Last updated on June 15, 2022
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The Perspective Efex module allows you to correct geometric problems such as perspective (for example, lines that are not parallel but should be) and volume distortion (stretching of elements at the edges of an image taken with a wide-angle lens). It also lets you create miniature effects.

Image: Solli Kanani

Perspective Efex is based on DxO ViewPoint, from which it takes all of the tools, and also allows you to take advantage of the efficiency of DxO Optics Modules to correct vignetting, distortion, and chromatic aberration.

Perspective Efex settings and help

The settings in Perspective Efex let you set the language and various elements of the interface and give you access to the online user guide.

Preferences

After launching Perspective Efex, click on the Settings button in the lower left corner. In the floating window, you can alter your options for the following settings:

To save your choices, click Save, otherwise click Cancel. No restart is required for the changes to take effect.

Online help

Click on the button at the bottom left to access the Perspective Efex online user guide (internet connection required).

The menu bar

Standalone application and plugin versions (PC)

  1. File: open and close images, open recent images, save corrections, and close the program.
  2. Edit: Undo/Redo commands to undo or redo an image correction step, image rotation commands, and access to Preferences.
  3. Display: switch to/from full screen mode, hide/show the correction tool panel, and display/hide the grid in overlay.
  4. Help: access to online help, the DxO website, product activation, update search and access to version information (About).

Standalone application and plugin versions (Mac)

  1. Perspective Efex: access to version information (About) and Preferences.
  2. File (standalone version): open and close images, open recent images or folders, save corrections, and close the program (standalone version), save corrections (plugin version).
  3. Edit: Undo/Redo commands to undo or redo a correction step in the image, and rotate left or right.
  4. Display: switch to/from full screen mode, hide/show the correction tool panel, and display/hide the grid in overlay.
  5. Window: Lets you reduce/enlarge the window size.
  6. Help: access to online help, DxO Academy tutorials, DxO website, product activation and update search.

Interface and layout

The Perspective Efex interface is composed of five principal parts:

  1. The upper toolbar
  2. The image display area
  3. The lower toolbar
  4. Correction tool palettes
  5. The magnification Loupe
  6. Keyboard shortcuts

The upper toolbar

Located at the top of the Perspective Efex window, it includes tools for opening and saving files, as well as different display and navigation modes.

  1. Display before and after correction side by side: Display the image before correction (left) and after correction (right) at the same time.
  2. Display the image before and after correction, one behind the other*: Click the left mouse button to display the image before and after corrections, one after the other.
  3. Fit to screen: The image is displayed in its entirety, taking up all the available space in the display window..
  4. Display at 100%**: the image is 100% enlarged (1 image pixel = 1 screen pixel).
  5. Compare with original image: Hold the button for a quick comparison with the original image.
  6. Show or Hide Overlay Grid: Enables or disables the display of the overlay grid in the image.

* You can also toggle the image before and the image after correction with the D key.
** To zoom in the image, use the mouse wheel, and navigate with the Hand tool that replaces the mouse pointer.

The lower toolbar

Depending on the correction tool you have selected and activated in one of the side panels, this bar is displayed at the bottom of the program window and includes the following commands:

  1. Selected tool: The icon is a simple reminder of the tool activated in a side palette.
  2. Line color: Click on the small blue tile (default color) to open a system color chart that allows you to choose the color of the perspective and horizon correction lines, to improve their visibility in relation to the displayed image. (Note that this command is not available with the Crop tool.)
  3. Show Grid: Available only with the Crop tool, this button activates or deactivates the display of the grid superimposed in the image.
  4. Mask Opacity: Available only with the Crop tool, this slider lightens or darkens parts of the image that are outside the cropped area.
  5. Preview: Available only with the Perspective and Horizon tools, this tool lets you update the image content after making corrections.
  6. Reset: Cancels all corrections made and returns to the original image.
  7. Apply: Applies the corrections and closes the lower toolbar.

Secondary lower toolbar

In the external module version of Perspective Efex, a second toolbar is located at the bottom of the window, with the following commands:

  1. Preferences: Opens the program settings dialog window.
  2. Help: Accesses the Perspective Efex online help (Internet connection required).
  3. Exit: Exits Perspective Efex, but a dialog box will first ask whether you wish to save changes or not. The Cancel option closes the dialog box and allows you to remain in Perspective Efex.
  4. Save: Applies the corrections permanently and then closes the plugin before returning to the host application.

Correction tool palettes

We will discuss the operation of the different correction tools — Distortion, Volume Distortion, Perspective, Horizon, Cropping and Miniature Effect — in more detail in the appropriate sections. Here we present the general operation of these palettes and the controls they have in common.

  1. Reset all: Cancels all corrections and returns to the original image. See Reset correction below.
  2. Expand or hide palettes: Each palette has a number of controls and sliders. To unfurl them, click on the arrow-shaped icon in the upper left corner of the relevant sections. Follow the same procedure to hide them.
  3. Enable / disable palette: The button indicates the palette’s operating status (left and gray: disabled; right and blue: enabled). Click on the palette to temporarily activate or deactivate it and its associated corrections.
  4. Hide tools: When the entire contents of a palette is expanded (all tools and sliders showing), you can return to the standard view by clicking on the “-” (minus) sign at the bottom right of each palette.
  5. Reset correction: Each tool in a palette has a reset button.
  6. Hide/show palettes: Click to hide or reveal the side panel.

Keyboard shortcuts

CommandWindowsOS X
Fit display to screenF3Cmd + 0
Zoom to 100 %F4Cmd + 1
Zoom inCtrl + +Cmd + +
Zoom outCtrl + –Cmd + –
Show/Hide superimposed gridGG
Move anchor pointsUp/down, left/right arrowsUp/down, left/right arrows
Toggle between anchor pointsTabTab
QuitAlt + F4Cmd + Q
CancelCtrl + ZCmd + Z
RedoCtrl + YCmd + Shift + Z
PreferencesCtrl + Shift + PCmd + ,
Show image before and after correctionCtrl + DD
Full ScreenFCmd + D
Exit full screen modeF ou EscCtrl + Cmd + F or Esc
Minimize window
Cmd + M
Show/Hide controlsPP
Online helpF1Cmd + /
Slow mode for Perspective and Horizon toolsPress Shift as you move anchor points around the imagePress Shift as you move anchor points around the image

Downloading and installing DxO Optics Modules

When you perform an automatic distortion correction, a DxO Optics Modules management dialog box is displayed. This dialog box displays the most likely optical module(s) required and offers a choice if there is any ambiguity, i.e. when DxO ViewPoint is unable to fully identify the body/lens pair used for shooting.

DxO Optics Modules dialog box.
The Distortion palette after installing the DxO Optics Module.

The dialog also displays the status of the modules present: Installed, to update or download.

  1. Select the corresponding module then click OK.
  2. A progress bar is displayed; installation and activation are immediate when the download completes. There is no need to restart the program.

Unavailability of DxO optical modules

If no DxO Optics Module is available, automatic correction will not be applied and the Auto button will be deactivated. In which case, you can perform a manual correction.

You can eliminate the DxO Optics Module you are using for processing an image by clicking on the trash can icon located in the upper right of the Distortion palette.

Correcting Distortion

About Distortion

All lenses are affected by distortion to varying degrees. There are two types:

The two principal types of distortion: pincushion (left) and barrel (right)

Some lenses are affected by both phenomena — for example, a zoom lens can display barrel distortion at shorter focal lengths and a pincushion distortion at longer focal lengths, not to mention the various distortions in between.

Perspective Efex relies on the DxO Optics Modules to correct distortions, so there is no need to use the lens correction tools in the host application or your camera.

Perspective Efex allows you to correct distortion for all lenses, either automatically, using DxO Optic Modules, or manually, if there is no DxO Optics Module for your camera hardware (body and lens).

You can also correct images taken with a fisheye lens, either automatically or manually, to remove or reduce circular distortion.

Apply automatic distortion correction

If your equipment is supported by a DxO Optics Module, you can correct your image automatically.

Distortion palette, automatic correction.
  1. From your host application, open Perspective Efex.
  2. In the Distortion palette, click the Auto button.
  3. A dialogue box will indicate if a DxO Optics Module for your equipment is already installed, or if not, whether it is available to download.
  4. Click on OK to correct the image using the selected DxO Optics Module. The dialog box closes.

When a DxO Optics Module is installed and taken into account, the Distortion palette displays the following information: camera model, lens model and the name of the original file.

Applying an automatic distortion correction when EXIF metadata has been lost

If Perspective Efex does not find the necessary EXIF metadata information, a dialogue box lets you search for the original image and retrieve the missing information. Indeed, certain programs modify and sometimes eliminate the EXIF data necessary for Perspective Efex to determine the proper DxO Optics Module to use.

  1. From your host application, open Perspective Efex.
  2. If a dialogue box in the Distortion palette requests access to the original file, click on Open original image.
  3. To find the original image, click on Open in the dialog box that appears at the top of Perspective Efex: a system dialogue box will open. You will need to find the JPEG or RAW image file that was loaded directly from your camera before processing.
  4. After finding and selecting the original image, click on Open. If the corresponding DxO Optics Module is not already installed, a new dialogue box will open and prompt you to download it (if available); otherwise, it will display the information about the shooting equipment and the name of the original file.
  5. After you have applied your corrections, click on the Save button on the lower right. Perspective Efex will close and the corrected file will be transferred back to the host application.

Manually correct distortion

If your shooting equipment is not supported by a DxO Optics Module, you can manually correct your image.

Distortion palette, manual correction
  1. From your host application, open Perspective Efex.
  2. In the Distortion palette, click on the Manual correction button.
  3. Depending on the type of distortion visible in the image, select either Barrel, Pincushion, or Fisheye.
  4. The correction will be applied immediately.
  5. If necessary, you can use the Intensity slider to fine-tune the correction.

Correcting volume deformation

About Volume Deformation

The deformation of subjects at the edge of an image is a geometrical flaw commonly seen in photos taken at close range.

Known as volume deformation or “anamorphosis,” this flaw is common when taking pictures of groups of people or objects using a wide-angle lens. Elements close to the edge of the image tend to look deformed.

For optimal results, you should correct distortion first before correcting volume deformation.

Determine the type of volume deformation

Look carefully at your image to determine the kind of distortion affecting it:

If spherical objects close to the edge of your image appear stretched or flattened along a vertical or horizontal axis then your image is suffering from volume deformation. In this case, use the horizontal/vertical correction tool.

If objects seem to be stretched towards the corners of the image, then you are dealing with diagonal volume deformation, in which case you will need to use the diagonal correction tool.

Correcting volume deformation

Correcting horizontal/vertical deformation

  1. After opening your image in Perspective Efex from the host application, correct horizontal/vertical volume deformation by clicking on the Horizontal/Vertical button.
  2. The correction is automatically and immediately applied to the image.

You can use the sliders to adjust the settings.

Diagonal deformation

  1. After opening your image in Perspective Efex from the host application, activate the diagonal volume deformation correction by clicking on the Diagonal button.
  2. The correction is automatically and immediately applied to the image.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to experiment with both tools, and then choose the one that makes the subjects in your image appear the most natural. You can refine or modify the automatic correction using the sliders in the Volume deformation palette.

If necessary, you can manually fine-tune the automatic correction by adjusting the Intensity slider. Moving the slider to the left, the image will be progressively stretched and distorted toward the center; moving to the right, the image is stretched and distorted toward the edges. The default setting for this slider is 150.

Double-click on any slider to return it to its default value setting.

Correcting volume deformation can clip the total surface area of the image. If you think you will need to apply this correction, compensate with a larger field of view when you shoot the picture.

You can fine-tune the value of your correction by entering a value in the balloon displayed above the slider in use.

Fixing perspective

About perspective

In architectural photography, the position of the photographer relative to a building almost always means a low-angle or high-angle shot. In both cases, convergent lines distort the subject, and the distortion becomes even more pronounced toward the edges of the image.

Perspective Efex offers tools for correcting vertical and horizontal parallel lines, for forcing a rectangle (to straighten out, for example, window and door frames), as well as an 8-point correction mode that allows you to correct each side completely independently.

Automatically fixing perspective

Perspective Efex lets you automatically correct perspectives as well as to manually adjust the corrections (if necessary). Any automatic corrections are preserved if you then decide to go into one of the manual modes (Forcing parallels, Rectangle, and 8 points).

After opening the image in Perspective Efex from your host application, go to the Perspectives palette and click on the Auto correct button. By default, Perspective Efex will automatically correct both vertical and horizontal perspectives. If you are not satisfied with the result, you can select one of two different modes within the Auto correction palette, Verticals only or Horizontals only; the correction will be applied as soon as you select it from the drop-down menu.

You can use the Intensity slider to adjust the automatic correction, or you can use the advanced settings to modify the perspective (see the Advanced settings section).

To reset the automatic perspective correction, click on the Cancel button in the upper right side of the palette.

Correcting perspectives can result in heavy cropping, so you will need to take this into account when shooting your photos.

Before correcting perspectives automatically, first correct any distortion in order to achieve optimal results.

The integration of the loupe with the anchor points, using the Shift key to slow down placement movement, and switching from one anchor point to another using the Tab key also work for the following modes.

Forcing parallel verticals

The Perspective palette
  1. After opening your image in Perspective Efex from your host application, go to the Perspective palette and then click on the Force Vertical Parallel button. Two vertical lines, each one with two circular anchor points, will be superimposed on your image.
  2. Choose two vertical reference elements in your image, preferably located on the same plane, for optimal correction.
Choose your vertical reference elements and place the correction lines.
  1. Place the mouse pointer on one of the anchor points. Click on an anchor point to select it: a magnifying Loupe will appear to help you place the anchor point with greater precision. Move the anchor point to one of the ends of your reference element. An active anchor point is indicated by a dark gray circle.

Press the Shift key to slow down the movement of the anchor point so that you can increase the precision of its placement.

  1. Place the second anchor point so that it aligns the line with your vertical element. Follow the same procedure for the second line. You can also use your keyboard’s 4 arrow keys to place the anchor points with even greater precision. Once aligned, it is also possible to reposition the lines by clicking on their center with the mouse.

The Tab key lets you switch from one anchor point to another

  1. Perspective Efex lets you verify your correction settings before applying them to your image. To do so, click on the Preview button in the lower toolbar. Perspective Efex will correct your image and will darken the parts of the image that will be removed when the automatic crop is applied (see Cropping). The greater the correction, the more the image will be cropped to compensate for rectifying the low- or high-angle shot.
The darkened zones indicate the parts of the image that will disappear when cropped.
  1. Click on the Apply button in the lower toolbar.

So long as you have not saved the corrected image, you can undo the changes and can reset by clicking on the Reset the correction button.

You can change the color of the lines to improve their visibility with respect to the background color of your image. Click on the colored tile located in the lower toolbar and select the color you want to use.

Correcting perspectives can result in heavy cropping, so be sure to take that into account and include sufficiently large margins when framing your photos.

The principle for forcing parallel horizontals is identical to that for forcing parallel verticals, except that the reference lines are horizontal and will let you align and level, for example, the top and bottom of a building, a window frame, or a door.

  1. To activate the correction for horizontal perspectives, click on the Force Horizontal Parallel button. Two horizontal lines with two circular anchor points will be superimposed on your image.
  2. Choose two horizontal reference elements in your image.
  3. Place the mouse pointer on one of the anchor points. Click on the anchor point to grab and move it to one of the ends of your reference element. Move the second anchor point so as to align the line with your horizontal element. Follow the same procedure for the second line.
  4. Verify your correction by clicking on the Preview button in the lower toolbar. Perspective Efex will darken the parts of the image that will be removed when the automatic cropping is applied.
  5. Click on the Apply button in the lower toolbar.

Forcing a rectangle

A third function of the perspective correction feature lets you use a reference rectangle to simultaneously correct both vertical and horizontal perspectives independently on each side. The applications are numerous: you can restore the exact shapes and forms to distorted elements in the scene, or straighten an interior space (such as an airport arrivals hall, a museum, or palace gallery) that was not shot in perfect alignment with an axis, or was taken at a too-low or too-high angle, etc.

  1. To activate the correction, click on the Rectangle button.
  2. You can work on all four lines: place the anchor points on the axes of the vertical and horizontal reference lines (which should be on the same plane as much as possible — that is, on elements located at approximately the same shooting distance).
  1. Verify your correction by clicking on the Preview button in the lower toolbar. Perspective Efex will darken the parts of the image that will be removed when the automatic cropping is applied.
  2. Click on the Apply button in the lower toolbar.

Manipulating one anchor point circle in the Rectangle tool affects both a vertical and a horizontal line.

Clicking on Ctrl/Cmd while moving an anchor point will cause the correction to take effect in real time without having to click on the Preview button.

You can display the composition grid to check that all the principal elements in your image have been correctly adjusted according to your settings, instead of relying solely on a naked-eye assessment.

Correcting perspective with 8-points

The 8-point perspective correction follows the same principle as forcing a rectangle, with one important difference. Because forcing a rectangle lets you adjust the four sides independently, the lines will need to be placed on the same plane in order to achieve the optimal result.

With the 8-point method, you can place the lines on different planes, which gives you great flexibility when making complex corrections, or when the elements that need to be fixed are not all at the same distance from the where the photo was shot.

  1. To activate the correction, click on the 8 points button.
  2. You can work on each of the four lines in a completely independent way: you can place them on the vertical and horizontal reference lines in the image, even if they are not on the same plane — that is, even if they are at different distances from the shooting point. The lines should be located as far away as possible from each other.
Choosing horizontal reference elements and placing correction lines
  1. Verify your correction by clicking on the Preview button in the lower toolbar. Perspective Efex will darken the parts of the image that will be removed when the automatic cropping is applied.
  2. Click on the Apply button in the lower toolbar.

Advanced settings

The sliders in the Perspective palette.

The Perspective palette provides four sliders for fine-tuning correction settings:

Full vs. Natural perspective correction.
Effect of the H/V Ratio slider

Straightening and cropping

About the horizon

A common flaw in landscape photography: the horizon is off by a few degrees due to the angle of the camera at the time the picture was taken. Similarly, vertical elements such as poles or trees appear slanted. The solution to this problem is simple: adjust the entire image by a few degrees.

Image: Gilles Theophile

Automatically straightening horizons

To straighten the horizon automatically, go to the Horizon palette and click on the Auto button.

To optimize the calculations for automatically straightening the horizon, first correct the distortion, which can — depending on the camera and/or lens — significantly curve the horizon.

If you are not satisfied with the result, you can:

Straightening the horizon by drawing a reference line

Horizon tool

Before straightening the horizon, correct the distortion, which — depending on the camera and/or lens you use — can significantly curve the horizon line.

The Horizon tool lets you correct compositions with a tilted horizon line. This feature can be used in tandem with the Perspective tool.

  1. To activate the tool, click on the Horizontal Level or Vertical Level button in the Horizon palette.
  2. A horizontal or vertical line with two circular anchor points will be superimposed on your image.
  3. Place the mouse pointer on one of the anchor points. Click on the anchor point to grab and move it to one of the ends of your reference element. Move the second anchor point to align with the line on your horizontal or vertical element.
  4. When you click on an anchor point, the magnifying Loupe displays so you can place the anchor point more precisely.

If the horizon line isn’t visible in your image, you can still straighten it by using a vertical reference line (such as the side of a building, a ship mast, a window or door frame, etc.).

To slow down the movement of the loupe, hold down the Shift key. You can also use your keyboard’s arrow keys to move an anchor point. Pressing the Tab key lets you switch from one anchor point to another.

Choose the horizontal reference element in your image.
  1. Verify your correction by clicking on the Preview button in the lower toolbar. Perspective Efex will darken the parts of the image that will be removed when the automatic cropping is applied.
  2. Click on the Apply button in the lower toolbar.

Cropping an image

The corrections done using the Distortion, Volume deformation, Perspective, and Horizon tools include an automatic crop feature that maximizes the visible field of the image. Perspective Efex’s Crop tool lets you adjust the proportions of the final image to your taste.

The darkened zones on the image represent the areas lost after correction.

Automatically cropping an image

After correcting the perspective of your image in Perspective Efex, go to the Crop palette and click on the Crop button. An adjustable grid will be superimposed on your image.

  1. Click the Auto button. In this mode, Perspective Efex calculates the preserved zone of the image as closely as possible and displays darkened zones that correspond to the surface area that will be lost in the original image.

Checking/unchecking the Show grid box in the lower toolbar lets you activate/deactivate the composition grid in the image.

Auto mode calculates the crop as closely as possible.

Several formats are offered in the Aspect Ratio drop-down menu: 16/9 (TV format), 5/4, 5/2, 2/1, 3/2 (APS-C reflex and full-format cameras), 4/3 (compact camera format), and 1/1 (square format).

  1. Select the format you would like: the grid superimposed on your image will be automatically modified. By clicking on the grid, you can also change the position of the frame and adapt it to the composition of your image.
You can resize and reposition the grid.

The crop grid is divided into thirds, making it easy to apply the “rule of thirds” when composing your final image.

Even though the crop is applied when you click on Apply, this can be undone so long as the image is not saved.

  1. By checking the Constrain to image box, the frame is automatically confined to the part of the image being worked on so as to avoid having any dark zones superimposed on the perspective corrections.
  2. To apply the crop, click on the Apply button in the lower toolbar.

Whether in automatic or manual mode, Perspective Efex automatically detects the orientation of the crop zone.

Manually cropping an image

Click on the Crop button in the Crop palette. The adjustable grid will be superimposed on your image. To adjust the proportions of the final image to your taste, select Freehand mode from the Correction drop-down menu.

Change the dimensions of the adjustable grid by manipulating the resizing points located in the corners and on the sides of the grid. You can also change the overall position of the frame, by grabbing its center and dragging, to adapt it to the composition of your image.

You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard to adjust the position of the crop zone.

Miniature Effect

About the miniature effect

The miniature effect simulates tilting a shift lens to move the image’s focal plane in order to give the image the appearance of a model, diorama or landscape photograph. The effect is even more spectacular in an urban landscape, preferably taken from above.

The Miniature Effect tool in Perspective Efex offers great flexibility in terms of the placement of out-of-focus areas as well as their intensity

Example of positioning lines to create a miniature effect.
Image: Jean-Marc Alexia
Result after applying the effect.

Apply a miniature effect

Open an image in Perspective Efex from your host application and select Miniature Effect from the palette:

You can then select a shape from the Blur Shape menu; by default the circular shape will be applied:

Once activated, along with the selected blur shape, the Miniature effect superimposes a number of lines and tools onto the image (see following image and explanation below):

  1. The central anchor point, fixed by default to the middle of the image, can be dragged anywhere in the photo (it is activated when the pointer rolls over it).
  2. The two continuous lines on either side indicate the edge of the sharp zone, on either side of the central anchor point. They can be moved apart or brought closer together with the mouse, either by grabbing one of the two lines (moves in both directions), or by grabbing the anchor point (moves in all directions and rotations).
  3. The small disk to the right of each reference line adjusts the blur intensity: Click to adjust the slider value with the mouse; the scale goes from 0 to 100 (the default value is 40).
  4. The two dotted lines show the edges of the blur transition zone, between a solid line and a dotted line (the blur is at its maximum outside the dotted line). To adjust the size of the transition area, simply move one of the dotted lines towards the center (decrease the transition area) or towards the edge of the image (increase the transition area).
  5. The positions of the lines and the blur are symmetrical by default. If you want to set the blur effect differently on either side of the center mark, go to the Miniature Effect palette and uncheck Symmetrical Position and/or Symmetric Blur. So, you can move all the lines independently as well as set two different blur intensity values.
  6. When you are finished defining the miniature effect, click on Apply in the bottom toolbar (or click Reset to cancel the effect).

To see the miniature effect without being distracted by the lines, move the mouse away from the image.

To get a wider view of the work area zoom out by scrolling up on the mouse wheel.

You can change the color of the lines in the bottom toolbar.

The Blur Shape menu lets you choose from different circular blur effects or a blur simualting a 6, 8 or 9 bladed aperture (the more blades there are, the smoother the blur/sharp blend transition will be).

Illustration of the different blurring shapes available.

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