Today we are going to learn all about Lightroom’s Lens Correction Panel and its two tabs, the Remove Chromatic Aberration Tool and the Enable Profile Correction Tool. Why? Because most photographs need the adjustments contained in the Lens Correction Panel so it’s best to know how to use them.
Don’t despair as most photographs can be fixed by just checking the two boxes in the Lens Correction panel. However to use the Lens Correction Panel to it’s fullest potential, a basic level of understand of the panel is useful. Specifically understanding why and which lens cause issues, how the adjustments resolve the issues, and in what situations lens adjustments should not be made.
For purposes of this article I am using Lightroom Classic but similar adjustments can be found in Lightroom CC. Below is a screenshot of my Lightroom Panels with the Lens Correction panel being the 6th panel.
We are going to begin by looking at the first tab called Remove Chromatic Aberration.
Remove Chromatic Aberration
Chromatic Aberration is commonly known as color fringing of mostly purple and green colors but can also involve other colors. These colors appear along the edges of subjects where there is significant contrast such as in a dark tree against a brightly lit sky.
What Causes Chromatic Aberration?
Chromatic Aberration occurs when lens are not able to bring various color wave lengths to the same focal plane or when wave lengths of color are focused on the same plane but at different focal points. In actuality the definition is more complex but for purposes of understanding the Lightroom Chromatic Aberration Tool, this definition will suffice. However for those interested in learning more please check out Chromatic Aberration.
How to Fix Chromatic Aberration
Lightroom has an easy fix for fringing which in most cases involves simply checking the following Remove Chromatic Aberration box.
Here is an enlarged area of my image from Upper Antelope Canyon where the contrast was too high and Chromatic Aberration occurred. Note the green around the edge of the canyon wall (The area has been enlarged by 400 percent so that the color will show in this post).
This is the actual image from which this example was taken.
If the Chromatic Aberration is not removed by simply clicking the box, change from Profile to Manual as shown below and select the eye dropper tool. Next take the eye dropper tool and click into an problem area. Zoom into the area at 300 percent or greater and check the image for fringing. If fringing is still occurring, return to the panel and adjust the amount of correction as needed with the sliders shown below.
In my Antelope Canyon image and for most images a simple click of the box will remove color fringing.
Can Chromatic Aberration be Prevented?
Here is the dreaded answer of “It Depends”. Although the following steps will reduce the chances of Chromatic Aberration occurring, the following steps involve tradeoffs you may not wish to make.
Steps to Minimize Chromatic Aberration
Enable Profile Corrections
Enable Profile Corrections are designed to correct for two of the three types of optical distortions created by lens. By the way all lens have some level of distortion although wide angle lens and telephoto lens produce the greatest amounts of distortion.
What is Optical Distortion?
Optical Distortion occurs when lines in an image that are should be straight show up as curved lines. The specific type of distortion is related to type of lens such as a wide angle lens. In fact Lightroom lens correction tools work best when paired with the exact lens profile.
Three Types of Optical Distortion
Examples of Optical Distortion Lightroom Can Correct
How Do You Fix Optical Distortion in Lightroom?
Lightroom has lens specific corrections with just a check of a box for many lens. As can be seen in the box below, my lens was a Sony 24-104 that Lightroom was able to detect by reading the metadata from the image.
At times Lightroom is not able to determine what lens was used and in those situations, click on the dots by the Make and the following menu will appear. Select the right make and continue down the menu to locate the right lens profile.
If you are not able to locate your particular lens, find the closest lens profile to your lens. For example if you have a Canon lens such as an older 17-35 mm but can only locate a 16-35mm lens, select it and it should be close enough to work. Do not, however, apply a 70-200mm lens profile to a 17-35mm lens.
Optical Distortion Vignetting
Optical distortion in lens not only results in curved lines but also an amount of darkening around the image edges. By applying the above corrections to an image, the edges of the image will also be lightened. Here is an example of not only distortion but also how much the lens profile correction lightened the edges of Crate Lake. By the way, this was photographed with a wide angle lens at 17mm.
Not all Optical Distortion is Bad
Depending on the subject, distortion in an image can offer a level of creativity otherwise not possible. For instance, a fisheye len’s extreme distortion provides the possibility to enhance curvature of objects, capture beautiful ceilings, include the earths curvature in cityscape and landscape images, create amazing architectural effects and so much more.
Why Lens Correction Should Not Be Part of a Preset
Lens correction is a step all photographers should perform when developing an image. So you may be thinking, why not make a preset that includes checks for both Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Corrections. There are definitely varying opinions on this but I, for one, am not in favor of creating a preset for Lens Correction for the following reasons:
1. Chromatic Aberration does not always completely remove color fringing with a simply check in the box. With a preset, there could be a tendency to believe the fringing was corrected when that was not the case. Since color fringing can destroy an image, taking a few seconds to zoom into the image to verify fringing has been removed is well worth the additional workflow time.
2. Lightroom’s Chromatic Aberration tool does not work as well on JPEG images without additional corrections. I photograph in RAW so this is not an issue but others working with JPEGs should be aware of this limitation.
3. Enable Profile Corrections is another box I do not believe should become a preset. There are a number of cases when lens distortion enhances an image and should not be removed.
4. Next, lens with no identifiable profiles could be overlooked and not corrected.
5. Lastly, I photograph with multiple lens and cameras and would have to create presets for all lens. So how would I apply the different presents to a batch of images photographed with different lens? It just seems easier to correct an image during development and synch the setting to other like images.
For those who strongly advocate for having lens correction be a preset or can address my above concerns for a lens preset, I would love for you to leave a comment along with your reasons.
Summary of Lightroom’s Lens Correction Panel
The Lens Correction Panel makes it quick and easy to fix most optical distortion issues in images that are a result of lens characteristics.
Image adjustments created with Lens Correction will lighten the edges of your images along with some image cropping. Remember the above Crater Lake example. Therefore, Lens Correction should be one of the first steps in a Lightroom Develop Workflow.
Once Lens Corrections are made, it may be time to also correct other distortions called Perspective Distortions that are fixed with the Transform Tool.
To learn more about my Lightroom Workflow as it related to Lens Correction, Tranform and Crop, please take a minute to read: Lightroom Crop.
As always thanks for joining me on another Learn Photography post and I hope to see you back soon.