Tilt shift experiments

Recently I have had the amazing chance to get to use a Nikon tilt-shift lens. It is not something I had ever thought about, but when my brother purchased one I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to borrow it.

The lens itself is a total monster weighing in a quite a hefty 730g, which considering it is essentially 24mm prime is quite some weight.

I was unsure if I would have any use for a lens like this, and honestly couldn’t believe my brother would (especially considering the price). I have, however, been pleasantly surprised by the lens and how much fun it is to use.

Shifting

So the shift part of the lens is about 1.5cm of travel along the plane, this at first seems minor and you start to think how this could possibly aid in achieving the straight lines in architectural shots it is so famed for. It is amazing though, when extrapolated over distance, how effective the shift is.

tilt-shift-manchester-cathedral-shifted

 

The above shows the way the shifted photo allowed me to get straight lines all the way along the height of the spire. This is pretty difficult to achieve with a normal lens, unless I somehow would have managed to get over double the distance away along the same altitude as the centre of the building so as not to weirdly warp it.

I can see why architectural photographers love these lenses so much. I think it is nice in these cases, but also don’t think it is the end of the world if you have converging lines, in fact it can look pretty good sometimes. The problem I ended up having was calibrating the tripod and lens to ensure the lines where straight, I ended overcompensating on more than one occasion, resulting in the top of the spire being too wide.

Tilting

tilt-shift-spinningfields

remembrance-tilt-image

 

This is what I most enjoyed about the lens, the artistic license this gives you is phenomenal. Allowing you to change the focal plane to being left to right not just front to back. This can be confusing at first, meaning fully tilting the lens results in the focus area to be a strip. The photo above has a focus strip area about two thirds up the left to one third on the right.

Shifting the lens while tilted gives a circular area of focus, which completely confuses the hell out of me.

Tilting and Shifting

So the final area is probably both together, this more for experimentation I guess and artistic expression. It was probably the most used option in all this as you kind of just play around with the various levers until you are happy with the results.

tilt-shift-manchester-library

tilt-shift-manchester-cathedral

 

With the lens not only being able to tilt and shift but also rotate 180 degrees it has the ability to change the focal plane further. It is an incredible piece of kit.

Lens Performance

It is nice having a tilt shift lens, it is impressive it does all this funky stuff. It is, however a 24mm lens when everything is reset to 0. It is manual focus and manual aperture setup. It is pretty big, it is pretty heavy. It is phenomenally sharp, like unbelievably sharp. By far the sharpest thing I have ever used. I have no idea if this is down to the glass arrangement or the nano-coating or simply the type of glass used but this is a spectacularly clean and crisp lens to use. The colours it finds in the images are phenomenal, it even seems to compensate for blowout of shadow and highlight, don’t ask me how, but it does.

tilt-shift-spinningfields-1

cathedral-flower

 

All in all I think this is an incredible piece of glass, not sure I would spend the money it costs to buy it just yet. Too many other lenses I would like first, but an unbelievably good, fun and artistic piece of glass.