Today’s Question: In your recent webinar “Lightroom Classic: New Features and Workflow Tips” you discuss the Texture, Clarity and Dehaze sliders in the Basic Section. I was wondering how these compare with the Sharpening sliders in the Detail section. I often photograph birds and do some sharpening of the feathers. Do these adjustments do the same thing or should one use both?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Texture and Sharpening are the most similar among these adjustment controls (Dehaze, Clarity, Texture, and Sharpening), but I still recommend using both Texture (as appropriate) and Sharpening for slightly different purposes.
More Detail: As noted in my recent webinar presentation (https://youtu.be/5OvbCBY3KXw), the Dehaze, Clarity, and Texture adjustments (as well as Sharpening) serve a very similar purpose.
Each of these adjustments is primarily focused on enhancing overall detail in a photo. The key difference is scale. Dehaze is focused on enhancing detail at the largest scale, Clarity is somewhere in the middle, and Texture is focused on the smallest details in a photo (such as fine feather detail for bird photos).
Sharpening is slightly unique in that you can adjust the scale to some extent with the Radius slider. That potentially puts Sharpening somewhere in between Texture and Clarity in terms of the overall scale.
The emphasis of Sharpening compared to Texture is slightly different. Sharpening is intended to compensate for less than optimal sharpness, caused by shortcomings of the lens, among other issues. In effect, the Sharpening controls are intended to help you get the image back to the sharpest starting point, as if no focus had been lost in the process of capturing the photo.
Texture is a little different in that it is aimed at helping you emphasize fine details and textures in the photo. This will typically go beyond what is possible with sharpening when it comes to the added contrast for those fine details.
In addition, the Dehaze, Clarity, and Texture controls are a little more “intelligent” in the background, focusing on specific ranges of contrast enhancement and detail size within the photo. So, for example, Texture will help enhance fine details, but won’t reduce the appearance of atmospheric haze in a photo. Conversely, Dehaze will help cut through haze, but won’t enhance details at the smallest scale in a photo.
I recommend applying at least a small amount of sharpening to every photo, early in your workflow. I then recommend using the three detail enhancement adjustments (Dehaze, Clarity, and Texture) as appropriate to the specific photo you are working on along with your specific goals for that photo.
Note that you can watch the full recording of my recent presentation on “Lightroom Classic: New Features and Workflow Tips” on my Tim Grey TV channel on YouTube here: