Part 2: Basic Steps and Lessons of Using Tilt/Shift Function

Part 2: Basic Steps and Lessons of Using Tilt/Shift Function

This is part 2 of a series on tilt-shift lenses. Be sure to also check out part 1: Will Learning Tilt-Shift Lenses Improve Your Photography. John Cooper specializes in corporate, industrial, and commercial photography for various business communities in Texas and teaches basic skills to other burgeoning photographers. If you are just starting out, or looking for a refresher, check out his advice below. You can also read more tips for architectural photography from John on our blog.  Basic Steps for Using Tilt-Shift Controls Select your perspective and lock down your tripod. Making sure you are level to the horizon; compose the scene straight on using the “live-view” mode. Set to bracket exposure. I use one full stop since the light measurement goes crazy with everything moving around. Bracketing with tilt-shift, I feel, is mandatory. Select f/8. Remember that aperture settings do not affect DOF on tilt-shift lenses. If your focus plane has been aligned with the sensor plane, then focusing on that plane will result in total plane focus regardless of aperture. I use f/8 because it consistently produces the sharpest image on the wide angle lenses I use. There are 3 controls and 5 knobs or buttons on all tilt-shift lenses to control everything you do. The Lens Rotation control is the button at the rear of the lens. Depressing it allows the lens to move a full 360° and always remains parallel to the camera’s sensor. Loosen all control knobs and start composing! Throw caution away and have some fun. It will take a long time but you will soon see this “plane of focus” I keep talking about. Compose...
Part 1: Will Learning Tilt-Shift Lenses Improve Your Photography?

Part 1: Will Learning Tilt-Shift Lenses Improve Your Photography?

John Cooper specializes in corporate, industrial, and commercial photography for various business communities in Texas and teaches basic skills to other burgeoning photographers. If you are just starting out, or looking for a refresher, check out his advice below. You can also read more tips for architectural photography from John on our blog. Here is his advice on whether tilt-shift lenses are worth it for photographers. Part 1: Will Learning Tilt-Shift Lenses Improve Your Photography? by John Cooper Are tilt-shifts worth it? It depends on what ‘it’ is. Most will argue that software editing can replicate the effects of a tilt-shift lens – so why bother? We need to first understand three key facts: An SLR camera focuses to a plane, not a point, even though you can select the precise place you want to focus on. Depth-of-field and depth-of-focus (DOF) mean the same thing in this discussion. The slight difference between the two does not affect the tilt-shift principles discussed here. The only way to control DOF on any SLR camera without a tilt-shift lens is by aperture. The sketch below shows how the Sensor Plane (SP) is always parallel to Plane of Focus of the lens. This remains constant for all lenses except on tilt-shift lenses. All SLR camera lenses, except the tilt-shift lenses, focus ONLY “front-to-back”. Whatever position your camera is in, relative to the subject, will produce a DOF “plane”. If your subject is parallel to your camera’s sensor plane, then everything will be in focus. If your subject is on a diagonal then only the plane you focus on will be sharp. The images below illustrate the...
The Poor Man’s Tilt-Shift: Freelensing Your Way to a Specialty Lens

The Poor Man’s Tilt-Shift: Freelensing Your Way to a Specialty Lens

While we’ll never condone the wanton destruction of a lens (especially one of ours), sometimes a little home reverse engineering can do wonders–or at least make for a fun weekend project. This is exactly what photographer Jay Cassario did over at Lightshop. He took a $120 lens and converted into a tilt-shift, saving himself about $1,000. Of course, he could have just rented a tilt-shift lens from us but that is not the point! Read all about Jay’s quest to break a lens and have it be reborn into a tilt-shift. FREELENSING – The Poor Man’s Tilt-Shift by Jay Cassario, reprinted with permission. Freelensing is a relatively inexpensive way of getting the similarly unique affect of an expensive tilt-shift lens, where the focus plane is thrown out of whack with the added bonus of natural light leaks. No, this isnt anything new, and the look that an expensive tilt-shift lens gives has been around for a while, but I wanted to share with you my experience with it and how I did it. Yes, I did purchase a brand new Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D lens from B&H only to break it and take it apart the minute I took it out of the box…but that was the reason I purchased it. I had tossed around the idea of spending the money on a tilt-shift lens that would easily cost me over $1000, but after reading about the freelensing technique from Sam Hurd, I figured I would give it a try. At the end of the day, it’s the unique look that I’m going for, so if I could get that by...
Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 2

Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a series on using Tilt-Shift or Perspective-Control lenses. In this part, we look at the “Tilt” functionality of these unique lenses. Part 1, which covered “shift” functionality, can be found here. At some point in time, we’ve all seen photos where the subjects – usually views from high-up of cars, buildings, people, etc. – appear to be miniaturized versions of reality. This is perhaps the most the most often-seen result from using tilt-capable lenses like the Nikon 85mm PC-E. In this part of our series, we’ll explain how this effect is achieved with tilt-shift lenses. The image below was shot by Jim Goldstein, our Marketing VP. Taken in Geneva with a tilt-shift lens, the camera was pointing downwards at the railroad tracks, with the tilt element swung upwards. The reason these tracks look like miniatures is because the plane of focus is so narrow, that both the foreground AND the background are out of focus.  That’s not something the human eye is used to seeing, and we interpret images like this differently. Wikipedia adds to that  explanation as follows: Diorama effect or “diorama illusion” is a process in which a photograph of a life-size location or object is made to look like a photograph of a miniature scale model. Blurring parts of the photo simulates the shallow depth of field normally encountered in close-up photography, making the scene seem much smaller than it actually is… Now, in order to achieve that effect, you have to swing the front part of your tilt-shift lens in so that it is either as perpendicular as possible to...
Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 1

Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 1

This is Part 1 of a series on using Tilt-Shift or Perspective-Control lenses. In this part, we look at the “Shift” functionality of these unique lenses. Part 2, which covers the “Tilt” functionality of these lenses, can be found here. Anyone who’s ever shot a building or any other structure from the bottom looking up knows that the bottom-up perspective makes it look like the vertical lines of the building are all converging towards the top. This problem is exaggerated with wider-angle lenses, making many of these lenses unsuitable for certain types of architectural photography, where not having those distortions is key. While the latest version of Photoshop does include an “Adaptive Wide Angle” filter to help correct these distortions, a lot of photographers prefer to get things right in-camera, leading to less image manipulation in post. For that reason, both Canon and Nikon, as well as third-party manufacturers like Schneider-Kreuznach, have come out with a range of lenses that address that specific problem. The box below outlines the list of tilt-shift lenses BorrowLenses.com has in our inventory. Canon  TS-E Lenses Nikon PC-E lenses Schneider-Kreuznach TS lenses Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Nikon 24mm f/3.5D ED PC-E Tilt-Shift Nikon 45mm f/2.8D ED PC-E Tilt-Shift Nikon 85mm f/2.8D PC-E Tilt-Shift Schneider PC Tilt-Shift Super-Angulon 50mm f/2.8 Lens For Canon Schneider 90mm f/4.5 Tilt-Shift Lens for Canon Schneider PC Tilt-Shift Super-Angulon 50mm f/2.8 Lens For Nikon Schneider 90mm f/4.5 Tilt-Shift Lens for Nikon Take a look at the image below. Here, I’m using a 17mm...