image. Or if you are sharpening in Lightroom only what are your techniques. Thanks for doing this

  175. RL 12 October, 2010 at 08:14 Reply

    Matt, Where do I go to get the best sharpening- Lightroom (clarity/print sharpening) or Photoshop (Unsharp Mask/Smart Sharpening? Where does Luminous sharpening enter the workflow?

  176. Rob Green 12 October, 2010 at 08:01 Reply

    What I don’t fully understand is how far to go with capture sharpening, and how you tell if it is too much. Obviously, you have to do some form of output sharpening for the final product, but you need a good starting point that you can work with while developing the photos that won’t be too much such that it degrades the image while you are developing it.

  177. Peter F 12 October, 2010 at 07:57 Reply

    This is a really good idea. Especially with photoshop there are now so many ways to sharpen a photo, all of which I think I have read about in Scott’s LR3 book and his CS5 book. But I want to keep things simple, and use LR3 if possible. Here are my questions:

    1. When might one integrate the input sharpening LR3 feature with the sharpening (and unsharpening) feature available with the LR3 selection tool (brush, gradient)?

    2. I’m having trouble finding “that balance” between sharpening and noise reduction. Any tips on finding the right combination?

    Peter F.

  178. GP 12 October, 2010 at 07:56 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Great idea, thanks in advance! Clarity slider in combination with powerful LR3 noise reduction tools before and after the retouch in Photoshop maybe? After you finish with PS you can compare the two versions of the file and apply the final tweaks.

  179. Jerry 12 October, 2010 at 07:54 Reply

    Thanks in advance to you Matt!!! thanks for doing this.

    one top quition is about the way when you holding the camera. I know when I holding it I should bring my arm close to my body, and they other hand close to my forehead. But I am wearing a pair of classes (not lens…), they are always on my way to stop me to pull the viewfinder too close to my eye… any surgestion?


  180. Miguel Palaviccini 12 October, 2010 at 07:52 Reply

    Great idea! It would be awesome if you could give general sharpening settings for different occasions. I know that each photograph is specific, but maybe most portraits should start at a certain setting, and landscapes at another. This would help out tremendously for a starting point.

    Also, please make sure to touch a little on sharpening for printing vs web. I think you did a special on this (can’t remember where though), where you showed each kind of sharpening (glossy, matte paper or web) and the differences that each had on an image.


  181. JohnD 12 October, 2010 at 07:52 Reply

    Excellent idea! I have read the Real World Image Sharpening from Fraser/Schewe, but I still struggle to choose radius and detail settings precisely and not “empirically”. More, as explain in the book, when you mix the luminance noise reduction (the 4th “sharpening” slider as Schewe explain) with the detail slider to regain sharpeness… Well, it is sometimes difficult to know if I had done things correctly and I understand what I do, or if it is a random result…

  182. Neil A 12 October, 2010 at 07:47 Reply

    I’d certainly like to know more about sharpening with respect to final print size but would also value your opinion on how viewing distance for a print also plays a part.

  183. Allan 12 October, 2010 at 07:45 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Interesting class and while there’s plenty that goes into sharpening, how, when, what filter to use, it would be nice to know exactly where, when or if any plug-ins come into play. Do the plug-ins supply an advantage over any lightroom or photoshop filter? The majority of the time I use the plug-in as one of the last steps and more to preform selective sharpening than the entire image.

  184. Jean 12 October, 2010 at 07:44 Reply

    I sometimes have trouble sharpening and then resizing.

    I’ve also just started using high pass sharpening instead of USM, I’m getting better results… but I don’t know why.

    Also, sharpening then bringing an image back into LR, any issues I should be concerning myself with?

  185. Jim 12 October, 2010 at 07:24 Reply


    Between all the different options that we can apply the what matters is keeping the eyes clear and sharp. What work flow should we work though to reduce noise, increase clarity, sharpen and out-put a photo WITHOUT plug-ins.

  186. Jim 12 October, 2010 at 07:20 Reply

    Matt, I’d like some tips on how to save an image along with different types of output sharpening all in one easy to use package (So I can easily go back and create a new copies for web, email, print, etc. without having to decide on “how much to sharpen” again). This question may be more applicable to Photoshop without LightRoom.


  187. Mark Coons 12 October, 2010 at 07:19 Reply

    My Lightroom work flow does not involve any sharpening as I have never been able to determine exactly what is the minimum amount of sharpening I should apply. I have my starting points in other area (based on if it’s a landscape or portrait) but have been wondering if I should include any sharpening. So any information you pass along on this subject will be of great interest and help to me!

  188. Mariano 12 October, 2010 at 07:12 Reply

    Hi Matt, great idea. I’d like you to cover when not to apply extra sharpness (faces…) and how to deal with skies – I always get a lot of noise there


  189. Magnus Stålberg 12 October, 2010 at 07:10 Reply

    (I’m posting this again. The GUI says it’s a duplicate but my posts won’t show)

    I’d really like you to point out how to think when sharpening for web, and sharpening for print.

    I did some sharpening and printing yesterday and the well known difference between what I see on screen and how my print looks (just talking sharpness here, no color match) was obvious. Even though my images looked noisy and “bad” on screen, the print result was close to great.

    I do 95% of the sharpening in Lightroom. Are there any magic rules? How does the sharpening at export and printing affect the already made sharpening?

    I totally agree on not being too techie, but even though I’ve use Lightroom since 1.0 I still don’t feel that I know what’s going on “behind the sliders”.

  190. Rick 12 October, 2010 at 07:06 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    Your course sounds great. I would also like to know where sharpening does fit in the workflow. I would also like to know why I would want to sharpen a photo assuming that it’s already sharp.


  191. Joe Barranco 12 October, 2010 at 07:05 Reply

    Move that focus point. I do a lot of animal photography and I found moving the focus point in camera to the eyes of the animal gives me a higher percentage of sharp images, especially when the animal is moving.

  192. Scott 12 October, 2010 at 07:05 Reply

    Everything I’ve read on LR/PS sharpening says to hold down the alt key while moving the sliders to see what you are doing. Only problem is, no one really describes how you are supposed to evaluate what you see there. Ideally, I’d like a workflow defined…which order to use the sliders in, and what you are looking for with each. Whats the best way to tell at the critical point for each slider, this is too little / this is too much?

  193. George Osborne 12 October, 2010 at 07:02 Reply

    As Photobooks are becoming more and more popular what is your take on the level of sharpening needed and what effect does soft proofing have on sharpening.

  194. Sergio 12 October, 2010 at 06:47 Reply

    I’d like for you touch upon sharpening with Nik Sharpener Pro, how that differs/integrates with sharpening in Photoshop or Lightroom, and how sharpening fits into the whole image post-processing process.
    Thank you, Matt.

  195. Neil 12 October, 2010 at 06:37 Reply

    I sometimes struggle with output sharpening, for instance when Exporting from LR to .JPEG or some service like Facebook.

    It seems like my exports are sometimes not as sharp as it seems in LR.

  196. Rick Freschner 12 October, 2010 at 06:37 Reply

    Matt –

    Can’t wait for the class. In addition to how sharpening in LR interacts with the other adjustments, such as clarity, I’d be interested in learning more about creative sharpening techniques in LR.


  197. Art 12 October, 2010 at 06:15 Reply

    How can I approximate high pass sharpening in Lightroom 3? In PS5, I can do the whole routine with a blend layer and get great adjustable results.

    I have a second question, final output sharpening at printing in Lightroom3. Low seems to be the only real option. Anything higher is too much sharpening.

  198. Mike 12 October, 2010 at 06:07 Reply

    I still have troubles with Radius, Detail and Masking (though Masking I get now). Understanding the difference in the controls would be a huge help for me….

    Thanks for all you do!!!

  199. TIm 12 October, 2010 at 06:05 Reply

    I have always been confused about the sharpening on export dialogue box. If I have done sharpening to my satisfaction in LR3, do I need to sharpen it again? Also, I was generally taught that sharpening is one of the last steps. If I am taking a photo out of LR to PS for more detailed editing, should I sharpen first, or do it at the end? And finally, the relationship between sharpening and noise reduction tools in LR3.
    Thanks Matt!!

  200. Piet Levering 12 October, 2010 at 06:02 Reply

    I”d like to have some guidance on how to judge the amount of sharpening applied to a photo viewed on screen, while the final goal is a print. I know that a sharpening-for-print often looks “ugly” (overdone) on screen, but this is rather vague to me.


  201. Drabir Alam 12 October, 2010 at 05:49 Reply

    Great idea matt. I am really interested in some sharpening technique which could help me to fix a part of a photo which has been blurred due to movement.

    I know there is no better solution than to keep myself steady. But is there a way through which I can make the slightly blurred ones a bit more usable.



  202. Lori M. 12 October, 2010 at 05:41 Reply

    I shoot RAW and love LR. Typically I import to LR, do my minor adjustments, and then bring into PS for actions and final sharpening. There are times when I do more casual jobs like birthday parties where I would like to do everything in just LR, export and deliver. I’ve always been confused and not very confident about sharpening in LR. Could you go through the best workflow for making your adjustments in LR with appropriate sharpening guidelines for outputed files up to 5×7″ that are ready for delivery?

    Thanks for all you! 🙂 Lori

  203. Lee 12 October, 2010 at 05:35 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I would like to know more about using Photoshop to create more depth of field in an image by combining several images, each focused at a different plane. How practical is this for commercial applications?

    Thank you and keep up the great work!


  204. Ole 12 October, 2010 at 05:23 Reply

    Hi Matt.
    I think it would be great to learn more about the 3 sliders radius/detail/masking in Lightroom they can really make a big different in what part of the photo is influenzed by the amount slider.

    Thank you.
    Ps: sorry for my bad English.


  205. Mischa 12 October, 2010 at 05:19 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I guess an obvious question is – should I use any sharpening in-camera at all, especially when shooting RAW, or should I leave it for post processing? Do you use any batch sharpening at all, or is each photo individually sharpened? And is the old theory that sharpening should always be the last thing to do to your photos still valid, in the age of non-destructive editing?

    Many thanks!

  206. Geoff Wise 12 October, 2010 at 04:59 Reply

    Hi Matt,
    I’d like to know if there is a difference between sharpening an image in Lightroom and then exporting it to Photoshop to work on, compared to exporting it from Lightroom without sharpening, completing the adjustments and then sharpening in Photoshop just before printing.

    Many thanks,


  207. Sam 12 October, 2010 at 04:58 Reply

    For my final sharpening, I currently use a technique where I split the layers into frequencies (taken from Model Mayhem – basically using gaussian blur and apply image) then adjust the high frequency mask with a curves layer clipped to it.

    Very similar to High Pass sharpening, but a bit more accurate.

    I’m very curious about other methods of sharpening though as I haven’t really found a great workflow for it yet (especially if I’m just doing Lightroom adjustments without jumping into Photoshop). I just use the clarity slider along with the sharpening slider, but that doesn’t seem that accurate.

  208. J-Hob 12 October, 2010 at 04:35 Reply

    I would be most interested in hearing about sharpening in lightroom with particular reference to the destination where the photo will be used – variously sized prints, web etc. I’d love to learn more about how the sharpening tools work with the output sharpening, how do you use the two sharpening tools together for best effect or is it best not to bother with the output sharpening at all?

    I do find getting sharpening really tricky to get just right, seems to be a very fine line between sharp and over-sharpened. It makes my head hurt just thinking about it!

  209. Marco Fiori 12 October, 2010 at 04:07 Reply

    Wonderful idea and it’ll be extremely welcome here. I’ve only been using Lightroom for two weeks now, but I’ve seen the quality of my photos increase sevenfold. I’d happily take some tips on sharpening and what not to do.

  210. fotofah 12 October, 2010 at 04:01 Reply

    1/ Is it possible (or wise) to set up user presets for sharpening in Lightroom?
    2/ Is it always necessary to have to “eyeball” the results?
    3/ Is Lightroom able to provide sharpening as quickly and easily as say Photokit Sharpeners’ capture sharpening (as opposed to creative sharpening or output sharpening, which I’m happy enough with in Lightroom)?

    My understanding is that some of the underlying technology from Photokit Sharpener was used in Lightroom.

  211. AlanS 12 October, 2010 at 04:01 Reply

    Sharpening has always been confusing (unsharp mask? Who named that?), but the different types in LR make it worse. In the interest of speed, and understandably at the expense of getting it perfect, I’d like to know more about the included presets that can be applied during import and export and if there are any “use these settings for this photo type” guidelines/starting points.

  212. Don McPhee 12 October, 2010 at 04:00 Reply

    Good idea Matt…A simple one, but I don’t know the answer…..Ok heres one thats been on my mind for awhile. …
    If I do not sharpen in camera (D700) and later sharpen in LR, can LR sharpen as good as if I had originally sharpened in camera. It seems as in camera would be able to sharpen the image at the time of capture better, than taking a not as sharp image and sharpening based on a algorithm???



  213. timofej 12 October, 2010 at 03:58 Reply

    I never use sharpening in the develop module. I choose sharpening in the export dialog depending on the destination.

    The problem is that I am not really happy with the results (at least for downsized photos exported for screen). I think that I get better results by exporting unsharpened full size photos to Photoshop, downsize them there and then sharpen them by USM or by High Pass filter.

    My question is whether it is possible to achieve similar results within the LR. There is almost no control on sharpening in the export dialog (only “normal” and “high”). I wonder whether the tools in the develop module can improve sharpening in the final downsized images. How do these tools affect the final output?

  214. Mark Cornwell 12 October, 2010 at 03:33 Reply

    Hi, Matt. In film days I would go for high acutance developer for B&W and lovely contrasty print papers. I’m softer in digital. Much softer. I only use output sharpening in LR for the most part although I do sometimes use a high pass sharpening action if I want a little more crispness. I was put off sharpening a long time ago because I was sharpening my digital files and being told I was over-sharpening by other folk. It looked good to me, but not to them. And they were in the majority! Now at the end of the day it is a matter of taste how sharp something is (to an extent) – mind you, once you start getting halo edges you’ve probably gone too far… but that’s really what I want to know. I would love to show sharper pictures but I’m worried about over doing it and would like to see something about “when is it sharp enough/when is it too sharp”?

  215. Sean 12 October, 2010 at 03:18 Reply

    Should we use the Detail dialogue box to sharpen in Lightroom as well as print sharpening at output on a print? I should we just use one or the other?

  216. Woods 12 October, 2010 at 03:15 Reply

    Hey Matt,

    There are 2 things I always wonder about.
    First, it seems that sharpening in Lightroom works very well with images that are already kind of sharp, but how do you try to make an image (or part of it) sharper while edges are not already very clear.
    Second, is there a technical difference between LR and PS sharpening ? I assumed it would give similar results but It seemed to me that PS sharpening was more efficient.

    — Woods

  217. Stan 12 October, 2010 at 02:56 Reply

    Great idea. How to strike the right balance between noise reduction and sharpening, to include luminance and detail, would be most helpful.


  218. Xavier 12 October, 2010 at 02:51 Reply

    Great topic. Sharpening always bothered me and now I just let it on its default setting in LR, sometimes applying a landscape or portrait preset.
    I’d be glad to see samples of what you can gain when using more refined techniques. If convinced I may want to know how to set the different sharpening cursors in LR (4 cursors for just sharpening ?)

  219. Antoine Beyeler 12 October, 2010 at 02:46 Reply

    Sounds like a great idea. I’ll be interested in most of what you’ll cover, but there is a specific point I’d love to hear about concerning sharpening in Photoshop.

    Sharpening is really what’s needed to give the final look of an image. However, this final look is obviously determined by other adjustments I might have done in Photoshop. So I find myself often in a bit of “sharpen” -> “look” -> “delete sharpened layer” -> “adjust” cycle. Is there a way, in Photoshop, to easily apply final sharpening in a non-destructive way, sort of like with an adjustment layer?

    I do this with the “Overlay” trick by adding a level adjustment layer with default settings (so its neutral), switching to Overlay mode and adjusting opacity. Anyway to do the same with sharpening?


  220. RON 12 October, 2010 at 02:45 Reply

    hi matt,

    sharpening in the develop module will sometimes add more noise, so we then remove noise and thus sorta unsharpen. then there’s the out put sharpening that on export we can add. the problem with that is there is no preview to know how much will be applied. and if you do both some times its about going back and re doing or re exporting to get what you want. I think we need the info on when,in what program and what kind of photos need what kind of sharpening techniques. kind of a starting point since every photo will need certain adjustments and not always the same ones. especially if you have added a lot of clairity.


  221. Jim Diedrich 12 October, 2010 at 02:43 Reply

    This will be helpful. It would also be helpful to have recommendations as to how to sharpen your photos for some photo services. For example mpixpro says not to sharpen your photos but I have heard it is good to use continuous tone at 200 dpi for sharpening using Nik sharpen plugin. Any comments on output for printing services would be great.

  222. Ian Whiting 12 October, 2010 at 02:38 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    I am told over sharpening produces halos yet I do not see these halos when sharpening in LR3 even when sliding the sharpen bar to the far right *. Maybe I am not looking for the right thing. Please explain what a “halo” is in more detail. When will we know when the correct sharpen amount has been applied? * I use Canon 5DMKII, RAW, 100ASA (usually) and watch the LR3 preview at 100%

  223. John Quixley 12 October, 2010 at 02:35 Reply

    Great idea Matt. Looking at the effect that resizing has on USM settings would be great, especially in light of the fact that LR images can have sharpness set before you know the finished export size.

  224. Magnus Stålberg 12 October, 2010 at 02:20 Reply

    I’d really like you to point out how to think when sharpening for web, and sharpening for print.

    I did some sharpening and printing yesterday and the well known difference between what I see on screen and how my print looks (just talking sharpness here, no color match) was obvious. Even though my images looked noisy and “bad” on screen, the print result was close to great.

    I do 95% of the sharpening in Lightroom. Are there any magic rules? How does the sharpening at export and printing affect the already made sharpening?

    I totally agree on not being too techie, but even though I’ve use Lightroom since 1.0 I still don’t feel that I know what’s going on “behind the sliders”.


  225. Barb 12 October, 2010 at 02:08 Reply

    Hey Matt! this is a great idea! I am always trying to balance sharpening, clarity and noise reduction and find sometimes, of course, that they each have ‘competing’ objectives. Any ‘clarity’ you can add to ‘sharpen’ my understanding of their interconnectivity would be helpful (hee, hee) . Cheerio, b

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