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Understanding Lightroom's Sharpening Sliders

How to Sharpen photos in Lightroom

Sharpening in Lightroom isn't something we talk about a lot.  It isn't one of the exciting things that makes your photo beautiful or transforms it in amazing ways.  It is one of the little things.  But the little things sometimes make a huge difference, so here is a breakdown of all the sharpening sliders in Lightroom and how to use them!

Where to Find the Sharpening Sliders

Sharpening in Lightroom

The Sharpening sliders are found in the Detail Panel.  This is also the same panel where Noise Reduction is found.  Each of the sliders has a different function.


This slider decides the intensity of the overall sharpening for the entire photo.


Think edges when thinking about this slider. This slider determines how far out from the edges you'll see sharpening.  This slider is best adjusted while holding down the ALT key.  Your photo will go black/gray and you should consider adjusting it until you can see just the main edges of your photo.


This slider affects the details and helps bring back details and keep the sharpening focused on the details.  This slider is also best adjusted by holding down the ALT key and dragging the slider until you can start to see some detail from your image.


This slider is really the magic slider in the Sharpening section. This slider will look for solid or smooth areas and try to mask off the sharpening from those areas and keep it to just the edges.  I am typically very conservative with the other sliders.  However, with this slider I am VERY generous and generally have a very high amount.

Final Tip

Many people don't sharpen in Lightroom.  If you choose to sharpen in Lightroom, you should probably choose not to sharpen your images on export.  This could leave your photos over-sharpened which isn't generally a good thing for an image.

To see the Sharpening Panel in Lightroom in action, watch Allison's video below.  She has done a fabulous job of explaining each of the sliders and showing you how to adjust them for your image!


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