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Using the Detail tab

Via sliders in the Detail tab, you can preview and adjust the sharpness of your photo, and also reduce any unwanted color noise. Using these nondestructive sharpening controls is the best way to apply what is called capture, or input, sharpening.

To sharpen edges using the Detail tab

  1. Click the Detail tab detail_tab.jpg A and choose a zoom level of 100% for the preview. Note: If the words “(Preview Only)” display in the Detail tab, click the Open Preferences button dialogue.jpg in the toolbox. In the Camera Raw Preferences dialog, choose Apply Sharpening To: All Images, then click OK.
  2. In the Sharpening area, use the Amount slider to adjust the edge definition. For subject matter that needs a lot of sharpening, such as hard objects or architecture, set this slider to 100; if less sharpening is needed, try a value of 50–60.
    • To evaluate sharpening in a grayscale preview, Alt-drag/Option-drag the Amount slider.
  3. Alt-drag/Option-drag the Detail slider slightly to the right to sharpen edge details and textures, and Alt-drag/Option-drag the Masking slider to around 50 to protect low-contrast areas with a black mask and sharpen only high-contrast areas.

All digital cameras produce some luminance (grayscale) noise and color artifacts. Although budget cameras tend to produce the most noise, it can also be produced by a high-end camera if used with a high ISO (light sensitivity) setting to capture a poorly lit scene. Before opening your photo into Photoshop, you should try to remove as much noise from it as possible, as it can become accentuated by image editing. When you follow these instructions, you’ll see that shifting one slider value often requires adjusting another.

To reduce luminance and color noise using the Detail tab: star.jpg

  1. With a photo open in Camera Raw (A, next page), click the Detail tab detail_tab.jpg and choose a zoom level of 200–300% for the preview.
  2. To reduce grayscale noise (graininess), increase the Luminance value (B, next page). Try a value between 20 and 70.
  3. Raising the Luminance value smoothed out the high-contrast edges in the photo. To resharpen those edges, raise the Luminance Detail value (C, next page). Note that a high Luminance Detail value may reintroduce noise along the edges.
    • With the Hand tool (H), you can move the photo in the preview window, to examine different edges.
  4. Raise the Luminance Contrast value to restore some edge contrast. The effect of this slider is most noticeable in photos that contain a lot of noise.
  5. Defects such as color artifacts and random speckling tend to be most noticeable on solid-color surfaces, particularly those in the shadow areas. To reduce these defects, increase the Color value from the default value of 25 to around 40–50, depending on the subject matter of the photo.
  6. Raising the Color value may lower the intensity of colors in areas of the photo that were poorly lit. To restore some saturation and intensity to those areas, increase the Color Detail value (D, next page) from the default value of 50 to around 75, or until the color saturation looks just right. To judge the overall effect of the settings you have chosen in this tab, lower the zoom level.
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