Chromatic

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 28mm, f/11, 7 frame HDR, finished in Photomatix Pro.

Chromatic aberration may show up as a colored halo in your images, usually surrounding a dark object placed against a bright background, like a mountain against the sky. In my experience, the color is usually pink or green or both, but I’ve also had purple.You may even find a purple halo around sparkling jewels on a wedding dress shot in bright sunlight. It depends on the characteristics of your particular lens. All lens manufacturers make lenses that show this chromatic aberration, but their more expensive lenses use materials (like fluorite lens elements) to help minimize it. There are also some things you can do to minimize it’s negative effects in your images.

This is a crop from the brightest frame used to make the HDR image above. Zoomed in to 300% you can see the green bands on the ridges of the roof, the green halo on the vent, and even the purple halo on the chimney.

This is a crop from the brightest frame used to make the HDR image above. Zoomed in to 300% you can see the green bands on the ridges of the roof, the green halo on the vent, and even the purple halo on the chimney.

First of all, you can close your lens down a little bit. You’ll have the biggest trouble with chromatic aberration when you shoot with the aperture wide open, and especially if you shoot wide open focussing at a longer distance, like a landscape shot on your fast 50mm lens at f/1.8. Try shooting at f/5.6 or f/11 on the same lens and you’ll probably have less trouble.

Even better, Lightroom (and ACR in Photoshop) have simple sliders to help correct for chromatic aberration. Start by going to the Lens Correction tab in the Develop Module, click on the Basic tab, and choose the box that says, “Remove Chromatic Aberration.” For RAW images, this button has always corrected the problem for me 100%. I always apply this correction before I start my HDR plugin.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 1.54.08 PM

Occasionally, editing in other plugins may enhance the aberration and when the TIFF or JPG file comes back to Lightroom I may need to make more corrections. Still in Lens Corrections, click on the Color tab to find more adjustments. You can try moving the sliders around until you get the result you’re after, but I recommend picking the dropper tool and using it to click on the colored halo you want to remove. You may need to zoom in to greater than 1:1 to use the tool more accurately.

Use the dropper tool for more correction; zoom in on the image to get a more accurate sample.

Use the dropper tool for more correction; zoom in on the image to get a more accurate sample.

Chromatic aberration is just a fact of photography, but by stopping down the lens and using Lightroom’s excellent tools, it doesn’t have to be a problem.

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Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. Great advice for someone with Lightroom, in Elements I use an adjustment layer for saturation, zoom in on the fringe color and select with eyedropper then desaturate. Not always effective but worth a shot if you only have Elements! I also use the correction in Photomatix too!

    Reply
  2. Thank you for the information, very useful.

    Reply
  3. Lovely post.

    I learned how to avoid the CA by increasing the f-stop… the hard way. :)

    Reply
  4. Thanks Levi!! Great post!!

    Is this is more pronounced in the “cheaper” lenses vs the high-end glass such as the 70-200 f/2.8 and 17-35 f/2.8? I’ve had very minor fringing in the better quality optics such as those lenses.

    You Da Man!!!

    Reply
  5. Great article Levi.

    Reply
  6. This is one of my regular steps I use in Camera Raw with all my pictures.
    Good article, thanks.

    Reply

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About Levi Sim

Photography is my life, and I'd like my photography to be part of your life, too. Whether I make pictures with you or help you learn to make your vision pop out of the camera, I'm happy to help.

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Adobe, Architecture, HDR, Landscape, Portrait, Shooting, Software, Technique & Tutorials

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