Capture One Lens Correction Advice for Landscape Photographers

by Feb 4, 2021Photo Editing Tutorials

Robin Whalley Landscape Photographer

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Capture One Lens Correction Introduction

This is the first in a series of articles where I’m sharing my photo editing tips and advice for working with Capture One. In this article we look specifically at the Capture One Lens Correction tool. You will also find a general video at the end of the article where I apply these Lens Correction adjustments together with some of the other tools I’ll be discussing in future articles.

My History using Capture One

When it comes to photo editing with Capture One, I have a rather patchy history. After a brief flirtation with the first couple of releases, I parked the software, preferring the likes of Adobe and the Canon RAW editor for processing my files. Later, around versions 6 and 7, I returned briefly to Capture One but struggled to use the software, concluding that it wasn’t yet sufficiently developed. Then finally, after switching cameras to the Fuji XTrans system, I tried it again and was immediately impressed by the quality.

Since then, Capture One has become my RAW converter of choice and I now use it for all RAW processing. (The exception is Micro 43 RAW files where I still prefer to use DxO PhotoLab.) But despite my switch to Capture One, I haven’t always found the software easy to use sometimes to the detriment of my editing and usually because I didn’t understand how it really worked.

What I want to do through this series of article is share some of the things I’ve learned about Capture One photo editing and hopefully these will help you.

Capture One Lens Correction Tools

The first area that I want to cover, and the subject of this article are the Capture One Lens Corrections. You will find these in the Lens Correction tools panel which is usually in the Lens Tool Tab on the left of the screen. I say “usually” because like most software you can customise the Capture One interface considerably.

Capture One Lens Correction Tool

If you can’t see the Lens Correction tool panel in your Lens Tool Tab, you can easily add it. Right click anywhere in the tools area on the left of the interface to display a popup menu. Then hover your mouse over the “Add Tools” item to see a list of available tools where you can select the “Lens Correction” option.

If however, you can’t see the “Lens” Tool Tab, you can add it using the “Add Tool Tab” option in the popup menu.

Now let’s look at a few of the options in the Lens Correction panel and how to use them.

Lens Profiles in Capture One

In the Lens Correction panel, you will find two options at the top: “Lens” and “Movement”. The screenshot above shows the Lens section. The Movement section is populated from the image metadata and shouldn’t need any change.

Under the Lens section you will find a Profile dropdown at the top. This should be populated automatically with either a lens profile (as in the screenshot) or the “Manufacturer Profile”. This is the lens profile that Capture One uses to correct the image for any Lens problems.

I’ve found the best option for most of my lenses tends to be the Capture One profile which is the named profile. In the screenshot above you can see Capture One has detected the lens is a Fuji 18-135mm lens and has automatically selected that lens profile from the ones available in the software.

Unfortunately, as good as the Capture One lens profiles are, they don’t cover all lenses. If you find that Capture One doesn’t have your lens profiled, you can opt to use the “Manufacturer Profile” option if there is one. Whilst I can’t confirm it, I suspect this is the profile embedded in the RAW file.

For those of you using “legacy” lenses attached to the camera with a lens adapter, you may find incorrect lens data is embedded in the RAW file or none at all. If this happens, you will need to manually choose the closest profile from the dropdown list.

Chromatic Aberration Lens Correction

The next option in the Lens Correction panel to look at is Chromatic Aberration. This is applied by clicking the tick box to toggle the correction on and off.

Chromatic Aberration is the coloured fringe that sometimes appears around high contrast edges. Typically, this is seen around the edges and into the corners of the frame. It also tends to be most obvious towards the minimum and maximum apertures of the lens rather in the mid aperture range.

Most of the time, ticking the Chromatic Aberration option will fix the problem. But if after using this you can still see a purple fringe, consider using the “Purple Fringing” tool to remove it. This is a separate tool to the Lens Correction and is usually in the Len tab. If you can’t find it, add it by right-clicking as described above.

Example of Chromatic Aberation

Here you can see a 200% magnified corner of an image. The screenshot on the left shows the Chromatic Aberration whilst it’s been removed from the screenshot on the right.

Diffraction Correction Option

When you shoot with a smaller aperture, which is often the case in landscape photography, diffraction can become a problem. Diffraction creates a softening effect on the image which makes the image less sharp. To address this problem, Capture One provides a “Diffraction Correction” option in the Lens Correction tool.

When you apply Diffraction Correction, you will find the fine details of the image suddenly snap into focus. This is usually most noticeable on more distant objects.

Diffraction Correction example in Capture One

Here you can see a magnified section of an image. In the top image only Capture One sharpening is applied but in the lower image Diffraction Correction is applied. Notice how the branches appear crisper and sharper in the lower image as a result.

Whilst Diffraction Correction can be extremely helpful, it can also cause problems.

Potential problem using diffraction correction in capture one

In this example we see a section of the magnified image showing distant trees. The lower of the two image has Diffraction Correction applied whilst the top image doesn’t. Again, the lower image is clearly sharper but there are two things to notice:

  1. The detail in the top image fades out nicely and matches our expectation of more distant objects. The basic laws of physics tell us that as objects recede into the distance they don’t appear as sharp. This is one way that our brains help us to perceive depth. If we suddenly snap this detail into sharp focus the image may appear less natural.
  2. Now look at the fine detail in the lower image where Diffraction Correction is applied. It may not come across quite as well in this screen shots, but the branches take on a blocky, thicker appearance. Again, there is a subtlety that’s been lost by applying the adjustment.

If you apply the Diffraction Correction option in the Lens Correction tool be sure to check around the image for signs of possible problems. Check the image at 100% magnification and be sure to toggle the correction on and off to compare the adjustment.

Distortion Slider Lens Correction

The Distortion slider uses the profile in the Profile dropdown of the Lens Correction tool to remove any lens distortion. When the slider is set to 100, it’s removing all the distortion in the image based on the chosen lens profile.

The Distortion slider also allows you to apply additional distortion correction by moving the slider to a maximum value of 120. Alternatively, you can remove the correction by reducing the slider down to 0. Something worth noting is that the default setting for the correction appears to depend on the profile. For some of my lenses, the default is 0 correction whilst for others it’s 100.

To see the effect of the correction, let’s take the example of an image where the lens Distortion slider defaults to 100. By moving the slider to 0 you then remove the correction, and it becomes easy to see the effect. Then by clicking on the word “Distortion” in the Lens Correction tool with your mouse, you temporarily reset the slider to its default value of 100. When you release the mouse button the slider returns to the 0 setting. Clicking and releasing the mouse button in this way makes it easy to compare the effect and decide which is right for the image.

If you want to reset a slider to it’s default value, double click the slider rather than the slider title. This reset method works with all the Capture One sliders.

Sharpness Falloff Lens Correction

The final lens correction option I want to discuss is the Sharpness Falloff slider. Unfortunately, many people mistake this slider for a sharpening slider because the word “Falloff” in its title is cut off. Instead, it’s purpose is to correct the softening effect that’s often seen around the edges of the frame and into the corners.

Using the Sharpness Falloff slider, you can apply additional sharpening into the corners of the image. Where the additional sharpening is applied its controlled by the lens profile in the Profile dropdown. This is another good reason to select the best lens profile that you can in the Lens Correction tool.

How much additional sharpening is applied to the corners and edges is controlled by the slider with possible values ranging from 0 to 250. The best way to select the value is to magnify the image to 100% (or 200% for 4K monitors) and then position the corner of the frame where you can see it.

Typically, you will find the detail in the corner isn’t as sharp as other areas of the frame. Do remember if you have applied any Distortion correction, you could be cropping out the edge of the frame, or possibly stretching it which causes additional softening. Once you understand how your other corrections are affecting the corners and edges you might want to change them.

When you are happy with any other adjustments in the Lens Correction tool, you can increase the Sharpness Falloff slider. If you decide you need to use it to apply additional sharpness, start with the slider at 0 and then gradually increase it until you feel the area is acceptable. Try to avoid the temptation to produce highly sharpened corners and edges as it may introduce other problems. Also remember that you can click on the word “Sharpness” to temporarily return the slider to its default. This helps when trying to judge a good level for the slider.

Capture One Sharpness Falloff lens correction comparison

Here you can see a comparison using the Sharpness Falloff slider. In the top image the slider is set to 0 where in the lower image it’s set to 250. You can clearly see the difference the slider makes and some branches in the lower image are now looking too sharp. The slider is also sharpening image noise which is becoming apparent in the larger dark tree trunk. If we also apply the Diffraction Correction setting to this image the results look extreme.

Capture One Photo Editing Video

In the following video you can see some of the Capture One Lens Correction options we have discussed being used. The video also goes on to demonstrate some of the other adjustments that I typically apply when editing my RAW files using Capture One.

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You can also watch this video on my YouTube channel. I publish a new video every week, often based on subscribers’ requests and feedback. Subscribe to my YouTube channel now and be sure not to miss future videos.

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Capture One Lens Correction Advice Summary

Although we haven’t covered all the settings and adjustments in the Capture One Lens Correction tool, we have discussed what are probably the most valuable for editing landscape photography. The key to having the Lens Correction tool work optimally is to choose the right/best profile for your image. Often this will be chosen automatically but don’t assume it correct or the best profile. It’s usually worth also checking the “Manufacturer Profile” and comparing the two although this may disable some of the lens correction options.

After selecting the lens profile be sure to check the different options and sliders in the Lens Correction tool. When doing this, do bear in mind the advice in this article and remember that maximum image sharpness isn’t always the best approach and you should use these tools with care.

You can download a trial version of Capture One from the Capture One website (affiliate link).

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