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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Defeat Chromatic Aberration


How to banish color fringes from your photos forever

This Article Features Photo Zoom
Step-By-Step Software Solutions For Removing Chromatic Aberration

The first line of defense against chromatic aberration is at the lens. Pro-caliber lenses are more highly corrected for chromatic aberration. These lenses do a better job of bringing all of the wavelengths of the visible spectrum together at a single point. You can make a lot of corrections in postprocessing, but you're always better off getting it right at the point of capture.

If your images do show chromatic aberration, the steps to correct it with software are fast, easy and minimally invasive to the image data. That's because the phenomenon is so well understood and predictable that software engineers can build the image-editing equivalent of a smart bomb to eradicate it.

When you process your raw images, if you use raw processing software made by the camera and lens maker, that software usually can correct for chromatic aberration automatically. For example, if you're a Canon camera and lens user, Canon Digital Photo Professional software can make this correction and others instantly because the company has an extensive database of lens and camera attributes to call from. They made the lens and the camera, and they know how each behaves. This doesn't apply to all cameras and lenses, so check with your manufacturer to see if yours are compatible with these sorts of auto-corrections.

If you're not auto-correcting your raw images, most people do it with a program like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. To correct chromatic aberration in Lightroom, select the image from your Catalog, then go to the Develop module. On the left side of the screen, choose the Lens Corrections palette. Be sure you're looking at the image zoomed in to 200% to clearly see the aberration without getting an overly exaggerated view. You can go crazy trying to make image corrections when you're zoomed in too far. Just checking the Remove Chromatic Aberration box takes care of a lot of the fringing. If you need to make more adjustments, use the sliders (right).

In Photoshop, you can get somewhat finer control. Open the image and zoom in to 200%. Go to the Filter menu, then choose Lens Corrections. If Photoshop recognizes the image metadata, it will call up the lens and camera combination from its own database. If not, Photoshop will try to update its database to give you the best possible corrections. Photoshop did manage to locate our camera and lens combination (see screenshot below). Under the Auto Correction tab, you can check Chromatic Aberration for a quick correction. To fine-tune your correction, click on the Custom tab to access the Fix Red/Cyan Fringe, Fix Green/Magenta Fringe and Fix Blue/Yellow Fringe sliders.

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