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Mastering sharpness with Perfectly Clear

Since I started using Perfectly Clear a couple years ago, there’s been one feature that’s continually been my go-to, no matter what the subject is that I’m photographing.


The sharpness tools in Perfectly Clear are the most accurate and precise I’ve ever used, and it’s something I apply to all of my corporate portraits, as well as some of my landscapes and other imagery.

With the latest 3.6.2 update to Perfectly Clear Complete, these tools have gotten even better, giving users more control than ever before to help sharpen their images more effectively.

How does sharpness work?

Other post-processing tools typically rely on a traditional Unsharpen Mask, having you change three aspects to help sharpen your image — Amount, Radius and Threshold. All three of these variables are dependent on each other, meaning you have to really pay attention to how they affect your image.

Even the most experienced user can experience a halo effect or shifted colors when adjusting the sharpness of an image. With Perfectly Clear, these worries are gone.

Perfectly Clear’s sharpness tools work by adjusting adjoining pixels, in a way that the human eye best recognizes changes in light. Powered by a unique algorithm, some pixels have their light increased, others have their light reduced. Doing this creates a sharper edge to the human eye. Coupled with Perfectly Clear’s powerful noise reduction capabilities, you’re left with a sharper, more realistic-looking image.

This extends to other parts of your image, allowing you to control lip sharpening, eye enhancement and more.

Real-world examples

As I mentioned above, the sharpness in Perfectly Clear is one of my go-to tools for a lot of my portrait work. Even if there are no other adjustments I make in Perfectly Clear, I’ll send it through just to sharpen my photos a bit. It helps add that extra “wow” factor, and makes for a great-looking image.

In the above before and after, play close attention to my friend, Blake’s, eyes. The catchlights are sharper, the eyebrows are crisper — in a sense the sharpness has been upped to that next level using Perfectly Clear.

Let’s take a closer look at Blake’s eyes. But also check out his lips, and see how those have been slightly sharpened, too.

Getting started

Applying the sharpening filter in Perfectly Clear is really just as simple as opening your image, either through the Lightroom or Photoshop plug-ins, or in the standalone Perfectly Clear Complete application.

From there, you can turn on the Details panel, which holds the Sharpening slider. This will have the most drastic impact in terms of sharpness goes for your image. The other two sharpening tools — Eye Enhance (found in the Eyes panel) and Lip Sharpening (found in the Face panel) will make some more subtle, finishing-type adjustments to your photograph.

As I mentioned above, there are times when I just open Perfectly Clear to apply that sharpness. It gives me an extra bang for my buck. But it’s also important to not over-do it. Usually, I tend to keep my sharpening slider lower. I don’t think I’ve had a case (let alone a need) where I boost it all the way to 200. I look at it as a tool that should be used as needed. Not every photograph will need sharpening, but with portraits especially, it can certainly be effective.

What about other types of photographs?

Sharpening isn’t limited to portraits. I’ve used it on my landscape and architecture imagery, too. Take this photograph I took at the Muckross House in Ireland last summer. I applied some real basic sharpening, tone and color adjustments to it in Perfectly Clear. I can see the details in the grass and the building better than ever before.

As you can see, Perfectly Clear can be a very powerful tool. And even if you don’t use it for all your images, running them through for sharpening alone is worth it. Don’t already have Perfectly Clear? Click here to get Perfectly Clear Complete with the Sherk Addons Bundle for just $99!

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