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What is Barrel Lens Distortion

Barrel lens distortion is a common optical aberration that affects photographs, especially when using wide-angle lenses. This distortion causes straight lines to appear curved outward from the center of the image, resembling the shape of a barrel. Understanding barrel lens distortion and how to correct it can help photographers produce more accurate and visually appealing images.

What is Barrel Lens Distortion?

Barrel lens distortion occurs when the magnification of the image decreases with distance from the optical center, causing straight lines to bend outward. This type of distortion is most noticeable in architectural photography, where the curvature of straight lines is particularly distracting. Wide-angle lenses, fisheye lenses, and zoom lenses at their wide end are most susceptible to barrel distortion.

How to Fix Barrel Lens Distortion

Correcting barrel lens distortion can be done using various methods, both in-camera and during post-processing:

  1. In-Camera Corrections: Some modern cameras have built-in lens correction profiles that automatically reduce barrel distortion. Check your camera's settings to enable this feature if available.

  2. Post-Processing Software:

    • Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop: Both of these programs offer lens correction tools that can automatically correct barrel distortion. In Lightroom, navigate to the "Lens Corrections" panel and check the "Enable Profile Corrections" box. In Photoshop, use the "Lens Correction" filter under the "Filter" menu.

    • DxO PhotoLab: This software provides advanced optical corrections, including barrel distortion, using a database of lens profiles to automatically correct common lens flaws.

    • Capture One Pro: Similar to Lightroom, Capture One Pro offers lens correction tools that can automatically adjust for barrel distortion based on lens profiles.

  3. Manual Adjustments: If automatic corrections are not sufficient or available, you can manually adjust the distortion using the distortion sliders in your editing software. Increase the value to counteract the outward bending of lines.

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Which Filter Fixes Common Camera Lens Flaws, such as Barrel and Pincushion Distortion?

The filter used to correct common camera lens flaws like barrel and pincushion distortion is known as a lens correction filter. These filters are available in various photo editing software and can automatically or manually adjust the image to correct these distortions.

What is Pincushion Distortion in Photography?

Pincushion distortion is another type of lens distortion that is opposite to barrel distortion. In pincushion distortion, straight lines appear to bend inward towards the center of the image, resembling the shape of a pincushion. This distortion is more common in telephoto lenses and occurs when the magnification of the image increases with distance from the optical center.

Comparison with Barrel Distortion:

  • Barrel Distortion: Lines curve outward, most common in wide-angle lenses.

  • Pincushion Distortion: Lines curve inward, most common in telephoto lenses.


Barrel lens distortion is a prevalent issue in photography, particularly with wide-angle lenses. Understanding what it is and how to correct it using in-camera features or post-processing software can significantly improve the quality of your images. Utilizing lens correction filters in programs like Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and DxO PhotoLab can effectively fix both barrel and pincushion distortions, ensuring straight lines remain straight and your photos look their best.

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