Is there any way to sharpen images before I preview them? Is there any downside to doing this?

I had been using a program named BreezeBrowser for years before making a recent switch to Lightroom. One feature that BreezeBrowser had that I miss is that when previewing images (before converting to Raw) it would apply some sharpening to the preview image so you have a better idea of what it might look like after processing.

I am so used to it that all my images look extra soft to me (I know they are really not) and it is throwing me off when choosing photos.


  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Depends on if you need actual sharpening, or just accurate previews. Are you generating 1:1 previews before reviewing your image? \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 22:47

3 Answers 3


Lightroom can be configured to automatically apply sharpening on import. It will then apply the sharpening to the images every time you load them. Simply alter the amount of sharpening applied by the default template.

From the Develop page, go to the Develop menu and choose Set Default Settings...


Jersey Dude may be trying to review images without having Lightroom generate Previews first. In the Library menu find Previews and generate Standard Previews or 1:1 Previews, depending upon how you want to review images.

But, specifically on the topic of sharpening: sharpening is best handled as a three-step workflow: input or capture sharpening, creative sharpening, and output sharpening, and this order is important.

  1. Capture sharpening is intended to restore sharpness that may have been lost at capture time. In other words, this sharpening should bring back any sharpness a Bayer filter may have taken away, for example.

  2. Creative sharpening is the thing most people do: adding sharpening during image editing. Strictly in this ideal process, however, creative sharpening is used to add sharpening only in focus or active areas, for example.

  3. Output sharpening is used to sharpen the image for a specific type of output at a specific size. Output sharpening will be different for screen or print, and will also be different if printing a small print on paper or a large print on canvas, for example.

Lightroom provides two opportunities for sharpening, effectively creative and output sharpening.

  • Creative sharpening is in the Develop Module, in the Detail area.
  • Output sharpening is in the Export window, in the Output Sharpening area. (Output Sharpening was added to Lightroom 4, FYI.)

I'm not very familiar with BreezeBrowser, but it sounds like that might be doing some capture sharpening for you automatically? I don't know.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Breezebrowser is not doing capture sharpening. It is taking the preview image out of the raw file and before displaying it on the screen adds some sharpening and contrast. I find this helps me with my selection process. The sharpening is not saved to the file. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 21:25

This is a Good Thing™

Digital Image Workflow.

Perform these steps in order.

  1. Copy
  2. Crop
  3. Adjust Contrast & Brightness
  4. Adjust Colour Balance & Correction
  5. Clean Up
  6. Add any Special & Creative Effects
  7. Sharpen

This will optimize your image security (step 1), reduce working file sizes (step 2), scratch file efficiency (also step 2), and overall image quality. You can't effectively adjust balance until the brightness and contrast is correct. The take-away from this is Sharpen last. No exceptions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While there's nothing wrong with this workflow, there's hardly one perfect workflow, and it surely won't effect file size or scratch file efficiency. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 11:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanWolfgang Your assertion of file size and scratch file efficiency has been addressed and suitably dealt with, I hope. Smaller file sizes utilize system resources more effectively, I'm informed. Reducing working file sizes early in the workflow is what I strive for. The first step is insurance against catastrophic failure in step two. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 20:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is not a requirement for non-destructive editing like LR. Crop will not reduce file size and whether it changes RAM usage I doubt. Of course, there might be artistic reasons why you might like to crop first. \$\endgroup\$
    – Unapiedra
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 21:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Unapiedra D,oh! Quite so. I was answering a different question, one having nothing to do with the generation of a "Preview." \$\endgroup\$
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 22:15

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