Need to Do Lens Distortion Correction?

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Image Distortion Correction - Get a Perfect Photo in a Flash

Many novice photographers think that an expensive and professional camera will help them take perfect shots with minimum efforts. In fact, the wrong choice of a shooting lens or a too heavy camera tilt can result in lots of photo mistakes. If your pictures suffer from an unnatural perspective or curved lines, there is still a chance for lens distortion correction with an easy photo editor for PC like PhotoWorks.

Photo with distortion Fixed photo distortion

What Are Common Types of Image Distortion?

Imagine that the photo you took is covered with a grid layer. Ideally, all its lines must be strictly horizontal and vertical; adjacent sides are perpendicular and form a perfect 90° angle. If a photographer uses wide-angle lenses, a subject in the photo can appear unnaturally curved inwards or outwards. In this tutorial, we are going to discuss the following types of image distortion:

  • Barrel distortion (objects and lines look quite bulgy)
  • Pincushion distortion (objects and lines are pinched-like)
  • Perspective distortion (“falling-down” buildings and a wonky horizon)

Barrel Distortion - Lines Are Curved Inwards

Barrel distortion is an optical aberration when straight lines become curved inwards and resemble a barrel. However, these lines can look quite natural in the photo center but gradually bend towards the frame edges. This effect is often caused by the use of wide-angle lenses and the photographer’s too close position to the chosen photo subject. In the end, the lens viewfield is larger than the size of the image sensor and the camera must squeeze the subject to fit it into the frame.

Barrel distortion example

Check out the example of barrel distortion in a landscape photo

Pincushion Distortion - Lines Are Bent Outwards

Pincushion distortion is the exact opposite of barrel distortion and is also most prominent in pictures with straight lines. In this case, straight lines got curved outwards - from the photo center to its corners - like in a squashed pincushion. This aberration type is often associated with a telephoto lens. The further the subject is from the camera lens, the more visible is pincushion distortion.

Pincushion distortion example

See the effect of pincushion distortion in a picture

Perspective Distortion - Disproportionate Objects

Perspective distortion is a common photo mistake which most heavily affects images depicting tall buildings. If a photographer chooses to stay too close to the building they are going to shoot, this subject can look disproportionate (too large or distorted) in comparison to other objects in the background. Another possible aberration is that the building seems to be leaning backwards or suddenly widens.

Perspective distortion example

Lines in the photo show that the buildings are tilted

How to Correct Camera Distortion Without Photoshop?

Regardless of the distortion type you are dealing with, you can easily correct it in post-processing software. Of course, you can fix distortion in Photoshop but there are other picture editors that are much easier to use. Download free trial of PhotoWorks software that provides all the necessary editing tools at once.

Use the Zoom tool to get a closer look at the image you are going to edit and its unnaturally wonky lines. To make photo distortion correction, don’t forget to switch on the grid to better see curved lines and straighten them in a realistic way.

1. Easily Fix the Fisheye Effect in the Image

Once you have launched the software, move to the Composition tab and choose the Geometry tool. Tick the Show Grid box to better see curved lines in the photo. Here the building sides are unnaturally bent towards the edges. For fisheye distortion correction, move the Distortion slider to the right until you restore the realistic look of the building. If this correction resulted in white areas along the sides of your photo, click Constrain Crop to cut them out.

Correct lens distortion without photoshop

Barrel distortion correction with PhotoWorks

2. Get Rid of Bowed Inwards Lines in the Picture

Just like barrel distortion, this lens mistake can also be easily fixed at the post-production stage. While the Composition tab is active, drag the Distortion slider to the left to get rid of pincushion distortion. That way you will straighten bowed inwards lines. If some parts of the photo become white, you can remove them with the smart Crop tool.

Fix pincushion distortion

Move the Distortion slider to straighten the photo lines

3. Restore the Real Size of Your Photo Subject

Now let’s see how perspective distortion correction works. Switch to the Composition tab and choose the Geometry tool. Switch on the grid to compare the lines in the photo and perfectly straight vertical lines. This time you need to move the Vertical slider to the left. When the buildings in the image look natural again, click Constrain Crop and get a perfect picture with fixed perspective distortion.

Get rid of perspective distortion

Correct camera distortion with the Geometry tool

With this image editor in hand, you can fix all kinds of photo mistakes in a couple of clicks. Browse other tutorials by PhotoWorks and learn how to straighten a wonky horizon, enhance image quality, fix overexposed pictures, use effective photo cropping techniques and apply stylish effects using this convenient yet powerful photo editor. Download PhotoWorks and give your pictures a new professional look!

About the author: Jill Baker Freelance photographer with over 10 years of experience.

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