The Lens Corrections Panel Explained

by Andrew S. Gibson
The Lens Corrections Panel Explained

The Lens Corrections panel in Lightroom Classic looks simple, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Most of the time you don’t have to pay much attention to it  – just make sure you check the appropriate boxes then get on with developing your photos. 

But sometimes things don’t work the way you expect them to, and that’s when it’s useful to understand it better. 

What is the Lens Corrections panel for?

The Lens Corrections panel is for removing (or reducing) chromatic aberration, vignetting and optical distortion created by the camera lens from Raw files (not JPEGs, which may already have been corrected in-camera).

There are two tabs in the Lens Corrections panel – Profile and Manual. 

The Profile tab is where Lightroom looks for and applies lens profiles. 

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

The Manual tab is for adjusting the amount of distortion correction, vignetting reduction or chromatic aberration reduction yourself. 

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

The Profile tab – remove Chromatic Aberrations

A chromatic aberration is a visible color fringe along the edge of an object in the photo. You’re most likely to get color fringes on photos made with older wide-angle or zoom lenses, at the edges of the frame, when the subject is backlit. They might be blue/yellow, red/cyan or purple/green in color. You normally have to zoom into 100% to see them.

If you look carefully, you can see some color fringing along the edge of the tree branches in the photo below (at 100% magnification).

Chromatic aberrations

Check the Remove Chromatic Aberration box to make them disappear.

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

The Profile tab – enable Profile Corrections

Profile Corrections correct vignetting, barrel distortion and pincushion distortion.

Vignetting is where the edges of the frame are darker than the center. It’s normal to get some vignetting at a lens’s widest aperture settings. It gradually disappears as you stop down. 

I made the portrait below with a 50mm f1.8 lens set to f1.8. On the left is the uncorrected version, with full vignetting. On the right is the corrected version, with zero vignetting. 

Lens vignetting

As you can see, in this case, the vignetted version looks better. You can override Lightroom Classic’s vignetting correction if that works better for you.

Barrel distortion is when the lens bends straight lines outwards, like the sides of a barrel. You get it with wide-angle lenses (both primes and zooms). The cheaper the lens, the more likely it is to give barrel distortion.

Here’s an example, made with an 18-135mm zoom lens at 18mm. 

Barrel distortion

This is the corrected version, so you can see the difference.

Barrel distortion corrected by Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

Pincushion distortion is where straight lines curve inwards. You get it with some telephoto lenses and, unlike barrel distortion, you’re unlikely to notice it unless you go looking for it. It’s so unusual that I don’t have any examples to show you.

Built-in Profiles

Depending on your camera / lens combination, you might see the message Built-in Lens Profile applied at the bottom of the Lens Corrections panel.

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

This means that Lightroom is using a lens profile that your camera embedded into the Raw file. It’s common with compact and mirrorless cameras. 

If this applies to you then great – your camera has done the job for you. There’s no point in searching for lens profile in the Lens Corrections panel as it doesn’t exist.

If not, then check the Enable Profile Corrections box. Lightroom looks through the photo’s EXIF data and automatically applies the correct lens profile, if it exists. 

Sometimes Lightroom might not detect the lens model. In that case you can go through the menus and select it manually.

If you can’t find a lens in the database, that usually means that it’s either an older lens that hasn’t been profiled by Adobe, or that the Raw file has a built-in profile (giving the Built-in Lens Profile applied message) instead.

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

Use the sliders underneath to adjust the amount of Distortion or Vignetting correcting using the sliders underneath. Both are set to 100 by default. Move a slider right to increase the amount of correction, or left to decrease it.

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

This is useful for photos like the portrait above, which is enhanced by the vignette. 

There’s a full list of lenses included in the database on Adobe’s website.

How to set a default lens profile in the Lens Corrections panel

Lightroom uses the photo’s EXIF data to detect the lens used, but only applies a profile if it’s certain of the lens model. 

If Lightroom doesn’t apply a profile, you can manually select one (as long as it exists).

To save selecting the profile each time, you can set it as the default profile for that lens. Here’s how you do it.

1. Open a photo with the desired camera / lens profile in the Develop module and check the Enable Profile Corrections box. Confirm that Lightroom doesn’t automatically assign it a lens profile.

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

2. Check the Enable Profile Corrections box and then select the desired profile from the menus. Adjust the the Distortion and Vignetting sliders, if needed.

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

3. Then go to the Setup menu and select Save New Lens Profile Defaults.

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

4. Next time you open a photo made with the same camera / lens combination, set the Setup menu to Default and Lightroom applies the profile you just set as the default. That includes the Distortion and Vignetting settings, if you changed them.

The Setup menu in the Lens Corrections panel

The Setup menu has three settings.

Default Lets you customize the settings for a specific lens.

Auto Lets Lightroom search for a matching profile.

Custom Means you manually selected a profile or that you’ve changed a setting (like the Vignetting slider).

The Manual tab

The Manual tab is for when there isn’t an existing profile for your lens, or you want to override or adjust the profile settings. In the latter case, it’s usually because checking the Remove Chromatic Aberrations box didn’t remove all traces of chromatic aberration.

Lens Corrections panel Lightroom Classic

Use the Distortion and Vignetting sliders to apply your own distortion corrections or adjustments.

To manually remove chromatic aberrations, click the eyedropper icon then click on the remaining color fringes in the photo. You can also adjust the sliders manually if needed.

Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module

You can learn more about developing photos in Lightroom Classic with my ebook Mastering Lightroom Classic: Book Two – The Develop Module

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2 comments

Bernard Doughty January 26, 2023 - 3:32 pm

Hi Andrew, I had high expectations reading your article that I would find out how LR would automatically add the lens profiles for my Fuji lenses but unfortunately after scrolling down through numerous profiles for all types of mobil camera and lens manufacturers, I see that there are only about 8 variants for Fuji lenses and none that I have. I’ve no idea why not but as a result I now don’t go into the Lens Correction panel.

Would you mind telling me what you do please, as I believe you also use the Fuji cameras?

At present I have the following lenses for my XT4 camera 10-24 f2, 18-55, 55-200, 23 f2, 50f2 and have recently acquired an 18-135 to use on my group photo walks, as I was forever stopping to change over my 18-55 and 55-200 lenses, getting behind and frustrated and missing shots.

I just wanted to say that I throughly enjoy reading your articles and eagerly look forward to receiving your weekly emails. Thank you!

Reply
Andrew S. Gibson January 27, 2023 - 7:56 am

Hi Bernard, the answer is right there in the article (scroll down to the heading Built-in Profiles). When you go to the Lens Corrections panel you’ll see the message Built-in Profile Applied at the bottom. Your X-T4 has profiles for your lenses in its software, and embeds the profile in the Raw file. Lightroom Classic reads and applies the profile automatically, you don’t have to do anything. There are no profiles for your lenses in the drop down menus because they aren’t needed.

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