Lightroom 2: Output Sharpening

Since installing version 2.0 of Lightroom, I’ve been ignoring the new export option for Output Sharpening.  It has been sitting there on the screen but I’ve always been in too much of a hurry to try it out and see the results.

Over the weekend I decided to change that.  What it does is allow you to select how your photo will be displayed/printed and the level of sharpening you want applied when the photo is saved out to disk.  Ana and I were going to be getting the family portrait I took printed, so I thought it would be a good time for a side-by-side comparison.  I quickly exported two copies of the same photo, one without sharpening and one with Matte Paper, Standard as the sharpening options:

I print our photos with Shutterfly, and by default they’ll print the filename on the back of the photo.  So I named one ForMatte and the other NoSharpening; now I can compare side-by-side without bias once I receive the prints (8×10, btw).

Here are a pair of 100% crops from the two images.  As you can see, the ForMatte version looks less than desirable so I didn’t get my hopes up.


The prints arrived yesterday, and I was able to tell a very distinct difference between the tho photographs.  One looked a little fuzzy, something I had come to expect from matte prints and one of the reasons I have started leaning toward glossies.  The other looked very nice and sharp.

Flip them over, and sure enough, the one with the Matte sharpening applied is the one that looked better.  Lesson learned. I’ll be applying that on all of my prints from now on.




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