Lens Perspective. Distortion and the face.

Lenses and perspective,
or distortion on a face for beauty.

Q. Why do you use long lenses and what’s the advantage or disadvantage
for it?

A. I use them because the allow for a more comfortable working
distance, and more importantly, they diminish distortion of the face and the
compression allows for a more flattering perspective. What does that mean? well
the best and fastest way to see it is to first click here STRIPPAGE
and read that, it says what is below here as well, but offers two views
to choose from as well as larger images to compare, they are all from the camera,
no retouching, only thing was the addition of the text to identify which focal
length was used for each.


OK Real World Numbers

On a 35mm full frame 24mm x 36mm chip or piece of film.

I use them because the allow for a more comfortable working distance, and more
importantly, they diminish distortion of the face and the compression allows
for a more flattering perspective.

Lens tip to subject, not making allowance for background here.

Lens tip to subject  7 feet

300mm     11inches

200mm     17inches

135mm     24inches

85mm       40inches

50mm       65inches
average head from  tip of head to chin 10 1/2 inches

1 inch above head to nipple line of average large (tall) woman,

average 6’2inch male,  18 1/2 inches

Now realize,  if the background were behind them by several 3 1/2 feet
the angle of view would mean if you gave 1 inch head clearance your image would
have approximately 5 inches above the head in frame.

Look at my work and the close up face shots for some great examples of long
lenses and the flattened face you all say is present and tell me if a bigger
nose and further backset ears would be better for you.

By comparison a 50MM on the same 35MM format Full Frame gives the following
realize that a full face as stated above from tip of the head to the chin is
10 1/2 inches you would need to be almost but not quite 1 foot from the subject
just to fit the whole head in frame, and closer if you crop into the head at

50mm ___24inches at 3 feet 36inches

50mm____17inches at 2 feet or 24inches

50mm ____9.5inches at 1 foot or 12inches

I suggest you try this at the next shoot. Take a len maybe a zoom is best,
and shoot the same straight on face shot at the widest you can get (maybe 24mm)
than again at say 35mm, than at 50mm than at 100mm than at the longest you can
get maybe 200 or better 300mm and keep the framing of the head and face the
same for all shots, that’s important to see this easily. It does not take a
lot of room really if you are shooting a face top to bottom, so you do not need
a huge studio to try this. Important things to do is keep the same framing of
the face for all shots and keep the lighting the same for all the shots, you
may need an extension tube or close up step to keep the same framing on all
shots with all the lenses as some may not allow you to focus as close as you
would need too.

Next with the face in the same framing, look through the images one by one
to see the face change dramatically. That will make you more aware of what to
look for, and also determine what your preferences are. OR

Yes, moving in closer allows for you to cheat perspective at times, as there
is no reference to go by, but in general if their is a reference like a nose,
ears, eyes, forehead, there is perspective that alters and the viewer can see
it, it may be what you want, or it may not, you choose how to use it and for
what purpose. There is no right or wrong, only what you want to achieve and
get across to the viewer.

here is a small version of whats on the other pages linked several times above

For more detailed explanation of the effects check this great blog:  http://www.digitalartform.com/archives/2009/03/portrait_lenses.html




©Stephen Eastwood 2008 www.StephenEastwood.com

About photographers1

Stephen Eastwood Fashion and Beauty Photographer and Retoucher based in NY/LA/Ft. Worth TX http://www.StephenEastwood.com Current Canon Explorer of Light.
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3 Responses to Lens Perspective. Distortion and the face.

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  2. kikus says:

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