Best Print Quality


Today’s Question: Would you discuss the differences between printing in Lightroom Classic and printing in Photoshop? I would be especially interested in differences in image quality.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In Lightroom Classic it is considerably easy to prepare to print one or more photos with excellent results. However, Photoshop provides a higher degree of control, especially when it comes to sharpening photos for print.

More Detail: A basic workflow for printing a photo involves resizing the image for the printed output, sharpening the image, and printing with appropriate color management settings to ensure the most accurate print possible.

Lightroom Classic makes this workflow quite easy. You can use a template to get started in preparing the image for the intended print size, including creating layouts with more than one image on the page. You can then fine-tune the settings for the print. Resizing the image is essentially handled automatically, and there are a pair of simple settings for sharpening. You can then select the appropriate color management and printer settings, and you can expect a print of high quality.

In Photoshop the workflow is a little more complicated. You need to resize the image to the appropriate dimensions and flatten the image (or preferably a copy of the image) so sharpening can be applied evenly to the full image evenly. For example, you wouldn’t want to apply sharpening to the Background image layer and not apply that same sharpening to an image cleanup layer. You can then print the image, again with appropriate color management and printer settings.

The workflow in Photoshop isn’t especially complicated, but it certainly isn’t a straightforward as printing from Lightroom Classic. However, I typically prefer to print from Photoshop because of the additional control you can exercise over sharpening the photo.

In Lightroom Classic you select Low, Standard, or High for the sharpening amount, and then choose whether you are printing to matte or glossy paper. This is obviously very simple, and the results are actually very good. However, you can exercise greater control over the sharpening in Photoshop. Admittedly, applying optimal sharpening in Photoshop requires more skill and experience than sharpening in Lightroom Classic, but the control can be helpful in terms of achieving the best results for a print.