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Tilt Shift Lens and How it's Used in Photography!

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The use of perspective manipulation in photography has been increasing with the rise of multiple types of lenses and features. The trend of making a normal image more interesting by either changing the focus of a subject, shifting the perspective, or partially blurring the surroundings for dramaticism or dream like effects, is all the rage today. Furthermore, the ease of access and a wide variety of lenses to choose from makes trying out different perspective techniques affordable. Using tilt shift lens is a fun way to distort images in your favor and to your liking.

You can use the tilt shift for a variety of different uses and styles. Some photographers even use the tilt shift lens for film making, it works best for providing a miniature effect or dreamy fantasy in film. Here we have listed out the various uses for a tilt shift lens and how you can incorporate the techniques to come up with amazing photography!

This lens is common to those involved in architecture and landscape photography, but the rise in contemporary photographers using these techniques has made the need to understand and learn about tilt shift lens all the more important. Read on to learn more about this lens, how it came into being for niche photography, and how you can use it today for adding a twist to your photos or correcting distortion.

Do not restrict yourself to a single photography technique or specific lens, mix and match, combine and contrast, you are capable of so much more!

What is a Tilt Shift Lens

What is a Tilt Shift Lens Used For in Photography
Using Tilt Shift Lens

The use of tilt shift to create a selective focus on a particular subject or changing the perspective of an image is called tilt shift photography. Sometimes it is associated with camera movements on cameras. It is typically carried out by using a perspective control lens also called the tilt shift lens.

The term tilt shift photography is also used when describing the post editing effect of creating a greater depth of field. However, the specific perspective control lens is required when creating the effect on the field through a camera.

This hands on technique of distortion and perspective manipulation, produced by tilt shift can be used for major effects.

  1. It optimizes the plane or subject of focus, by letting you direct the lens at any angle to the image. This gives your image a different perspective as compared to a normal camera where the lens is perpendicular to the image.
  2. It allows you to direct the focus on a specific plane and control the focus of that plane, according to your preference and artistic intention.
  3. You can correct the distortion of converging parallel lines an image before you take the photo. For example, a picture of two parallel buildings when shot from a low height might appear to converge. You can correct this with a tilt shift lens.

Tilt Shift Lens – Technical Aspects

Tilt Shift involves two types of lens movement – one is when the lens plane rotates with respect to the image plane. This is called tilt. The second is when the lens moves parallel to the image plane. This is called shift.

The workings of the tilt shift are based on the principle called Scheimpflug. It was first designed by an Austrian officer who wanted to find a way to correct distorted aerial photos. Due to this principle, you can now come up with images that take in the foreground and background in focus. They can also focus on a particular focal plane, either horizontal or vertical, and blur out everything else.

With this technique one can effectively produce miniature faking, which is the effect of making a life sized object or background appear small or miniature. This technique creates a great depth of field and appears as if one was looking through a diorama. Hence it is also called the diorama effect or illusion.

Perspective Control Lens

What is a Tilt Shift Lens Used For in Photography
Perspective Control Lens

As previously mentioned, a perspective control lens is used in photography for manipulating the perspective of the of a photograph. This occurs when the photographer is taking the picture on field and uses this type of lens. These lenses can move parallel to the camera sensor, and thus allow the camera to adjust the position of the desired subject in the photograph being taken without having to physically moving the camera too much. Most of the time, this type of lens is used to prevent the convergence of parallel figures in the photograph by controlling the distortion.

Some lenses only provide the shift function in the camera, however, many perspective control lenses have both the shift and tilt and are dubbed tilt shift lens. Perspective control lenses (PC) come in short focus with 17mm to 35mm. The short focus PC lens is usually associated with architectural photography. The longer focus PC lens is typically used in landscape, fashion, or product photography. You can find the perspective control lens in a DSLR OR SLR camera. The traditional rangefinder cameras do not allow you to see the shift in perspective of the image, as is easily displayed in a digital camera.

A perspective control lens contains a large image circle than a regular camera lens. This increased sensor or image circle, allows the camera to position the desired subject outside the typical image circle or centered position. Most PC lenses require the photographer to adjust the aperture settings in order to prevent any unwanted vignette effect.

The Best Lenses for Tilt-Shift Photography

Well, the following are some lenses and their key features you should test out if you want to achieve great tilt shift effects. Key features of the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II are that it has an ultra low dispersion glass to stop blurring of the colors on the screen. With this lens, you can have focused and high contrasted photographs. Getting used to adjusting the settings is not that hard, making this lens great for beginner use.

The key features of the Canon 17mm TS/E are that it is optimal to capture the city, skylines, and buildings for architectural photography. This lens is great for travel and spontaneous clicking of pictures on the spot. It allows a good focus on the subject and controls color flare.

Other lenses to consider are the Nikon 24mm f/3.5D ED Perspective Control-E NIKKOR Aspherical Lens, and Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Tilt and Shift Manual Focus Lens.

More than Just Architectural or Aerial Photography

Before the onset of Digital SLR cameras, the range finders and view cameras were popular gadgets to achieve the tilt shift effect. Now with a range of lenses and models dedicated to creating effects to choose from, one can get the right lens perfect for the job.

The Perspective Control lens is typically used and necessary for architectural photography. The shift and distortion correction features of the lens make photographing buildings and landmarks easy, in focus, and well positioned. Aerial photography requires a PC lens as well, to correct distortion and motion blur created when aircraft or birds are in flight.

What is a Tilt Shift Lens Used For in Photography
PC Lens for Architectural Photography

However, the range of effects that you may produce with the PC lens, can also be administered in various other types of photography. The features of a PC lens can add dramaticism to a photo, separate features or aspects from the background, and correct distortion. You can use this lens for portrait or wedding photography, filmmaking, landscape, street photography, and more. You can use the lens whenever you wish to apply its effects in an image.

Continue to use the Tilt shift lens where you see it could work out in a photograph. Experiment, and through trial and error you will find great techniques for capturing magnificent photos!

Explore your options and let your creativity flow out through you to reflect in your photography, don’t be afraid to try something new.

Now that your knowledge of various techniques has vastly improved, stick to the rules of using the lens but try out your own methods when it comes to visualization. Remember that some PC lens requires you to adjust the aperture a bit, and you should be well on your way to mastering the tilt shift.

We hope this article helped you understand how to use tilt shift and incorporate it into your photography in future!

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