Output Sharpening in Lightroom: Mastering the Final Touch

Output Sharpening in Lightroom

Are your images lacking the sharpness they deserve, leaving you feeling like something is missing? Well, fear not, because there’s a secret weapon in Lightroom that can bring your images to life.

Output sharpening is like the final touch that elevates your photos from good to great. It’s the missing puzzle piece that adds that extra clarity and definition, making your images stand out in any medium.

So, how does it work? What are the steps you need to take to achieve that stunning sharpness?

In this discussion, we will explore the ins and outs of output sharpening in Lightroom, unraveling the secrets to making your images truly pop.

Key Takeaways

  • Capture sharpening is applied in the Develop module to enhance individual pixel details in the image.
  • Use sliders like Amount and Radius to adjust the degree and precision of sharpening, but be cautious not to introduce halos or noise.
  • Output sharpening is applied in the Export module and is tailored to the specific output destination (screen, print, etc.).
  • Choose the appropriate sharpening settings based on the output type (Screen, Matte Paper, Glossy Paper) and adjust the Amount slider accordingly. Remember not to overdo it.

Table of Contents

Capture Sharpening in Develop Module

In the Develop module of Lightroom, you have the option to apply capture sharpening to enhance the individual pixel details within your image. This step is crucial for improving image clarity. By adjusting sliders like Amount and Radius, you can control the degree and precision of sharpening. However, be cautious not to overdo it, as it can introduce halos or noise into your image. To better assess the impact of sharpening, hold the Option/Alt key while adjusting the sliders. Remember, capture sharpening is just the first step in the sharpening process.

In the Export module, you can further enhance image clarity through output sharpening. This step is tailored to your specific output destination, such as screens or prints. Within the Sharpening section, choose the appropriate sharpening option based on your output. For screen viewing, select ‘Screen’ to optimize clarity on digital displays. For matte paper prints, choose ‘Matte Paper’ to enhance edge definition. For glossy paper prints, opt for ‘Glossy Paper’ to apply higher sharpening. Adjust the Amount slider accordingly, starting with lower amounts and increasing if necessary.

Output Sharpening in Export Module

To optimize image clarity for specific output destinations, such as screens or prints, Lightroom offers output sharpening in the Export module. This feature allows you to enhance the sharpness of your images based on how they will be viewed or used. In the Sharpening section of the Export module, you can choose the appropriate sharpening settings for your desired output type.

To make it easier for you to understand and choose the right output sharpening settings, here is a table outlining the options available:

Output TypeDescription
ScreenEnhances clarity for on-screen viewing
Matte PaperAdds edge definition for matte paper prints
Glossy PaperApplies higher sharpening for glossy paper prints

Once you have selected the appropriate output type, you can adjust the Amount slider to control the level of sharpening. It is important to note that you have already applied capture sharpening in the Develop module, so avoid overdoing it with output sharpening. Start with lower amounts and increase if necessary.

Remember to zoom in to 100% while applying sharpening to accurately assess its impact. Additionally, keep in mind that output sharpening should not replace capture sharpening, as both are essential for achieving overall image clarity. Experiment with different settings based on your image and output destination, and consider the preferences of your audience for the best results.

Additional Tips for Sharpening in Lightroom

Consider your intended audience when adjusting sharpening settings in Lightroom. Different viewers and output destinations may require varying levels of sharpening to achieve the desired clarity and impact. When sharpening for web images, a more subtle approach is often preferred to avoid introducing artifacts or excessive noise. For prints, however, a slightly higher level of sharpening may be necessary to ensure that details are well-defined and visually appealing.

In addition to considering your audience, it’s important to remember that sharpening is a two-step process in Lightroom. Capture sharpening, applied in the Develop module, enhances pixel details within the image. Output sharpening, on the other hand, is applied in the Export module and is tailored to the specific output destination. It’s crucial not to overdo the sharpening during the output stage, as capture sharpening has already been applied.

When applying sharpening, zoom in to 100% to accurately assess its impact. Experiment with different settings, such as the Amount and Radius sliders, to find the optimal sharpening level for your image and output destination. Remember that output sharpening should complement, rather than replace, capture sharpening.


In conclusion, output sharpening in Lightroom is a valuable tool for enhancing the sharpness and clarity of your images on different platforms. By applying capture sharpening in the Develop module and adjusting settings like Amount and Radius, you can control the degree and precision of sharpening.

Then, in the Export module, you can choose the appropriate sharpening settings for your desired output. By following these steps and considering additional tips, you can ensure that your images look their best, no matter where they’re viewed.

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