It is a well known saying that the camera adds 10 pounds to your body in the pictures. But is it really true? This gif from Jim Zub provides concrete evidence that this is the case.
By showing a person’s face photographed with a variety of lenses; starting from a 20mm lens and going all the way up to 200mm, you can see how a person’s face and hair expand and get “fatter” with the increasing lens thickness.
Here’s how the barrel setting and the lens thickness effect your picture:
Another video created by J.P Morgan of The Slanted Lens shows some examples of how greatly your camera’s focal length affects your face/body view in a picture.
Morgan uses different focal lengths on the same models — keeping the subject the same size in each frame — and shows how both the body’s features and the background are affected.
Here’s one of the series he shows, shot using lenses ranging from a 200mm to a 20mm wide angle:
The classic focal length for a portrait camera is in the range 80–135mm on 135 film format and from 150-400mm on larger formats. This field of view allows a flattering perspective distortion when the person in the view is framed so that their head and shoulders are included in the picture. Wider angle lenses mean shorter focal lengths, and this requires that the portrait is taken from closer. The resulting picture makes your nose look larger and your ears smaller, which is considered unflattering and imp-like.
On the other hand using longer focal lengths will yield greater flattening of the perspective because they are used from further away. This makes the picture look great, but is a headache for the photographer as he/she will have to communicate from a larger distance. This may require the usage of a loudspeaker or a walkie-talkie, increasing practical problems for the photographer. This focal length is usually only used in the professional fashion photography.
It is imperative to reiterate that using different focal lengths is done while keeping the subject of the photography at the same size in the frame. This means that you are essentially moving your camera closer with the increasing focal length and vice versa with the decreasing one. Here’s a tutorial explaining this phenomenon, and also revealing the optimum settings for taking photographs in different scenarios.
Have any more tips to look “less fat” in the pictures? Fire away in the comments below!