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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 1:03 am 
:? i own a Nikkon D40X with a 18-135 AF-S Nikkor lens. People tell me they look distorted or fat in my pictures. If true, is this something i'm doing, are they nuts or both. What good quality not too expensive lens would you suggest?

Thanks Michael


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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 4:23 am 
Welcome to the forum Michael

Yes, the 18-135 has quite a lot of distortion but I've never found it to make people look fat. If it really bothers you (or your subjects) you can correct the distortion in post-processing.

The easiest way to avoid distortion is to buy a prime lens as they are almost always distortion free. If you want autofocus on your D40x, you will need to look at the AF-S lenses from Nikon or Sigma's HSM models as the rest need AF drive from the camera.

BTW, this post is probably in the wrong section. Portraits or the Nikon forum would be more appropriate.


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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 8:13 am 
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Don't forget to shoot zoomed in for portraits! This is generally more flattering ;)

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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 1:16 pm 
Not too zoomed in! Then you get to experience the opposite end of the 18-135's awesome distortion characteristic, pincushion distortion. :? It might make your subject look thinner though.


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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 2:19 pm 
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True, though I found pincushioning less pronounced than barrel distortion in the lenses I've tested. An added bonus is you can throw the background more out of focus, and the shallow depth of field allows for smooth skin and sharp eyes.

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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 11:58 pm 
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Hello Michael

I don't think the lens has enough distortion to make portraiture a concern - it's really only noticeable with straight lines.

However, if you are shooting at the wideabgle end, people toward the edge of the frame will look a bit wider. This would apply to any wide-angle lens. If you are taking groups in a relatively confined space you may not be able to avoid this.

Try to keep away from focal lengths between 18mm and 30mm for portraiture. Even straight on, the fact that you have to get nearer a person to fill the frame will lead to some distortion with a wideangle (big noses, small ears etc) as the relative distance of certain facial features is greater, the closer you are.

The "classic" portrait length for your lens would be between 50mm and 70mm.

But there's nothing wrong with the lens itself - any lens has strong and weak points and you just work with them.

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 2:53 pm 
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Hilary made a very good point: That people at the borders of any wide-angle (apart from fisheye-lenses) look broader than normal. That has nothing to do with pin-cushion- or barrel-distortion. Barrel-distortion might even lessen this effect.
But if you experience "fat faces" dead in the centre of the image it most probably is the lack of distance to the persons. So the best advice is to step back and zoom in at least to 30mm.
((Looky here))

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PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 7:28 pm 
What you've described is less distortion from the lens, but more perspective from the focal length as other members have been alluding to. There isn't a right or a wrong focal length for portraits - sometimes a quirky bit of distortion adds a lot of interest to a photo. Just be aware when you compose, especially with wider angles of what features might be pronounced because of the perspective you're shooting at.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 2:10 pm 
... perhaps also... Many people can get very used to photographs being taken from flattering angles. Perhaps their responce is not to your equipment, but rather technique?

This is not meant to imply that you take bad photos, just that people can sometimes react negatively. For instance I remember I took a series of photos of friends and collegues that played on exagurating the 'defining' qualities of their apearance. (tall/short/thin/shy/confident ect). With the execption of a few people who where very comfortable in their own skin they all far prefered another set that I had made that was more 'magazine like'.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 6:08 pm 
i'd like to see the picture in question.


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