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How to Fix Out of Focus Pictures in Lightroom

In: 
Published: 04/05/2021

Don’t you hate when a photo comes out blurry? This may happen due to a slow shutter speed, camera shake, or a lens that lacks image stabilization. Learning how to fix out of focus pictures in Lightroom can make these flawed pictures captures usable again.

How to Fix Out of Focus Pictures in Lightroom Using Three Methods

Correcting a blurry photo seems impossible sometimes. Not if you have Lightroom Classic CC. The non-destructive editing software has features that let you tweak the image and sharpen it to restore the details. In fact, it applies automatic sharpening to every imported photo, which minimizes the blur.

The auto sharpening feature, although useful, may not be enough to bring out the details in an out of focus photo. Sometimes, an image requires further processing until it looks sharp and eye-catching. Here is where Lightroom’s robust sharpening tools come in handy. 

Sharpening an Image Using the Basic and Details Panel

The Develop module in Lightroom is packed with features that transform your images. From multiple options in the drop-down menus, sliders to other forms of adjustment, you can process your images in a variety of ways. 

We recommend using the following sliders, but your workflow might deviate if your image requires specific edits. 

Importing the image you are going to sharpen in Lightroom

At first, we will adjust the clarity and highlights of the image under the Basic Panel. To access the panel:

  1. Import your image into the Library Module of Lightroom.
  2. Go to the Develop Module.
  3. On the right-hand side, the first panel you will see under the Histogram is the Basic Panel.
  4. Expand the Panel, and go down to see the Clarity slider.

Clarity

The clarity slider is intended to bring out the details in an image. As the blur in your image is probably hiding important details, bringing up the clarity is a good way to get started with the processing. 

Increasing the clarity will crisp up the image by making fine adjustments to the details. This is specifically required in real estate photography as we don’t want a soft, gloomy image that obscures details.

Highlights

You may or may not need to adjust the highlights in every blurry image. However, you can always try to adjust it to see if it adds to the photo's appeal by dropping the slider a bit. It might help recover some details that add punch to the photo.

Tweaking basic sliders like exposure, whites, and blacks to make global adjustments

After adjusting Clarity and Highlights, you may want to tweak some other basic sliders like exposure, whites, and blacks to make global adjustments. If not, you can scroll down and expand the Details Panel. Here is where the sharpening tool is available to fix the blurry image. 

The sharpening feature is further broken down into four sliders. 

Amount

The amount slider determines the extent of sharpness that would be applied to the image. It totally depends upon how much out of focus your image is. As you increase the slider, your image will become sharper.

Radius

The radius slider confuses many newbie photographers. This is a very useful feature when you are looking for a sharpening effect to the pixel level. You can control the sharpening of pixels around the edges. We recommend keeping the value of the radius slider to a minimum. 

Detail

The more you increase the details slider, the more sharp your image's small edges would be. On the other hand, a lower value will sharpen large edges only.

Masking

The masking slider works intelligently. It basically sharpens the edges, leaving smooth areas unaffected. This results in the sharpening of the sections with true details. For instance, in the image below, the trees in the foreground will be sharpened.

To get the exact picture of where the masking slider will be applied, hold down the Option key (Mac) or Alt key (Windows). The masked areas will appear black or dark grey, whereas the sharpened areas will appear white and light grey. 

Adjusting the masking sliders to sharpen photos in Lightroom

Noise Reduction

The noise reduction feature is present right below the sharpness sliders. It lets you minimize the noise in the color and brightness of the photo to make it pop. Note here that a lot of reduction in noise will result in a soft image.

You can increase the Luminance slider to minimize noise and then move on to the Details slider to preserve details in your image. After that, you can go ahead and adjust the Colors slider as needed. 

Compare the before and after view of the image by pressing YY under the image window. 

Sharpened image in Lightroom

Sharpening an Image Using Adjustment Brush 

Sometimes, only a specific section of a photo is ruined due to missed focus. As the rest of the image doesn't require editing, you can go for selective sharpening by using the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom.

The Adjustment Brush is present on the extreme right under the Histogram.

  1. Once you select the brush, choose an appropriate size and feather and begin masking the desired area. 
  2. Press O to display where the mask is being applied. 
  3. You can also erase the mask from unwanted areas by switching from Brush to Erase.

After that, apply the effects in the same manner as described in the above section to reduce blur in the section. 

Sharpening an Image Using Presets

Most photographers use Lightroom these days for their post-production process, and use presets for quick batch editing. You can create presets with the settings mentioned above to sharpen out-of-focus images. Or you can purchase ready presets that fix such images in a click.

Lightroom, too has its default presets to apply sharpening to photos. You can apply Light, Medium, or Heavy sharpening preset from the Presets tab on the left-hand side in the Develop module.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Most Common Issues While Fixing Out of Focus Photos?

Photographers love sharp photos due to their appeal. However, there are some common issues that arise while sharpening the photos during post-production. Some of them are:

  • Harsh lines around the edges as a result of taking the sharpness to an extensive level. The lines look unsightly, decreasing the image quality.
  • Unwanted noise in the image as a consequence of increased sharpness.
  • Straight lines converted into zig zags due to an increase in radius slider. 

Conclusion

Once you get the hang of fixing blurry photos in Lightroom, your image processing workflow will speed up, and you will be able to restore all of your out of focus pictures easily. We hope that our tutorial to fix blurry images will assist you in implementing any of these three methods to your photos to make them usable. 

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