- The desert
In this case though, Payne isn't the Eifel Tower and he isn't standing far enough back for it to distort. I would say having your arm around someone isn't enough to constitute someone is standing far back to distort a camera's perception of height. Exhibit B, refer to Podz & Payne's shoes and it's even clear in the photo that he's right next to Podz. That is enough for me to deduce that Coleman is taller.
Literally any difference in working distance to the camera will change to apparent height of two subjects. It doesn't just magically happen at some point. Since we are trying to discern differences of only an inch here, it doesn't take a lot.
You could work out the answer using Podz as a calibration reference provided you know his height, the difference on distances from the camera for the other two, and the focal length of the camera. This assumes level ground and perfect posture.