When I first started shooting, I had no idea what Chromatic Aberration (CA) was.
It’s funny how you don’t notice something, and then when you’re made aware of it, you notice it all over the place!
Luckily, Chromatic Aberration is easy to spot and fix in post processing.
CA will appear in your image along the edges of people and objects. It occurs when a lens fails to capture the wavelengths of color on the same focal plane.
The result is that objects will have a colorful glow around them. This color fringing can appear to be red, green, blue, yellow, purple, or magenta and sometimes an image will contain CA with a few different colors.
It’s likely that you’ll notice Chromatic Aberration in high contrast areas of your images. I usually find it against a bright sky.
In this example, the sun was shining through the trees which caused the sky in the top right of the frame to blow out. Here’s a straight out of camera, high contrast image I shot recently on my Nikon D750 with a retro Sigma 28mm mini-wide lens. Inevitably, there was some CA in the image which you’ll notice in the close up of the top right corner.
To correct it, I open the image up in the Develop Panel of Lightoom CC and select “Lens Corrections”. Under the “Profile” tab, select “Remove Chromatic Aberration”.
Lightroom will automatically adjust any obvious CA. Sometimes, there are some additional adjustments to make. If this is the case, select the “Manual” tab.
Use the dropper tool to select areas with Purple or Green Chromatic Aberration. When you find a spot, your dropper will turn either Purple or Green depending on which color you’re hovering over.
If your dropper hasn’t changed colors, move it around until you find an area with enough purple or green contrast. If Lightroom doesn’t have enough color information in the spot you select, it will prompt you with the following warning: “Cannot set the purple or green fringe color. Please sample a representative fringe color again”.
When your dropper changes color, select that spot on the image. Your Purple Hue and/or Green Hue and Amount sliders will adjust to decrease the CA. You can also adjust the sliders by hand if necessary.
That’s it! You’ve got it!
Just remember to check the other areas of your frame, especially your subjects, to make sure the CA corrections aren’t overdone.
If they are, you’ll notice a grey border around the edges. Adjust the Purple Hue and Green Hue sliders manually until you regain the proper color around your subjects. Then, continue editing your image as you normally would.
I like to check for it in each image before I begin hand-editing, but you can also create an import preset in Lightroom to easily remove CA upon import.
Keep it simple by selecting the Lightroom Profile tag adjustment, “Remove Chromatic Aberration”. That way, any minimal fringing will be removed.
Creating a preset of adjustments in the manual tab will not work for every image. It will likely cause grey fringing if the correction is too heavy handed.
Now that you have a handle on what Chromatic Aberration is and how to fix it, keep an eye out for it in your images. It’s amazing what a difference it can make in creating a crisp and clear final edit!