Lightroom: Stronger, more flexible sharpening.

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I find Lightroom's sharpening Strength (limited Amount) and Flexibility (single radius) insufficient.

I'm attaching two screen shots comparing LR to Aperture as means of example.

The first is the After result. As you can see on the right, in LR I have the amount maxed out at radius 1.3 with no masking or NR applied. On the left, Aperture allows me to stack additional doses for greater effect. Attempts to do similar with the Brush tool in LR are ineffective. I suspect there is no getting above Amount=150 by any means. Note that Aperture also allows sharpening at multiple radii. They also include an Edge Sharpen function that I've barely even explored yet. The strength, combinations and possibilities are staggering.

Can we get similar in LR?

And lest one think the effect might be of starting at a point of greater Clarity or Contrast in Aperture, the second shot shows the settings all kept as they were but with Sharpening turned off.

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Scott Mahn

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Posted 7 years ago

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Lee Jay

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Why did you turn detail off?

Also, LR does use multiple radii, it just does it automatically.
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Scott Mahn

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"Why did you turn detail off?"

Because, IMO, it causes more digital artifacting than it's worth. Use detail in LR then add additional sharpening in PS (which I often find necessary) and you'll see the unpleasant effect.

"Also, LR does use multiple radii, it just does it automatically. "

As a matter of intellectual curiosity I'd love to hear more about this, but it doesn't lessen my wish for increased strength, flexibility and control.
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Lee Jay

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The number of images I've taken that require more than 100 on the sharpening scale is really small, and none have ever needed 150. When you shoot super low-contrast objects, my opinion is that you don't need more "capture sharpening", you need an entirely different sharpening approach. In astrophotography, we often have to deal with exactly this issue, and we use deconvolution or wavelet sharpening for such images, sometimes on top of regular capture sharpening (something like 40/1/25/30 in Lightroom). If these objects you are shooting are in this category, I suggest you look into those approaches. I use Focus Magic for deconvolution and Registax for wavelets.
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Lee Jay

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By the way, your Aperture image (top-left) is an absolute train wreck, in my opinion.
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Scott Mahn

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Here's LR vs Capture One. This time I gave LR a fair dose of Detail in the event that omitting it was a disadvantage. I'll also include a shot without Detail for comparison.

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Lee Jay

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Well, obviously I don't have the image to play with, but first-cut suggestion would be as follows:

Sharpening: 60/1/25/30
L-NR: 30/75/0
C-NR: 10/75

Then export the image without resizing and with export sharpening set to screen-standard. Then look at that image.
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Scott Mahn

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"By the way, your Aperture image (top-left) is an absolute train wreck, in my opinion. "

That may be, but that's how I like to "dial in" the right amount, by exceeding it and then backing down. It's an approach I don't get to take as often as I'd like to for sharpening in LR.
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Geoff Walker, Champion

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Scott, I might be missing something here as I don't deal with or speak the tech stuff. But, in my view the most satisfactory sharpening is the Lightroom setting in your first post. The others are all a little soft or oversharpened.
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Scott Mahn

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Geoff, I've not attempted to present the "best" that can be attained from each application. What I'm trying to show is that LR, at a radius of 1.3 and maxed out on the amount at 150, is just about getting there for me but can go no further. For comparison I've shown that both Aperture and Capture One can (if so desired) go further at the same radius (and Aperture can do it several times over and at additional radii). All other controls were zeroed for the purpose of control. There's been no finessing, this is about how much volume and power is available.

One can easily back down from too much, but when max is not enough you've got to go outside the program.

I don't see people settling for insufficient control over exposure, contrast, hue, saturation, etc, so why settle for a relatively (compared to the competition, if nothing else) paltry amount of sharpening? I don't hear Aperture and Capture One users asking their developers to reduce the amount of sharpening available. One wants "too much," there might be times they can use it.
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Scott Mahn

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For what little it's worth. From a month ago:

http://forums.adobe.com/thread/800641...

Not great support for more "rope" there either.
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Lee Jay

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LR 1 had capture sharpening but no export sharpening. LR 2 added export sharpening. LR 3 added new demosaicing and noise reduction. I'm hoping that the missing link (creative sharpening) will be added in LR 4. I think it's a good time since the lens profiles correct for geometric distortions, luminance aberrations and CA but not for sharpness falloff which I think required deconvolution. Again, I'm hoping that they'll add deconvolution there and use the opportunity to add creative sharpening that uses and independent parameter set on the current approach as well as has access to flexible deconvolution approaches. Of course, this is just a hope - I don't know what they'll actually do.
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Scott Mahn

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It appears we're on the same page after all!

Cheers.
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Lee Jay

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Well, I'd post the feature request not as a change to the behavior of the existing controls (which I think work quite well for their intended purpose - capture sharpening), but rather as a request for an additional layer of controls (creative sharpening), and I'd point out that it would be good if they had the flexibility to be quite powerful and also have the ability to be localized.

I'll post a separate example of a shot I couldn't sharpen in LR. I used Focus Magic with a mask in PS to sharpening this shot:

http://photos.imageevent.com/sipphoto...
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Scott Mahn

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Beautiful moon shot.

I'm gonna leave your recommendations to you, this was already my attempt at improving another person's attempt. I'm pretty tired of being told to walk on eggshells to get a desire across. I'm from the managerial school of "tell me what you want, not how to do it." (My approach in talking to Adobe) but I've already stated elsewhere that I think Aperure is on the right track with stackable adjustments each of varying character. For instance, a sharpening layer of 80/5 on top of one of 100/0.7, each turnoffable with a click, and with the ability to be applied locally.

But seriously, you have great ideas and insight, I implore you to express them powerfully for the rest of us.
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Geoff Walker, Champion

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Thanks for your answer Scott. I would suggest putting the request in a more concise manner such as: Could we have the sharpening range and methods of application extended as the amount I see available in competing products has more power. Attached screen shots show the amounts and results from......
I can see merit in what you are asking for!!
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Scott Mahn

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"Well, obviously I don't have the image to play with, but first-cut suggestion would be as follows:

Sharpening: 60/1/25/30
L-NR: 30/75/0
C-NR: 10/75

Then export the image without resizing and with export sharpening set to screen-standard. Then look at that image. "

Thanks for that Lee Jay, and I fully respect the travails of suggesting numbers without having the image to play with. Attached I show the result on the left in PS compared to LR with the Detail panel turned off.

My feelings: at 100% view I actually prefer the unsharpened version on the right because of how much I dislike the artifacting created by the Detail slider. It's not a good tradeoff, IMO.

At reduced viewing sizes I'd prefer even more sharpening. I'd like a higher Amount (without the detail artifacts) with some masking, and NR only if needed, and/or applied selectively to the non-detailed areas. I'd love the ability to apply NR to the inverse of the sharpening mask. Might be wrong for some applications, but for instance it'd be nice to apply sharpening to diamond edges and NR to the smooth metals. I'd settle for painting my own masks, but it does no good if I can't progressively exceed an amount I already find insufficient.

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Rob Cole

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Scott,

I now understand your comment in the other thread (about having had enough...) (this is my first viewing of this thread).

I gave this FR my vote - two thumbs up...

I definitely would like more control over sharpening, specifically the ability to have local pins with different detail and radius, and even masking too, although that would be secondary.

Although I've never needed an amount greater than 150 myself, I have no objection to raising it for those who would use it. And, I have cranked it all the way up a time or two.

PS - the gems are a perfect example of a case where detail really should be zero - no textural detail sharpening of the flat surfaces whatsoever. And in fact, it would be an example where substantial noise reduction to take away detail might be in order - its all about the hard edges...

PPS - Have you tried setting output sharpening to 'High'? (since you seem to like things sharpened more than average...)

Rob
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Rob Cole

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Scott,

I now understand your comment in the other thread (about having had enough...) (this is my first viewing of this thread).

I gave this FR my vote - two thumbs up...

I definitely would like more control over sharpening, specifically the ability to have local pins with different detail and radius, and even masking too, although that would be secondary.

Although I've never needed an amount greater than 150 myself, I have no objection to raising it for those who would use it. And, I have cranked it all the way up a time or two.

PS - the gems are a perfect example of a case where detail really should be zero - no textural detail sharpening of the flat surfaces whatsoever. And in fact, it would be an example where substantial noise reduction to take away detail might be in order - its all about the hard edges...

PPS - Have you tried setting output sharpening to 'High'? (since you seem to like things sharpened more than average...)

PPPS - I think Adobe set 150 as the maximum because its at the limit of the algorithm - more than that and the algorithm starts to fall apart (quality of result starts to decline). I agree with Lee Jay on this point: If you need greater than 150, you probably need a different algorithm, e.g. deconvolution - maybe a good idea for a separate thread. I use Focus Magic too if its really "out of focus", Topaz Labs came up with a competing product recently too, but unlike Topaz other products - its not very good.

Truth betold, I would prefer to see sharpness fall-off correction over a general deconvolution feature or the like, since its a frequent occurrence to see wide angle shots that are sharp in the center but decrease in sharpness toward the edges. If something is really out of focus, the delete key usually fixes it, or focus magic, or Photoshop... - sorry for getting a tad off-topic.

Rob
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Photographe

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"I'll stick with my earlier comment. This sharpening is designated as capture sharpening, there primarily to compensate for the AA filter and, to a lesser degree, the demosaicing."

If sharpening in LR is meant to be capture sharpening, then that explains a lot. Capture sharpening is meant to be just the minimum amount required to compensate for the AA filter. Less is more when it comes to capture sharpening.

That makes the omission of creatie sharpening poignant.

Also, I maintain that more control over output sharpening, along with an ability to preview, would be welcome. In theory, output sharpening would depend on the output media and the size of the print.
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Rob Cole

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Lr's sharpener does a beautiful job of overcoming lack of lens sharpness too. To say its mainly for compensating for AA filter and demosaicing is selling it way short, in my opinion. Granted, its not for trying to overcome camera shake or motion, or for correcting out-of-focus shots...

And of course, it does not offer the ability to be applied with different settings - which is its biggest limitation as a "creative" sharpening tool, in my opinion.
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Rob Cole

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Personally, I don't like getting too hung up on the distinction between capture and creative. The point of all this stuff is to crispin' up a soft photo. How much of the softness is due to lens and how much due to AA filter / demosaicing is not necessarily important. I truly believe the Lightroom engineers have taken all this into consideration in coming up with the present algorithm.

Even so, having the sharpener available as a local falls squarely in the category of "creative" sharpening - its just too limiting still for some of our tastes...
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Scott Mahn

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I also use Leaf Capture at a catalog studio I work at.

Aperture, Capture One, and Leaf Capture, provide "industrial strength" sharpening. I suspect the same for the slew of Raw converters I've yet to try.

LR provides "capture sharpening".
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Rob Cole

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"LR provides capture sharpening".

If by "capture sharpening" you mean strictly AA filter + demosaicing, then I strongly disagree. - because it does an excellent job of compensating for lens softness too, and obviously, local sharpening is not capture sharpening.

Still, I think I agree with the spirit of the statement if not the letter - Lr sharpening is relatively light handed, and locals don't afford much control.

PS (Scott) - I voted for this FR.
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Scott Mahn

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Thanks Rob. Yes, the spirit of my statement. I'm slighting it's slight handed approach.

And just so you know...this *is* that other thread. ;-)
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Rob Cole

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Right-O, and PS - I don't think the selective focus is working to your advantage for the example gem shot. The only thing that's going to fix those gems on the left side is a new picture - maybe shoot it with a compact, or stop down and add light... I realize this was just an example for illustrative purposes, but definitely the scope of Lightroom sharpening is to take pictures that are already shot with a relatively sharp lens, and in focus..., and crispin' them up a bit, not to bring out-of-focus regions into focus, or other such extreme sharpening... Also, 'Clarity' is Lightroom's "Coarse Sharpener".
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Scott Mahn

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That was an outtake...for good reason. ;-)

The other converters have their version of Clarity too. But really, I can do Clarity in PS too, and if the concept is to use LR minimally with the expectation of doing anything "creative" in PS, why draw the line at sharpening, lets make all the tools tepid.
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Rob Cole

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I think you've made your point.
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Scott Mahn

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Hey Rob, Sorry if I got obnoxious. It's a point of frustration for me.

But you're my guy: always supportive of improvements, and you certainly do all you can via forum participation and plug-ins, etc. So please forgive.
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Rob Cole

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Your frustration is understood, Scott.

Personally, I tend to go pretty easy on the sharpening, so I don't have the same issues with the amount slider that you do, but I understand not everyone has the same proclivities. And what kind of sharpening makes sense also depends on viewing distance. I mean something that has oversharpening artifacts when viewed up close may look really good from further away...

Have you tried tapping into the output sharpening plugins for Lightroom? - Might be a way to get extra sharpening out of Lightroom, without having the big photoshop'd tifs *in* Lightroom - eh?
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Photographe

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How does High Pass Filter fit into the workflow, in your opinions?
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Rob Cole

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I'm not sure exactly what you are asking, but when sharpening with Nx2 I often add a high-pass filter, 1px radius, 40-70% opacity to the mix... (overlay blend).

Seems to complement the unsharp mask rather nicely.
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Photographe

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Have yous seen this page? One of the things he would love to see is a "High Pass Sharpening panel".

Scott-Kelby What I’d Love to See in Lightroom 4
http://www.scottkelby.com/blog/2010/a...
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Rob Cole

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Have you tried high-pass sharpening?

My experience: I almost always use it at 1px radius, (and on rare occasions, 2px), and almost always with less than 100% opacity, with some unsharp mask in the mix too.

There is no question: The aim of Lr sharpener is to "crispin' up" already relatively sharp photos. I don't like to call this "just capture sharpening", since, well, its not just capture sharpening.

I'm OK with Lr's sharpening strength since I'm not after "creative sharpening" effects (where "creative" in this context, means extreme sharpening plus oversharpening artifacts).

Personally, if I could just sharpen different parts with different levels of detail (and radii, and to a lesser extent masking), and confine noise reduction to the areas that don't have detail I want to preserve, I'd be a happy camper.

Nevertheless, I support increased strength for users like Scott.

PS - If you want high-pass filtering - you'd better build a case for it: what does it buy you that the present sharpener does not? And by all means, start a new thread for it - since its a very specific FR, and maybe post comparison photos...
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Scott Mahn

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"Have you tried tapping into the output sharpening plugins for Lightroom? - Might be a way to get extra sharpening out of Lightroom, without having the big photoshop'd tifs *in* Lightroom - eh? "

I'm not aware of these. Any good ones?

But typically if I make a tif I want it in LR for easy retrieval, comparison and use (web gallery, print, export to jpeg, etc) and I might as well go to PS and use layers, etc, where all this becomes moot.

What I'm currently doing is exporting to PS as a Smart Object and running sharpening actions as smart filters. The result is fine, it's just not exactly "batch" work.

Would help if LR would let me to chose to export as SO via the export dialog box where I could in turn select to run an action on the exports. Pretty sure I've made a separate request thread for that on one Adobe site or another.

BTW, this site allows new comments to be placed very non-linearly. I never know where to look. Is there an easy way of finding new comments?
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Rob Cole

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I think Nik's includes a Lightroom Export plugin, but I'm not sure. I know Butch uses PhotoKit (aka PK), although on their website, it just looked like a Photoshop plugin - dunno.

I've just used the output sharpening built-in to Lightroom - I assume you've tried it.

I was thinking recently about your sharpening technique, and the reason I don't max out the sharpener. - I typically use a higher radius if the photo is not sharp to begin with which gives more bang for the buck. But, I don't try and make the photo look sharp, since that invariably would result in unnatural sharpening artifacts. For me, if its soft coming in, its going to be soft going out too, just not as much. I'm not trying to talk you out of your FR, just noticing a difference in technique. For me, a natural look without sharpening artifacts, even if soft, is preferable to a sharp look with artifacts.

Obviously plenty of people like to crank the volume up, or we wouldn't see the large sharpening parameter ranges in other programs. I only mention in case you hadn't considered using more radius, not trying to wring as much out of the amount slider, then using the output sharpening to "finish the job".
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Scott Mahn

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Thanks Rob.

The point again is that LR provides sufficient capture sharpening for many/most subjects but insufficient (read: "no") creative sharpening for many, many subjects. Capture and Export sharpening are nice bookends, now we need some meat in the middle.

I may be in the minority with my needs but I'm surely not alone, and I trust that many who don't think they "need" additional sharpening flexibility would really groove on it if they had it.

Anyway, I think we covered it here, and they'll do what they'll do.

Meanwhile, I have PS, Aperture and assorted plugins. So no lack of options outside of LR.
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Rob Cole

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I hear ya - pretty much covered... And, like fish in bowls, some of us just confine ourselves to the space available...

And, one of the reasons many of us hope for better integration with external editing apps and/or imaging plugins is to make it less painful to "order out", for more sharpening, or anything else not yet native...
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Rob Cole

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Quote: "I may be in the minority with my needs but I'm surely not alone, and I trust that many who don't think they "need" additional sharpening flexibility would really groove on it if they had it." - the more I think about this the more I see this as a critical shortcoming in Lightroom.

I still think the overall quality of the sharpening algorithm is good, but its very hard to get good sharpening results when photo is high-ISO and/or not in good focus, in Lightroom. There really needs to be the ability to sharpen locally with different settings, at a minimum. And *if* one could sharpen different areas with different settings, then I could easily see being able to apply with a little more oomph in some cases too...

Presently, I usually keep amount low *because* I crank radius up if its not well focused, *and* a high amount all over is too much in this case, and if the radius is high or any detail is on, then masking artifacts are prohibitive, IMO.

So, there is no way for me to achieve good sharpening with a high amount. But, I've noticed I could easily see cranking the amount and radius up all the way to sharpen around the eye of an animal (detail=0), then crank the radius down and/or the detail up, and strongly sharpen the spray coming out from a sprinkler. Then, go in between for the other stuff... - no way to do that in Lightroom.

I understand this could be thought of as retouching or bit diddling, but the goal of most feature requests for Lightroom is to maximize the results obtainable without going outside... I can easily see using multiple sharpen settings for the majority of images I bother to primp in Lightroom using local adjustments.
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Bradley Fernihough

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Scott, you hit the nail on the head. "meat in the middle"

I agree the capture and export sharpenig are great. Time for some creative control of elements of an image without the need for PS. i would like to see a high pass adjustment brush.
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Scott Mahn

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"Presently, I usually keep amount low *because* I crank radius up if its not well focused, *and* a high amount all over is too much in this case, and if the radius is high or any detail is on, then masking artifacts are prohibitive, IMO. "

I don't find high Amount and high Radius incompatible. However, high Amount and high Detail are.

If we could use higher amounts of low radius we could better sharpen fine details without needing to introduce the artifacting / "sparkling" Detail creates. Trying to hide that artifacting behind masking and NR is of limited utility at high magnification.

But no algorithms will ever obviate the need for user controlled selective sharpening at differing Amount, Radius and Detail.
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Rob Cole

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Yep. PS - I don't find high amount and high radius necessarily incompatible, but I usually don't want the *whole photo* sharpened that way, which then leads to the problems with masking and shared settings (global + local).

Bottom line: different folks may apply different sharpening strokes, but the sharpener strength and flexibility is not adequate to satisfy any "demanding" user.

I'm not an expert in sharpening in general, but I have spent a *lot* of time experimenting with Lightroom sharpening, and this fish is about ready for a new bowl...