Horizontally oriented spatial frequency components are a diagnostic source of face identity information, and sensitivity to this information predicts upright identification accuracy and the magnitude of the face-inversion effect. However, the bandwidth at which this information is conveyed, and the extent to which human tuning matches this distribution of information, has yet to be characterized. We designed a 10-alternative forced choice face identification task in which upright or inverted faces were filtered to retain horizontal or vertical structure. We systematically varied the bandwidth of these filters in 10° steps and replaced the orientation components that were removed from the target face with components from the average of all possible faces. This manipulation created patterns that looked like faces but contained diagnostic information in orientation bands unknown to the observer on any given trial. Further, we quantified human performance relative to the actual information content of our face stimuli using an ideal observer with perfect knowledge of the diagnostic band. We found that the most diagnostic information for face identification is conveyed by a narrow band of orientations along the horizontal meridian, whereas human observers use information from a wide range of orientations.