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Everything You Need to Know About the New Lightroom CC

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Lightroom gets an all new look for 2017

After more than a decade of the same UI design, Adobe released an all new Lightroom yesterday. Merging their mobile version and the desktop into one seamless experience, the new Lightroom has brought all kinds of discussion and debate amongst photographers. Adobe seems to be aiming to create a more fluid, easier to use photo editing app, going as far as to take away some important editing tools that many photographers rely on, professional and amateur alike. But time will tell if those features and more are added, or if Adobe sticks to the new philosophy of having a somewhat basic program for editing and pushing users towards Photoshop for heavier and in-depth adjustments.

It's All About the Cloud

Perhaps the most important feature in the new Lightroom CC is the cloud integration. Everything you do in Lightroom is immediately synced to Adobe's cloud, including your photo files and any adjustments you make. This lets you start editing on one device and pick up right where you left off on any other device, including phones and tablets which also received the new version of Lightroom. Adobe is doubling down on this feature, including 20gb in the monthly Photography CC plan, or 1tb of storage for $5 more. Of course, for professionals or anyone who shoots a lot, even 1tb isn't a lot of space these days, but of course Adobe is happy to sell you even more space for an increased monthly fee. 

Familiar Features in a New Skin

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Organizing

The library view is much the same as before, with familiar layouts but stripped down tagging tools (no color labels, for instance). The ai powered search bar at the top is another cloud enabled feature; Adobe hopes it will be smart enough for you to rely on as a sort of personal assistant for organizing and finding your photos. It will analyze every photo in your catalog and should be able to find them based on any relevant search terms. 

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Editing

 

The first thing you might notice in Lightroom CC is that your hotkeys are all different or missing. For starters, G takes you to a grid view for your photos and E takes you to the editing view (previously called the Develop module). If you're missing a histogram, press ctrl/cmd 0. The edit panels work the same as always, with a lot of sliders that function in a non destructive editing manner. You don't have to worry about any adjustments being permanent on your files, just play around with everything until you're happy. 

Taking a quick look down of the editing panels, you'll notice that most of the usual tools are there, sometimes in a new place (clarity is now under effects with dehaze, for example), but some are outright missing. There is no tone curve tool, despite Lightroom CC running the same editing engine. There is a current work around if you rely on tone curves for your editing; presets can still apply tone curve adjustments, but you won't be able to edit the curves any further inside the new Lightroom. Camera profiles are also missing, but the same work around works for them as well. This is a massive oversight from Adobe, and will push professionals away from adopting the new software because they are critical tools for fine control over your photos and edits. Despite these missing elements, the new editing tools will be easy to grasp and adjust for new photographers, Adobe's clear goal with the redesign of Lightroom.

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Exporting

The entire process of saving photos from Lightroom to your computer has changed. Instead of an export dialog box, you simply select the arrow icon on the top right of the program and save the photos to your hard drive. There are very few settings here, only location, file type, and size. This follows the way most photo apps work on mobile, just a very simple save to drive process. This is a major disappointment. The export settings for resolution, sharpening, and dpi were critical for both print and web use. 


The Future of Lightroom?

A lot of photographers are excited by the new facelift Lightroom got, but a lot, myself included, are weary of the direction Adobe seems to be taking the software. Taking away so many vital controls for editing and processing our photos in the name of simplicity for amateurs is not catering to their core market. They could have implemented the new design without removing the powerful tools included. The Lightroom-lite approach only holds photographers back, instead of empowering them with the tools necessary to create great work. 

Luckily, the old version of Lightroom was also updated with some new tools and performance improvements and renamed "Lightroom Classic". Adobe seems to be signaling that this will be the last update and version of the classic Lightroom, with support being directed towards the new version from here on out. Hopefully they will listen to the concerns and wishes of millions of photographers who rely on this software and don't try to push them to a dumbed down version for the sake of selling expensive cloud storage plans. 


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Free Film Preset Sample Pack

Create Authentic Film Edits With These Free Presets

Lightroom Zen Film 5 Preset

Lightroom Zen Film 5 Preset

This sampling of the Lightroom Zen Film preset pack will give you a great start on creating film inspired edits for your photos. Featuring a variety of different styles and tones, these are only a small sampling of the more than 100 presets and fine tuning adjustments for grain, sharpening, and more. 

Samples

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How to Setup a New Lightroom Catalog for Faster Editing and Performance

Canyonlands Nikon D750 20mm 1.8 f/8 1/80 sec ISO 400

Canyonlands Nikon D750 20mm 1.8 f/8 1/80 sec ISO 400

Speed Up Your Lightroom Develop Module With These Simple Settings


Whether you edit on a high end workstation desktop or an ultra portable laptop, Lightroom can slow to a crawl after chugging through hundreds of raw files. These steps will help get your Lightroom zooming through images again, especially in the develop module where you spend most of your time editing. 


1. Catalog Settings

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Go to File/Lightroom > Preferences > General > Go to Catalog Settings > File Handling

Set "Preview Size" to auto (generally your monitor resolution)

Set "Preview Quality" to High

Set Automatically Discard Previews to 30 days

These basic settings ensure Lightroom will show your images at the best quality while viewing photos in the library or develop modules. 


2. Camera Raw Cache Size

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Go to File/Lightroom > Preferences > File Handling

Set "Camera Raw Cache Size" to 20+ gb (the more the better)

This is the file Lightroom creates to manage all of the files created during editing. Because Lightroom never edits the images directly, these are all temporary files. The default setting is pathetically small leading to lots of slowdown once you edit more than a few photos at a time. Giving it 20 gbs or more will let you edit for hours at a time. If you are editing a full wedding or thousands of photos I recommend bumping it up even more to the 50-100gb range.


3. Performance

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Go to File/Lightroom > Preferences > Performance

Check "Use Graphics Processor" 

Check "Use Smart Previews instead of Originals"

These settings let your computer use it's full resources on smaller files, giving you a huge jump in performance. 


4. Import Settings

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At the top of the Import interface select "Copy as DNG"

When importing, it's important to set up your files in the best manner for Lightroom to easily manage them. The main way to accomplish this is to convert your raw files to .dng. Dng files are still raw image files, just a universal file type developed by Adobe to be future proof and not rely on camera makers file types. Because Adobe developed the dng standard, their programs handle the files faster. Dng files are also typically more compressed and use less space on your hard drive, which is another benefit.

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On the right panel in the import interface select "Build Previews: Minimal" and "Build Smart Previews"

The next two settings here will make use of a previous option we turned on under performance; "Use Smart Previews for editing". Smart previews are much smaller files and load much quicker, but when you export your images the edits will all apply to the full size raw file. For previews, we're only building minimal because we already set the develop module to use smart previews instead, so no need to waste time on import building the 1:1 previews.


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Free Lightroom Preset - Dynamic Landscape Edits

Free Preset Friday!

This week's free preset is great for creating dynamic scenes with blue skies and detailed foregrounds. A boost in vibrance and dehaze helps bring out details and create colorful skies and features. Simply adjust white balance and exposure and you're good to go! Download link below:

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Professional landscape presets

60 Color landscape presets 

6 monochrome presets

3 Astrophotography specific presets

Fine tuning adjustment presets for sharpening, grain, dynamic range, and more

Authentic grain that enhances details and adds amazing texture to your prints

Includes a large variety of landscape specific presets for soft film looks, dynamic and cinematic scenes, and more

Simple one-click editing to create amazing landscape photos

Universal presets work with all camera models, no need to rely on specific profiles or updates

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Free Lightroom Preset - Faded Greens

This week's free preset Friday features a popular style for weddings and portraits these days; faded greens and creamy highlights. This preset works well in natural settings and indoor scenes with plenty of natural light. Tweak the white balance to the warm side and adjust the exposure and you're good to go. Enjoy!

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Two Simple Ways to Edit Your Lightroom Photos on Multiple Computers

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Easy Lightroom Catalog Management Across Two Computers

If you work from home and on the go, chances are you've wished for the ability to edit your photos on the go and have the edits sync to your desktop copy of Lightroom when you get home. I like to preview and do light edits when travelling, then have my more powerful desktop handle all of the heavy exporting later on, which lets me have fast turn around previews but also a more efficient workflow. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, but today I'll detail the two easiest and best methods to editing and syncing your Lightroom catalog across multiple computers. 

Dropbox + Smart Previews

The cloud has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, and we can take advantage of that for our Lightroom management as well. By storing your catalog in a service like Dropbox, you can have each computer open a singular catalog file that will be synced after each editing session. 

For the photo files themselves, syncing them to the cloud would take a lot of time and bandwidth, which is why we'll generate smart previews and sync them instead. They take up much less space than full raw files, but the allow you to fully edit the files remotely and sync all changes across multiple computers. Another perk of smart previews is that most computers can handle them easier, making the develop module a lot smoother and more responsive.

Steps

  1. In Lightroom select Lightroom -> Catalog Settings
  2. General -> Location -> Show
  3. Create a backup
  4. Copy the catalog folder to your Dropbox folder
  5. Close Lightroom
  6. Open Lightroom while holding the Option key (Ctrl on Windows)
  7. Select the catalog in the new Dropbox folder location
  8. On the second computer, do the same, pointing your other copy of Lightroom to the new Dropbox catalog
  9. Select all photos you want to sync in the Library module
  10. Go to Library -> Previews -> Build Smart Previews
  11. Smart preview files are stored with your catalog, which is now synced with Dropbox

Caution

Using this autosync method for your library and files does require an internet connection and time to upload. This might be a bad solution if you are working remotely a lot or with a bad internet connection. Also, you must make sure the previous changes are fully uploaded (and downloaded) on both computers before working on your catalog, or else you risk corrupting the data. This is why the local backups on each computer (I do one weekly) are vital.

 

External Hard Drive

External hard drives are amazingly handy devices these days. You can get 2-3 terabyte drives the size of a smart phone for under $75, which is plenty of storage in a small package that easily fits in your laptop or camera bag. This is the method I use, and the fastest way to sync catalogs across multiple computers.

Steps

  1. As before, go to your Lightroom catalog folder
  2. Make a copy
  3. Move the original folder to your external hard drive
  4. Open Lightroom while holding the Option key (Ctrl on Windows)
  5. Select the catalog on the external hard drive
  6. In future imports, make sure you import the raw files to the external hard drive as well
  7. On the second computer, repeat the Option key opening and select the external hard drive catalog
  8. Edit and export your Lightroom photos anywhere you have Lightroom installed!

Caution

This method is the easiest and fastest to sync, as you don't have to upload and download anything or wait for cloud services to sync your data, but there are risks and downsides to this method as well. Importing photos to an external hard drive can be a lot slower than importing them directly to your computer. Also, since everything is stored on a smaller external drive, you are at risk of losing everything stored there if you lose or damage the drive. That is why frequent backups are incredibly important. I recommend doing a full backup of your drive every Monday morning. You can setup a local backup system on your main computer or a secondary external drive to automate backups weekly. 

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Free Lightroom Preset - Spring Pastel Portraits

Free Preset Friday

This week's free preset is a fantastic portrait preset for soft lighting. It provides warm skin tones and natural contrast with a great pastel coloring. Perfect for spring afternoons and vibrant colors, this preset will help you create simple and stunning portraits.

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New Sigma Art Lenses Expand Full Frame Line

Sigma adds extreme primes and standard zooms to their beloved Art line

Japanese photo blog Nokishita has obtained the first images of four new lenses for Sigma's Art series. Covering outliers of the prime ranges and some popular zoom configurations, these lenses will be a welcomed addition for many photographers who swear by this lens series. 

Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

This is a lens after my own heart. As an avid astrophotographer, this lens looks fantastic for long exposures of night skies. My current go to lens for this purpose is the Nikkor 20mm 1.8, which is an incredible lens, but if this Sigma Art lens performs as well with color and distortion then it may replace the 20mm for the ultrawide Milky Way photos. This lens will also be a great choice for traditional landscape photography as well, assuming it performs as well as Sigma's other Art series lenses. 

Sigma 135mm 1.8 Art

Sigma 135mm 1.8 Art

Sigma 135mm 1.8 Art

Finally, Nikon users will have a worthy competitor to the legendary Canon 135mm f/2L. I was waiting on Nikon to release a competitor or updated version of their old 135mm lens, but Sigma beat them to it while also making it even faster. 135mm is a great focal length for portraits, weddings, and studio work, and the fast 1.8 aperture will produce beautifully shallow depth of field and let you shoot in lower light settings. This may be a great alternative for Canon users as well, if it's priced competitively to Canon's premium L series pricing. 

Sigma 24-70 2.8 Art

Sigma 24-70 2.8 Art

Sigma 24-70 2.8 Art

Rounding out some of the standard lenses that most photographers use, Sigma's version of the venerable 24-70 2.8 looks like a solid alternative to the first party choice, which are on the expensive end of things. I often recommend photographers the 24-70 lenses as their first big upgrade from kit lenses if they're not going the prime lens route, and this one might become the new go to recommendation if it can be had much cheaper than the Nikon and Canon models. 24-70mm is a great walk around zoom length, capable of landscapes, portraits, and general event coverage very capably. This lens plus a 70-200 would cover 95% of most photographers needs, though I would also through in a 50mm 1.8 just for the times you need a little fast speed or want a lighter setup to carry around all day. 

Sigma 100-400 mm F5 - 6.3 Contemporary

Sigma 100-400 mm F5 - 6.3 Contemporary

Sigma 100-400 mm F5 - 6.3 Contemporary

Aimed more at hobbyists than professional photographers, the Contemporary line offers solid choices for photographers wanting versatility and smaller size while still having solid optical performance. For a 100-400mm lens, this looks to be about the size of a 70-200 f/4, which is impressive but still not "compact". This lens would be a good choice on a crop sensor camera for a photographer wanting to do birding photos or wildlife photography, but it has limited uses otherwise thanks to the slow aperture. 

 

What do you think?

Do any of these new Sigma lenses interest you? The 14mm and 135mm are definitely on my radar for testing in the future, possibly as a replacement for my 20mm and 85mms. The 24-70mm will probably be a great choice for anyone moving from the beginner stages to more serious photographer, while the 100-400mm will be a niche for people wanting a budget friendly, versatile telephoto lens. 

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Free Lightroom Preset - Colorful Fireworks and Long Exposures

Create exciting fireworks photography with this free preset for Lightroom

Fireworks can be a tricky subject to shoot and edit. Precise timing, low light, bright explosions, and smoke can all create difficult shooting conditions. For shooting, I like to stick to about 1/40 second, ISO 800, f/2.8 as a base and adjust from there to dial in the correct exposure. If you have a tripod, you can go up to 1-2 seconds to create long exposures showing more of the bloom of each firework. 

For editing, this preset will help you develop the vibrant colors, wide dynamic range, and even hide some of the smoke or glare created from the fireworks. Play with the white balance and exposure sliders to get the look just right, and feel free share your edits in the comments below. Grab your free preset by signing up for our newsletter (we will never spam you)!

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Free Lightroom Preset - Fuji Film Portrait Style

Free Preset Friday

For free preset Friday this week I created a variation of one of my favorite portrait styles, the faded light and airy Fuji look. This preset is great for bright light, backlit settings, or midday wedding photos. Using low clarity and contrast along with negative dehaze and a touch of grain you can create a great airy vibe for your portraits. Enjoy!

 

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Step by Step Adventure Sports RAW Edit

Dynamic Lighting and Editing to Create an Epic Photo

Nikon D750, 20mm 1.8G, 1/400 f/4 ISO 400

This is the first in a series of self portraits I have planned for the year. I'm trying to make it a point to always carry a camera with me this year for opportunities like this, and I want to share the process of shooting and editing them with you. The goal for this photo was to capture dynamic colors and create a scene that invokes the spirit of adventure. The sunset lighting, grass reeds, sandy trail, and big clouds all help to create a dynamic scene that makes for an easy composition to frame for a self portrait. 

RAW File

You can see just how much I under exposed to save as much of the sky color and detail as possible. I knew that the Nikon D750 would be able to handle the shadow detail just fine when I boosted the blacks and shadows back up, but if you shoot on Canon you might want to go for a more neutral exposure, as Canon doesn't retain as much shadow detail when underexposed. A lot of Canon shooters like to overexpose, then bring things back down. 

 Underexpose to save as much dynamic range in the sky as possible

Step 1

Underexpose to capture dynamic range. Bring up shadows and blacks while reducing highlights and whites and add contrast, clarity, vibrance, and saturation.

Correct exposure in the basic panel to restore detail and dynamic range

Step 2

Adjust tone curve to add contrast and fine tune exposure. I raised the blacks and brought down the whites to increase dynamic range as well.

Tone curves are a great tool for adding contrast and adjusting exposure

Step 3

Use the HSL panel to fine tune colors and recover dramatic detail in sky. 

The blue luminance channel can help you create dramatic skies

Step 4

Use the detail panel to sharpen and create a crisp look for the photo. 

For sports and action scenes you can sharpen a little more for a crisp and gritty look

Step 5

Use lens correction to reduce distortion and even exposure. 

Different lenses need more or less correction, but the included profiles do a great job at fixing distortion

Step 6

Use the effects panel to add grain and dehaze. The dehaze slider can add a lot of color, contrast, and boosts dynamic range in the sky. 

Be careful not to overdue the dehaze slider, a little goes a long ways

Step 7

Use gradient filters and radial filters to add a spotlight effect on your subject with negative exposure.  

A slight -.17 exposure radial brush centered on the subject helps focus the viewers eye and brings down the sky a bit more

Step 8

Export with sharpening set to standard for screen or matte. 

Finished product

So there you have it, very simple adjustments can create a major edit from your raw file. Play around with the HSL panel in particular to fine tune your skies and dial in the look you're going for. The blue luminance trick works better with nature scenes such as this, where most of the blue is in the sky and not the foreground or subjects clothing. Have any questions about editing? Feel free to comment below. 

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Top 5 Lenses for New Photographers

Take Advantage of Your DSLR and Capture Great Photos

Canon 5d Classic + 50mm 1.8

Lenses are the most important investment in gear

The biggest mistake camera manufacturers make today is including the same boring kit lens in every entry level DSLR package. The 18-55 kit lens is slow and more often than not discourages beginners rather than enabling them to be creative and enjoy photography. A lot of beginners think they need a better camera when really they need a better lens. Invest in great glass and your lenses will last a lifetime. Bodies will always be phased out, but physical limitations in the technology of lens design insures that these are a great investment. These 5 lenses are tried and true classics of modern photography that will help you get more out your camera and capture the photos you want. 

Canon/Nikon 50mm f/1.8

This is, of course, the first recommendation anyone will hear for a first lens purchase, and for good reason. The "nifty fifty" is a legend going back well into the days of 35mm film photography. This focal length has been a go to for portraits, street photographers, and studio work for nearly a century because it offers a realistic focal length (the closest to human vision, so what you see is what you get), not wide enough to cause distortion, and not too tight to make it restrictive. The modern 50mm lenses have a fast 1.8 (or better) aperture that works great for portraits thanks to the shallow depth of field and bokeh, and also helps with low light situations where your kit lens will be too slow and cause motion blur. Better yet, the 50mm lenses are great for both crop sensors and full frame cameras, so it's a great investment that will grow with you. The header image above was captured with this lens. 

Canon 35mm f/2 - Nikon 35mm f/1.8

Canon 5DII + 35mm f/2

The next lens I suggest people invest in is a wide-normal range prime (non-zooming lens), and 35mm is the perfect focal length for "walk around" use. 35mm is a fantastic length for environmental portraits, street photography, and group portraits. It maintains the fast aperture, low price point, and great performance of the 50mm lines while offering a more cinematic viewing angle for your shots. Prime lenses also force you to consider your composition and positioning relative to light more than zoom lenses. Since you have to physically move to adjust your framing you tend to consider the scene more before just clicking and zooming away. If I could only have one lens for everything, the 35mm would be my choice. 

Canon 24mm 2.8 Pancake

Canon xTi + 24mm 2.8

This lens is the biggest hidden gem in Canon's entire line of DSLR lenses. The pancake design means it weighs next to nothing, takes up no space, and can be had for a super budget friendly price. It is incredibly sharp and focuses as close as 6 inches for close-up shots, which a lot of beginners are interested in exploring. This is the ultimate travel friendly lens as well, since it barely takes up more space than a lens cap and fits almost flush on your camera body. If you have a Canon DSLR, this would be a great second purchase to compliment your 50mm 1.8. This lens is also a great choice if you are interested in shooting video, as the wider angle is a great starting point for filming a lot of scenes or settings. 

Nikon 20mm 1.8

Nikon D750 + 20mm 1.8

Nikon's best landscape lens, in my opinion, is their new 20mm 1.8. This lens is amazing, with little to no distortion visible, fantastic sharpness even when shot wide open, and the perfect focal length for landscape work. A lot of people love 14mm for landscapes, but I find it too wide and that it gives scenes a surreal look, whereas 20mm is still wide enough to show sweeping landscapes or night skies. The 1.8 aperture is great for shooting indoors or astrophotography, and the wide angle lets focusing snap fast and accurately. The lens is also an amazing choice for street photography, wedding receptions, or event coverage. 

Canon 24-105L

Canon 5Dii + 24-105mm f/4

The only zoom lens on our list, and the only "slow" lens, yet an incredible choice for it's range, affordability, and performance. My go to lens combo for a few years was the 50mm 1.8 and this lens. The 50mm covered low light scenarios and portraits and this was used for everything else. From landscapes to dance floors to studio portraits, Canon's "budget L series" is a great addition to a Canon bag, as long as you have a faster prime to cover you when the f/4 aperture is too slow.

 

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4 Steps to Sharper Photos in Lightroom

Sharp Images Grab Viewers Attention More

Whether it's for print or for web, most images need to be sharpened before displayed. There are a million different ways to accomplish this, but I prefer to keep it simple and in one program. This easy workflow will help you create eye catching images that pop out to your viewers.

Step 1: Clarity is NOT Sharpness

Far too many photographers learn about the clarity slider and jack it up to create "sharp" lines and images that seem to pop off the screen in an HDR fashion. This is one of the most over abused tools in Lightroom, and a little bit goes a long way, if you use it at all. For portraits, I often keep my clarity adjustment at -5 to -10. This keeps skin detail from emerging in unflattering ways and helps soften the light and contrast on the subject. Here's my image after processing along with my exposure and basic adjustments:

Image with 0 sharpening applied in developing or exporting

100% zoom on unsharpened image

Basic adjustment settings

Basic adjustment settings

Step 2: Apply Sharpening in Detail Panel

The sharpening tool in the detail panel is similar to the sharpening filters in Photoshop. You can adjust the amount of sharpening as well as various thresholds for where and how it will be applied. For a good starting point, 25 - 1.0 - 30 - 10 is a good basic level for sharpening. For this portrait, my settings were 50 - 1.5 - 65 - 10. This is mostly because I was shooting wide open at f/1.8  and I wanted to bring back a lot of sharpness the Canon 50mm 1.8 loses at that aperture.

Image after applying sharpening in detail panel

100% crop after applying sharpen settings in detail panel

Detail panel settings

Detail panel settings

Step 3: Adjustment Brushes

If you are working on a portrait or any image where you really want specific elements to be sharper than the rest of the frame, you can use a combination of adjustment brushes to achieve the hyper sharpness you see a lot in large aperture, shallow depth of field photos like this portrait. I used a combination of negative clarity on the subjects skin, then positive clarity and sharpness on the eyes, nose, and lips to enhance those features. 

Image after adjustment brush sharpening

100% crop after adjustment brush sharpening

Brush settings

Brush settings

Step 4: Export Sharpening

The last step, and likely the most crucial, is the export sharpening settings in the export module. You have three options: none, print, screen. I use print, which tends to sharpen a little more than screen, but I find it works well for both. You also have three levels to choose from; low, standard, high. I use standard most of the time, as it provides sharp lines without looking overdone on smaller screens like phones and tablets. 

Final image after export sharpening applied

100% crop of final image after export sharpening

Export settings

Export settings

Final Comparison

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How Do You Sharpen Your Images?

Sharpening is an often obsessed over aspect of lenses, but many photographers don't utilize the tools available in post production to enhance their lenses sharpness. Luckily, Lightroom has fantastic sharpening tools and features if you know how to use them. Do you use Lightroom, Photoshop, or another technique?

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Your Camera is Good Enough

Stop Obsessing Over Gear, Go Create Photos

Canon XTI + Kit Lens. 1/40 sec, f/4, ISO 800

What Makes a Good Photo?

The recipe for a great photograph is simple; good light + good composition + good moment = great photograph. Nowhere in that equation is your camera, lens, or other equipment considered. Every camera manufactured in the past decade is more than capable enough of capturing amazing photos. The photos on this page were all taken with entry level Nikon and Canon DSLRS with kit lenses or 50mm 1.8s. You can buy these entire setups for $200-300 total, a fraction of the cost of most pro lenses or even some flash units.

Canon XTI + 50mm 1.8. 1/200, f/2, ISO 800

Using Old Gear is Fun

I still have and regularly use my old Canon xTi, which was released in 2006. I love this little camera, it's small, light, and perfectly suitable for a camera I can throw in my bag and not worry about getting damaged. I never feel like I have to be careful with the camera, so I can focus on getting the shots and putting myself in scenarios I might not want to risk my "pro" camera in (rain, hiking, biking, etc).  I created some of my favorite photographs with this simple camera and kit lens over the years.

Nikon D3200 + Kit Lens. 30 sec, f/3.5, ISO 1600

Being Limited Opens Up Your Creativity

If you have limited gear, you are forced to be more creative and approach your shooting in different ways. You might not have a telephoto lens, but you can get closer or change your perspective to capture the shot and create something you otherwise wouldn't have seen. Try shooting an entire session on just one lens and you'll see what I mean. It will surprise you how you start thinking about your shots when you can't just zoom in or change lenses. 

Nikon D3200 + kit lens. 1/200 f/4.0 ISO 200

Experiences Are a Better Investment

All the gear in the world won't take interesting photos if you don't get out and use it. Instead of spending money on the newest camera body or another lens, spend that money on a trip somewhere special and photograph that, or hire a great model to do a creative shoot you've always wanted to shoot. A trip to an amazing location will not only provide you with interesting shooting opportunities, it will give you great life experiences to remember, and that will always bring more joy than anything materialistic. With online services like Kayak, Uber, and Airbnb, you can plan a memorable trip for a fraction of the cost of a new piece of gear.

Canon XTI + 50mm 1.8. 1/200 f/1.8 ISO 400

Light and Location 

If you know how to read a scene and plan a shot, any modern camera can capture a great photo. Sure, pro bodies and fast lenses are going to absolutely perform better in less than ideal light, but in good lighting the differences in cameras and lenses is minimized down to near zero. Stop paying attention to sharpness grids and optics measurements and start paying attention to light.

Canon XTI + 50mm 1.8. 1/120 f/1.8 ISO 800

Unlock Your Editing Potential

If you enjoy the free content please consider checking out my premium preset collection. It includes 60 color, 10 black & white, and 15 fine tuning adjustment presets. Stop staring at your computer for hours and start loving your editing.

Lightroom Zen Presets
50.00 75.00
Add To Cart