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How to sharpen a blurry photo: make blurry photos look better

Sharpen a photo to reduce the impression of blur

Although it is difficult to remove entirely, you can reduce blurriness from photos by increasing the sharpness. Here's how to improve a blurry photo using photo-editing software.

Blurred photos can result either from camera shake or poor focussing. To prevent camera shake when taking a photo, hold your camera firmly in two hands, take a steady stance, perhaps select a fast shutter speed using a shutter-priority exposure mode if your camera has one.

Also, use the optical viewfinder (if present) instead of the LCD panel. In the case of focussing, your camera ought to get it right automatically but sometimes auto-focus can be slow. So don't stab at the shutter release; instead half press it and wait for the camera to focus (which might be indicated by a beep) before pressing it fully.

A blurred photo can never be edited so that it looks as good as one that was taken without camera shake and with proper focussing. Although you won't be able to recover the detail that's lost from these common mistakes, it's easy to reduce the softness to make your photo appear sharper.

Select the Home tab and then choose one of the numbers 1 to 13 (which represent increasing degrees of sharpening) from the pull-down Sharpen menu. If you think you've over-done it, don't just select a smaller number because this will sharpen it yet further (for example, if you select 13 and then 2 you end up with 15, not 2). Instead, use the Undo option before selecting a lesser degree of sharpening.

If your image editor has an Unsharp Mask tool, use this instead of a basic Sharpen tool.

This article is part of our Fix your photos for free feature, and uses the free Photoscape image editor from www.photoscape.org. The principles apply to other image editing software, but the steps below explain how to achieve the fix in Photoscape.

How to sharpen photos: before and after

Sharpen photo

Although you will never recover lost detail, sharpening an image will reduce the blurring effect...

Sharpen before


...from this...

Sharpen photo after

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