Join Justin Reznick for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the mechanics of a tilt-shift lens, part of Exploring Photography: Tilt-Shift Lens.
- Before we go into the field and show you examples of subjects and techniques with Tilt-Shift lenses I want to familiarize with the lenses themselves. Before me I've got the Canon 90 millimeter Tilt-Shift Lens and I've also got the Canon 24 millimeter Tilt-Shift Lens Mark II. This is the second version and it's much sharper than the first. Now, what other Tilt-Shift lenses are out there? Well, Canon is the leader of Tilt-Shift lenses. They have a 17, ultra wide Tilt-Shift, the 24, a 45, and the 90.
Nikon makes three Tilt-Shifts, the 24, the 45, and the 85 so they don't have that ultra wide but they do have those other focal lengths well covered. There's a third party manufacturer Samyang that makes a 24 millimeter Tilt-Shift as well. It's a little bit more affordable than the Canon and Nikon versions but the quality is not quite up to par. What we have here is a Sony camera and you might be thinking, "Well, how am I using a Canon lens on a Sony camera?" And I have a Metabones Adapter and this adapter allows me to mount any Canon lens onto the Sony body.
So because this is a mirrorless body it gives me that functionality so it's a real treat to be able to use the camera I want with the lens I want. Sony doesn't have any plans to produce Tilt-Shift lenses so this is the best solution for me. Okay, so which Tilt-Shift lens makes sense for you? I just want to briefly talk about the focal lengths. 17 millimeters is super wide and it's a very specific lens. I've owned the lens, I really loved using it, it's sharp but it's not something you get to pull out of your bag everyday because it is so wide.
It's also very heavy and it's a bulbous lens which means you need a large filter cover if you want to do any kind of polarization or mutual density filters. So it's kind of a niche lens for me and so I love the lens but it's not my number one recommendation. Next is the 24, 24 is wide but not as wide and this is the all purpose workout horse. This lens is fantastic, I use it all the time, the focal length is just right, and so the 24 is the one that I would say whether you're a landscape, architecture, any kind of Tilt-Shift lens subjects that people generally shoot, this is the one to get.
The 45, well, it's a little bit tighter. I think it's an interesting lens but it's kind of the odd man out, I think. I don't see the 45 used too often and again, it's do you want to have another lens in your bag, do you want to have that cost as well? So the 45 is one that I haven't owned. And then the 90, the last one. So the 90 is, what's neat about this is that whenever you get a long lens, let's say a macro lens or a telephoto lens and you point it straight down at your subject and let's say your camera body's here and you're parallel to the subject and the subject here, this table is flat, it's very easy to get depth of field.
But when you start to do this, if anybody's done macro work you'll know, as soon as you start to angle away it becomes near impossible to get that depth of field. So you can do focal blend or you can actually use the Tilt function to get everything sharp. So this is a powerful lens as well, the 90 millimeter so I do like this one. Okay, let's kind of go through all the knobs, there are so many knobs on these lenses. What do they all do? What do they mean? So, I'm going to pick up the 24, this is my favorite so I really want to show this to you.
The first knob that we have is this kind of little switch here and when you pull it towards you you can actually rotate the camera. Excuse me, rotate the lens around the camera and you can see all these different stops. And I'm just continuing to hold that towards me as I rotate around, okay, and so you have this full range of motion. Now why would you want to do that? Well, I'll show you a simple example. If I'm here and I want to do a shift.
Let's say I want to shift left and then shift right the way it's set up right now is as I go to shift, okay, which is going to be this knob here, as I'm shifting I'm going up and down. And I go wait a second, I need to go left and right so then I just turn it, and then I can go left, and a right. So that's what it's there for it's to give you the right angle so you can go left to right, up or down, and also tilt, you can tilt up or down or left and right. All right, so the next kind of progression of buttons on the Tilt-Shift lens comes to the shift functions themselves.
The first is a lock. This lock here, if you tighten it, keeps it so that you cannot shift the lens and it's recommended that you store it this way. Okay, you don't want the lens loose in your bag and having it move around so this is always a good idea to tighten it. When you loosen it with the large knob below here that's when I can make the shift. Now you're going to notice markers on the lens where I'm shifting and there's a large, the large one in the center is neutral and then I have 12 millimeters on either side, so that's your shift range all the way out 12 mill on either side.
When you get past 10 you do lose quality in your image. Okay, so it's very important to realize that the edges of your images will be a little bit soft. There are two things that you can do. You can either just shift to 10 or what I do is I just shift to 12, I don't worry about it in the field then in post I can make a slight crop in, off the edges to the point where it's sharp. Okay, so that's my shift so I'm shifting left to right. And again, if I want to shift up and down I'm going to take this button here, pull it towards me, and now I'm shifting up and shifting down.
So this is the same idea 12 millimeters in either direction. All right, let's go ahead and lock that and go to the next thing. All right, so now we have tilt which is further out on the lens and we have another lock and unlock mechanism. This one actually has a lock button so this one they really want you to keep secure. So I'm going to unlock that and then I can also pull this up or down, okay, and so then when I go to tilt I can tilt down and up just like so.
You can see this tilt, okay, so if I put the lens in the horizontal orientation you can see I'm going left to right. When you tilt, in general, you're tilting for two things. One is you're trying to get everything sharp and in that case the tilt is generally very small. And people get in the habit of doing these giant tilts, often times it's just a tiny tilt, okay, and we'll see that in the field, just a little bit of tilt. Or you're trying to get everything out of focus but one tiny subject.
And we're going to do something called the miniature effect later in the course. And that situation, that's when we do these extreme tilts like that. Now I'm tilting left to right, what if I want to tilt up and down? No problem, I'm going to rotate the lens and now we're tilting up and down, okay. Now again, remember this is very important when you're done we're going to hit the lock button, tighten that, we've got shifted at neutral, tighten that, okay, everything's nice and tight, and now this is ready to go back in my bag.
Okay, you always want to put that Tilt-Shift lens away properly. It is not weather sealed because there are so many moving parts you do have to be concerned with dust, water. If you take this out in the rain you'll want to have some sort of cover. I've let just light drizzles on it but if it's raining hard I will not use it. So remember it is not a weather sealed lens. All right, so I think that's a pretty good introduction. Again, the same idea here, the 90 mill has got the shift and the tilt, the locks, so basically they're all designed very similar, so if you kind of understand one lens it's very natural to go to the next.