Lightroom/ACR: Improve sharpening masking (by allowing user to specify amount of sharpening to be applied to masked regions)

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  • Idea
  • Updated 6 years ago
First a review of sharpening masking. As currently implemented:

* By setting the sharpening masking value, one specifies how "edgy" an area needs to be, before it will be sharpened. If it doesn't "make the cut" (so to speak), it won't be sharpened at all.

The result is a pattern of completely unsharpened regions intermixed with an inverse pattern of sharpened regions.

The difference in detail/noise/grain between adjacent unmasked and masked regions is sometimes striking, and undesirable. Often one tries to solve this problem by increasing the masking value, but then that results in too few regions being sharpened. (or decreasing masking value, but then there's too much noise in smooth areas)

I propose a change which allows one to not only set how edgy an area needs to be in order to be eligible for sharpening (i.e. unmasked), but how much sharpening will be applied to masked regions, as well.

In other words, what we have now is:
* unmasked regions receive 100% sharpening.
* masked regions receive 0% sharpening.
And you can set how edgy a region needs to be to in order to be unmasked instead of masked.

I am suggesting a change such that:
* unmasked regions receive 100% sharpening (like now), but
* masked regions can also receive some sharpening albeit less than the unmasked regions (i.e. can be set between 0 and 100%, instead of being fixed at 0%).

With the suggested improvement, if the sharpening swing between masked and unmasked regions is making for excessive difference in texture between adjacent masked and unmasked regions, one could reduce the swing to improve appearance.

With such a simple change, it would improve the appearance of many photos that use sharpening masking and make it something I would use frequently without hesitation, instead of something I try to do without, to avoid the dance of the "sparkles with the smooth".

Thanks for listening,
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Rob Cole

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Posted 6 years ago

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Eric Chan, Camera Raw Engineer

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Noted, thanks.
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Rob Cole

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You bet Eric, and thanks for acknowledging :-).