How to Avoid Camera Lens Problems

Don't Worry, Most Camera Lens Issues Can Quickly Be Fixed

What to Know

  • To correct vignetting, stop down until the dark edges disappear.
  • To correct chromatic aberration, use lenses with two or more pieces of glass with different refractive qualities.
  • To correct lens flare or ghosting, use a lens hood.

DSLR cameras can get you some amazing photos, but some errors may arise from time to time that may stop you from getting exactly the shots you want. Here are some ways to correct issues like vignetting, fringing, and lens flares.

How to Correct Vignetting

Vignetting occurs when the corners of an image appear darkened as if a shadow were surrounding the photograph. This is caused by the edges of the lens actually being captured in the image.

Vignetting appears most often when shooting at wide open apertures (e.g., f/1.8, f/4, etc.) and using wide-angle lenses. An easy way to avoid it is to stop down until the dark edges disappear.

If you use Photoshop for editing purposes, you can easily remove vignetting using the "Lens Correction Filter."

Camera Lens
Camera Lens. Peter Macdiarmid / Staff / Getty Images

How to Correct Chromatic Aberration

This is also sometimes known as "fringing" because it produces color fringing around high-contrast images' edges.

For instance, you often notice chromatic aberration when photographing objects against a bright sky. It happens when the lens cannot focus wavelengths of light onto the same focal plane. You can correct it by using lenses with two or more pieces of glass with different refractive qualities, such as Nikon ED or Canon UD lenses. 

How to Correct Lens Flare or Ghosting

Light straying across the camera lens or a very strong light source can cause ghosting or lens flare. Ghosting is a contrast reducing sheen on an image and lens flares are spots of light in an image.

The easiest way to get rid of this problem is to use a lens hood, which blocks stray light from the edges of the camera lens. A lot of manufacturers now include a lens hood when you purchase a lens.

Changing your angle and position to the light source is another way to combat both issues.

How to Correct Perspective Issues

Problems with perspective are most commonly seen when photographing a building while looking upward. The lines of the building appear to get closer and closer at the top of the building. This creates an unnatural-looking shot because our minds know that those lines do not meet in reality. Photographers can correct perspective issues by using dedicated tilt and shift lenses. A cheaper solution is to correct perspective using the Skew tool in Photoshop.

How to Correct Barrel Distortion

With barrel distortion, images appear wrapped around a barrel, and the center of the image appears larger than the edges. This is caused by standing too close to your subject and zooming out (using a wide focal length).

Fish-eye lens photographs are the most extreme example of barrel distortion, though in this case, it's the desired effect of using that lens. Step back and zoom in while using a longer focal length to avoid it.

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