Some photographers tend to add vignettes to their photos when they’re editing. Indeed, they can be very useful tools in making a subject really become the center of attention. And for the most part, manufacturers have said that they’ve eliminated lens vignetting. However, that’s not really the case. Have you ever tried the reverse vignette?
The Reverse Vignette is when you work with the vignette slider in post-production to do the opposite of vignetting. So instead of making the corners and edges of the frame darker, it brightens them. In the majority of situations, it will make the outer areas just as bright as the center. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference there is.
Let’s start out by talking about vignetting first. Vignetting is what happens when the corners are darker than the center of the frame. It also can refer to the lens output not even covering the full frame of the sensor. But generally speaking, it’s referring to the darkened edges of the frame. The Reverse Vignette process looks to even out that darkness.
To clarify on this, we’ve seen it with everything as clinical as Sony G Master lenses, to Sigma’s extra clinical lenses, and with things like Canon L, Leica Apochromatic, and other lenses on the market. Years ago when we started this site, publications used to test for vignetting a whole lot. But it went away because we all more or less accepted that it can be fixed in post-production. Further, lenses simply got better and better. Sigma purposely makes their lenses so big to get rid of vignetting, but it doesn’t always pan out.
The thought was also that it more or less disappeared with mirrorless cameras. Part of that is because the lens diameters are so big. However, it still surely happens.
We encourage you to go try this. So how do you do the Reverse Vignette?
- Take a photo into Lightroom or Capture One. If you’re a Phoblographer subscriber, you can get a discount to Capture One and more.
- Reset all edits on the photo
- Tweak the vignetting slider one way and then the other way. You’ll see that after a while, you’ll brighten the edges to make it uniform with the rest of the scene.
- This will happen mostly with lenses shot wide open, and it disappears with lots of lenses at around f4.
So what’s happening? Well, you’re setting the effects of vignetting. These days, the effects have been more or less controlled and are very subtle. We typically just don’t end up paying attention to them and the vignettes are nowhere as strong as they used to be. However, it’s a “problem” that still happens.
If you’re of the team Sony and Sigma camp and want the most clinically perfect lenses, then this will bother you. To think that these companies spent lots of money convincing the photo industry that they need to get rid of onion bokeh is nuts. Instead, they could’ve found a way to eliminate vignetting. However, they didn’t.
Now, this isn’t a post about my complaining about lens vignetting. Modern lenses as they are surely do need more character and less clinical perfection. However, the Reverse Vignette is something worth talking about when it comes to smoothing out the exposure across a scene. You’ll see what it does to your histogram when editing for example. You’ll also easily be able to see how much extra light is being cut down.