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Camera Lens Problems

Learn How to Avoid Common Problems With DSLR Lenses

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Even the cheapest camera lenses have wonderful optics, and they usually can produce wonderful pictures. But nothing is infallible, and whether a lens costs $80 or $6,000, you can still run into a few problems. Here's how to avoid some common camera lens problems.

  • Vignetting. Vignetting is most often seen on wide-angle lenses, where the corners of images appear darkened. This is caused by the edges of the lens actually being captured in the photograph. Vignetting most often appears when shooting at wide open apertures. An easy way to avoid vignetting is obviously to stop down until the dark edges disappear. Or, if you use Photoshop for editing purposes, you can easily remove vignetting using the "Lens Correction Filter."
  • Chromatic Aberration. This is also sometimes known as "fringing," as it produces color fringing around the edges of high contrast images. For instance, you'll often notice chromatic aberration when photographing objects against a bright sky. It is caused by the lens not focusing wavelengths of light onto the exact same focal plane. It can be corrected by using lenses that have two or more pieces of glass with different refractive qualities, such as Nikon ED or Canon UD lenses. 
  • Lens Flare/Ghosting. Light straying across the camera lens or a very strong light source can cause ghosting (a contrast reducing sheen on an image) or lens flare (spots of light in an image). The easiest way to get rid of this problem is to use a lens hood. A lot of manufacturers now include a lens hood when you purchase a lens.
  • Perspective Issues. This is most commonly seen when you shoot a photograph of a building while looking upward. The lines of the building will appear to get closer and closer at the top of the building, creating an un-natural shot. Photographers can correct perspective issues by using dedicated tilt and shift lenses. However, a cheaper solution is to correct perspective using the "Skew" tool in Photoshop.
  • Barrel Distortion. With barrel distortion, images appear to have been 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. To correct barrel distortion, simply step back and zoom in instead.
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