Lens Correction in Lightroom CC

Header image lens correction

Working with RAW files makes this tool one of the most useful things Lightroom has, even though it goes deeply underappreciated by new users.
Lens Correction allows us to compensate for the lens common issues: chromatic aberrations, distortion and vignetting. Even though modern lenses used nowadays are designed to prevent those things to happen, distortion is still an issue that happens from time to time.

For such a versatile tool, it is well hidden under the Develop Module. The tool is split into four tabs:

  • Basic
  • Profile
  • Color
  • Manual

Basic

Inside of the basic tab, we have the automatic corrections. Enable Profile Corrections works automatically detecting barrel, pincushion distortion as well as vignetting and attempts to correct it under the same step.  You should always tick “Constrain Crop” box since Lightroom uses expand and crop method that will require you to adjust excess canvas area manually.
Level/Vertical/Full work for horizon correction purposes.

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Profile

As many manufacturers released their distortion information to software makers, not so old cameras are capable of working with the Enable Profile Correction. If you choose Auto mode, Lightroom will use EXIF data in order to get enough information of the maker and lens combination for automatically choosing a profile, or you can go Manual by selecting Brand, Model, and Profile. Most new cameras are not listed, even though Lightroom keep constant updates in time, as the software now developed for brands as Canon, Nikon and Sony are designed to automatically apply corrections without the need of any other software.
Also, notice that under the Profile tab you can manually compensate Distortion and Vignetting values.

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Color

This third tab does the removal of Chromatic Aberrations to our images. The box-checking option works as an Auto Mode for applying those corrections, whereas the dropper allows us to sample a colour inside our scene, and work through sliders for a much finer correction. Further info on working with the dropper tool can be found here, WB approached.

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Manual

Such as the name suggests, it is the only truly manual mode inside Lens Correction. The distortion slider deals with the pincushion/barrel distortion. Vertical/Horizontal control vertical and horizontal perspective. Rotate allows you to level the horizon, although in my opinion, the Horizon Level tool at the Crop tab works better; use this slider mostly for dramatic effects.

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If for some reason you don’t find the profile of your lenses, and you are working with an old camera, try downloading Adobe Lens Profile Creator. Of course, this kind of tools is suited for advanced users and apply to cases where the user didn’t update the version of its Lightroom Software (like working with 2014 freshly sell cameras inside Lightroom 4).
The procedure for Lens Profile Creator can be resumed by the following steps:

  1. Download and unzip the Lens Profile Creator
  2. Under the Calibration Charts folder, start by selecting the calibration chart that fits your printer and paper. Print the checkerboard image and mount it on a planar surface, ambient light filled.
  3. Take multiple shots of these checkerboard images, nine is the recommended basis, for each camera or lens setting you are interested in obtaining the lens profile.
  4. Since we assume to be working with RAW files, convert them to DNG format preserving EXIF data. In case your camera is non-raw capable, work with JPEG image instead.
  5. Save the lens profile you created under the default Adobe folder for Lens Profiles.

Even though lens correction is RAW-focused, this doesn’t mean it can’t handle distortion created by compact cameras. You will have to work your way either manual or doing miracles with Adobe Lens Profile Creator; whichever way you choose for working, be sure you trained your eyesight previously for looking at errors that may not be possible to compensate.

Special lenses do often require as a must the Lens Correction procedure; you will notice this to happen with Super Wide-Angle cameras as well as some Telephoto. Since for most situations, it is likely to end up cropping areas after applying corrections, it would be a wise thing to shot a bit far from the main focus of your scene. The reason for this method is to avoid cropping key elements of the shot because of lens correction.

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