Advanced Techniques

Minimizing barrel distortion

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

Simple steps to help minimize the curved effects of barrel distortion when taking photos containing straight lines near the edge of the frame.

Barrel distortion may occur when taking photos at the widest angle of a lens. The wider the angle, the greater the lens distortion.

The position of the camera lens causes images to look outwardly curved or skewed when straight edges are near the side of the frame. Lines that you’d expect to appear perpendicular are not.

While not all barrel distortion looks bad and may even be desirable at times, you can minimize its effect by moving back and zooming with you lens in instead of standing close and shooting at wide angle.

Use a focal length of about 50mm (35mm equivalent). You can actually watch the LCD for distortion as you zoom or change your physical distance from the set-up. If things appear distorted, move back from the subject and zoom in.

Barrel distortion is often corrected internally by a digital camera when shooting JPEG.  You can also correct some barrel distortion when editing.

Barrel distortion

Image shot at widest angle produces barrel distortion

No barell distortion

Same shot taken by stepping back and zooming in