Chromatic Aberration

What Is It & How To Remove It

No doubt you’ve seen or heard the iPhotography tutors mention chromatic aberration before in the gallery. But what is it exactly and how do we stop it affecting our images?

What will I learn in this article?

  • What is Chromatic Aberration?
  • Common causes of Chromatic Aberration
  • How to stop it happening in-camera
  • How to remove it using Photoshop, Lightroom and Luminar

What is Chromatic Aberration?

Chromatic aberration can also be referred to as ‘colour fringing’. It can occur when the lens is unable to focus on the different waves of light.

Ultimately, you are most at risk of chromatic aberration when shooting in a high contrast area, on a bright sunny day. As a result, the image can be left with a halo or fringe of colour around an object.

TIP – It generally occurs around objects such as trees, that are in a high contrast area.

chromatic aberration image example iPhotography course 1

Why Does It Occur?

We’re sure you’re aware that a camera lens sees light in a similar way to a human eye. If you think of a rainbow, for example, you can see the spectrum of colours within the visible light wavelength.

When these light rays (travelling at different speeds) hit the lens and are incorrectly refracted they create a mismatch of colours at the focus point. Chromatic aberration is a failure of a lens to focus all colours to the same point.

Generally, these colours tend to be in purple or blue hues, though it may vary. This is why you may also hear it called ‘Purple Fringing’.

image example iPhotography course 1 Chromatic Aberration

How to Stop it In-Camera?

Modern lenses have new and improved glass elements that can help to redirect the light in the right way; although this isn’t always perfect. Cheaper (entry-level or kit) lenses can are the biggest victims of chromatic aberration.

To overcome this fringing you may need to invest in your equipment but there are a few little tips we can give you before that won’t break the bank

TIP – Premium lenses contain ED (extra dispersion) coating or super-low dispersion (SLD) glass help to reduce the refraction of light wavelengths.

image example iPhotography course 1 Chromatic Aberration

There are other ways to avoid chromatic aberration without investing in an expensive new lens. Try these out:

  • Use a higher f-stop (wider depth of field)
  • Avoid going to the extreme end of your zoom
  • Avoid high contrast & bright areas that may overexpose

How to Edit out Fringing

Colour fringing can be difficult to see on the back of a small camera screen, particularly because it usually occurs on bright sunny days. Often, it is unavoidable to not pick up any fringing if you’re out and about enjoying the sunshine.

Luckily for us, there’s a very quick fix to this; with a few clicks in post-production, your colour will be back to normal!

In Photoshop, the option to remove chromatic aberration is rather hidden! However, it gives us the most control over the amount of fringing to remove. Once you’ve opened the Camera Raw panel, use the eyedropper tool to select an area of your image that is showing fringing and adjust the amount from there. Be sure to check any similar colours in your image as it will affect every purple and blue hue.

Filter > Camera Raw Filter > Optics > Defringe

Correcting colour fringing in Lightroom is very simple, there are only a few checkboxes we need to select. Using Lightroom is quick and easy as the software will automatically try it’s best to remove all chromatic aberration, but you may need to take the image into Photoshop for more control.

Develop > Lens Correction > Basic > Check ‘Enable Profile Corrections’ and ‘Remove Chromatic Aberration’

Profile > Check ‘Enable Profile Corrections’

Color > ‘Remove Chromatic Aberration’

Removing chromatic aberration in Luminar 4 is one simple step but can only be applied to RAW images and not JPGs.

Lens & Geometry Tool > Remove Chromatic Aberration

Summary

Hopefully, this iPhotography guide has taken away the fear factor surrounding the phrase ‘chromatic aberration’. Instead, think of it as an unwanted purple halo to your subject – much less scary and much more solvable!

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