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Author Topic: Ultra-Wides, Landscapes, and Distortion ...  (Read 20180 times)
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2010, 02:56:50 PM »
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No you weren't -- the horizon line would be dead center if you were "shooting straight." The upward tilt of the camera results in the leaning building. This will happen with any lens.

Well, I didn't have a level, but it seemed I was shooting straight.




You have several options:
1. in Photoshop, choose Filter > Lens Correction and play with Vertical Perspective. (In CS5 choose the Custom panel first.)

Thanks for the tip, but (as above) I discovered it was Filter > Distortion > Lens Correction on mine.




2. Shoot with the camera perfectly level, but with a much wider lens. Your photo will have the horizon dead center, but you can then crop this in Photoshop to your desired framing. (This was a common tactic back when we didn't have much in the way of shift lenses for 35mm cameras.)

Thank you again for the tip, but I don't see how I could shoot much wider than 10mm. I will try to get the horizon dead center, though, as you recommend.




3. Buy a shift lens, and use it correctly. This is a very expensive option, you might try the other two first.


I will. I was looking at the T/S 24mm and it doesn't seem to be what I am looking for. I am starting to lean heavily toward the simplicity of the Zeiss.

I still have the EF-S 15-85mm and might just use it at ~ 17mm. It is pretty sharp and it has IS (unlike the 10-22).




The most recent versions of Photoshop and Lightroom apply automatic distortion corrections to many lenses. This does great things for my Canon 10-22, though of course it doesn't fix the problem in your photo above.

This sounds like a great feature, but I only have Lightroom 2.7 and PS CS4.

Do these progams have this feature, and if so, do you have to program it to do this or does it do so automatically?

Thanks again for the information,

Jack



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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2010, 02:59:51 PM »
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Bear in mind that on a (Canon) crop body, 21 mm becomes effectively 34 mm, quite a modest wide angle, nothing ultra- or super-wide angle there.

Exactly. I am thinking about shying away from "ultra wide" to a more moderate wide.




Also, on a crop body, FF-designed lenses can not possibly perform "better", as they project only one and the same image on the sensor plane. What people are referring to as "better" is the fact that you are looking at the center crop of a full image, thus eliminating the edges, where most lenses, even the best ones, are inferior to the center.

I don't have the training to dispute this, but I did read in several reviews that the resolution, vignetting, etc. were better when tested on crop cameras (as quoted above).



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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2010, 03:01:32 PM »
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The lens has not much to do with it though... It's not distorsion, it's perspective (and the rectilinear rendering associated with it). You can avoid it by keeping your camera horizontal (and cropping if needed) or by the use of a tilt-shift lens, or with the "vertical" slider in LR3/ACR6 (develop/lens correction/perspective).
"The camera" by Ansel Adams may still be a very good reading on the subject!
See here or elsewhere otherwise...
Edit : ooops, seems I'm late...


Thank you.


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NikoJorj
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« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2010, 03:15:08 PM »
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I have no experience with panoramas, but I think (as a bunch of other people have gone on to chime in) that you probably want a tilt/shift lens--and one that's wide but not ultra-wide--if you're looking for clean, undistorted perspective with parallel vertical lines, like in a painting.  
As far as I can see, if you try to fit an very large angle of view into a flat image, you unavoidably will have to fight perspective.
Making the converging lines parallel may help, especially with buildings, but there will be the odd case where it will just seem as goofy as before (making the top of the building too big eg).
To flatten perspective more efficiently, the solution is simple (but not always doable) : step back and zoom in.

I'd say ultra wide angles show more foregiveness with natural images where there isn't anything really square or straight but random shapes, where the viewer can't remark the 'distorted' corners ; mountains are the best example I can think of, but your example would have also worked without the supposed-to-be-vertical light tower.
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Nicolas from Grenoble
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2010, 03:19:34 PM »
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I have no experience with panoramas, but I think (as a bunch of other people have gone on to chime in) that you probably want a tilt/shift lens--and one that's wide but not ultra-wide--if you're looking for clean, undistorted perspective with parallel vertical lines, like in a painting.  As others have mentioned, you can instead and relatively easily perform perspective correction in photoshop--even for converging verticals, but that does change the frame a bit (in effect turning the image into a top-heavy trapezoid until vertical lines are parallel and then cropping the edges).
The 24mm Canon tilt/shift lens looks phenomenal to me (and would be my choice in focal length on a cropped sensor based on totally arbitrary personal preference)...but it's pricey and probably not much cheaper used.  Photoshop or other software that performs perspective correction for both barrel distortion and perspective distortion might be the best option for price and flexibility. 
I could also continue to proselytize about large format even though I'm still basically incompetent with it and one look at my photos and you'd call me out, so I won't.  And, honestly, if I had the money and this were more than a hobby, I'd go completely digital.

Well, I appreciate your perspective and your taking the time to provide it.

I think I am either going to go with my current Canon EF-S 15-85mm and use it at 15-24mm (24-38mm), while trying some of the above suggestions, but most probably I will just sell this lens too at some point and go with the Zeiss 21mm.

Jack



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Luis Argerich
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« Reply #25 on: November 01, 2010, 03:38:49 PM »
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More options to correct distortion: Ptlens (nifty little nice utility, very affordable) and also DxO optics has excellent distortion correction in the available modules.

The 15-85 is good enough, it's actually very good. I think the Tokina 11-16 is still an improvement if you want to go wider. I don't think the Zeiss 21 makes sense in a crop body, 34mm for the price it has and a cropped image doesn't make much sense. AND I'm not sure if the difference between the Zeiss and a good lens like the Tamron 17-50 F2.8 will be that big specially in terms of sharpness.
In a FF body it's a completely different story and the Zeiss, the 14-24 and other lenses have a lot of merit.

For a crop body I think the 11-16 15-85 is a good enough combo for most landscape scenarios.

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k bennett
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« Reply #26 on: November 01, 2010, 03:57:07 PM »
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Thank you again for the tip, but I don't see how I could shoot much wider than 10mm. I will try to get the horizon dead center, though, as you recommend.


Only do this if you are planning to *crop* later to your preferred composition. Otherwise it's generally a no-no to have the horizon dead center in your landscape image.

Let me add a quick correction of your photo. Notice how you do lose some of the edges when performing the correction in Photoshop:

« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 03:59:09 PM by k bennett » Logged

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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #27 on: November 01, 2010, 05:02:10 PM »
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More options to correct distortion: Ptlens (nifty little nice utility, very affordable) and also DxO optics has excellent distortion correction in the available modules.

Thanks for the info.




The 15-85 is good enough, it's actually very good. I think the Tokina 11-16 is still an improvement if you want to go wider.

The 15-85 is a better overall lens than the 10-22 IMO. Sharper, heavier, and it also has IS.

However what it also has, that I am not especially fond of, is lens creep. I still say, if I want to go extra wide, I'd ultimately be better off doing a Pano ... even a marginal one.




I don't think the Zeiss 21 makes sense in a crop body, 34mm for the price it has and a cropped image doesn't make much sense. AND I'm not sure if the difference between the Zeiss and a good lens like the Tamron 17-50 F2.8 will be that big specially in terms of sharpness.

I haven't seen the actual numbers (or performance) between the two ... but the Zeiss is consistently described as "Legendary" ... "3D-like" ... and I haven't seen such praise over the Tamron. For corner-to-corner sharpness, et al, the universal consensus is the Zeiss seems to be peerless (at least for Canon). This is why two shots merged shots with a 21mm Zeiss would be better than anything an ultra-wide could do.




In a FF body it's a completely different story and the Zeiss, the 14-24 and other lenses have a lot of merit.
For a crop body I think the 11-16 15-85 is a good enough combo for most landscape scenarios.

If I lose the 15-85, I think (if I don't get the Zeiss) that the 14-24 would be the way I'd go. I just don't like the protruding front element--and the fact you can't protect it with a filter.

Jack




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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #28 on: November 01, 2010, 05:11:10 PM »
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Only do this if you are planning to *crop* later to your preferred composition. Otherwise it's generally a no-no to have the horizon dead center in your landscape image.

I thought about that kind of composition and figured that had to be the case Smiley




Let me add a quick correction of your photo. Notice how you do lose some of the edges when performing the correction in Photoshop:

Thank you, and yes I did notice.

It almost seems pointless to have the extra mm ... if you're only going to crop it anyway.

Another thing I don't like is the pitiful "afterthought" these EF-S lenses have to Manual Focus. It's almost like I can't focus unless it's AF.

More and more, I am getting sick of AF features and like to have total control of the focusing myself ... and the Zeiss lens is actually designed to be focused manually with, by all acounts, a smooth and extra-precise focus ring.

Thanks again,

Jack




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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #29 on: November 01, 2010, 05:29:19 PM »
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... but the Zeiss is consistently described as "Legendary" ... "3D-like" …

Similarly, Leica owners would swear they can hear angels sing when they put a Leica lens next to their ear, and see them dance when they look into the lens… It is just a piece of glass, people! Is it better than the next piece of glass? Yes, it is. Does it matter ultimately? Absolutely not.

What makes or breaks an image is an emotional impact it has on the viewer, i.e., the content, not the pixel-peeping perfectionist obsession. The "legendary" stuff is a sandbox for the independently wealthy perfectionists to shoot brick walls and backyard trees. Real photographers shoot with what works practically, e.g. Art Wolfe shoots with the "lousy" Canon 16-35 zoom.

As for pairing Zeiss 21 and a crop body… what can I tell you… it is like adding leather seats to a Yugo (and trust me, I know what I am talking about Smiley)
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« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2010, 05:37:30 PM »
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... and the Zeiss lens is actually designed to be focused manually with, by all acounts, a smooth and extra-precise focus ring...

Which has absolutely no practical relevance on a super-wide angle (due to its enormous depth-of-field). You will be most likely using a hyperfocal scale anyway.
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Slobodan

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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #31 on: November 01, 2010, 07:36:16 PM »
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Similarly, Leica owners would swear they can hear angels sing when they put a Leica lens next to their ear, and see them dance when they look into the lens… It is just a piece of glass, people! Is it better than the next piece of glass? Yes, it is. Does it matter ultimately? Absolutely not.

It does matter, ultimately, if a lens takes a better photo and makes you feel better about your effort in producing the photo.




What makes or breaks an image is an emotional impact it has on the viewer, i.e., the content, not the pixel-peeping perfectionist obsession. The "legendary" stuff is a sandbox for the independently wealthy perfectionists to shoot brick walls and backyard trees.

Well, one's own pride and emotions towards one's own work also count. And, though artistry, experience, etc. all combine to be more important overall ... I still can't see how any image wouldn't be improved by being taken with a better lens.




Real photographers shoot with what works practically, e.g. Art Wolfe shoots with the "lousy" Canon 16-35 zoom.

I've heard many fine reviews of the 16-35 (II) ... but I've also heard 100% of the comparisons of this same lens to the Zeiss fall in landslide favor toward the Zeiss.

I don't know (or care about) what a "real photographer" is, I only know the direction in which my own thoughts and preferences are heading.




As for pairing Zeiss 21 and a crop body… what can I tell you… it is like adding leather seats to a Yugo (and trust me, I know what I am talking about Smiley)

Well, the 7D is no Yugo. It can print superb images up into the mid 20s. It may not be a D3x, but it's the cream of the current crop of ASP-C offerings. Furthermore, ultimately I am going to get a FF for landscape, while keeping the 7D for macro photography for the next few years. The 7D can produce macro prints superbly up to the max size I'll ever need to print them.

For landscapes, ultimately I will either get the next iteration of the 5D or 1Ds (or perhaps the 5D II when the price drops), and therefore I want a timeless FF lens for landscape work, when I have the extra time I plan on having to devote to it.

Jack


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« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 07:40:17 PM by John Koerner » Logged
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2010, 07:42:48 PM »
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Which has absolutely no practical relevance on a super-wide angle (due to its enormous depth-of-field). You will be most likely using a hyperfocal scale anyway.

Wrong.

Getting better pinpoint focus, getting better center-to-border sharpness, getting better color rendition, and getting a better overall effect to the veiwer is absolutely relevant.

So is the prospect of less potential mechanical difficulties and better resale value.

Jack



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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2010, 08:21:17 PM »
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...if a lens takes a better photo…

And that is the crux of our debate: my position is that it is not the lens that takes better photos, the photographer does. The lens might take technically superior photos, but that still does not translate directly into better photos.

Quote
... and makes you feel better about your effort in producing the photo… one's own pride and emotions towards one's own work also count…

Perhaps… but such issues are best handled with one's shrink.  Wink

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... I still can't see how any image wouldn't be improved by being taken with a better lens…

I can: it is a matter of raising false hopes and priorities. By relying on the lens' "magical" features, by believing that it is the lens that takes better pictures, by expecting to improve one's photography by employing "better" lenses, one is inevitably downplaying photographer's role in producing better images by concentrating on creativity, vision, idea, feel, etc., things that actually result in truly better photos.  Why bother after all, when using a "legendary" lens is supposed to result in "legendary" photos?
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« Reply #34 on: November 01, 2010, 08:37:51 PM »
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Another thing I don't like is the pitiful "afterthought" these EF-S lenses have to Manual Focus. It's almost like I can't focus unless it's AF.



From a practical standpoint, this is true. The standard focusing screen in your camera is designed for brightness, not accuracy -- even with a silky smoooooth manual focus ring, you won't be able to achieve accurate manual focus. That is, images will *appear to be*  in focus through your viewfinder when they are not, in fact, in focus. Canon assumes you will use autofocus (which works quite well when used properly.)

Canon makes extra-precision screens for better manual focus with fast lenses. I have them installed in my 1-D bodies. They work well, but even wide open with fast lenses, I find the AF to be more accurate and repeatable. (However, I am usually shooting things that move a lot, not landscapes.) If you want manual focus to work best when shooting landscapes, use a tripod and Live View, zoomed all the way in, using a Hoodman loupe. I do this for architecture, and it works very well.
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« Reply #35 on: November 01, 2010, 11:04:30 PM »
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Thanks for the tip ... but, after being stumped for a sec, I found it's actually Filter > Distortion > Lens Correction Smiley


Jack,
There's another option which you might find more flexible.

Select the 'Rectangular Marquee Tool' (the one with the dotted line).

Use it to select all or part of your image.

Right-click over the selected part of the image and choose 'Free Transform' from the drop-down menu. This option allows you to stretch or compress the image to your heart's content. However, if you want to avoid cropping when stretching, you should enlarge the canvas first.

For more options in 'Free Transform' mode, right-click again and the drop-down menu will offer you, Warp, Perspective, Distort, Skew etc.

Experiment and see what works best. For example, the 'perspective' option allows you to make equal corrections on both side of the image simultaneously, when you tug on one of the little squares in the corner of the selection, whereas 'distort' allows you to make corrections that apply separately to one side of the image.

Wonderful thing, Photoshop.

I would add, for a really wide effect in confined environments containing close subjects, the TS-E lenses are the best option, especially the new TS-E 17mm. On full frame this lens provides a significantly wider effect than a single shot from a 14mm lens, when stitching the usual 3 images you get from one extreme of shift to the other.

On a cropped format, the 17mm TS-E, after stitching, will give you a wider result than a single shot from an EF-S 10mm lens, and superb detail and resolution from corner to corner.

If the subject is distant, there's usually no problem getting a perfect stitch. You can use any lens. You often don't even need a tripod.

If the subject is close, there can be huge problems with discontinuities and getting straight lines to match, but not if you use a TS-E.

With Photoshop's 'Photomerge' you can even get perfect stitches of close subjects using a TS-E lens without tripod.

« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 11:58:22 PM by Ray » Logged
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« Reply #36 on: November 01, 2010, 11:58:01 PM »
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However what it also has, that I am not especially fond of, is lens creep. I still say, if I want to go extra wide, I'd ultimately be better off doing a Pano ... even a marginal one.


If you shoot a pano from the exact same position, you will have the same perspective and therefore will have the same leaning lighthouse. You will likely have more detail in the image assuming the same quality of lens.
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« Reply #37 on: November 02, 2010, 12:49:02 AM »
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Quote
This begs the other part of my question, which is are ultra-wides really all that desirable for landscape photography?
I find the super-wide lens is overrated for landscape work. The exaggerated perspective can be effective at times, but can also become a boring gimmick if over-done. I have the Nikkor 14-24 but almost never use it because it's just not a useful focal range for me on full-frame. I can't quite bring myself to sell the lens because it's just so darn good at what it does, even if it's not something I have much use for.

I'm more likely to work in the slightly wide to slightly telephoto-range for the majority of my work (though there are certainly exceptions), in full-frame terms I'd say 30-85mm is where I'm most comfortable; I use the Nikkor 45mm PC-E a lot. I do use a 24mm T/S lens also, but almost never go wider than that unless it's one of those situations where you just don't have a choice due to subject size and proximity.

In your situation I would take a good hard look at the newish TS-E II lenses from Canon, either 17mm or 24mm depending on which FOV you would find more useful with your cropped sensor. I found the Nikon 24mm PC-E to be very useful as a slightly-wide lens on APS-C. Not only do you get perspective control (which isn't just for buildings) but also DOF control and the option of flat stitching. Canon isn't exactly known for their wideangle lenses, but by all accounts they outdid themselves with the 17mm and 24mm TS-E II's (only Canon lenses I've ever been jealous of). I don't think the Zeiss is so much better that it's all that compelling, especially if you end up having to correct perspective in photoshop on a regular basis (which degrades image quality).

I think the advantages of T/S lenses for landscape photography are under-appreciated by a lot of photographers who think they're just for shooting architecture. If I could get T/S lenses for all the focal lengths I shoot, that's all I'd ever use.
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Ray
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« Reply #38 on: November 02, 2010, 01:16:58 AM »
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I find the super-wide lens is overrated for landscape work. The exaggerated perspective can be effective at times, but can also become a boring gimmick if over-done. I have the Nikkor 14-24 but almost never use it because it's just not a useful focal range for me on full-frame. I can't quite bring myself to sell the lens because it's just so darn good at what it does, even if it's not something I have much use for.


I know what you mean, but the Nikkor 14-24 does have that flexibility common to all zooms, the range of focal lengths. 24mm is not particularly wide, and 14mm is very useful in confined spaces where it might be impossible to step back.

Having just compared the 17mm TS-E with the EF-S 10-22, I see that the stitched images from the 17mm are only wider when the camera is horizontal, and then one sacrifices height. With camera vertical, the width of the resulting stitch is about the same as the width of a single shot at 10mm with camera horizontal. But of course, the detail, the resolution and the freedom from chromatic abberation is much better with that 17mm TSE.
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« Reply #39 on: November 02, 2010, 06:22:25 AM »
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Most aspects of the op have already been covered - at least once - but at the risk of something-or-other I'd like to contribute. Firstly, I always find it odd that people ask about focal lengths for landscapes. Macro, interiors, portraits, yes, but "landscape"? It's a very, er, wide term.

I have the Nikon 14-24 and find it invaluable for interiors - it has earned its purchase price repeatedly. I try to avoid the need for vertical perspective correction in pp by shooting level and at the optimum height, but of course that's not always possible. However there's one form of distortion that really bothers me about fl's as wide as 14mm on full-frame (the widest prime I have, other than Fisheyes, is 20mm) and that's the volume anamorphosis effect. The non-linear stretching approaching the periphery of the wide axis is noticeable and (to me) unpleasant, even for vegetation, rocks, clouds etc. In fact I can live with it for interiors more easily than in (seldom used) landscape applications.

I've twice tried evaluation copies of DxO which offers the capacity to correct this form of distortion. I'm surprised that whenever I've tried to raise this subject no one seems bothered about it except me! As best I recall DxO offers two strategies each of which corrects differently to suit differing subjects and distances. Of course DxO also offers mapped geometrical distortion characteristics for a given lens/body combination - assuming it's in their db. But I use NX2 and don't feel moved to buy DxO as well. Most corrections can be effected in PS with a little effort, including this one.

here's a link to the relevant page of DxO's site:
http://www.dxo.com/us/photo/dxo_optics_pro/optics_geometry_corrections/anamorphosis
Roy
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