It’s a comforting thought: The camera adds 10 pounds. After all, it means that the “you” that you see in photographs is not actually your best self. In real life, you’re better: you’re more attractive and slimmer.
And it turns out that this age-old line isn’t just a tale that we spin to make ourselves feel better about bad group photos. The camera really does add 10 pounds. Or, some cameras do at least.
According to Gizmodo, the focal length of a camera can flatten out your features, which can make you look a little bit bigger. Then, of course, there’s barrel distortion, which is when a camera lens can cause straight lines to appear curved. This has the effect of plumping you up, making you look, well, kind of fatter.
But it’s not just a one way street. These same effects can actually cause other lenses to make you appear thinner!
To highlight the incredible way that focal length can affect the shape of the face, photographer Dan Vojtech stitched together a series of 9 portraits that he took at 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm, 105mm, 150mm, and 200mm.
To frame the face in the same way for each shot, the camera is close with the wide angle lens and farther away with the telephoto lens, so the GIF above shows what’s known as the “Hitchcock zoom.”
Wide angle lenses, as their name implies, have a super wide field of view, which can create something called a fisheye effect — your face will appear bloated in the middle and stretched on the outside. The wide field of view can also cause objects closer to the camera to appear larger, while making objects further away seem smaller.
Telephoto lenses, on the other hand, will make you appear a little bit thinner. You’ll be somewhat flattened, with the width of your foremost features being slightly compressed.
So what’s the best way to avoid the extra pounds packed on (or zapped away) by your deceitful camera?
According to PetaPixel, 85mm to 135mm lenses are usually recommended for portraits. These lenses produce less distortions so that you can avoid looking thinner or fatter in photographs.
After all, the “real you” is the “best you.” Or something like that.
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