Tag: Distortion correction

Zoom lenses are great, right? Because they let us crop tightly on a subject without changing our position, or shift focal length, viewpoint and perspective to change the relationships between the objects in the picture. But they can also introduce distortion that subtly undermines the perceived quality of the image.

Wideangle lenses typically produce barrel distortion, where straight lines like horizons near the edges of the picture appear to bow outwards, while telephoto zooms often produce pincushion distortion, where the edges bow inwards.

It’s distracting flaws like this that can really mess up a photo’s appeal, but they can be fixed. Some cameras offer in-camera distortion correction, but only when you shoot JPEGs and with that maker’s own lenses. It’s better to use software that comes with automatic lens correction profiles – and this is now becoming increasingly common. Lightroom, DxO Optics Pro and Capture One Pro all offer lens correction profiles, as do other programs like Alien Skin Exposure and ON1 Photo Raw.

It sounds a small point, but you only have to see a corrected and uncorrected image side by side to see how much of an improvement distortion correction can make.

This is not the same, incidentally, as perspective distortion. That’s an entirely separate phenomenon that you often address at the same time but has very different causes – and it’s another topic entirely.

 

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