"Why is my nose so big?" Fix the Pix, Episode 8

Avoid the fun-house mirror look

You've followed my advice and are shooting frame-filling portraits with your compact digital camera. But did you remember to zoom, or did you leave your lens at its widest setting?  Here's the one time you shouldn't zoom with your feet!

Today's Fix the Pix was photographed with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1.


If you shoot at your camera's widest-angle setting, you may be getting moderate to extreme facial distortion. This is especially true if your camera has a zoom lens that starts at 24-28mm. Optical distortion at this focal range will exaggerate objects that are very close to the lens. So, if you're photographing someone from a 2 feet away with a 28mm lens, their nose and forehead may appear exaggerated.


Fix this! This is probably more distortion than you’ll get. After all, I shot my daughter from about 8 inches away, with the lens set to 24mm, which is pretty extreme. But even from a few feet away, the facial distortion will make the facial features appear slightly out of whack. (This is not a good way to photograph a young teen, by the way. I hope her friends don’t see this shot, or I’ll never hear the end of it.)

Instead, back up a few feet and zoom out to a moderate telephoto length. At around 70-85mm, the optical compression created by the focal length will present all of your subject's facial features at the appropriate proportions.


Fixed! This more flattering portrait shows facial features in proper proportion. It was shot at approximately 70mm, and around 5 feet away. She liked this one so much, she made it her Facebook profile image.

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