Simulation of Lens Distortion

Cameras have lenses and do usually not resemble perfect pinhole cameras. Therefore, lens distortion models have been developed that allow a lens correction on the input images of a camera and warp them to undistorted cameras of the corresponding pinhole camera.

A widely used distortion model is described on the documentation page of the OpenCV library and the homepage of the Camera Calibration Toolbox for Matlab of Jean-Yves Bouguet.

To generate synthetic images containing lens distortion, one usually has to apply the distortion after the rendering process, at least with POV-Ray. To overcome this drawback, I have written a patch to POV-Ray 3.6.1 that introduces a new camera type.


To install the patch, download the source archive of POV-Ray 3.6.1 and extract it:

tar xfj povray-3.6.tar.bz2

Then download the patch into the same directory and execute:

patch -p0 < ../povray-3.6.1_LenseDistortion.patch

Now you can build and install your own version of POV-Ray:

cd povray-3.6.1

./configure COMPILED_BY="someone"


make install


To use the new camera, take a look at the following example snippet:

#local f = 800.0;

#local sx = 1.0;

#local sy = 1.0;

#local fx = f / sx;

#local fy = -f / sy;

#local w = 800.0;

#local h = 600.0;

#local cx = w/2.0 - 0.5;

#local cy = h/2.0 - 0.5;

camera {


location <0,0,0>

direction <0,0,1>

up <0,1,0>

right <1,0,0>

focal_length <fx, fy>

principal_point <cx, cy>

distortion_k1 -0.2908670

distortion_k2 0.1094130

distortion_k3 0.0

distortion_p1 -0.0006320

distortion_p2 -0.0007160

rotate <0.0, -120.0, 0.0>

translate <50,10,30>



The pixel coordinate system is assumed to have its origin at the center of the upper left pixel!