LR3 brought about a correction tool that some competitors already had before: correction of lens imperfections. Although users pay a lot to have less of these, we know that correcting for every one of them is impossible (= would - and sometimes: does - result in an impossibly expensive and/or big lens; see the enjoyable piece on optics background applied to Leica glass). Both users and manufacturers have different preferences and they choose lenses on that basis. Bokeh? Leica! Sharpness? Zeiss! Both? Zuiko. :) But seriously: compromises are always made and software might remedy the resulting and remaining problems. As always and as with white balace in particular, the question remains if you really do want to the remedy (in the case of vignetting, for example, for which LR offers extensive tools to be created artificially). Still, there are many cases, when a perfect output is required (also, if you are among the ignorant crowd having shelled out money for edge to edge sharpness, less corner shading, etc., you might want to see if your purchase was worth the money ad least in this respect).
Nuff said. A friend was asking and offering his LR to have profiles for the reportage top-pro lenses to be made. I could not resist and created them with the free tool of Adobe. The results is more than 5 gigs of .dng and three lens profiles which can be inserted into the appropriate folder (on OS X, this is /Users/yourusername/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/LensProfiles/1.0/ , no idea about Windows - sorry). Once there, LR will offer you the choice of "Enable Profile Corrections" in the "Lens Corrections" part of the "Develop" module (right under "Detail"). You can find the links to the download at the end of this page.
Please note that these profiles are NOT sent to Adobe and are therefore not copyright by Adobe, but me. For the same reason, they will not be included in the LR distribution. They are NOT public domain, and while you are free to use it for your own pleasure, please consider being nice and contact me if you want to use it commercially. The reason for this is that a) I think that Adobe made a mistake by not honoring those creating profiles, b) looking at the support forums, I get the impression that quality control is not always perfect for the profiles. But even there was sufficient QC, there is no way one can communicate comments attached to the profiles, like the ones I shall say here. I feel these are important for users to determine if they want to trust the profiles or not.
The shots for the profiles were created using a tripod and in the open air, using an overcast sky as even illumination. The charts were printed on A3 and A4 paper and were glued on a plastic board. The board was put on a chair, facing the camera, which was in turn mounted on a tripod. Frames were shot in RAW and later converted to DNG. IS was off, the shutter was triggered by hand. All shots are iso400 and were shot in the shade of trees. Following Adobe recommendations, I have shot 9 images (all successfully processed) for all apertures (full stops starting from f2.0 to f8.0 plus f11, but not further because of potential diffraction) and zoom settings (all marked) considered. Note that the 50mm f2.0 is an exception to this rule as it basically needs no distortion correction and has no vignetting above f4.0, therefore the profile I have crated has data only for f2.0, f2.8 and f4.0. Shots are taken close to the target to satisfy the coverage requirements with an A3 paper, the largest available to me - this was 0.8m for the 14-35mm, around 2m for the 35-100mm and 1.5m for the 50mm lens. All lenses had their original hoods on, but both the 14-35mm and the 35-100mm had also an ultra-thin B+W XS PRO DIGITAL clear MRC filter screwed on. Please also note that my sample of 14-35mm has a scratched front lens. The decision to have hoods and filters on is inspired by my need to replicate life-like use: because of bad experiences, I have convinced myself to use protective filters (of this quality) and if they do change the behaviour of the lenses, I need to have that corrected too. Re scratches: I do not think they would affect anything here.
The first lens to look at is the Zuiko Digital ED 14-35mm f2.0. This lens, having very nice bokeh and being very sharp at the same time, has to have its own dark side. It is not only heavy and big, but had to have geometric distortion and vignetting (there is no free lunch in optics either). Because of this, correcting this lens is perhaps the most important and it is also more likely to be used in situations, where imperfections are more apparent than in other cases. The comparison below shows the effect of correction in the photographically perhaps most intereting, but most vulnerable setup, large angle of view and aperture wide open: 14mm @ f2.0. The result is what we have exptected on the basis of tests: the correction is visible if desired.
Pretty dramatic, eh? But before onyone would faint (gee Ma, this is a $1.5k+ lens!), let us take a look at the perfomance of the D700 and the stellar 24-70mm f2.8G ED (and as an added bonus, you can compare the oof-image generating performance of these two setups, which is an often desired exercise - in fact, this was the original purpose of taking these shots). By comparing the two, you can see (again) that there is no free lunch. The FF king is not (much?) better than the 14-35. I see more geometric distortion in the Zuiko (especially in the centre) and little more vignetting in the Nikkor (see car). [BTW, I do see difference in blur-capacity, but for that only I would not scream - but that's a different story.]
One could analyse the effect on different settings endlessly, but I shall not do that. Let us suffice to say that the wider you open either POV or aperture, the more effect the correction will give you. Having said that, it is noteworthy how quickly these problems diminish (although vinetting remains to a certain extent whatever aperture is used). Looking at a photo shot @ 35mm f2.8, I can see only minor need for vignetting correction and moderate to no need to correct distortion.
Let us now move on to the Zuiko Digital ED 35-100mm f2.0. This is a lens I love (have I said that already?) and one that might keep me in the Zuiko camp, despite the pathetic struggle with camera bodies (but that is another matter). I use this lens for portraiture and to shoot performances on stage - distortion is never good and you can pretend that vignetting is good mostly in the first case.
As both the image above and below shows, distortion is practically nonexistent with this lens, but vignetting does exist. I could go on saying that it adds to the mood, yada-yada, but it's there and one should be aware of it. At 35mm however, the situation is less "worrying", as you can see below.
Finally, let us take a look at the all-time favourite of many, the ED 50mm f2.0 macro. As you can see, it is pretty much perfect geometrically and has some vignetting at f2.0, but this goes away soon (and is completely gone at f4.0).
Lens profile for the E-3 - ED 14-35mm f2.0 combination: E-3 (14.0-35.0 mm f2.0) - RAW - csgzs.lcp.
Lens profile for the E-3 - ED 35-100mm f2.0 combination: E-3 (35.0-100.0 mm f2.0) - RAW - csgzs.lcp.
Lens profile for the E-3 - ED 50mm f2.0 combination: E-3 (50.0 mm f2.0) - RAW - csgzs.lcp.
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