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Fixing Lens Distortion Issues with Lightroom

Lenses lie… It’s a simple truth. Do you want to xinsure that your photos are as accurate as possible? You should realize that all lenses distort images (at least a small amount). This is why you should take the extra step to remove lens distortion. The technology is built right into Adobe Camera Raw so you can access it when developing RAW files in Lightroom.


What Kind of Distortion?

There are three kinds of lens distortion you’ll likely see. This defects may be more prevalent at certain focal lengths on a zoom lens. Fixing the distortions is relatively easy.

  • Vignetting: This creates a darker edge around the image (especially the corners). This is most noticeable in photos with a sky or landscape where tones should be even.
  • Barrel distortion: This distortion causes straight lines to appear to bend outward.
  • Pincushion distortion: This distortion causes straight lines to appear to bend inward.

Fixing Flaws Automatically

Most of the flaws in an image can be quickly fixed thanks to lens profiles. Profiles that tackle distortion are applied automatically based on the EXIF metadata that identifies the camera and lens used to make the photo.A profile is then matched to the photo to fix it.

  1. Go to the Lens Corrections panel in the Develop Module.
  2. Check the box next to Enable Profile Corrections in the Basic controls.
  3. Check the Constrain Crop option to avoid any gray pixels from appearing at edge that can be introduced during lens correction.
  4. Click on Profile to see full controls.
    If you shot on a micro four-thirds camera, the profile correction is often embedded in the file automatically
  5. Check that the Make of Camera and Model of Lens match what you shot.
  6. Click on the Profile menu to see if more than one profile is available. Try your options if you have more than one.
  7. Customize the correction as need by adjusting the Amount sliders:
    1. Distortion The default value is 100 which uses 100% of the distortion correction in the profile. A higher value will apply additional correction while a lower value reduces it. You can use a value between 0200).
    2. Vignetting The slider range is identical to distortion. This affects the amount of vignetting in the original photo. This is a useful adjustment to even out the edges of a photo. This is different than post crop vignette which is an effect that can be applied later in the development process.
  8. If needed, use the Manual tab to further refine and adjust for tilt, perspective, or shooting angle.

Keeping Current

The Lens Profiles are pretty easy to use and relies upon profiles for specific lenses and cameras. But where do these profiles come from? It turns out you can create your own or rely on the Adobe community to do the work for you. Keep in mind, each Lightroom or Camera Raw update also usually ships lens profiles, but you don’t need to wait that long.

Adobe Lens Profile Creator

lensprofileThe Adobe Lens Profile Creator is a free utility for creating your own lens profiles.The process involves shooting a test chart, then entering in some data about your lens and camera. The profile describes the types of optical aberrations that exist in a particular lens (such as distortion, vignettes, and color fringe). It then takes steps to correct the lens distortions in an image captured from the same lens. For more information read the following guide. Read more here (PDF, 1.64 MB). Download: Mac, Win

Adobe Lens Profile Downloader

If you want to keep up on the latest profiles released by others or made by other photographers, be sure to get the free Adobe Lens Profile Downloader. This is a free companion application to Photoshop, Lightroom, and the Camera Raw plug-in. It lets you search, download, rate and comment on the online lens correction profiles that are created and shared by the user community. Read More (PDF, 1.64 MB). Download: Mac, Win

Take it Further

If you’d like to learn even more about working with lens issues and making your own profiles, be sure to check out this new class from I go really in-depth in Using and Creating Lens Profiles in Adobe CC Applications. Remember you can watch any course for free as a Photofocus reader by trying them out here

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