Fast, non-destructive lens and perspective correction? Please?

OK Adobe Lightroom Team, Apple Aperture team, are you listening? I’ve just spent the last 10+ hours doing something manually that belongs in your products (Lightroom & Aperture): Correcting the perspective and lens distortion of photos non-destructively.


Before and after, what I want non-destructively

Here’s the problem: I have about 30-40 photos that need to undergo this process:

Please, will someone out there do the following?

  1. Build a perspective correction tool that lets you manually drag across lines that should be either vertical or horizontal, computing the correct rotation, horizontal and vertical correction factors. Check out AutoPano Pro — they seem to have no problem doing this
  2. Buy out Tim Niemann, the PT Lens guy or license his stuff and build the lens distortion correction right into Lightroom. No your clever Lens Correction plugin isn’t enough; distortion varies by focal length for many lens!
  3. Let me apply these three filters right inside of Lightroom and/or Aperture without creating a intermediate PS file
    • Lens correction
    • USM
    • Perspective correction
  4. Provide more fine-grained control over shadow/highlight boosting right inside of Lightroom

Now, I can see the product managers at Adobe grumbling. They are going to say something like “Jeremy, you are trying to do some very sophisticated processing here and not just ‘normal’ image tweaks. You deserve to roundtrip 100 times into Photoshop. Certainly, there is no need to correct lens and distortion just to review and prep images, right?” Wrong!! See, in many cases I’ve taken 4-5 shots of a given scene knowing that I will want to correct it later. I am not sure which source image will do the job best. So its helpful to apply correction to a bunch of images at once to understand which deserves further inspection.

I use Lightroom to help quickly explore the artistic possibilities of the images I’ve taken, to understand and evaluate their ratings. Often, I need to see the image without barrel distortion to see if that image will fulfill my artistic vision. For example, if I am deliberately trying to capture the abstract nature of nested archways, I have to be able to isolate the distracting elements (lines that aren’t straight) to see if the effect I wanted can be coaxed out of the photo.

Here is another argument: There is a whole generation like me coming up in the ranks — I’m just the leading edge. Older school photographers had a different, slower process based around a largely paper and darkroom workflow. My generation is tuned for instant gratification, and they want to take better pictures. When they realize how much better their vacation shots can look without vignetting, or with the buildings looking “straight”, they will want a fast and easy way to do it themselves. Because digital film is cheaper than real film, we are likely to take MORE photos in the hope that one of them will come out right. So you have to help this generation of photographers quickly evaluate and share larger quantities of photos.

Is someone listening?

(For those who can’t read the image, the text is copied below)

Distorted image due to :
* Uneven perspective (lack of tripod)
* Barrel distrotion from 16-35 f/2.8 II lens at 16mm

Corrected image, fully non-destructive, requiring many steps
1) Open photo as smart object from lightroom (wait for this to finish)
2) Apply custom curve to fix shadow ares (Can’t use LR for this
because not enough fine grained control)
3) Run PT lens plugin on smart image to axe barrel distrotion
4) Run lens correct plugin to correct perspective, painstakingly
wiggle all of the settings over and over again to make the
columns and rows line up; PT Lens isn’t great for this
5) Apply USM because sharpening in Lightroom continues to feel
far less intuitive even after a solid year of using it)
6) Save and hope the round trip feature back to LR works and
doesn’t flake out on me