Bending Over Sideways To Please The Client - Tilt/Shift Part One

on June 15, 2016

This is not a column about business relationships. It is about optics. If you want the other sort you'll have to go to Dale Carnegie or The Better Business Bureau.

Three manufacturers that I know of currently make tilt/shift lenses that can be used on digital cameras; Nikon, Canon and Samyang/Rokinon. There have been others in the past but my researches don't turn them up readily now. The one in use in the studio today is the Samyang 24mm f:3.5 version with the Nikon mount. Of course you can get it with a Canon mont as well...

Cynics may be forgiven for looking at the design and screwing up their faces, but I'm not here to judge whether or not Samyang unbolted another maker's design and reverse engineered it. Nor any I going to make the obvious comment about the use of high-grade plastics to replicate someone else's metal part. Take it from someone who used it that it is well-built and works as it should.

You don't get AF with these lenses, nor do you want it. You get MF and ADJF...Adjustable Focus.

And you get to adjust it in ways that are at once artistic and practical.

The subjects that people cover in the studio can sometimes be challenging in that they are longer than the depth of field of a lens will cover. Stop down as much as you like, you still can't get everything in focus -and clients demand everything in focus. If you need to use a wider aperture for artistic effect, you are in even a worse fix.

Here is where the tilt mechanism of these lenses comes in. They are the way to produce the Scheimpflug effect - the phenomenon that occurs when you rotate the lens and the sensor to intersect the plane of the subject. Sounds complex, turns out to be surprisingly visible in the viewfinder, and nails the focus along the length of the subject - in this case a 1:24 Chevrolet Fleetline. Even at a modest aperture, it's in focus.

All in focus from headlight to rear bumper.

Away from the plane that you select, it goes out of focus if you want to create a fuzzy effect that is where you do it. Again useful in the studio to diffuse the backdrop and smooth it out. The clients want to see the products, not the brick wall behind them.

Note that the focusing you do with this lens is with the broad front ring. It's well damped, and does not creep. The lens is a pleasure to use.

As always, available now in-store or on-line.