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3 Minute Intro to Sharpening in Lightroom


When shooting in RAW, you may find that your images tend to look sharp in the LCD preview on your camera, but soft when you bring them in to Lightroom.

This is because your camera's software is generating a JPEG preview, since RAW images are not viewable, and need to be converted to a viewable file format.

In order to replicate what you saw on your camera's LCD screen, you will need to apply a bit of sharpening in Lightroom.

Here is a quick overview of some of the most commonly used sharpening sliders in Lightroom!

In the Develop module, locate the Detail panel by scrolling down - it is between Split Toning and Lens Corrections:

The two sections that we will be looking at today are Sharpening and Noise Reduction:

Sharpening and Noise Reduction go hand-in-hand. As you increase the Sharpening to bring your RAW image to its desired level of sharpness, you will likely find that the noise in your image increases, particularly in the background.

Here is an example of the Sharpening amount being increased, with the original image below. As you can see, the Sharpening on our subject looks pretty good, but the background becomes a bit more noisy:

This is where the Noise Reduction panel comes in!

By increasing the Luminance along with the Sharpness, we can reduce the noise that is created:

Be sure to bump up your Detail and Radius sliders to see how they perform. In this example, I pushed them all the way up, which I wouldn't advise, but I wanted the change them to look as drastic as possible for the tutorial.

The Detail slider is often used in editing people, but it is more frequently used in landscape photography because it dramatically sharpens edges, so you will see a more noticeable effect on trees, structures, etc. than you will on a person:

Also, be sure to experiment with the Masking slider - it will help blend all of your sharpening adjustments together and hide any obvious noise or grain.

If you haven't already, be sure to download our 7 FREE Presets for Sharpening in Lightroom!


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