Lightroom 4 Sharpening Controls

Please look at the picture full size against the Grey background.

A simple shot of an oil can in a steam locomotive on Bristol Docks.

Processed for clarity and sharpness without going OTT.

Technical stuff – 1/60 f8 640 ISO – hand Held.

I feel my knowledge of sharpening and noise reduction was weak so with release of Lr4 I have been reading up about the sharpening controls.

I had a grasp of the Amount and Radius controls but was not sure how to use the Detail and Masking sliders.

Detail and Masking are both Sharpness suppression controls.

Moving the Detail slider to the right increasingly does not sharpen detail.

Moving the Masking slider to the right increasing does not sharpen areas without texture like skies.

Top Tip – To see what is happening hold down the Alt key when using the Sharpening Controls. White reveals, Black conceals.

The sharpening numbers used for this picture were Amount 60, Radius 0.8, Detail 0, Masking 10. Detail was moved from its default to add sharpening to all areas of texture. Masking was nudged slightly to protect the small areas of solid black.

Very unusually for me this is very sharp but not over sharpened. Being an old Git who knows how sharp prints look produced from film, digital sharpness seems completely unreal in many cases.

My next task is to find out how to use the Noise Reduction controls properly, not that I usually have much trouble in that department when using the 5D II with auto ISO.

If this post has been useful why not leave a comment?

A big hello to all the new followers of my little blog.

(c) Andy Beel FRPS 2012

18 responses to Lightroom 4 Sharpening Controls

  1. aolsson says:

    Agree, the picture is really great..
    .. im not in to LR yet (just DL the demo) and are not friend with it yet, thanks for sharing your knowledge..


  2. athyfoto says:

    “. . . digital sharpness seems completely unreal in many cases.”

    Since I got my glasses fixed I find that reality is absolutely pin sharp! Sorry, couldn’t resist 😉

    Apart from that . . I have been using LR right from v1.0 and find the tools now available in LR4 absolutely brilliant. The masking capability was a major improvement in the sharpening of images in my view. The Photoshop/LR 80 – 20 workflow split has completely reversed for me now. By the way, your tip about holding down the alt key as a modifier applies to a host of functions throughout photoshop too, always worth trying it just in case!


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Frank my Optician is a photographer called Steve. When doing and eye test I say that could be sharper and he says that’s sharp enough.

      Agree Lr4 is a major step forward.


  3. kjb404 says:

    Andy, what would you think of having your readers submit some of their photos for your review and comment?


    • andybeel says:

      Hi people have request this in the past. Comments I give on photos on peoples blogs tend to be very short, generally. That doesn’t mean to say that a lot more that could be said.

      If you would like to email me pictures at comments can me returned via my blog or by email. Andy


  4. A.Barlow says:

    The only thing that I think the LR4 and most sharpening tools fall short of IMO is dealing with clouds and running water found in long exposures. To me they tend to do funny things to them. At least you can mask those things out with selective sharpening. Just wish it was easier.


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Aaron Lr does have the ability to mask out flat areas without texture ie the Masking slider. No need for the High Pass filter in PS. Andy


  5. photosclosetohome says:

    Would like you opinion – is the upgrade to Lightroom 4 worth the effort?



Please share your thoughts on this post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s