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While advances in lens and camera technology have greatly reduced it, there are still times chromatic aberration pops up.  In case you’re already scratching your head, chromatic aberration is a type of color distortion. It’s caused when a lens fails to focus all the colors to the same point of convergence. For a deep geek dive, check Wikipedia.

You’ll see the problem manifest as fringes of color.  This is most typical in areas of high contrast (particularly where dark and light areas overlap). The problem is more likely when you’re shooting a backlit subject using a long focal length. The issue is often caused by the different color sensors blowing out, where one or two channels can capture detail, but the others cannot.

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You may miss chromatic aberration if you don’t zoom into at least 100% and really examine your raw files (JPEG files often have it removed automatically in-camera). In the case of the image at hand, I was shooting on an Olympus OM-D Micro Four-Thirds camera at 300mm (which behaves like 600mm).  My subject was VERY far away so I was fully zoomed in with a harsh backlit subject.

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As I developed the raw file and restored highlights and shadows, the chromatic aberration just got worse.  Fortunately Adobe Camera Raw (which powers Lightroom and Photoshop) as well as Apple Aperture offer controls to fix this.

In Photoshop or Lightroom do the following.

  1. Access the Lens Corrections controls
  2. Choose Color
  3. Check the box for Remove Chromatic Aberration
  4. Adjust the Amount and Hue sliders to refine the strength of the adjustment and the range of the hue affected.
  5. Toggle the Preview to see the before and after state.

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Disclaimer: This is just one way to fix chromatic aberration.  Combine with your shooting best practices to minimize flaws.

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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. […] Purple Haze? May be Chromatic Aberration. […]

  2. […] you have a high contrast area, it’s easy to end up with chromatic aberration in a photo. This often results in a purple or green fringe along the edges of some objects in the […]

  3. […] Purple Haze? May be Chromatic Aberration […]

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

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