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?
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.
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.
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?