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How bad is barrel distortion at wide end? All digital p/s cameras I've tried so far show unacceptable level of barrel distortion at wide angle setting. I need a digital camera to make photos of loudspeakers and they look as barrels in pictures of even Sony 717!
There is slight barrel distortion at the wide end, but not as pronounced as Canon S50 or even the Nikor super wide zooms. (I have not done the brick wall test yet.) I use the Contax as a scouting camera for my architectural shots. For that purpose, it is excellent. The best is to try it out at the shop. Bring a compact flash card down and shoot a few shots for your self and see if you could live with the distortions. One thing I can say is that in terms of sharpness and resolution, it is very hard to beat.
Thank you very much for the pictures. Maybe you have a picture of object with vertical parallel lines near edges of frame, shot at wide angle? Something like picture attached (it wasn't shot at wide angle, but gives an idea what I mean).