The ideal subject distance for passport pictures.
“In an age of global combat against terrorism, the recognition and identification of people on document images is of increasing significance. Experiments and calculations have shown that the camera-to-subject distance – not the focal length of the lens – can have a significant effect on facial proportions. Modern passport pictures should be able to function as a reference image for automatic and manual picture comparisons. This requires a defined subject distance. It is completely unclear which subject distance, in the taking of passport photographs, is ideal for the recognition of the actual person. We show here that the camera-to-subject distance that is perceived as ideal is dependent on the face being photographed, even if the distance of 2m was most frequently preferred. So far the problem of the ideal camera-to-subject distance for faces has only been approached through technical calculations. We have, for the first time, answered this question experimentally with a double-blind experiment. Even if there is apparently no ideal camera-to-subject distance valid for every face, 2m can be proposed as ideal for the taking of passport pictures. The first step would actually be the determination of a camera-to-subject distance for the taking of passport pictures within the standards. From an anthropological point of view it would be interesting to find out which facial features allow the preference of a shorter camera-to-subject distance and which allow the preference of a longer camera-to-subject distance.”
Photo: flickr/ Jeffrey Beall
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