What is Lens Distortion?

A photograph with lens distortion can create inaccuracies within a photogrammetric solution. Due to the curved nature of a camera’s lens, the light coming through the lens onto the image sensor can have varying degrees of distortion. There are commercially available software titles that rely on a library of known cameras, lenses and configurations for removing lens distortion. However, to use these software titles the camera lens manufacturer, model and focal length must be known.

Publication Introduction:

Accident reconstruction relies on physical evidence that is visible in photographs such as tire marks, gouge marks and vehicle rest positions. Photogrammetric methods such as photo rectification, projections and camera-matching can be used to analyze and visually represent information contained within photographs. Photogrammetry can be used to determine the size, shape, position and orientation of objects within photographs. However, due to the curved nature of lens, the light coming through the lens is refracted in varying amounts based on the area of the lens, resulting in a shift in location on the pixel matrix. As a result, when using an uncorrected image for photogrammetric purposes, the size, shape and position of the object of interest may be misrepresented. This paper examines some of the distortion types common in camera lenses and quantifies the effect of lens distortion on camera match photogrammetry… Read more

Full Publications:

SAE 2017-01-1422 – An Evaluation of Two Methodologies for Lens Distortion Removal When EXIF Data is Unavailable
SAE 2011-01-0286 – Photogrammetric Measurement Error Associated with Lens Distortion


Toby Terpstra, Seth Miller, Alireza Hashemian

Related Case Studies, Content & Research:

Photogrammetry Analysis
Drivecam Data Research
Video Projection Mapping Research
SAE 2013-01-0788 – Video Projection Mapping Photogrammetry through Video Tracking
SAE 2004-01-1221 – A Video Tracking Photogrammetry Technique to Survey Roadways for Accident Reconstruction

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