# Can I calculate the size of a real object by just looking at the picture taken by a Camera?

Can I calculate the size of a real object by just looking at the picture taken by a Camera? (I think people do that) i dont understand how? (from physics point of view)

If you know the specifics of the camera (lens system, aperture settings, etc.), then you can make a direct relationship between the size of the image and the angular size.

But without a distance measurement (something the camera does not do), you can't turn that into an absolute size.

If there is other information in the photograph that gives the distance, then the size can be calculated.

If all you have is the image (and not the information about the specifics of the camera), then even the angular size cannot be calculated.

• In some cases, the focusing distance can serve as a distance measurement. – jinawee Dec 8 '14 at 12:19
• Especially on cameras that record the focus point in addition to the focus distance. – hobbs Dec 8 '14 at 15:40
• Objects within the focus distance are sharper, so they have higher frequencies present in their Fourier spectrum. I think it's calculable, but you have to know the focal length (as we usually do know for our eyes by experience). – gox Sep 4 '15 at 0:06

You will need a reference scale next to the object and only then you can estimate the size relative to that reference scale.

That why you see many pictures of small items next to a Lincoln penny (and why one was sent to Mars).

No, you cannot, you need at least three cameras, or three points of view to calculate distances accurately. The technology is just around the corner.

• Structured Light 3D Scanners can do it with one projector and one camera, but this works by the imaging of a variable fringe pattern, so it's not quite the same as what you're saying. Your statement is true when three conventional images are taken. – WetSavannaAnimal Dec 8 '14 at 11:28