Background: The aim of this study was to analyze differences in couch shifts (setup errors) resulting from image registration of different CT datasets with free breathing cone beam CTs (FB-CBCT). As well automatic as manual image registrations were performed and registration results were correlated to tumor characteristics. Methods: FB-CBCT image registration was performed for 49 patients with lung lesions using slow planning CT (PCT), average intensity projection (AIP), maximum intensity projection (MIP) and mid-ventilation CTs (MidV) as reference images. Both, automatic and manual image registrations were applied. Shift differences were evaluated between the registered CT datasets for automatic and manual registration, respectively. Furthermore, differences between automatic and manual registration were analyzed for the same CT datasets. The registration results were statistically analyzed and correlated to tumor characteristics (3D tumor motion, tumor volume, superior-inferior (SI) distance, tumor environment). Results: Median 3D shift differences over all patients were between 0.5 mm (AIPvsMIP) and 1.9 mm (MIPvsPCT and MidVvsPCT) for the automatic registration and between 1.8 mm (AIPvsPCT) and 2.8 mm (MIPvsPCT and MidVvsPCT) for the manual registration. For some patients, large shift differences (>5.0 mm) were found (maximum 10.5 mm, automatic registration). Comparing automatic vs manual registrations for the same reference CTs, Delta AIP achieved the smallest (1.1 mm) and Delta MIP the largest (1.9 mm) median 3D shift differences. The standard deviation (variability) for the 3D shift differences was also the smallest for Delta AIP (1.1 mm). Significant correlations (p < 0.01) between 3D shift difference and 3D tumor motion (AIPvsMIP, MIPvsMidV) and SI distance (AIPvsMIP) (automatic) and also for 3D tumor motion (Delta PCT, Delta MidV; automatic vs manual) were found. Conclusions: Using different CT datasets for image registration with FB-CBCTs can result in different 3D couch shifts. Manual registrations achieved partly different 3D shifts than automatic registrations. AIP CTs yielded the smallest shift differences and might be the most appropriate CT dataset for registration with 3D FB-CBCTs.