Beyond The Basic Tab in Adobe Camera RAW: Lens Correction

Many Photoshop and Lightroom users become intimately familiar with the settings in the “BASIC” tab in ACR and the “DEVELOP” module in LR. Yet for some reason, deeper exploration into either program ceases. To motivate you to investigate the many options that live in both programs, I want to share an experience that relates to an image I made with an extreme wide angle. May it precipitate deeper probing into the power of all the tabs to bring your post processing to greater heights.

I use Adobe Camera RAW but the same functions can be found in Lightroom.

1. I made this BEFORE shot with a Tokina 10-17mm lens on a Nikon D300s. The zoom was set to 10mm and there’s obvious distortion. Some is due to my proximity to the bridge, to the angle at which the lens was held, and also its extreme width. In order to include all the subject matter in the composition, it was necessary to use an extreme wide. I wasn’t concerned with the distortion I saw through the lens in that I knew it could be corrected in post processing.

2. To correct distortion, click the Lens Correction tab.

3. Click the “Enable Lens Profile Corrections” tab and the program will automatically look in its data base for the lens used to make the photo. If nothing comes up, as was the case with the lens I used, a warning at the bottom of the page appears.

4. If the warning appears, go to the “LENS PROFILE” section and search the pull down tab next to “MAKE” to find the lens. Continue through the other tabs until it appears.

5. Once the lens is found, ACR will automatically apply the settings to make the correction. The default setting for both DISTORTION and VIGNETTING is 100. The auto setting can be further tweaked based on how you want to further control the appearance of the correction. I reduced the Distortion from 100 to 82.

6a. At the bottom of the workspace, click on the SHOW GRID option to place an overlay of squares on the image to align verticals and horizontals in the photo. The size of the squares can be changed using the slider.

6b. Explore the other options in the Lens Correction tab. The COLOR tab allows you to tweak chromatic aberration and the manual tab lets you fine tune many options in addition to a separate slider to correct lens vignetting.

7. With just a few clicks to find the lens I used in addition to a slight tweak of the distortion slider, much of the distortion was rectified. While there’s still more work that needs to be done, use this tutorial to motivate yourself to probe deeper into post processing options.

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    If you don’t find a preset, just find the pincushion-barrel distortion slider and do it by eye. There is also, in transform, a way to make curved lines like the railing straight, horizontal or vertical, but start with the distortion slider.

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