Disabling Sharpening

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Today’s Question: I have been using Lightroom CC for a couple years and I am just discovering that Lightroom automatically sharpens every image. I discovered this in my efforts to use Topaz Denoise. How do I disable this auto sharpening?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can disable sharpening for images that are not yet in your Lightroom catalog by changing the default settings in the Develop module or by applying a preset during import. If you want to apply that change to existing images you will need to synchronize only the Sharpening adjustments across all photos in your catalog.

More Detail: Lightroom applies a small degree of sharpening by default to all photos you import into your catalog. It is possible, however, to change the default settings for the Develop module or to synchronize specific settings (such as to remove sharpening) across a large number of photos.

For example, you could select all of the photos in a given folder (or all photos in your Lightroom catalog) in order to synchronize settings for those photos. In the Develop module you will still be working with a single active image, even though you have selected multiple photos. To reset the sharpening for the current photo, simply set the Amount value under Sharpening in the Detail section of the right panel to a value of zero.

Next, click the “Sync” button at the bottom of the right panel to bring up the Synchronize Settings dialog. Click the “Check None” button to clear all of the checkboxes. Then turn on the Process Version and the Sharpening checkboxes, and click the Synchronize button. This will synchronize the updated sharpening settings (with no sharpening being applied) for all of the selected photos.

If you want to change the default settings for all new images you import into Lightroom, you can change those defaults or employ a preset during import. I recommend using a preset during import because this provides a little more flexibility and makes it easier to be consistent with all images.

So, for example, you could create a new preset that includes only the settings you want to update during import. That might include the removal of chromatic aberrations and the application of a lens-based profile, as well as removing sharpening. Start with a “sample” image, and then click the Reset button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module to reset to the default settings. Adjust the settings you want to apply to all images, such as changing the sharpening to remove this effect.

When you have the settings adjusted as desired, you can click the “plus” (+) button to the right of the Presets header on the left panel in the Develop module. Name the new preset, and click “Check None” to deselect all adjustment options. Then turn on the checkbox for all adjustment options you want to include as part of this preset.

When you import photos, select this saved preset from the Develop Settings popup in the Apply During Import section of the right panel. This will enable you to apply specific settings for images you import into Lightroom. Note that this will also become the default option for all future import operations, since the settings are mostly “sticky” within the Import dialog.