What is Chromatic Aberration?

Have you ever taken a photo and been really excited about it? Sure! We all have! Well, have you ever come home after said photo, sat down at your computer, ready to edit, only to discover that there is some blurry discoloration on hard edges of subjects in your photo? Yeah, so have I, and it’s really annoying. It’s called chromatic aberration and it wreaks havoc on photographers everywhere!

Whenever I have trouble putting my definitions in the best words, I always refer back to Wikipedia to help me out. Don’t get me wrong, Webster writes out some terrific definitions, but Wiki just knows me way better. I also want to say sorry to my college professors who said Wikipedia isn’t a reliable resource. It is. They fact check pages very quickly. For example, we once edited Marissa Miller’s page to say that she was married to one of my friends. It was back to normal within a few hours.

Wikipedia defines chromatic aberration like this:

In optics, chromatic aberration (CA, also called achromatism,chromatic distortion, and spherochromatism) is an effect resulting from dispersion in which there is a failure of a lens to focus all colors to the same convergence point. It occurs because lenses have different refractive indices for different wavelengths of light. The refractive index of transparent materials decreases with increasing wavelength in degrees unique to each.

Slightly confusing definition perhaps for those of you who are beginners in photography, so let me put it simply for you. Chromatic aberration occurs when the color spectrum enters your lens, but doesn’t line up perfectly at a particular point. The result is what can appear as faint reds, blues, yellows, or greens on the edges of your subjects.


As you can see in the image above that represents what chromatic aberration can look like entering your camera’s sensor, the colors don’t line up. They may line up at specific points along your visual line, but all of the colors do not line up together. That causes the fuzzy colors in your image.

In a perfect world, all of the colors would connect at exactly the same point in the middle of the line of vision. However, with some lenses, that doesn’t happen.

The effect that chromatic aberration has on your images is called color fringing. Now, in the past it was difficult to fix.

If you didn’t know how to fix it, you basically just had to deal with the effects (disasterous effects I might add) of chromatic aberration.

Through various updates in their software, Adobe makes it easy for photographers to fix color fringing caused by chromatic aberration. See how in the video below…