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How Do Lightroom Users Fix Barrel Distortion & Converging Verticals?

Published: 30/07/2007
By: larry

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.

19 comments on “How Do Lightroom Users Fix Barrel Distortion & Converging Verticals?”

  1. I still haven't switched to Lightroom because I haven't taken the time to learn how to use it. You mentioned DXO, and despite the fact that DXO will fix barrel distortion in batches, it doesn't fully correct keystoning or badly skewed verticals. In which case, you need to be able to rotate the image or skew the edges. While CS3 is quite expensive, if you only want to use it to correct barrel distortion & converging verticals, Photoshop Elements 5.0 offers a "Correct Camera Distortion" filter that repairs distortion, vignetting, both horizontal and vertical perspective and image rotation. Then you can use the "transform" fuction to skew edges to in order to repair those pesky converging verticals. It has a lot of other functions that work similarly to CS3 for quick fixes, however it does not have many batch/action options.

  2. I don't use ACDsee pro for any editing ...... I do like it for creating image management, renaming, Resizing and making PDF's - the new shadow adjustment in pro 2.0 is very good also.

    I use lensdoc inside of Photoshop for specific lens issues.

  3. For difficult correction of verts/horizonts/barrel check out ptAssembler. It's mainly a stitching program, but, like Hugin, ably massages single photos into shape. By clicking control points along features you define lines that should be straight, vertical or horizontal. Usually some photo area will be lost during cropping of the end result.

  4. Is there something like a plug-in that can do this within LR with RAW images? I hate opening my stuff in PS just for a silly Transform for verticals, then "destroy" my RAW editing by having to save the JPEG.

  5. PT Lens is great I've been using it for quite a while now. I also use PhaseOne wen shooting raw, the pro version of this has distortion control but costs another $300 which is why I use PT Lens on the odd occassion I need to fix things!

  6. Hi, I'm just starting out. I'm at the practice practice practice stage. I have to say first of all that this website has been a HUGE help to me. I have spent hours and hours reading and learning here. I just bought LensFix. I tried making an HDR photo using Photomatix, and I'm very impressed. Then I continue to tweak in Aperture, and last of all I run it through LensFix for distortion. However when I save the final photo in LensFix, the image quality seems to be very poor, even though I choose 'best'. If anyone knows what I'm doing wrong, it would be appreciated. Is my work flow all mixed up?

  7. The new Lightroom 3 has awesome distortion correction in the develop module. You can try out LR for free and see for yourself.

  8. I agree with Mike, Lightroom does almost all, why waste time and hardrive space with another program. It's quick and saves your original files without bloating your HD. It has templates for many lenses taking the guesswork out of distortion. My only gripe with converging verticals is after fixing them in LR, the image always looks too tall and Im not aware of anyway to smoosh it back down with LR.

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