If I've already adjusted my images in Lightroom and it's set to 72 ppi, what’s the purpose of the Output Sharpening settings?
Output sharpening is designed to compensate for loss of sharpness caused by resizing and/or printing.
You should first do capture sharpening in the Develop module, so that the image looks reasonably sharp at 1:1 magnification.
Then select appropriate output sharpening when exporting. In most cases, low or medium sharpening should be suitable.
Note that there is different output sharpening for screen and print.
Also note that the ppi number only affects printing. If the image is intended for screen viewing, the ppi is irrelevant, only pixel dimensions matter.
Thanks Bernsten. Out of curiosity, what happens if you don't select this option?
If you don't select that option then there will be no additional sharpening applied during the export. If you don't need it or want it, don't use it.
I assume LR output sharpening is intended mostly for photo printing (whether on desktop or in printing services). It has sharpening selection for Matte or Glossy paper. But does it work for offset printing purpose? If I use the output sharpening from LR, can I expect good results on a book printing project? Are there designers who use this method without having to sharpen again in Photoshop?
The output sharpening is designed for inkjet printing, but I've never been pleased with it. It produces too many artifacts/halos for my taste, and I used to use Smart Sharpen in Photoshop for inkjet prints. (I now use Topaz Sharpen AI as a Photoshop plugin)
For output sharpening for offset printing, I have used the Photokit Sharpener from PixelGenius for many years with very good results. The people who made it, also created LR's excellent capture sharpening.
The Photokit Sharpener is now freeware, and you can download it from PixelGenius.
I think it works with the latest version of Photoshop, at least it works on my 2020 version (21.2.2)
After installation, it will appear under File > Automate.
Thank you very much. This is like an invaluable gift. Looking forward to see the result in the near future 🙂
If you’re interested in the thinking behind output sharpening, here’s the 2003 article about it by the man who coined the term, the late Bruce Fraser, also a member of PixelGenius.
The three step sharpening workflow, partially introduced in ACR/LR come originally from:
All explained by the fellow who came up with this workflow many years ago. Worth a read.
Perhaps the best practical argument for using output sharpening, IMO, is to consider:
the same working image (as processed, adjusted, externally worked on, whatever) might be output in multiple different ways at different times, including at different scales even when it's the same hardware and paper type, or to different pixel dimensions when it's digital.
The printer driver / export settings control the resolution etc, and an output device / paper profile can be imposed... for managing all the output specific aspects and output specific sharpening is part of that.
This all helps some "general purpose" detail processing as seen in Develop, be delivered towards a visually consistent result. The point of output sharpening is that it belongs to a given form of output; not to an image. It adapts itself to whatever makes this form of output different from others; most importantly, to calculate and compensate the particular scaling / resampling factor involved.
If your Develop sharpening is done with a particular output usage in mind, you are IMHO potentially missing a trick.