July 29th, 2007
A discussion going on in the Flickr PhotographyForRealEstate discussion brought to my attention that other Lightroom users are going through the same evaluation of Barrel distortion and vertical fixing that I’m going through after my recent addition of a MacBook Pro to my tools.
Here’s the problem:
If you are a Lightroom user you need an application to correct barrel distortion and fix converging verticals since Lightroom currently doesn’t do either. You’d like to find an application for your platform that is easy to use but doesn’t cost a bundle. Photoshop CS3 is the obvious choice but is expensive. Using PS CS3 to correct verticals and barrel distortion is like cracking eggs with a sledge hammer.
My first reaction was that I just need to bite the bullet and get a copy of DxO since the newest version apparently works with Lightroom. So last week I downloaded the DxO trial and started checking it out. After a few days of use I began to realize that 80-90% of the functionality of DxO is an overlap with Lightroom. So, much of what you are paying for with DxO you already have with Lightroom. Also, fixing barrel distortion and perspective was not as smooth as I’d hoped it would be. It seems to work all the time with JPGs but doesn’t want to display some RAW files… not sure why yet. Also, I don’t like the fact that I have to pay a premium for the version that works with my 1Ds and 16-35mm zoom and yet that version doesn’t work with files from my old CoolPix (or any other camera) which has worse barrel distortion than my 16-35mm.
I decided to see what other options are available these days. I’ve been compiling the results of my search here. This list is probably not complete but I think it has all the most popular lens correction applications. Right now I’m leaning towards using LensFix for the Mac which is essentially a Mac version of PTLens. I’ve used PTLens by Tom Niemann on Windows for quite a while and seen it get better and better over the years. Tom has an extensive library of lenses that PTLens is calibrated for and if your lens is not in the PTLens database (not likely) you can calibrate PTLens for your lens. LensFix apparently uses the same lens library as PTLens. Both PTLens and LensFix use Panorama Tools to do the mathematical calculations.
Hugin (last application of my list) appears to be a perfect solution but for my taste it’s a little difficult to use. It’s free so you have nothing to loose by giving it a try; you might like it.
If anyone has an alternative that I’ve missed be sure to leave a comment. I’ve report back after I’ve tried out LensFix for a while.