Nikon Coolpix P6000 Distortion Control

Nikon Coolpix P6000 Distortion Control Comparison

Click for a larger version on Flickr

I was wondering about the Distortion Control function in the camera. It’s an option that you invoke in the Shooting Menu. As usual, the manual is very unhelpful:

Distortion Control

Correct the distortion. Enabling the distortion control reduces the size of the area for shooting.

(Nikon Coolpix P6000 manual (English) page 148.

OK, what distortion? Why would I want it? Does it mean you did not put a good lens on my camera?

I am disappointed a top manufacturer does not bother to document their features properly. Or is it something they are not proud of?

I mentioned it in a post here in early July. A couple of days ago I saw an ideal subject for a test. It was an elaborately decorated door to a new condo complex just off Soi Ruam Rudi in the Sathorn District of Bangkok.

I shot two pictures of the door on the widest angle setting for the lens. I didn’t have a tripod so the images are not perfectly identically framed. One has distortion control OFF and the other ON. (It’s binary – no high, medium, low here.)

I think this is called ‘barrel distortion’ and is common with wide angle lenses. Dpreview.com has a good explanation here.

The picture with the option off is noticeably distorted but the one with it on is much better.

I did not measure how much the ‘size of the area for shooting’ is reduced when I turn the option on. It does not seem like a lot. I guess the reduction is why it is an option. Otherwise why draw attention to it?

From this it looks like I should enable it whenever I use the lens at its widest.

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