Lightroom 3’s lens correction feature

It’s bit geeky, but I’m very excited by the arrival of Adobe’s Lightroom 3, which was delivered this morning (although Adobe clearly got very confused about delivery – they initially said it would come yesterday, then it was predicted for the end of the week at the earliest!).  I know that many people have been trying out the pre-release beta, but I didn’t have the time to play with that and hope to make it all work consistently, so I’ve been waiting for the full release.

I installed it this afternoon and tried out a couple of new features, and the most impressive for me so far is the lens correction facility.  For a whole series of lenses (mostly Canon and Nikon, of course, reflecting most people’s usage) there are pre-programmed profiles, and for my Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR DX the correction really seems to get it right!  I’m sure more lenses will be added over time; it’s also possible to create your own profiles for less common lenses (this doesn’t seem too complex, but I haven’t yet tried it).

I would offer a couple of my own images here to demonstrate how it works, but this short video from Adobe does a better job of explaining it all than I could.  The crop tools are the same as in Lightroom 2, so if you know that you might want to skip the first little bit, but from about 5 minutes in, the video does a great job of showing how buildings (for example) can quickly and easily be ‘re-straightened’.  Of course, this has always been possible in Photoshop, but doing this in Lightroom in this way is so incredibly easy: not least since multiple images can be dealt with at once without opening each image in Photoshop.  And because all Lightroom edits are non-destructive, it is easy to undo/adjust any changes (incidentally, I almost always only ever make changes to virtual copies of my images – that way the original is readily accessible in case I want to take a completely different developing approach).

I don’t expect this to be perfect in all circumstances, but it will work in many.  The nice thing is that this will go some way to ‘rehabilitating’ my 18-200 zoom, which I was beginning to only use at around 24mm because that is the only time when straight lines really come out as straight.

So for me, the lens correction alone makes the upgrade to Lightroom 3 worth the investment!