Should I sharpen an image before or after noise reduction?

Sharpening adds a small halo to edges, emphasizing contrast changes to make the image appear sharper.

If you sharpen before noise reduction, any noise existing in the image may well receive the edge halo, thereby emphasizing the noise and requiring a heavier noise reduction setting to blur it out.

If, instead, you sharpen after noise reduction, the noise is blurred first, leaving less distinct edges; therefore, the upcoming sharpening routine should not add a halo to the noise, making it less obvious.

Then when the sharpening routine does its job, it will add the halo only to normal high-contrast changes (edges) in the image, sharpening only the things that really should be sharpened (not the noise).

Therefore, I would do noise reduction and then sharpening. Most of the sharpening software automatically reduces the noise and then resharpens the image. Apps like Photoshop allow you to control the amount of noise reduction and the amount of after-sharpening.

Keep on capturing time…

Darrell Young

Darrell Young

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), and the author of 24 photography books from NikoniansPress and Picture and Pen Press, through Rocky Nook. You may review a few of Darrell’s Nikon books here. He has been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera.

This website was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to this website will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.

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