Sharpening Layered Images


Today’s Question: Are you comfortable applying sharpening to layered Photoshop PSD files for output using Lightroom Classic? Or would you rather keep sharpened layered files?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, I am perfectly comfortable applying sharpening to a layer-based Photoshop PSD (or TIFF) image using Lightroom Classic when printing or otherwise sharing a photo.

More Detail: The sharpening algorithm in Lightroom Classic is actually quite good, producing excellent results. In addition, even if the image you’re applying sharpening to is a layered Photoshop PSD file, the sharpening will be applied to what is effectively a flattened version of the image. So, whether you’re exporting, printing, or otherwise sharing an image from Lightroom Classic, I’m perfectly comfortable applying sharpening as part of this workflow.

The only problem I have with sharpening for output in Lightroom Classic is that there isn’t a preview of the actual effect. Rather, you first select the output type between “Screen” for digital sharing, or “Matte Paper” or “Glossy Paper” when printing an image. You then select “Low”, “Standard”, or “High” for the sharpening amount option.

These sharpening options work perfectly well for what they are, and with a little experience you can get a sense of which settings work best based on your preferences and output type. However, for a situation where optimal sharpening is a critical concern I do prefer using Photoshop to apply the final sharpening to an image.

So, most of the time I will simply use Lightroom Classic to apply sharpening to a photo for sharing. If I’m especially concerned about the sharpening settings, however, I’ll use Photoshop for that final image preparation so I can take advantage of the preview available with sharpening filters such as Smart Sharpen.