Enhance your photos with the sharpening sliders in Adobe Lightroom.

What you learned: How to use the sharpening controls

How to sharpen your photos

  1. With a photo selected, click the Edit icon in the column on the right.
  2. Click the 1:1 icon in the toolbar, or click on the photo to zoom into the actual size of the photo. This zoom level is the best way to evaluate the sharpening adjustments.
  3. Click the Detail panel to reveal the Sharpening slider.
  4. Drag the Sharpening slider to the right to control the amount of sharpening applied to your photo. In most cases, this is all you need to do.

Additional sharpening controls

  • To get more control over the sharpening effect, click the left-pointing triangle to the right of the Sharpening slider to reveal three additional controls.

To use these controls, you should understand how sharpening works in Lightroom. The Sharpening slider cannot bring back lost detail in a photo. It only creates the illusion of detail and sharpness by adding contrast to edges. These three additional sliders control how the edge contrast looks and where it appears.

  • The Radius slider controls the thickness of the edge where the contrast is applied. Lower values give you a thinner edge, while larger values give you a thicker edge.
  • The Detail slider controls the amount of sharpening applied to the details in your photo. A low value sharpens only larger edges, while a high value sharpens even the smallest details and could create a noisy result.
  • The Masking slider allows you to control where the sharpening effect is applied. With the slider set to 0, the sharpening effect is applied to the entire photo. As you drag the slider to the right, the effect will start sharpening areas with only strong edges.

The Masking slider can be very helpful when removing the extra noise produced by the Amount or Detail sliders.

  • To get a better visual representation of what the Masking slider affects, press the Option key (MacOS) or the Alt key (Windows) and drag to view the sharpening mask applied to the photo behind the scenes. The black areas represent areas that are protected from sharpening; the white areas represent areas that will be sharpened.


Back to: Reduce noise



Presenter: Jesus Ramirez

Photographer: Cody York Photography

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