Lightroom vs. Photoshop, which one does a better job with sharpening?

Jun 24, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Lightroom vs. Photoshop, which one does a better job with sharpening?

Jun 24, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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There are several ways to sharpen an image, and each of us has our own go-to method. And of course, some Adobe users prefer doing it in Lightroom while others rather choose Photoshop. In this video, Aaron Nace of PHLEARN compares the two programs and all of the available methods they provide. So, which one wins the sharpening contest?

Lightroom

When it comes to Lightroom, there are two ways of sharpening. First, you can go to the Detail panel and crank up the Sharpening slider. This method also allows you to adjust masking, radius, and detail for more control. On the minus side, this method sharpens your whole image equally instead of sharpening individual details.

If you rather sharpen only certain parts of your photos (such as the eyes in portraits), the second Lightroom method is a better choice. You can use the Adjustment Brush tool – just paint the areas you want to sharpen and crank up the Sharpness slider. However, this method also has a drawback:  it doesn’t let you control masking, radius and detail.

Photoshop

There are several ways of sharpening an image in Photoshop, and Aaron demonstrates two of them in the video.

The first method is a bit more complicated but it gives you way more control. Also, something like this is my go-to method for sharpening images, and I’m sure many of you do the same. First, duplicate the background layer and desaturate it. Right-click and convert the layer to a smart object, and then change the blending mode from Normal to Overlay. Now go to Filter > Other > High Pass, adjust the radius so that you get a natural result, and you’re done.

If you want to sharpen only certain parts of the image, you can use a layer mask. Click on it, invert it, and use a Brush to paint in the areas where you want to apply your sharpening.

The second method is way simpler, but it doesn’t come without drawbacks. There’s a Sharpen tool in Photoshop which lets you paint in the specific areas. It works well, but it’s harder to control. And if you overdo it you’ll just need to start over.

The winner

I’m sure each of us will have our own opinion about the winner, so there’s no objective answer. For me personally, the best method is the one that uses the High Pass filter in Photoshop. It gives you a lot of control and a lot of options, and you can adjust it to your liking and apply it to the entire image or only to certain areas. Since I don’t always feel like using Photoshop after editing my photos in Lightroom, I think that the Brush tool in Lightroom is the second-best option. I don’t shoot a lot of portraits though, so I haven’t used it much.

What’s your preferred sharpening method? And which one is the winner here?

[The Best Way to Sharpen Your Photoshop | Photoshop vs. Lightroom | PHLEARN]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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9 responses to “Lightroom vs. Photoshop, which one does a better job with sharpening?”

  1. Oliver Sandammeer Avatar
    Oliver Sandammeer

    Sharpening combined with channels. ??

  2. Nicolas Racine Avatar
    Nicolas Racine

    I wish he would have applied the same knowledge about Lightroom that he did with photoshop.

    Sharpening in Lightroom is a lot more flexible than what he showed.

    First of all, depending on what you are sharpening, the Texture tool is extremely useful. Second, you CAN apply more than 100% of sharpening with the Adjustment brush. All you need to do is duplicate the “layer” as many times as you want. You want to sharpen only parts of an image with the Detail tool? You can remove the unwanted sharpening with a negative value on the adjustment brush.

    I am not dissing Photoshop; I simply believe a lot of people underestimate what Lightroom can do, and those videos, showing a biased comparison like that,do not help at all.

  3. Lorenzo Morgoni Avatar
    Lorenzo Morgoni

    shoot raw, develop with Camera raw, apply sharpening in “Details” panel, go jpeg, crop if needed, reduce to a standard size (e.g. 3000×2000)
    not the finest method but it suits my needs
    I don’t like sharpening too much my photos

    1. Jeff D Yarbrough Avatar
      Jeff D Yarbrough

      Lightroom and Camera have the same engine behind the magic. The sharpening tools are identical.

  4. Stefan Kohler Avatar
    Stefan Kohler

    Oh my…

    1. Alexander Teuer Avatar
      Alexander Teuer

      so, you like horror movies? :D

  5. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    Never like LR sharping tool.

    1. Jeff D Yarbrough Avatar
      Jeff D Yarbrough

      Do you like the ACR sharpening tool?

  6. Matt Avatar
    Matt

    If you resize your photos for web, there is only one tool which does it the “best” way: WebSharpener from Andreas Resch: https://andreasresch.at/websharpener_en
    (it’s a Photoshop Script which does sharpening at different sizes multiple times basically)