Lightroom Sharpening Previews

When using the Sharpening sliders in Lightroom, it can be difficult to see the effects of each slider. Thankfully, there is a simple method to help visualize what’s going on.

Hold down the Alt key (also labeled as Option on Macs) while using any of the Sharpening sliders, and the image temporarily changes to better show what that slider is doing.

For example, when using the Amount slider, the image changes temporarily to grayscale. With the color out of the way, it’s a bit easier to focus on the sharpness and detail.

The effect is more useful when using the Radius slider. The edges become highlighted, and you can see how the radius of the sharpening goes up and down with your slider movements. Though a bit difficult to make out, the image below shows white outlines around the major edges in the image.

Holding the Alt key down while using the Masking slider is especially useful, as it allows you to see where the mask is being applied. In the images below, the Masking slider starts out low, meaning that sharpening will be applied fairly evenly across our canine subject (the white area in the top image). As the slider is dragged right, the mask is applied to more and more of the image (middle) until only the major edges of the photo have sharpening applied (bottom), leaving the black areas unsharpened.

Quick-Tip: Within the Sharpening panel, use the detail zoom window to get a closer look at important parts of your images (such as eyes) as you adjust the sharpening.

Quick-Tip: Quickly compare the before and after of your sharpening work by pressing the Y key to go back and forth.

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