Using Lens Profiles

Adobe’s lens profile corrections are amazing. Lens Corrections automates correction of standard lens distortions, including geometric distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting. This feature also can be used to adjust perspective and rotation. Adobe provides support for a growing list of camera manufacturers, camera models and lenses—Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Samsung, Schneider, Sigma, Sony, Tamron and Zeiss.


1) Lightroom’s Manual Lens Corrections tab.


Using Adobe’s Lens Profile Corrections

You can access Adobe’s Lens Corrections in three locations—Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom 3 or Photoshop CS5’s Lens Corrections filter. Lens profile corrections were first introduced in Lightroom 3. To get lens profile corrections in Adobe Camera Raw CS5, you need to download a version that has been updated after the release of Lightroom 3. You can download the latest free update at www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/cameraraw.html.

It’s far less destructive to make these types of adjustments to raw files during conversion rather than after conversion; it’s also more flexible. Use a smart object and go back to the controls anytime by simply double-clicking the smart object. However, if you want to apply Lens Corrections within Photoshop after a file has been rasterized, you can use CS5’s updated Lens Corrections filter.


2) Distortion at maximum.

In ACR and Lightroom, you’ll find two tabs under Lens Corrections, Profile and Manual. Under Profile, click Enable Lens Profile Corrections to activate this feature. Using the EXIF data in your raw file, the software automatically will select the make of your camera, the model of your lens and the profile for that lens. You can use the supplied lens profiles, download a custom profile made by another user or create your own manually or with Adobe’s Lens Profile Creator.

Checking Enable Lens Profile Corrections also will allow you to access three sliders—Distortion, Chromatic Aberration and Vignetting—for manually fine-tuning the results. If you like the results of one correction but not another, you can decrease or increase the effects in one or more of the three fields. Under Manual, you’ll find controls for visually creating your own lens profile corrections.

Vignetting offers two sliders: Amount, or the intensity of the adjustment, and Midpoint, which is designed to control the way the effect fades off. Chromatic Aberration offers two sliders: Fix Red/Cyan Fringe and Fix Blue/Yellow Fringe, plus a Defringe drop-down menu with three options: Off, Highlight Edges and All Edges. The Defringe menu options can be used to target the adjustment more precisely. Highlight Edges is particularly useful for defringing images with strong specular highlights.


3) Distortion at minimum.

Transform features five sliders. Distortion offers much stronger adjustment capabilities than its counterpart in Profile. Vertical and Horizontal are used for perspective adjustment. Rotation rotates lens corrections equally, which is unlike other rotation methods. Scale is particularly useful when strong Distortion adjustments push areas out of the cropping boundary. By reducing Scale, you can pull all of the image areas into the crop area and choose to crop and/or retouch the gaps later.

Using Adobe Lens Profile Creator

The Adobe database is extensive and it’s growing, but it doesn’t have every lens ever created. If Adobe doesn’t supply a lens profile for your particular lens, you have three choices.

You may be able to access a lens profile created by another user on the Adobe Lens Profile Creator forum. Find and share lens profiles at Adobe Labs: forums.adobe.com/community/labs/lensprofile_creator/. Of course, these lens profiles will reflect the diligence and attention to detail of the individuals who made them.

Or, you can visually adjust the parameters of an existing lens profile and save the new settings under a new name for future use. There’s plenty of room for user error with this method, but it’s more efficient than creating manual corrections from scratch. Expect to check the results frequently when you apply these settings to different types of images.

Finally, you can create your own custom lens profile with the free Adobe Lens Profile Creator utility. Download the Adobe Lens Profile Creator at Adobe Labs: labs.adobe.com/technologies/lensprofile_creator/. Adobe Lens Profile Creator is a utility designed for photographers who want to create custom lens profiles for their own lenses.

Once you’ve verified that a lens profile works well, you can apply the lens profile corrections to all images shot with that camera/lens combination simply by selecting the files you’d like to apply them to and syncing them. Select the files in Camera Raw or Lightroom and click Sync, then choose only the settings you’d like to sync.

Using lens profiles not only will make adjusting all of your files created in the past, present or future faster and easier, but quickly will give you higher-quality results. If you’re serious about the quality of your photographs, you’ll consider implementing Adobe’s new lens profile corrections. And keep in mind that the Lens Corrections utility is designed to correct lens distortions, but it also can be used as a creative tool for controlling relative scale and position within the frame. Visually compare distorted and undistorted versions of a single image and choose the version that makes the most compelling image, whether it’s “correct” or not.

John Paul Caponigro, author of Adobe Photoshop Master Class and the DVD series R/Evolution, is an internationally renowned fine artist, an authority on digital printing and a respected lecturer and workshop leader. Get over 100 Lessons with his free enews Insights at www.johnpaulcaponigro.com.

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