Photography For Real Estate

Tips and techniques for real estate photography

How To Prevent Curved Walls

Posted by larrylohrman on March 6, 2007

Another common mistake Realtors make with marketing photos is to use images in which the walls don’t appear to be straight. Inexpensive wide-angle will lens and converters have what is called barrel distortion. That is, distortion will make straight lines near the edges of the frame look curved.

Why Not Having Perfectly Vertical Straight Walls is a Problem
Not having straight walls is very similar to having converging verticals. Curved walls distract from the purpose of real estate photographs. You want people to say “wow, that’s a beautiful room; I’d like to buy this home!” Anything in the image that takes attention away from this purpose is a problem.


How to Minimize Curved Verticals
Curved verticals result from inexpensive wide-angle lenses or wide-angle converters. For example, I have a Nikon WC-E63 screw on wide-angle converter (cost about $180 new) that screws on many older Nikon CoolPix cameras. It produces images that have a noticeable barrel distortion. On the other hand my Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM cost $1,300 still has barrel distortion if you look for it closely but most people will never notice it because it’s so slight. When you purchase a wide-angle lens or converter find out how much barrel distortion it has before you buy it.


The thing with barrel distortion is that it occurs most at the outer edges of the lens so if you keep straight lines away from the edges of the image you won’t be able to see the distortion.

Read the whole article



5 Responses to “How To Prevent Curved Walls”

  1. Once you have corrected the barrel distortion, you can keep the surroundings in the final crop, it makes a pretty “frame” for the room if the lines are straight.

    One other neat software is DxO, which have the correction transformation built-in for many lenses, at various focal lengths, and with batch possibilities.

    My sigma 10-20 as a lot of distortion for a SLR lens (like 3-4% in moustache), but since it’s really wide, I can enter further in the room and keep the door frame and its verticals out of the frame or crop it.

  2. Just thought I’d put in a plug for a very expensive but KILLER lens that has almost no barrel distortion and keeps your verticals vertical: the Canon 14mm rectilinear. At almost $1800 it’s a stretch, but boy do I love this lens! Only when I have a vertical line in the extreme foreground do I get distortion, and even then it’s barely detectable.

    That said, if I remember correctly the beta Lightroom also had a lens correction slider, didn’t it? Does anyone have the current version and can check that?

  3. Apparently, the Sigma 12-24 is pretty good at one third the price, 8° wider horizontally but two stops slower :

  4. I use the ProMaster 12-24. That’s a Private label of the Tokina 12-24. Identical lens, just a couple hundred bucks cheaper than the Tokina.

  5. I just downloaded the free trial software that Marc Lacoste referred to above from DXO Labs, and I must tell you that I am extremely impressed with its features. Just using the one click “process now” feature, I ws able to fix an entire folder of photos that I took of a recent listing. I was a bit skeptical, but when I viewed the full sized before and after images side by side, I saw a major difference. Not only does it automatically fix the barrel distortion based on my lens, focal length and camera body, it corrected noise, lens distortion, some lighting and more!

    I think that it is definitely worth taking a look at!


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