The Lens Corrections panel in the right panel of the Develop module has been updated yet again in Lightroom Version 5. The Adobe engineers, always looking for a way to improve image quality in the raw processing stage, were listening to feedback and they have come up with a very handy and simple to use set of tools to correct many common (and not so common) lens issues. There are four sections in the Lens Corrections Panel: Basic, Profile, Color and Manual. In this blog post we will skip over the Basic panel and discuss the Profile and Color panels first, then in Part 2 of this blog post (in the next Workflow Friday post) we will cover the Basic panel and touch on the Manual portion of the Lens Correction panel.
Here is a screenshot of the Develop Module with the Basic Lens Corrections panel visible. This image was shot with a Fisheye lens, which helped to accentuate the radical curve of this landscape.
Lens Corrections - Profile
The "Profile" option in the Lens Corrections panel, as seen in Photo 2, allows us to choose the camera and lens combination that the image was shot with as well as a pre-made Adobe camera/lens profile for each image to automatically deal with lens distortion and vignetting—all in one easy step. Of course there are thousands of possible camera and lens combinations and only a limited number of Adobe camera and lens profiles to choose from as is evident when you start adjusting the toggles. Adobe has built profiles for the most popular lenses in Nikon and Canon’s lineup as well as those lenses produced by Olympus, Sigma, Tamron and most of the camera manufacturers on the market. If your camera and lens combination is available, I have found that the distortion and vignetting sliders are fairly accurate for most images. The distortion slider works very well but I normally turn it down to zero (0) as in Photo 2, so that the image is not altered from the way it was shot. In Photo 3, you can see what the image looks like with the distortion slider set at the default setting and why, especially for this image, I chose to set it at zero.
Here we see the Profile section of the lens Corrections panel. As you can see for this image I left the Vignetting slider at the default position and moved the Distortion slider all the way to the left, which effectively turns off the distortion removal and leaves the image as it was shot. I typically move the Distortion slider all the way to left to leave my image as it came out of the camera.
Of course there are some issues with this tool. First, not every lens is exactly alike even if they are the same make and model. Hence, the Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens that Adobe built the profile with may or may not be a perfect match to my Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Second, some lenses might not be included in the list of lenses and hence, there is no option to use this feature if that is the case. Both of these issues can be taken care of by building your own Lens Corrections profiles using the Adobe Lens Profile Creator, provided by Adobe.
This screenshot shows what the above image would look like had I left the Distortion slider in it’s default position. Because this image was shot with a Fisheye lens the Lens Correction panel skews the image massively to try and straighten out the curved lines.
Lens Corrections – Color
The Color section of the Lens Corrections panel (Photo 4) includes sliders and a check box to deal with both chromatic aberration and color fringing. This is a simple and extremely effective way to deal with chromatic aberration (CA). By selecting the check box next to "Remove Chromatic Aberration" Lightroom will remove all of the CA in the image. And in my experience, it does an excellent job of removing the CA.
Here is Color section of the Lens Corrections panel in the Develop module.
Before we get too far in our discussion here we need to to differentiate between chromatic aberration and color fringing. Chromatic aberration can be found anywhere in an image whereas color fringing is usually found on high contrast edges, especially in situations where a subject is backlit. Chromatic aberration is removed by selecting the "Remove Chromatic Aberration’ check box and color fringing is removed using the Defringe sliders, which are just below the "Remove Chromatic Aberration’ check box. If selecting the "Remove Chromatic Aberration" check box doesn’t remove all of the CA, then the odds are good you also have some color fringing in your image.
With the high resolution sensors we have today and exacting standards they command, many lenses will have a certain amount of chromatic aberration that shows up on high contrast edges, especially if the image was shot with a wide angle lens. This is partially because digital sensors prefer that photons hit the sensor perpendicular to the sensor’s surface and when using wide-angle lenses this is not always the case, especially in the corners. The other fly in the ointment is that we are dealing with a flat surface, which is the surface of the sensor and not a piece of film, which had some thickness and hence some forgiveness. I’ll also note that just about every image I process has some amount of chromatic aberration, no matter what lens I use. This is just a fact of the modern digital age and it is irrespective of whether or not a lens was designed for digital or film—or even how spectacular your lens is. Chromatic aberration is just a by-product of how light behaves as it passes through a piece of glass.
Here is a before and after shot of this image showing the huge purple line of Chromatic Aberration (CA) and color fringing on the edge of the slickrock. By checking the "Remove Chromatic Aberration’ box I was able to remove the CA and then by tweaking the Defringe sliders I was able to remove the rest of the color fringing.
If you use wide angle lenses often you will definitely want to look in the corners at 100% to make sure you have removed the CA completely by selecting the "Remove Chromatic Aberration" check box. With fish-eye lenses on a digital camera, you are pretty much assured of both CA and color fringing and will have to use this tool to remove it. I have provided an example, in Photo 5 above, an image with CA and with it taken out. As you can see the chromatic aberration shows up as a Purple line. In this case we needed to use both the Chromatic Aberration sliders and the Defringe sliders to remove the color fringe completely.
Removing color fringing is a bit more complex than simply selecting a check box. As you can see in Photo 4, there are four Defringe sliders and an eye dropper that are used to remove color fringing. Color fringing normally appears with a purple or green hue. By playing around with the Defringe sliders it is pretty easy to see how they work. You simply pull out the Purple or Green Amount sliders to eliminate the relevant color fringing. Additionally, you can customize the Purple Hue and Green Hue sliders so that they are eliminating exactly the right hues of the color fringing. If you click on the Purple or Green Amount sliders and simultaneously hold down the Option key you will be able to see exactly where the color fringing is and how much has been removed. The Option key trick also works when adjusting the Purple Hue and Green Hue sliders as well, which allows for extremely precise adjustments.
Another method to remove the color fringing is to use the eyedropper tool in the upper left corner of the Defringe section. You can simply select the eyedropper tool and mouse over those parts of the image that have color fringing and/or chromatic aberration. For this to work well, you will need to zoom into your image to at least 100% (1:1). You might need to zoom in even more depending on how thick the CA or color fringing is in your image. Once you select the color fringe, the eyedropper tool automatically adjusts all of the Defringe sliders to match that hue and color of color fringing. In my experience, this method works very well.
Here is the finalized image with all of the Lens Corrections settings and Develop module adjustments.
I realize this is probably more than you ever want to know about color fringing and chromatic aberration, but it appears in a lot of images and I see this showing up in images everywhere—I also see that it is often overlooked and obvious. In my opinion, it can be a major distraction and can really diminish an image’s impact. When I see huge arcs of CA or color fringing in an image that is not dealt with, I cringe because for me it doesn’t matter how great the image is—all I can see is the awful CA and color fringing. Hence, if you truly want to set yourself and your images apart from the pack, I’d suggest checking for CA and color fringing on every image at 100% and removing it if you find any.
This blog post is a modified excerpt from my e-book, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom: A Professional Photographer’s Workflow. For more information on this e-book or to purchase the e-book please visit my website.