It’s more likely you’ll need to use lens correction for photos you’ve taken with very wide and very long lenses.
What Does Lens Correction Mean?
Light rays bend and refract as they pass through a lens. To make natural looking photographs the light rays must all line up and be focused on the camera’s sensor.
When you’re using a wide lens you are squeezing a whole lot of visual information into the rectangular shaped frame of your camera’s sensor.
This can happen because the lens is bending the light. In some circumstances, this can result in distortion in your photos.
You will have seen photos like this. Taken with a very wide angle lens and displaying obvious distortion. This is known as ‘barrelling’ or fish-eye effect when extreme wide lenses are used.
When you use long lenses, the distortion is called the ‘pincushion’ effect. This is the opposite of barrelling.
Each lens has a different profile. Lightroom will detect the profile from the EXIF data on your RAW files. You can then use this in the Lens Correction Panel to fix the problems caused by the distortion your lens has created.
Oftentimes, Lightroom will automatically choose the right lens correction profile. With older lenses, you will need to select it manually.
Along with barrelling and pin cushioning there is another lens distortion problem. This is known as chromatic aberration in digital images. This shows up as bands of unusual looking colors.
It’s visible mostly along clear edges with high contrast in your photographs. It will be more obvious with cheaper and older lenses.
Chromatic aberration looks like a thin line along an edge. It is usually:
Vignetting, darkening or lightening of the corners of an image, can also be a problem. Lightroom lens correction can also be used to fix this.
How To Use Lens Correction Profiles To Fix Distortion
1. Open an Image in Lightroom’s Develop Module
In Lightroom CC the lens correction sub-panel is displayed when you’re in the Develop Module. It is located on the right-hand side panel between Detail and Transform.
When editing RAW images you will have the full options available with the most lens profiles displayed. If you are editing jpeg files Lightroom will not display so many profile alternatives.
2. Choose Your Mode for Making Corrections
You have two main modes for using the lens correction feature in Lightroom CC. With the Profile mode Lightroom will automatically fix most of the distortion issues.
To do this, calculations are made based on the lens used to take the photo.
If you use a DSLR camera you’ll most often need to make the selection of the lens from the drop-down menu. On most mirrorless and micro 4/3 cameras, Lightroom will automatically choose the lens based on the image EXIF data.
Using the Manual Mode you will be able to make corrections as you see fit. Sometimes this will be necessary to render your photos as natural as possible.
Most of the time automatic mode works well so you don’t need to make these manual lens corrections.
3. Removing Chromatic Aberration
Remove Chromatic Aberration is the first option you will see under the Profile Mode.
Modern lens coatings have reduced the occurrence of chromatic aberration significantly. It is most frequently an issue along edges in photos where there’s high contrast.
In this photo, there’s distortion along the edge of the lady’s black sleeve against the bright background. You usually need to zoom in to 100% to be able to see it.
Checking the Remove Chromatic Aberration box will often remove most, if not all, of the problem. If it doesn’t you can then tweak the function manually. Using the eyedropper tool under the Manual Mode option.
Selecting the colour of the aberration is the easiest and most effective way to do this. You can also use the sliders under the Defringe heading.
4. Enable Profile Corrections
When you have an image with barrelling or the pincushion effect, check the Enable Profile Corrections box.
Confirm that Lightroom has chosen the lens you used to take the photo. If it has not, select the correct lens from the drop-down list. In this case, I was using a Nikon 24-120mm zoom lens and Lightroom recognized it.
With older lenses, you will need to make the correct selection manually.
Checking and unchecking the box will allow you to observe the changes made. With standard focal length lenses, this may be hardly noticeable.
Below the lens profile options, you will see the Distortion or Vignetting sliders. Hovering your cursor over either of these will show a grid overlay on your image.
You can then use the sliders to fine-tune the adjustments if they are not to your liking.
5. Using the Manual Mode to Make Lens Corrections
When you are not satisfied with the changes the Lightroom Lens Correction makes automatically, you can use the manual mode option.
This will allow you to tweak your image by eye and have more control than when you rely on the Lightroom Lens Profiles.
The Distortion slider gives you a greater ability to tweak in this mode than when you opt to use the Lightroom lens profiles.
Drag the slider in either direction to see the effect. A grid will appear over your image to help you see the changes you are making.
If you need to drag the slider a lot, you may notice areas of white appear around the edges of your frame. To correct this, check the Constrain Crop box which is under the slider.
I have made my correction extreme in this example to illustrate this.
You can double click on the slider to reset the default.
6. Decrease Vignetting
If vignetting is a problem you can use the two sliders under this heading to control it.
Drag the Amount slider first to see how your photo is affected. Then use the Midpoint slider to control how much of the area around the midpoint is changed.
Using standard focal length lenses there are not so many problems you’ll need to fix using Lightroom Lens Correction.
Very wide and very long focal length lenses tend to need more correction. With older lenses, the problems of distortion can be more noticeable.
Often the automatic modes will make sufficient corrections to your RAW images. It still pays to check and ensure the changes made render your photos the way you want them to look.
At times when the auto corrections are not satisfying you can use the Manual Mode to adjust the sliders to give you the desired result.