What is lens distortion? It’s when a lens produces curved lines where straight lines should be.
There are two different types of distortion in photography: barrel distortion and pincushion distortion.
Every lens has varying degrees of distortion, some more than others. Fisheye and wide-angle lenses have the most as they have a ‘wider’ view.
The distortion comes from the optical design, or rather, how the lens was made. Optical distortion is down to the lens. This is why we often call it lens distortion.
Barrel distortion is where straight lines bend outward from the center of the image. It happens when lines curve towards you like the lines of a barrel. This distortion is very common to wide angle and Fisheye Lens. This is because the field of view from the lens is much bigger than the sensor, so it needs to be ‘squeezed’ in to fit. This creates these curved lines, becoming more extenuated towards the edges of the frame. the centre will be straight as the image stays the same but changes the further the distance becomes.
Pincushion distortion is where straight lines bend or “pinch” inward from the center of the image. It is the exact opposite of barrel distortion. The lines curve out from the centre. You can typically find this type of aberration in telephoto lenses due to increased magnification. This time, the field of view is smaller than the sensor, so it appears to ‘stretch’ to fit.
As a result, the lines curve towards the centre, becoming more extenuated towards the edges of the frame. Again, the centre stays the same.
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