clarity slider in LR

VipmediastarVipmediastar Posts: 55Member
edited April 2013 in General Discussions
I recently have been clarity slider happy in light room. I try/ied to do minimal editing as possible and my goal has always been to get the best out of camera.
This past few months I have been clearing out the archives to make room for the d800 files; I just wished I knew about smart previews before I started doing this. However visiting my old photos I can see how I have grown with the camera and software editing. Whenever heavy editing was required I made possible what I could in LR and exported to Nik and mostly for HDR and black and white.

I started playing with the old photos and current photos and I like how the clarity improves an image.
With the D800 I'm using Nik less and less and haven't done HDR either.

I like how great the d800 files are and how most of editing stays in light room and I tend to move the clarity slider almost always to the right.
I know the 85mm 1.8g is sharp but this makes it sharper.

Recently I sold a 24x36 print from the d300 with sigma 10-20mm. I was a 9 shot HDR and at that size it was tooo soft for print. I sharpend for print in LR and PS but that just made the photo look textured. Finally I used the clarity slider that made the difference but made the photo a bit darker.

In the end the clarity slider saved the day. Even Nik didn't help me with the sharpen tool because I was working with a tif to begin with. I hardly print anything bigger than 12x18 so this was new to me.

What are your thoughts on the clarity slider?
If you find your lens a bit soft is this a solution for you? I did a few lens corrections for the 24-70 and the distortion and vignetting made the photo look better in some areas and the clarity makes it pop a little more.


  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    The clarity slider mainly affects mid-tones by adding contrast. I personally like the d-lighting effects in NX2 better.

  • sevencrossingsevencrossing Posts: 2,800Member
    edited April 2013
    I with the exception of portraits, I tend move the slider "a bit" to the right but very rarley all the way
    with some subjects, i may use the brush to sharpen up parts of the subject

    I only use LR, unless major changes are needed , when I use CS5
    Post edited by sevencrossing on
  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    I use LightRoom 4 as my primary image editing software and as such I definitely do use the clarity slider.
    As Ironheart said the clarity slider adds contrast to the mid-tones.
    Normally, a bit of extra contrast, combined with some added vibrance can give the image a little more "punch" or "pop". It makes the image more intense and less flat looking.
    However, I rarely turn it up all the way to the right. Adding a maximum amount of clarity often makes the image look unrealistic and unnatural although if highly depends on your subject.
    When shooting nature photo's some extra punch is nice but when the grass and the trees start to look like you're on drugs then you've overdone it. (Unless it's part of an artistic effect you want; like some HDR work)
    When shooting architecture and old buildings the added clarity might add a lot of texture to the building and result in a nice effect.
    When shooting portraits you should be very careful with clarity. It adds a lot of texture and detail to the skin.
    For an aged, weathered face this might be something that you want. (Sometimes combined with black and white)
    For a female model you might wan't to consider a negative clarity (with the local adjustment brush). Positive clarity is the quickest way to turn a beautiful model's skin into a rough and ugly texture.

    My advice is:
    Definitely try out clarity on your images but try not to overdo it. (Although LR4 allows for a lot more extreme changes before it become unnatural compared to LR3). Clarity is a tool; just like everything else in photography. It's how and when you use them that makes or breaks the end result.

    One other trick you might want to try out if you like high contrast, punchy, HDR-like effects:
    - Turn the contrast up to maximum (max to the right)
    - Lower the highlights to minimum (max to the left)
    - Turn the shadow to maximum (max to the right)
    => This will give you a very HDR like look
    - Now solve the highlight clippings with the "white" slider (by moving it to the left) if needed
    - You can also solve the black clipping with the "black" slider (by moving it to the right) but this might not be required. Blown highlights are mostly bad. Some black areas on the photo might not be a problem at all.
    - Finally, add or reduce some clarity as required. Adding clarity will give your image even more texture. Reducing clarity will give the image a more "washed out" look that you sometimes see in HDR photography.

    It's something that you can try and that sometimes gives nice, visually impressive results.
    (You might even want to convert it to black and white afterwards)
    And sometimes it gives a very fake looking image that has little appeal.
  • BabaGanoushBabaGanoush Posts: 252Member
    If you overdo the clarity, you can introduce halo artifacts in places where there's a big jump in contrast. I try never to move the clarity slider above +10. I prefer to play with the contrast slider and the tone curve sliders instead.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,545Moderator
    Absolutely +1 to most of what John said above.

    IMHO HDR shots are a little passé these days. With each newly released camera the improvements in sensors seem to make multiple exposure HDR's more unnecessary. I belong to a club where they were all the rage and it became nauseous very quickly. They are now heavily into over the top composites I-) .

    Clarity along the lines of johns recommendations is what I do too but if I find any one control is ever all the way to the end, it is a sign that there is something wrong somewhere else (image not sharp or not worthy of the pp) or you wouldn't have to be so extreme in pp.

    It is hard to explain what clarity does with any clarity though (!). It is like localised sharpening because it increases contrast at transitions in tones like sharpening does but it doesn't give the same artifacts if you over do it. I like it.

    I also like that when LR4 was released they improved the resolution of each control so it gave less maximum effect which improved it greatly.

    I am a learner with CS6 and it does do things that LR is never likely to but it gets limited use with me.
    Always learning.
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,398Moderator
    I set clarity to about 20 for most images... and a very small nudge in sharpening....
    Msmoto, mod
  • GarethGareth Posts: 159Member
    I with the exception of portraits, I tend move the slider "a bit" to the right but very rarley all the way
    with some subjects, i may use the brush to sharpen up parts of the subject

    I only use LR, unless major changes are needed , when I use CS5

    stay clear of clarity on people and wildlife.
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