Why Camera Lenses are Round but Pictures Square? (2023 Updated)

camera lenses are round but pictures square

Photography is something that is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, besides knowing this fact, everyone loves to capture photos. But you must have noticed that why camera lenses are round but pictures square?

Yeah, it’s true that camera lenses are cylindrical and have round circumference but the shape of the photos that we generally get from these circular lenses are rectangular.

Hey! You are on Camlense.com and here I am going to tell you that how circular lenses produce a rectangular image, without taking much of your time.

Why Camera Lenses are Round but Pictures Square?

The camera lens is round because round camera lenses focus the light on film or sensor more efficiently and images are rectangular because of rectangular film or image sensor used in cameras.

Rectangular sensors or films are used because these images are more crisper and sharper as compared to the round distorted edges of circular images. Here we are going to show how round camera lens produce a rectangular image.

Why is Camera Lens Round?

At first, we need to address some key points. These camera lenses work together with another key part of the camera to produce the pictures. In older cameras, that important key element was called a film but in new digital cameras, it is known as the image sensor.

When we try to take a photograph of a particular object, the light popping out of the subject enters the camera lens. The lens’s job is to bend that light and focus it on a film or an image sensor.

Early camera makers discovered that round camera lenses did the most efficient job of focusing light on film. That’s why they selected round lenses.

Round lenses provide a better scope for the light to enter the camera and thus making a sharp and clear photo as light can be fully thrown on the image sensor which is responsible for the shape of images.

Why Photos are Rectangular?

Now I am going to explain, why was a rectangular film made. Early camera makers decided to make film rectangular for a few reasons. When the bent light from the subject falls onto the sensor or film through the round lens, we observe that the central part of the projected image on the sensor or film is quite sharper and clearer than its edges.

So, in order to get a clearer and crisper image without any distortions, the only possible way is to cut or crop these circular portions and that is how rectangular sensors and films came into existence.

It is also because of the fact that cutting a rectangle out of the sheet produces less paper wastage as compared to cutting a circular-shaped photograph out of the sheet and I guess no one would want to watch a movie on circular television right?

How Does Digital Sensors of Film Work?

Without we get into the quantum mechanics of the digital sensors, let’s look at the crowning achievements of 19thcentury chemistry – The Film, which is actually an analog to the processes underlying digital.

In the 19th century, the film was introduced which was used to make an image from the light hitting it. This is now done is digital camera sensors. When light is incident on these sensors, an image is created by the light particles which is then saved in the memory of the cameras.

Unlike lenses, sensors are rectangle instead of being round and the reason is that circular sensors might distort at edges and thus we would have to cut them out in order to remove the blur. So, why use a circular sensor then? That’s why sensors used in cameras are rectangular which produces an amazing final picture.

Also Visit: Which Camera Lens is Closest to Human Eye


So, here were some reasons why we get rectangular photographs even when we click pictures through a circular lens. For a recap, the lenses are round because a round lens does the best job to let the light enter, and photos are rectangular due to the shape of the image/digital sensor.

Thanks for reading and if you have more questions related to cameras and photography, feel free to ask in the comments, and will try our best to answer your questions.

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