Old 11-26-2008, 12:13 AM   #1
Bicot
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Default Barrel distortion: do you bother?

I've had a few pictures rejected for unlevel horizon.... While the main subject was straight, I came to realize that the suroundings where quite curved, giving me a feeling that the pictures where maybe rejected because of this, especially if I cropped the picture and used the right or left part.

This "problem" occurs (naturaly) when I use the wide angle end of my Sigma 18-200 mm DC OS lens. I know photoshop can correct most of these issues and I'll probably use it onwards, still I wanted to know what might be your thoughts or experiences about this... ..and please refrain from telling me to buy a better lens as these "minor" problem do not really bother me in my everyday picture taking Thanks for any input!
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Old 11-26-2008, 12:41 AM   #2
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Photoshop can correct it, but I always find it hard to get it right...
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Old 11-26-2008, 01:47 AM   #3
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There is a tool for correcting this in PSE5, but if it was really noticeable I would probably not bother trying to submit the picture to RP. On the odd occasion that I have needed to use the "Correct Camera Distortion" filter then I always do this first before any cropping or rotating.
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Old 11-26-2008, 02:27 AM   #4
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The best way of solving this issue would be squirreling some money away for some proper replacements for that lens. I'm not saying you have to go out and spend $2,500 on high end equipment, but there are better alternatives out there.

Whatever you do, don't fall for the trick of getting an all-in one super-zoom lens again - I suspect you'll be disappointed by the optical quality of just about any lens with that sort of range. The Canon 28-200 that I briefly had when I first got started was a heaping pile of steamy you-know-what, and was quickly sold to KEH.com for credit towards something better.
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Old 11-26-2008, 05:34 AM   #5
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If it's noticeable, fix it. If it isn't, don't bother!
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Old 11-26-2008, 02:13 PM   #6
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Can we see the rejections? With barrel distoration you want the center of the photo level not the subject. By having the center level the distortion will be even on both sides. Sometimes it should be fixed, sometimes it adds to the photo. It depends on the photo and amount of distortion.

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Old 11-26-2008, 02:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travsirocz
Sometimes it should be fixed, sometimes it adds to the photo. It depends on the photo and amount of distortion.
For some, it might add to the photo, but I'd still rather see it how the human eye sees it. Barrel distortion is not natural, and I try to avoid it as much as possible. If it's not something I can correct in photoshop, I tend to avoid the shot.
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Old 11-26-2008, 02:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
For some, it might add to the photo, but I'd still rather see it how the human eye sees it. Barrel distortion is not natural, and I try to avoid it as much as possible. If it's not something I can correct in photoshop, I tend to avoid the shot.
What about shallow depth of field? That is camera created. Also, the lens baby look. I love shallow depth of field for certain shots and the lens baby look can look good if done right. Your thoughts? I'm not a big fan of barrel distortion, but it works really well in certain situations for me. I think it works well in my second shot but the first one isn't great but has it's own look.
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Old 11-26-2008, 03:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travsirocz
Can we see the rejections? With barrel distoration you want the center of the photo level not the subject. By having the center level the distortion will be even on both sides. Sometimes it should be fixed, sometimes it adds to the photo. It depends on the photo and amount of distortion.

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That's wide angle distortion, not barrel =)
You can tell because the lines are straight. With barrel distortion, the lines are curved.
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Old 11-26-2008, 03:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travsirocz
With barrel distoration you want the center of the photo level not the subject. By having the center level the distortion will be even on both sides.
You hit the nail right on the head! If you make sure the center is leveled and the subject is on the side, it won't look good...

Here's a sample...
http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...d=608177&key=0 By trying to get the nose of the subject leveled, I ended up with a crooked image...
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Old 11-26-2008, 06:49 PM   #11
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I was a something of a "distortion Nazi" when I was shopping around for lenses. In the end however, I made some compromises, going with a super zoom and the convenience/portability it provides. I have found that in the large majority of railroad photography situations, the distortion is not noticeable. Even when I'm shooting at wide-angle (18mm for my lenses), I usually shoot so that I have some margin around the subject/composition that I want. This not only gives me more freedom when cropping the shot in PSE, but also allows me to cut out the edges of the frame where the majority of the barrel distortion typically occurs. When I can't avoid it in the composition I want, then yes, I use the "Correct Camera Distortion" features in PSE to attempt to correct it. I say attempt, because the others who have spoken on this thread are correct....you never really get the correction perfect.

The only place where I've found serious limitations with lens distortion is when shooting in an urban environment, where there are lots of vertical surfaces. If you do that a lot, then it may well be worth it for you to look into better glass.
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trainboysd40
That's wide angle distortion, not barrel =)
You can tell because the lines are straight. With barrel distortion, the lines are curved.
correct

(this portion was added to reach the minimum number of characters, which this portion somewhat ironically blows away)
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Old 11-27-2008, 07:17 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travsirocz
What about shallow depth of field? That is camera created.
Depth of field naturally occurs with the eyes, too. Hold an object close to your face, focus on it and the background becomes blurry. Likewise, focus on the background and the object close to your face becomes blurry. A camera lens is able to maximize that effect, but it's still naturally occurring. However, no matter how much I tilt or rotate my head, wide angle or barrel distortion does not exist.

Quote:
Also, the lens baby look. I love shallow depth of field for certain shots and the lens baby look can look good if done right. Your thoughts? I'm not a big fan of barrel distortion, but it works really well in certain situations for me.
The lens baby look is interesting at times, IMO, but generally when the subject is close to the camera. With structures, not so much. I deal with wide angle and barrel distortion on a daily basis with my job, so I guess I've just become overly-sensitive to how it looks.
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Old 11-27-2008, 01:49 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
However, no matter how much I tilt or rotate my head, wide angle or barrel distortion does not exist.
Add beer, then try again. Repeat as necessary
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Old 11-27-2008, 03:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
Hold an object close to your face, focus on it and the background becomes blurry.
This in no way is what my eye saw

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