How to take wide angle portraits of whole body without distortion?
Hi everyone.

Was just wondering if it's possible to take wide angle portrait body shots without it looking distorted? (i.e. leg's not looking short and top body lengthened)..

Or do I have no choice but to you use a telephoto and step back really far? Many thanks for help...

Comments (7)

First rule is to keep the plane of your 'film' (sensor) in the same orientation as the subject's body.. this minimizes the distortion..

However, if you are shooting with a FL wider than 'normal' for your camera (FL<=(sensor diagonal)), you will get distortion...

If you are using a compact camera, this will not be a huge issue, as the widest angle most of them can go to is 35mm equivalent or (rarely) 28mm equivalent... at these ranges, there is little WA distortion.. if using a dSLR, you can go much wider and get a lot of distortion...

The only real solution is to use a longer FL and shoot from farther away..

Cheers,S.**My XT IS Full Frame APS-C/FF of course!*****So is my 5D 35mm/FF**..

Comment #1

At 28mm (equivalent) you shouldn't be getting noticeable distortion..

Tim'Be the change you wish to see in the world.' -Mahatma Gandhi

Comment #2

Timskis6 wrote:.

At 28mm (equivalent) you shouldn't be getting noticeable distortion..

Combating the distortion of a wide angle lens used for portraiture leads to it's own problems........

To avoid distortion in a 28mm full-length shot, whilst ALSO filling the frame, the camera will need to be positioned at or around waist-level-to-chest-level... 'half way up' the body, in fact..

Unfortunately, whilst distortion will be minimised at a central level.. this positioning is not flattering when the camera is CLOSE ... which of course, it will be with a wide angle lens..

Unflattering? Yes. The view from close and low is looking directly UP the nostrils!!.

Come up to face level, and the camera will now be looking down at the rest of the body.... with a big forehead and miniature legs..

This is why long lenses are the ones most used for portraiture..

This is not to say wide angles cannot be used for people pictures, but you need to work around the fact that the results tend to look characatured... and concentrate on a funky "Steet Style" instead of "Elegance" Regards,Baz..

Comment #3

If you really *must* use a wideangle lens for such shots, try lowering the camera height, that will keep the upper and lower body in proportion. Being tall, I'm well aware of this at any focal length, I have to avoid looking downwards onto my portrait subjects..

The old reflex cameras where you look down onto the viewing screen encouraged the camera to be held somewhere between chest and waist height. These types of camera have long been popular with wedding photographers, and not just because of the image quality of medium-format film..

Some modern digital cameras have a flip-out LCD screen which can be used in a similar way, though these seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Or you may need to adopt a crouching position to achieve the desired height. Try to avoid an uncomfortable posture which will encourage camera shake..

One thing to avoid is the effect of looking upwards to the subjects face from under the chin - so it is still necessary to avoid being too close to the subject..

Or do I have no choice but to you use a telephoto and step backreally far? Many thanks for help..

A telephoto would solve the problem, but you should have success with medium focal lengths too.Hope this helps,Peter..

Comment #4

Fore-shortening due to perspective (like taking a picture of a skyscraper from the sidewalk beside it) and lens distortions (barrel or pincushion) can be corrected with software after you take the photo..

I bought PSP X for $25. It is powerful & easy to use..


Comment #5

Many thanks all for your replies. I guess it's either I get my positioning right if I've understood or best to use >28mm to minimise the distortion...

Comment #6

Mbaddah wrote:.

Was just wondering if it's possible to take wide angle portrait bodyshots without it looking distorted? (i.e. leg's not looking short andtop body lengthened)..

Or do I have no choice but to you use a telephoto and step backreally far? Many thanks for help..

Well, technically, perspective is a function of distance not focal length. There is no more inherent distortion in a wide angle lens over a telephoto lens (see link). So, if you want, you can shoot with a really wide lens without distortion if you place your subject really far back - of course they will be very small in the frame..


From a practical point of view, you will need a telephoto lens to eliminate this distortion, since it will allow you a longer working distance...

Comment #7

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.


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