How to correct lens distortion in your Fuji FinePix® E900, or E550 digital images

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The Fuji FinePix® E900, [and E550] digital compact camera boasts a superb Fujinon® 4 x optical zoom lens that retracts completely into the camera body. Its f=7mm – f=28.8mm zoom provides the same perspective as a 32mm – 128mm lens on a 35mm camera. As with all zoom lenses that I have used some barrel distortion is evident when the lens is set at its widest setting. Please note this isn’t a problem specific to this camera, it’s a problem inherent to zoom lens design, and especially the zoom lenses fitted to compact cameras.

Barrel distortion means that the lens distorts the light’spath so that vertical
and horizontal lines which should be straight on your image
seem to curve away from the image’s centre.

Pin cushion distortion is the opposite of barrel distortion.
Vertical and horizontal planes now curve
toward the centre of the picture.

These distortions are normally barely noticeable and require no special attention but there are exceptions when it is essential to correct lens distortion. For example, photographs of buildings, both exteriors and interiors, may require attention to correct any lens distortion.

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During the 1990s I was commissioned to photograph some kitchens that a local craftsman had made. As this was to be a ‘quick job’ I shot some film with my Canon EOS and a 35mm – 1050mm zoom lens. When the transparencies came back from the processor all the edges of the cabinet were ruined due to pin-cushion distortion. My only solution then was to purchase a prime lens and re-shoot.

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I detect no pin cushion distortion when using the Fuji FinePix® E900 compact digital camera. The remedy for pin-cushion distortion is essentially the same for barrel distortion except that the settings on the software you are using must be altered.

Although Adobe Photoshop includes a number of distortion filters none are really appropriate for correcting lens distortion, the exception to this being Photoshop’s very latest professional edition Adobe Photoshop CS2. If you have Adobe Photoshop CS2 it makes sense to use it. The lens correction filters are wonderful, not only correcting lens distortions but also chromatic aberration.

If your copy of Photoshop is an earlier one, or if you’re using a different image editor then I suggest the following options.

Correcting Lens Distortion Using PTLens

PTLens is a software program that may be used as a Photoshop plug-in, or is available as a stand-alone version so that you can use it with other image editors.

To obtain it go to ePaperPress.com/ptlens. [If you have an Apple computer you will need to use Lens Fix rather than PTLens]. You will need to download three files: The PTlens Manual, [an Adobe PDF file that guides you through the simple installation process]; The PTLens application, which you must unzip into the filters directory if using the Adobe Photoshop version; and the Camera Lens Profiles.

The lens profiles are files submitted by users of PTLens. They enable the software to read the EXIF information from various camera models, including the FinePix E900, and E550. The software then automatically corrects any lens distortions. PTLens isn’t free, but it’s inexpensive and very efficient. You can download a trial copy and use it ten times to decide if you like PTLens prior to committing yourself to a purchase.

Fire up PTLens from the Filters Menu.
Make sure that the Preview and Lens Distortion Boxes are checked.
Double Click, PTLens does the rest!

The Power Retouche Lens Correction Filter

A second option is the Power Retouche lens correction filter plug in. This also needs installation in the Adobe Photoshop filter’s directory, or you can use it as a stand alone application with other image editors.

Unlike PTLens you have full control over the correction of lens distortion. This is achieved by a slider on the Power Retouche editing screen. When you have achieved an approximation of the amount of correction required you can finely tune it by typing numerical values in a box adjacent to the slider. The Power Retouche lens corrector is more expensive than PTLens. If you purchase of all the Power Retouche filters it then is better value than when you purchase it separately. You certainly don’t need both PTLens and the Power Retouche lens correction filter since both will competently do the job.

Load Power Retouche Lens Corrector from the Filters Menu.
Select Symmetrical from the drop down menu.
Move the slider to make the lens correction.

Correcting Lens Distortion In RAW Images

A RAW image consists of the information the camera sensor ‘sees’ before it is converted into a .jpg by the camera. Images taken in the RAW format must therefore be converted in your computer using RAW editing software.

A RAW image may be saved on the Fuji Finepix® E900 by going to the Camera Menu, selecting Settings – Page 2 – RAW and toggling the tab to ‘ON’

You cannot make adjustments to RAW images using the Finepix Viewer, which comes bundled with the Finepix® E900 digital camera. Instead I recommend you to use S7raw, which is a free utility developed for the Fuji Finepix® digital camera range. s7RAW provides a full range of editing options including lens correction.

S7raw’s system of lens correction works similarly to that described above for the Power Retouche filter:

Open your RAW file in S7raw.
Select the ‘Lens Tab’ and ensure the ‘Lens Correction Box’ is checked.
Move the adjacent slider to adjust the image.

It’s worth remembering that any file that can be loaded into your regular image editor, [such as Adobe Photoshop, or similar software such as Paintshop Pro, ACDsee Pro, or The GIMP may be corrected using the PTLens, or Power Retouche. This means that you can correct it after its been converted to TIFF, or JPG file, so even though you can’t make a lens adjustment in FinePix® Viewer, you may if you wish, convert the file and then correct it in your favourite image editor.

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