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How to remove chromatic aberration (color fringing) in Adobe Lightroom

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March 11, 2014

How to remove chromatic aberration in Adobe Lightroom 5

How to remove chromatic aberration in Adobe Lightroom 5

Image Gallery (14 images)

Modern camera lenses are complicated. Really complicated. I know, because I tried to fix the aperture control ring on my Canon 24-105 the other day. To cut a very long and confusing story short, I now have two Canon 24-105 lenses, one of which is completely ornamental. It was a fascinating, if expensive lesson on just how precise and complex a zoom lens mechanism can be.

One of the things you look for in a quality lens is its ability to focus all wavelengths of light to the same convergence point. As you know, different colors represent different wavelengths, and different wavelengths can refract by different amounts when you send them through glass. Imagine having the massive brain required to get all that right on a fixed focal length lens, and then imagine the challenge of focusing all those different wavelengths through no less than 18 bits of curved glass that move in relation to one another when you zoom in and out.

Yeah. Not a simple thing to do. So even on modern, expensive lenses, you often find little bits of chromatic aberration popping up in your photos. It comes in strongest where bright light meets dark or detailed lines – for example, the sun shining through the trees. And it looks like a little color fringe, often purple or green, along the edges.

Here’s an example. I shot this photo of the lovely Robyn and her highly dodgy new husband Simon on the Canon 5D MkIII through a Canon 135mm F/2.0 lens. Here it is in Adobe Lightroom 5, with the basic edits done:

How to remove chromatic aberration in Adobe Lightroom 5

Decent enough shot, but when we zoom in on a bright spot like Simon's collar, the chromatic aberration becomes apparent:

Chromatic aberration is evident around the collar

Eww. This is the kind of detail that drives pixel peepers mad. Luckily, Lightroom 5 is absolutely superb at removing these color fringes. Let’s have a look at how.

The first thing to do is open the photo in the Develop panel, then scroll down the list on the right hand side to find the Lens Corrections tab. Tick the box labelled "Remove Chromatic Aberration" and let’s see how that goes:

Tick the box labelled “Remove Chromatic Aberration”
A slight reduction in chromatic aberration

Well, it made a bit of a difference – but it didn’t fix it entirely, probably because this CA is showing up in a weird blue color, and the auto-fix settings tend to work better on green and purple fringing. So let’s get in and play with some more precise settings to see if we can eliminate it altogether.

Click on the Color tab under Lens Corrections and you’ll see your Defringe options. You can run two defringe operations at a time, one based around purple, the other around green, but you can widen your spectrum or move it around if your color fringing doesn’t fall within those common colors.

Photo post-processing: How to remove chromatic aberration

In our case, our CA is a sort of aqua blue, so let’s start on the green hue slider. Raising the amount about halfway, we then widen the Green Hue sliders until that blue fringe is gone:

Widening the Green Hue sliders until that blue fringe is gone
Widening the Green Hue sliders until that blue fringe is gone

Great! But looking around at 100 percent magnification and checking the brightest areas I also notice some purple fringing around Simon’s collar. This will not do!

Removing purple fringes in Lightroom

Just raising the top Amount slider does a little bit:

Removing purple fringes in Lightroom

But widening out towards blue gets rid of it entirely:

Removing purple fringes in Lightroom

Great! But what’s this over here on the fingers?

Removing green colour fringing in Lightroom

Again this is an easy kill – let’s just widen that Green Hue slider back out to cover more green, and…

Done! Now, let’s zoom out and see how much this has changed the look of the original photo:

Photo post-processing: How to remove chromatic aberration

Aaaaaand basically, it’s almost impossible to see at this size. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing! CA is the sort of thing that can really make a printed photo look a touch cheap. A lot of lenses will suffer from it under certain conditions, and it’s great to know just how quick and easy it is to get rid of it in Lightroom. Happy snapping!

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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3 Comments

Thanks for explaining the process. What is unclear to me is whether the defringing is applied to the entire image or only to an area defined by the user. If the former, it would almost qualify as magic.

moreover
12th March, 2014 @ 08:30 am PDT

Cool article, & yeah, like @moreover - I wonder if it was applied to the whole image?

Looks visually easy to comprehend too - this might make an excellent project for a graphics or computer science student project; software that figures all that out by itself and fixes the image properly all-at-once.

christopher
12th March, 2014 @ 06:45 pm PDT

Wow, thanks for this info. Fixed my problem right away!

Nina Boyd
27th May, 2014 @ 11:52 am PDT
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