Blurry Preview


Today’s Question: I usually send the image to Photoshop for a touch of midtone contrast and some minor clean up, then save, and close. When back in Lightroom in the Library module the image is slightly blurred, but when the same image is examined in the Develop module its crisp and sharp. What am I doing wrong?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You’re not doing anything wrong. The preview you see in the Library module is different from the preview you see in the Develop module, with the image in the Develop module being a true reflection of the actual image data.

More Detail: Over the last few versions of Lightroom the differences between the previews in the Library module compared to the Develop module have gotten more similar. For example, in earlier versions the effects of sharpening and noise reduction were not reflected in the preview you saw in the Library module.

While the previews presented in the Library versus Develop modules are much more similar in the latest versions of Lightroom, there are still some subtle differences based on how the previews are generated. In the Library module the preview is affected by settings in the Preferences dialog related to the size and quality of the preview. In the Develop module you are always seeing a full rendering of the image based on the original capture with all adjustments in the Develop module applied to the preview you see.

As a result, when performing a critical evaluation of the sharpness and overall image quality for a photo, it is best to perform that evaluation in the Develop module, ideally at a 100% zoom setting (1:1 view).