Lightroom 3 Lens Correction

Do you know that Lightroom 3 can now easily fix geometric distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting issues in your images without having to open Photoshop? In this article, I will show you how to fix lens issues in your photographs, in addition to adding a lens profile to Lightroom 3 if your lens is not supported by Lightroom’s Camera RAW.

1) What is Lens Correction in Lightroom 3?

Lens Correction, also known as “Distortion Correction”, is a brand new feature that was introduced in Lightroom 3 to allow photographers to fix such lens problems as distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting “non-destructively”, without leaving Lightroom. This is a great addition to Lightroom, since all of the above had to be manually performed in Photoshop using a Lens Correction filter, which was a rather tedious task (especially for a large number of images). The beauty of the lens correction feature in Lightroom 3, is that just like any other setting, lens correction settings can be copied from one image to another, or applied to hundreds of images at once without having to open each image individually. Take a look at the following image that was taken with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G lens:

Move mouse over to see before and after Lens Correction

Move your mouse over and out of the image to see what it looks like before and after Lens Correction is applied to the image. The curves around the edges are straightened and the building looks more natural. This is not an extreme case with distortion, but you get the idea. The corner darkness (vignetting) is also taken care of.

If you are using some of the cheaper or older lenses that have heavy chromatic aberration (CA) issues, you can easily fix them by applying Lens Correction on the image and you can even manually adjust it in extreme cases of CA. For images like above with vignetting problems, in addition to the already available “Effects” window within the Develop module, you can now deal with it through Lens Corrections, where you can also manually specify the amount of vignetting for each image.

2) How to apply Lens Correction to an image

Applying Lens Correction to an image within Lightroom is very simple – just go to the Develop module or press “D” on your keyboard, then move the right window down until you get to “Lens Corrections”, and check “Enable Profile Corrections” as shown below:

Lens Corrections

Here is how the Lens Correction feature works. It reads the image EXIF Data, finds the model and the type of lens that was used to capture the image, then looks for the lens profile in its database. If a match is found, it automatically retrieves distortion, CA and vignetting settings from the database, then automatically corrects the image using those settings. If a match is not found, which means that Adobe has not released a lens profile for it yet, you will see the below screen:

Lens Corrections - Unable to Match

Pay attention to the text on the bottom of the above image that says “Unable to locate a matching profile automatically” – the text is displayed only if your lens was not found in the profile database. If you see a similar message, you have three options:

  1. Wait until Lightroom releases a profile for your lens
  2. Create a lens profile yourself as shown in the “How to add a missing Lens Profile using Lens Profile Creator” section below
  3. Use “Manual” settings, where you can fix distortion, vignetting and CA issues by manually specifying the amount (see below)

3) Applying Manual Lens Corrections

If Lightroom 3 does not have a profile for your lens yet, you can still fix distortion, vignetting and CA issues by using the “Manual” tab within Lens Corrections. Simply click the text that says “Manual” and the screen will change to the below:

Manual Lens Correction

You can either move the sliders or type a negative or a positive sign in the right hand side where numbers are displayed. Obviously, different lenses have different levels of distortion/vignetting/CA, so you will have to spend some time to tweak these settings to get an optimal result.

Once you are satisfied with your settings, you can apply them to multiple images at once by copy-pasting the settings. Within the Library module (“G” key shortcut), simply right-click the photograph you worked on, then go to “Develop Settings”->”Copy Settings…” and a new window will come up like this:

Copy Settings

Copy Settings

As shown in the screenshot, uncheck everything but “Lens Corrections”, then click “Copy” to copy the settings into the Lightroom buffer. Then select other images that you want to apply the same settings to as a group, then right click on one of the images in the group and go to “Develop Settings”->”Paste Settings”. Once you do that, all of the modified settings will apply to the rest of the images that you selected.

4) How to add a missing Lens Profile using Lens Profile Creator

Correcting chromatic aberration and vignetting issues in your images by manually adjusting the sliders in Lightroom works fine for most cases, because you can easily see CA and vignetting in images. Distortion, however, is not as easy to fix, because an image would have to contain straight lines from corner to corner in order for you to correctly fix them. If you shoot with fisheye or ultra-wide angle lenses that suffer from severe distortion, you might be able to visually fix most images, but the results might not be consistent from image to image.

If you want to have consistent results, the best thing to do is to either wait for Adobe to release your lens profile, or to create it yourself. The latter would obviously be much quicker than waiting for Adobe, but as you will see from the steps below, it would take a significant amount of time and effort on your side.

Adobe Lens Profile Creator

Adobe Lens Profile Creator

Here are the steps to this process:

  1. Download and unzip the Lens Profile Creator
  2. Go to the Calibration Charts folder, select a calibration chart to fit your printer and paper, print it out and then mount it on a planar surface in a room with plenty of ambient light.
  3. Take pictures of multiple checkerboard images (a minimum of three images are required, but nine are recommended) for each camera/lens settings that you are interested in obtaining the lens profiles for.
  4. Convert your RAW images to DNG format and make sure that full EXIF data is preserved.
  5. Process the raw DNG images (or the JPEG/TIFF images if you prefer creating lens profiles for the non-raw workflow) through the Lens Profile Creator to create the custom lens profile.
  6. Save the lens profiles that you have created into the specific lens profiles folder(s) that Photoshop CS5, Camera Raw and Lightroom would be looking for them for lens corrections.

So, in order for you to be able to create an image, you need to print out a test chart, photograph it and then feed the images to Lens Profile Creator to create a profile. Bear in mind that if you shoot with multiple camera bodies with different sensors, you will have to create profiles for each camera/lens combination. For example, if you own Nikon D700 and Nikon D300s cameras and you have a Nikon 24mm f/1.4 lens, you will have to mount the lens on both cameras and create two separate profiles. The reason why you have to do this, is because different cameras/sensors handle lenses differently and in the case of FX vs DX, issues such as distortion and vignetting will appear less obvious on DX when compared to FX, because the corners are cut off.

If you use multiple lenses or different cameras, I would recommend to create lens profiles for all of your lenses and cameras at once. The process is time-consuming, but pretty straightforward and you should not have any problems with creating the profiles.

Once the profiles are generated (LCP file extension), save the files into the “C:UsersAll UsersAdobeCameraRawLensProfiles1.0″ folder if you are using Vista or Windows 7 (for other operating systems, refer to Adobe Lens Profile Creator documentation inside the documentation folder) and relaunch Lightroom 3. Once you do that, your images should be automatically recognized when you click “Enable Profile Corrections” within Lens Corrections in Lightroom.

By the way, there are other third party software tools such as DxO Optics Pro and PTLens that contain hundreds of camera/lens combinations and can do much more than what Lightroom 3 Lens Correction can. If you are a professional photographer and you need to batch-process more than one image at a time, I would still recommend to use DxO Optics Pro or similar products until Adobe releases enough camera/lens profiles.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Gyula
    July 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Hey Nasim,

    I am just wondering whether creating lens profiles on our own is accurate enough?
    What’s your opinion?

    • July 7, 2010 at 8:05 pm

      Gyula, absolutely! The software analyses the calibration chart in the center and corner frames and determines the amount of distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration, so it will surely be quite accurate. Make sure to read the documentation and follow their guidelines.

  2. July 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

    When you worry about lens corrections try DxO Optics Pro. It is an excellent raw converter but will also correct JPEG files. They do the heavy lifting of measuring the body and the lens (I understand about a thousand measurements per lens) and will correct very well: I had a moustache line on a rooftop become perfectly straight. It has some quirks, especially in the UI (French designers I guess :-) but it has gotten much better over time. I’m a satisfied paying! user for a couple of years now.

    • July 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

      Hugh, thank you for your feedback! Yes, DxO Optics Pro is truly excellent, far superior than Lightroom’s lens correction feature. That is why I recommended for pros to continue using DxO until Adobe releases enough profiles for cameras and lenses…

  3. 5
    ) Gyula
    July 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Nasim,

    what about those glasses what are not available as downloadable modules in DxO Optics Pro. For example I have the AF NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8D glass, but there is no downloadable module for it. What can be the reason of it?

    Thanks!

    • July 29, 2010 at 2:26 am

      Gyula, strange that DxO does not have a profile for the 85mm f/1.8D…did you try contacting their support?

  4. 7
    ) Gyula
    July 29, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Yeah Nasim, there is a form on their website where you can recommend cam + lens combinations to them. As far I remember I filled and sent back that form earlier too. I am just wondering why the 85mm f/1.8D is a missing module, cause that glass is quite a popular.

    Thanks anyway!

    • July 30, 2010 at 1:36 am

      Gyula, that’s really strange, because the 85mm f/1.8D IS a popular lens… Hopefully they will update their software soon and support it. I bet the Canon 85mm f/1.8 is supported!

  5. 8
    ) Gyula
    July 29, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Hey Nasim,

    the solution is on the way. The 85mm f/1.8D module is gonna be released in November.
    Take a look at DxO’s roadmap here: http://www.dxo.com/ca/photo/dxo_optics_pro/product_editions/roadmap_dop_modules

    Thanks!

    • July 30, 2010 at 1:37 am

      Oh nice! I’m glad that they are taking care of their customers :)

  6. 11
    ) mike
    November 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

    What about distorion correction for zoom lenses where the distorion is a function of focal length? Is there a way to make multiple lens profiles for the same lens at different focal lengths and have lightroom automatically choose the correct one based on the EXIF? If not, this feature seems only useful for primes.

    • November 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      Mike, the software does take care of distortion at all focal lengths, like shown with the 24-70mm lens above. The way this is done, is the tester shoots various targets at all focal lengths and apertures, then makes modifications to the image (based on focal length and aperture) and saves them all in a single preset. And the procedure is also tied to a type of camera (FX or DX) that people use, since DX images will have a lot less distortion and vignetting than FX.

  7. 13
    ) KSPGM
    January 19, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Nasim,

    Is there any way to apply the lens corrections when importing files? If so is it possible to distiguish between different lenses from the metadata?

    Thankyou.

    • February 22, 2011 at 10:48 am

      KSPGM, yes, you can save your settings in Develop panel as a preset, and use that preset while importing photos. The only problem with enabling lens corrections, is that if you use a lens that is not compatible with the lens correction sub-module, nothing is going to happen ;-)

  8. 14
    ) jastereo
    February 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Thanks so much – answered a few of the questions I was having.

  9. 16
    ) zham61
    February 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I have a problem. I updated Lightroom 3 to include new profiles for my 18-135mm canon Lens with my T2i. If I shot in raw, it detects the profile just fine automatically. If I shot in JPEG, obviously it doesn’t automatically detect the lens & body combo, but when I go into “Custom” and select “Make” and “Model” the Canon 18-135mm isn’t an available chose.

    What should I do?

    Lightroom 3.3 Camera Raw 6.3

    • 17
      ) zham61
      February 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      (of course I meant) Choice*

    • February 28, 2011 at 12:48 am

      Zham61, shoot in RAW :) Joking, of course. Not sure why this is happening – seems like the lens info is getting lost in JPEG images somehow.

      • 19
        ) zham61
        February 28, 2011 at 11:51 am

        If the meta data doesn’t load for the jpeg, I can still select profiles manually, but unlike for raw files, I can only select from like 10 cannon lenses, with raw files I have all the canon lens profiles

        Any other ideas?

  10. 20
    ) David H
    June 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    As I understand it a Lens Correction profile is defined by Lens/Aperture/FocalLength/FocalDistance.

    So does anyone know how LR selects a profile if the shot ‘Aperture/FocalLength/FocalDistance’ do not exactly match any of the profiles created for that lens. (I am assuming that if I create a number of profiles at various ‘Aperture/FocalLength/FocalDistance’ then these are stored in a single profile file under the Lens name).

    This information would help me to select the profile settings which best cover the lens characteristics (e.g in a Nikon 28-105mm F3.5-4.5 there is little distortion/vignetting over 50mm, so I would hope that one profile would be sufficient, whereas at 28mm there is significant aperture dependent vignetting)

    Thank-you

  11. 21
    ) Anthony Conderino
    June 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I’m still relatively new to LR 3 and really needed my lens correction for a couple of images I took over the weekend that show really bad CA all in the background. I spent sometime trying to make the adjustments as LR3 did pick up on which lens I used. But when adjusting the CA bar I saw no adjustment made and CA is still showing in the background of my image. At first I panic and though crap now I need new lens money which I don’t have to spend at the moment. I’m sure most can understand when first starting out as a photographer the budget is quite slim. But I went out with the camera again and with same lens no CA came up in any of my images phewwww. But am I doing something wrong in LR3 where I’m not seeing the adjustments made?

  12. July 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Is there a way to have Lightroom automatically enable profile corrections when you import images?

    • 23
      ) David H
      July 3, 2011 at 4:47 am

      You can include this correction in the your ‘default settings’, along with any others like Sharpening etc. etc. Go to Develop/Set Default Settings

  13. July 3, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Thanks, David! Is there a list of what settings this option covers?

  14. 25
    ) David H
    July 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I think it covers all the settings shown in the Develop Tools.

    I quote the Help File …

    ‘You can save new camera raw defaults for each camera model. Change preference options to determine whether the camera serial number and ISO settings are included in the defaults.

    Open Presets preferences, and then select whether you want the camera serial number and the camera ISO setting to be included in the defaults.
    In Develop module, select a raw file, change settings, and choose Develop > Set Default Settings.
    Choose Update To Current Settings.
    In Presets preferences, you can choose Reset Default Develop Settings to revert to the original settings.’

  15. 26
    ) Sarah B
    November 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I have a question — lately I’ve noticed that quite suddenly I am no longer able to profile my lenses in L3. I’ve been able to in the past, but no longer. The error I see is, “Unable to locate a matching profile automatically” .. which you mention above. Yet in my case, I’m using profiled lenses and have done so via Lightroom many times. Any thoughts as to why this might occur suddenly ? .. a setting perhaps that I’ve changed or a corrupt file?? I have no idea how to fix this so any insight would be appreciated. Cheers !

    • November 21, 2011 at 10:47 am

      Sarah, try going to an image that you have fixed in the past and see what happens when you check and uncheck the image. Have you downgraded your Lightroom? Are you running the latest version of Lightroom? Also, make sure to run a check on your Lightroom database to avoid any potential problems…

  16. January 14, 2012 at 12:35 am

    I just found this and can’t thank you enough!

  17. 29
    ) Andrey
    February 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I wonder if there is a way to apply an existing lens correction profile to an image that lacks camera/lens settings metadata (in this case LR3 just can’t pick up the EXIF metadata)?

    Thanks,
    Andrey

  18. March 28, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks,

    I use this feature all the time, it is probably the main reason why I switched from Aperture to Lightroom.

    One question: Do you know how I can apply lens correction to a mass of files at the same time and not one by one? I have about 20,000 images that I brought over from Aperture and I really wouldn’t want to go over each one and click “Enable” :). Any tip would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

  19. 31
    ) ranu keny
    November 28, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I am regular visitor to your site. I have a question. is it better to enable in camera lens correction or to disable it and use LR or DXO to correct it.

    Thanks for all the photography related information. I have purchased D600 based on good review by you, dpreview and of course by kenrockwell.

    Thanks,

    Keny

    • November 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Ranu, in-camera corrections only work on JPEG files (info is read from RAW only with Capture NX) – the information gets discarded by Adobe when it reads the RAW files. So it really does not matter what you choose on the camera…

  20. 33
    ) ranu keny
    November 29, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Thanks Nasim.

  21. 34
    ) William Nutbrown
    April 15, 2013 at 7:24 am

    2) How to apply Lens Correction to an image
    When I check “Enable Profile Corrections” the screen appears as your article describes i.e. the make, model and profile of the lens used is properly indicated.
    Does this, now, mean that the corrections have taken place, or is another step involved?
    Do I have to do this Lens correction for every picture or only those where distortion, aberration or vignetting is an issue?

    Thanks!

    Enjoy your teaching articles very much.

    Bill

    • 35
      ) William Nutbrown
      May 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      Nasim, I was hoping that you would reply to my April 15th email

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