Optical Tricks with Tilt-Shift Lenses

July 04, 2016

John Warkentin, the Technology Evangelist at michaels camera presents a range of live demonstrations, samples and applications of Tilt-Shift Lenses across a wide selection of topics in this 42 minute Live Seminar held as part of our long running free Lunchtime series held in-store in Melbourne at the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Street.

The live demonstrations in this seminar utilise a Full Frame Canon 5DMk3 and the Canon TS-E 45mm F2.8 Lens. It is running Tethered with the Canon EOS Utility in Liveview mode enabling a real time view of what the camera is seeing. It is this feature of the modern DSLR which greatly simplifies the use of the all manual controls of the Tilt-Shift Lens.

The subject for this live capture demonstration is a line of additional Tilt-Shift Lenses that are both in stock or available for rent at michaels camera. 

Listed in order from front to back they are:

Nikon 24mm F3.5 PC-E Nikkor
Nikon 85mm F2.8 PC-E Micro Nikkor
Canon TS-E 17mm F4
Canon TS-E 24mm F3.5
Canon TS-E 90mm F2.8
Samyang Tilt/Shift 24mm F3.5 ED AS UMC

The Samyang Lens is uniquely available in a very wide range of Camera Mounts.

They are: Canon EF and EF-M, Fujifilm X, Olympus / Panasonic Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds, Pentax K, Samsung NX, and Sony A and E

Direct links to Purchase these Tilt-Shift Lenses:

Canon 17mm

Canon 24mm

Canon 45mm

Canon 90mm

Nikon 24mm

Nikon 45mm

Nikon 85mm

Samyang 24mm Canon Mount

Samyang 24mm Nikon Mount


Join our michaels camera Facebook Support Group for more Photography advice, tips and discussion.

The Presentation Slides, Notes and all Samples from the Seminar can be found on this Facebook Group.


Presented by John Warkentin
Recorded at michaels camera in Melbourne, VIC Australia.
Video Crew: Brian H and Bill S
Edited by Asher Floyd


(John Warkentin)

Well, welcome to Michael’s.

This is sort of our ongoing Friday lunchtime seminars, and today I’m going to talk about tilt-shift lenses.

So we’ve called it optical tricks with tilt shift lenses, and they are really quite the optical trickster.

They’re just a fascinating type of lens and conveniently, we rent them here and we’re going to have a little competition so that you’ll get a chance to pick up a lens for a day and have a little bit of fun with it.

So let’s just dive right in!

It’s not going to be a long talk because I really wanted to get a little hands-on time for everybody; we’ve got a lot of bodies; we’ve got a good selection of lenses right here - pretty well everything that’s made - and you can have a little touch and feel and take a couple shots if you want.

So let’s just dive right in!


[Slide shows a tilt-shift image of the Sydney Opera House]


Miniature Effect

So, this is the sort of promo picture that I’ve been using for the talk; as you can see it’s the Sydney Harbour Bridge but it’s got a lot of blur in it, and that’s sort of the main optical trick that I like.

Interestingly enough, that’s not the principal reason why these lenses were created; but they’ve kind of been, you know, repurposed for the art set; and so I really like bending the plane of focus to create what’s sometimes called the “miniature effect.”

So you see that what we’ve got here is the Sydney Harbour ferry is in focus and the Opera House sails and then further off into the distance, is just dramatically blurred; because what we’ve done is we’ve taken the front element of the lens and we’ve tilted it. So we’ve bent the focal plane, but we can bend it in almost any direction we want because the lens rotates around its mount; it’s very interesting.

So, I thought that was kind of a good little demonstration of it because of course, that’s not easy to create unless you want to start blurring in Photoshop.

Now an awful lot of people play with apps on their phones and with Photoshop to create blur; but when you’re creating blur in post-production, you’re just blurring; you’re not bending any focal plane.

So what we’ve managed to do is in camera, draw the attention to that ferry and create this sort of dreamy atmosphere in the picture; and that’s really what I love about these things, but there are an awful lot more.

So let’s dive in here.



[Slide shows an image of an old camera with the expanding lens bellows]


So I don’t know if anybody remembers ever seeing these things from days gone by, but this is sort of what a large format camera looked like; albeit that’s a recent one.

Unfortunately, this company “Ebony” is just ceasing production; just read this in the news yesterday.

But basically, that’s a large format camera, so at the front you’ve got the lens; you’ve got a leather bellows and at the back is the film plane; there’s a shutter mechanism in the front, of course, and you see all these rails and rotating things – basically, the lens on these old large format cameras, and this is the way almost every camera was built in days gone by; the lenses can move up and down; left and right; and they can tilt.

And this is the way photographers worked in the old days. And of course, you know, you also saw those pictures; they had a big black hood over their head, and they were they were looking at a ground glass underneath that, and that was large because it was the actual size of the film; and then when they had everything all lined up the way they wanted, and of course, the reason they were doing this was to bend and change perspective; they weren’t really taking blurry artistic pictures back then; they were trying to keep vertical lines vertical; so we didn’t have converging and diverging perspective in pictures.

But that’s the way it sort of was, but basically, when the compact camera started being popular after World War II, to make them all in one we sort of started losing all of these shifting and tilting mechanisms; and so now they’re just not very common.



And of course, the lenses that are available for the digital SLR lines that do enable tilting and shifting; they’re manual focus, so again, that makes them not that common, because most people want to use just automatic procedures.

It’s just, that’s the, you know when photography got easier; photography got more popular, and obviously, after the large format camera sort of ceased to be popular and the compact 35-millimeter cameras came out, well, photography got more popular.

And popularity is good because there’s more access to tools and there’s just more stuff created.

So that’s kind of where we sit.


The Scheimpflug Principle

[Slide shows the words - “The Scheimpflug Principle”]


Now, this is a crazy word; the science, the physics and the optics behind tilt-shift lenses are called, The Scheimpflug Principle and I’m probably not even pronouncing it properly; but trust me, it’s difficult. I put the link to the Wikipedia page up on the Facebook group last night; feel free to dive in and read it; I’m not going to talk about it because I don’t even understand it.

But basically, there’s a lot of weird science to this, and it’s all about when you bend the focal plane; you know, the old one-third, two-thirds thing about what we focus on; there’s a range of focus, which is about one-third in front and two-thirds behind, depending on the aperture; well, now instead of getting this plane of focus with the tilt-shift lenses we get a wedge of focus, and it just made it very, very hard to use.

Now, in the old days when you had ground glass and you could get in there and look at it with a loupe and whatever, you could analyze what you were working on, but when it came to using these lenses on compact cameras – and when I say compact I mean 35 mm digital SLRs, the smaller formats - they were hard to use.


LiveView + Live Demostration

[Slide says “Modern DSLRs with Liveview have changed everything!”]


But then, along came Liveview; and Liveview showed up in about, maybe 2008/2009 in digital SLRs, and now every camera has it.

Liveview is your friend. It has changed everything and it makes using these somewhat difficult, manual focus tilt-shift lenses a lot easier.

So, let’s just do a little demonstration right now.


So we have a full-frame 35 mm digital SLR setup right here; it’s tethered to this computer; so let’s just quickly get over here to our Canon app.


[Slide shows the Canon app on the screen]


And as you can see, I’ve lined up our selection of tilt-shift lenses just on the table here.

Now, this is a 45 mm tilt-shift lens, in the Canon line; it’s been in the line for years; it might be, I don’t know, 15/20 years old or something; it’s sort of a good basic lens to start with, and that lens is actually my lens; and I’ve been using this lens a heck of a lot for six years, when I first purchased it.


So, we have the lens set up so that the tilt axis is on the vertical - so it’s tilting this way and this way.

[Demonstrates the axis with this arm]

The shift axis is up and down; now those two axes on this lens are always 90 degrees apart.

You can physically take the lens apart yourself with a jeweller’s screwdriver, and you can have it so that the tilt and shift axes are aligned, but you have to take the lens apart.

It’s not that hard; I’ve never done it, but apparently, it’s not that hard.

Now, two of the new Canon lenses are called Super Rotators - they can rotate that axis as user adjustment right when it’s mounted.

So, anyway, so that’s how this lens is mounted here; I have the shift set at 0; I have the tilt-shift at set at 0.

So, and basically, now what I can play with is the focus.

So, we’re looking at a Liveview here; if I just go grab the focus here, we can see that we are changing - let me just make sure, I mean, oh sorry, I’ve got the preview up, I stand corrected - here’s the LiveView.


[Image on screen shows a line of cameras with DOF changing as John changes the focus point]


So we’re looking at that little spot where it says Nikon there; and I see I’m bringing it out of focus, taking it in and now you’ll see that we walk the focus down a little bit there; we can zoom in a bit.

This is the Canon digital photo professional app with its tethering option; it’s all free when you get a Canon camera.


So, now we’re zoomed in on the front lens there, so we can get that right there; get it in focus.


And as we move down the line here - let me just close this window - you can see that obviously, we are not in focus further down the line.

We are running at f/2.8, so the range of focus at a distance - we’re about what, 40 or 50 centimetres away from the front lens? - at f/2.8 there’s not a lot of depth of field, but this is where the magic comes in.

So let’s just take a quick shot here; it comes up in the preview, and there it is.

So obviously, only the front lens is in focus; so that’s what we’ve got; and the depth of field, it just gets blurrier as we go down.

So, let’s close that window, and now let’s bend the focal plane.

So, I know that the focal plane is parallel to the front of the lens when everything is normalized – when all the adjustments are zeroed, just like any other lens - so I’m going to turn the top wheel on the lens here, and I’ve got to sort of look at what I’m doing here on the computer screen at the same time - you can see it on the other one here.

So as we bend it, and are bending it in this way; you’ll see that the focus starts to come on the back here.

Now, there it is; you see it coming in?


Now, you have to sort of just play a little bit back and forth with these things; I’m going to move to the front of the lens here with a little loop tool, and I’m going to zoom in.

So now, I’ll adjust the focus ring a little bit.

Okay, so now we’re focused there; I’ll just close that; I’ll move back here a little bit, and let’s zoom into there, and you can see that we’re fairly closely focused.

So the way I normally use this is, I tilt it till I get it pretty close, then I adjust the focus on the front element, then ever so slightly, I then adjust the tilting a little bit more to just get the back sharp; it’s very subtle.

Okay, that’s a little bit sharper now.

Going to close that, and I go back to the front; zoom in again here – and keep in mind you can do this all on the LiveView, and of course, you can shoot a couple of test shots in between if this is what you’re trying to get - there we go.

So you see that we’ve got the 5.6 is in sharp; so we’re pretty well lined up right down the plane; so let’s take another shot here; we’ll do that; get the shot.

Now I’m going to just quickly go over to Lightroom here.

I’m just going to synchronize my folder so I get these two new photos that have come up; go to the grid mode.

So here’s the first shot - full screen - and as you can see only the front lens is in focus, and then we’ll go to the next shot and we can see that we’ve taken and we’ve bent the plane of focus all the way down the line of the lenses.


[Slide shows image of the lenses with all of them in focus, but the background out of focus]


Now obviously, there’s a, because we bent the plane of focus; we’ve got the out-of-focus areas are now to the side and behind; not down the plane.

As a matter of fact, if we had more framing here, we’d see that if we continue all the way along down to the speaker tripod, we have that in focus.

We have basically bent the whole thing; right down the line.

So, at f/2.8 we’ve just done something that’s just remarkable; you can’t do this in software - you could focus stack and spend a whole bunch of time in post-production - but we’ve just bent the focal plane to create a picture which is in focus all the way down the line of labels.

Now, we’re still at 2.8; we could go to f/5.6.

Now we’d make the wedge a little wider; go to f/8; but if we shot this at f/11 or even f/16 – normalized - which we will just do right now, so let me go right back to basics.


Let’s get out of here; let’s go back to the Canon software; let’s close our preview.


So, let’s go and take our aperture to f/11.



[Screen shows a darkening image of the line of lenses]


So, we want more depth of field; we’ve got a regular lens; this is what we do; we try to get more depth of field.

So now, obviously, we’ve lost a bit of brightness so we’ve got to open up the shutter a little bit longer here; so let’s just get that brighter again here; fairly bright; let’s zoom in and let’s again focus on the front lens.

So we’ll do the same thing; so I’m just going to focus that in here; I’m going to just increase the ISO a little bit here; it’s a 13-second exposure.


[Screen shows a much lighter image of the line of lenses]


Let’s go a little bit longer here; we don’t need 13-seconds to do this.

There you go; five seconds, that’s good.

So let’s take the shot; needless to say, if I was in an automatic exposure mode or auto ISO, then it would have just ramped everything up, but we don’t have a heck of a lot of light here. So, there is the same shot.

Now, let’s go back to Lightroom here; take a quick look; we’ll just synchronize the folder; there we are; and as you can see f/11 didn’t do what we wanted! We still are not in focus at the rear of the lenses!

So tilting this lens has given us something that we just can’t get - if we go to f/22 we’re still not going to get that.

Now we maybe could choose the second lens to focus, but of course, as we go to smaller and smaller apertures, diffraction effects start to come in.

And of course, that’s focusing on everything else as well; maybe what we wanted was that line of focus?

So there’s your main reason why you might want to bend the plane of focus to create extended depth of field; you want to draw the user’s attention down a line or something.

So, now, while we’re here, let’s just quickly show you what the shifting does.

So that was tilting.

So we’re in LiveView now; shifting is really, really, simple; and we can just sort of see it here; we’re not moving the camera at all; we’re not changing the perspective; so this is what an architectural photographer uses.

You level your camera on your tripod and then you frame with shifting, and that way you make sure that your building never bends over or leans forward; all those converging and diverging verticals.

Now normally, a 45 mm lens is not sort of, your architectural one; the architects would like to use the 24 and the 17 in the Canon line, or the 24 in the Nikon line; and there’s even a Korean lens here – a Samyang 24 - so there are a few choices.

But obviously, this is what they do; and you can see how much it actually is able to do.

So there it is, right at even, and so we’ve got the lenses as you can see in the middle; we go all the way down and keep in mind this is a full frame camera, so this brings up another thing that we can do; as we get right back to our presentation here.


Perspective Correction

[Slide shows the words – “Perspective Correction – This is the easy stuff”]


So, perspective correction; that’s basically the easy stuff.

The focus adjustments in bending the focal plane; that’s a little bit more difficult, but that’s where that LiveView and the tethered shooting comes into play; and of course, it’s a digital camera - you can get the whole file right out of the camera and take a look at it!

Back in the film days, you had no idea what you were getting because, you know, shoot it and see it later, you know,

unless maybe you had a darkroom; but you still had to finish the roll of film.

So the perspective correction is sort of the common use of these things, and then you start getting into the focal plane.


[Slide has the words – “Shifting to go Wider”]


So when I showed you; when I shifted the lens up and down; now we can basically, get a little wider without even any complexity at all.

So you can shoot panoramas with these things, which of course, sort ties back to Peter’s introduction, because panorama is kind of what my main area has been, and these lenses are a very convenient way to get a couple of extra frames to shoot a panorama and it’ll always stitch; you could stitch it with a pair of scissors and sticky tape; it will just go together.

And of course, that’s what people were using these things for years ago; it’s was a very common way to get a wider field of view.

Now, let me just sort of walk over to this lens and I want to show you a little bit about the physics behind, or sorry, the physical part of it.

So there is a little adjustment here; I know it’s a little hard for me to see here, but there is a little lever here so you can rotate the complete lens on the body; so you can put it at 45 degrees; you move it all the way around so you can bend the shifting and the tilting mechanism; and of course, on the Canon 24 and on the 17 you can bend those axes against each other, which is really quite interesting.

So you can have a chance to have a little touch, a little play with those later.


So that means you can shoot your panorama frame if you’re going to use the tilt-shift for it; you shoot it horizontally, vertically, however, you want it.

So it’s a very easy system to get a square frame or even more than a square frame.

And now of course, with these modern digital SLRs having upwards of 50 megapixels of resolution, you can basically make yourself a very quick 100-megapixel file out of this stuff; and it’s just going to work!

In theory, you maybe want to hold the lens and shift the camera back and forth and some of the tilt shift lenses from the medium format cameras actually have tripod mounts on the lens; but that would only cause a little wee bit of a problem for anything that was really, really close to the camera, if you’re doing a panorama; because needless to say, as we shift the lens up and down, we’re moving the pupil of the lens a little wee bit; so imagine the lens is still and you of the camera; again, only comes into play if you are shooting things very, very close.

So it’s a very good little system to go a little bit wider.


Now let’s just quickly show a couple other samples here of some perspective correction.

I went out on the roof today and I shot a couple things.

So let us just go over to here and bring it up.


Sample Images

[Slide shows image of buildings from the roof of Michael’s Camera]


So, here is a shot just looking from the roof of Michael’s Camera, just up Elizabeth Street, and I used the 24 mm lens, and I was just using it as a regular lens, and I wanted to look up a little wee bit.

So as you can see, the buildings are leaning in - that’s just what happens; that’s how lenses work, and it’s more pronounced on a wide-angle lens than on a normal lens, or a telephoto, but that’s just what happens.

So then I put the… I had the camera on the tripod; I levelled the camera, and of course, modern digital SLRs have a digital level in them, makes it very, very easy to level it; and then I shot another shot.


And so this time, I basically, it’s not framing it the same; so I shifted it up.


[Slide shows the same location/framing but the buildings are no longer leaning in, and another image of the street below]


So I’ve got basically, what I want - the same picture, now I moved a little bit left and right - so I’ve corrected that; now I’ve shifted it up just a little bit more, and I shifted it all the way down.

The camera didn’t move; only using lens shift.

So needless to say, I can assemble these three and I can make basically, a portrait orientation picture out of three landscape shots; and that’s a 22-megapixel chip in that camera; that’s going to be quite a high-resolution file and sharp as a tack; very high-quality lenses.

However, a lot of people say there’s no need to use these lenses because you can do this in software.

So let’s take a look.

I brought these things into Lightroom, and I did a correction on the very first one.

So we go back here and we go to this; so here is our first version.

Now Lightroom does enable you to correct perspective, but it comes at a cost.

So as you do it you can see that it’s had to bend the picture out - so you lose a bit of resolution; you distort regions of the file, and you lose a little bit of actual field of view.

So if you’re going to use a 24 mm lens and point it up and correct it later; you’re no longer working with 24 mm, you’re going to lose it and you might go down to 30 or so; and your quality is going to suffer a little bit.

Is it convenient? Extremely convenient.

Do I use that technique? All the time! But, there’s a reason to do it right, sometimes, and that’s of course, where the tilt-shift lens comes into play.


So let’s get on back to our slides here.


Removing Reflections

[Slide shows the words – “Shifting to Remove Objects or Reflections”]


So we talked about perspective correction, and about just going wider; so one of the other classic things is we can use shift to basically, remove objects or deal with reflections.

There’s a very common technique used in real estate photography when you’ve got to shoot a bathroom; bathroom’s got a mirror in it, and so you mount the camera on the tripod a little bit below the mirror, so that the mirror doesn’t see the camera in the reflection, and then you shift the lens up and you capture the mirror as if you’re at eye height, looking in the mirror.

So it’s a very common shot. I was going to go shoot one in the bathroom but I didn’t really, it wasn’t looking that good.


Because of course, in the mirror you’re going to see a reflection into the bathroom.


Removing Foreground Objects

But anyway, that’s one of the techniques; but the other one which is kind of cool - and I’m going to demonstrate it right now – is that you can use shifting to remove a foreground object.

Now, obviously, this is not easy and there are other tools now in Photoshop; because we’ve got content-aware delete and all sorts of things, but this is kind of, one of the old standby methods of doing it.


So let’s just quickly go over here and I’ve got a quick little… just going to bring this up in Photoshop here.


Now, this is a very poor sample and I wanted to get a better one for you, but I was going through my archives I hadn’t really ever come across one. I remember when I did this, it was shortly after I got the lens.


[Slide shows an image of an old building with a telephone pole and white car in the foreground]


So I’m going to bring in these two shots; so you see that we’ve got a telephone pole in front of an old hotel down in Port Melbourne here, and we’ve got a car there.

Unfortunately, this car moved and kind of doesn’t… my little demonstration doesn’t work as well.

But basically, what you want to do, if you’re going to use this technique, is, you want to set upon a tripod; you want to frame your subject; then you want to basically move over to the left or right; and then you want to shift the opposite direction on the lens, and what you’ve managed to do is shift that foreground element - with respect to the background element - so that you can, in Photoshop, make the best of a bad situation and clone the thing out.

So Photoshop’s got some tools where it will automatically blend.

So if you go into Photoshop - and I’ll just run it here -  it’s called Photo Merge - and I’m just going to tell it to automatically; I’m going to blend them just together; I’m going to correct the geometric distortion; I’m not going to do content-aware fill; and I’m just going to add the open files and we’re going to see what it can do here.


So it just uses its own little edge-detection algorithms and tries to line the two pictures up and bend them, and it’ll produce this composite which will be a little bit screwy, most likely.

So we’re going to take a look here.


[Slide shows the Photoshop image and there is now an extra half a telephone pole and the car is still there]


So you see that it’s got a little bit of the power pole on the left and the right, but it has lined them up.

So now, all you’ve got to do is go in and edit your layer masks and maybe do a little bit of work with Liquefy, and you can get a picture of this building without that telephone pole in it.

Needless to say, you’d wish you didn’t have the car there, but anyway.

But that’s the technique, and people were using this in the film days, you know, making composites; because cameras had these movements and they were doing analogue composites in the darkroom.

And sometimes you’ve got to shoot an architectural picture of a subject and there’s something in the road; you just can’t change the fact there’s a lamppost, or a traffic light or something; so that’s the basic technique.

And it’s not perfect, but if you take the pictures very carefully with a tripod - I did this one handheld - it can work for you.

So that is an interesting thing.


Now, of course, the other thing which you can do is - using that same Photoshop thing - you could do a panorama.

So let’s just go in here and I’m going to find three samples where I shifted, and here we are here.

So let’s bring these into Photoshop.


[Slide shows three images of a city skyline in daylight]


So this is just on my balcony, and I just had the lens just pointing straight out the balcony, and I just had a nice dramatic sky that day, this was on a crop sensor camera, the same 45 mm lens; I’m in landscape mode, and I’ve shifted it on a crop sensor; you can get almost a 3:1 aspect ratio panorama from three shots, with a tilt shift.

So again, we’re just using Photoshop, and you can do it with scissors and sticky tape - it will just stitch - we just go into Photo Merge here, and do automatic; add open files, and of course panoramic stitching is built-in these days and there are lots of third-party programs to do it as well.

So I’m not even going to do geometric distortion correction, there’s no need for it; it’ll just work.

We hit OK here; there we go!


Panormic Images

[Slide shows panoramic image with stitched images of the city skyline]


And, needless to say, we can probably add a bit of content fill in there, but that just works, you know; it just… it’s a very simple way to shoot it, and you just don’t have to worry about alignment issues.


Now let’s get back here.


[Slide shows the words – “Changing the Plan of Focus – This is where the real fun begins!”]


So then, where it really gets interesting for me, is changing the plane of focus.

Now we’ve already done a little bit of a demonstration here with these lenses; let’s show a little bit of a slideshow.


But I guess I should probably explain how I got into this!

My sister-in-law was hiring wedding photographers for her wedding back in 2010; so she was dealing with all this in around 2009, and she booked her first photographer; she really liked what the woman was doing; she was a local photographer in Margaret River in Western Australia, but then after she booked that photographer she found the work of another photographer, and this guy had this really magical blurry look to his pictures; they were just dreamy; and so she came to me and she asked me, how was this guy getting this look, and I said I think he’s using a tilt-shift lens and he’s bending things; and I hadn’t really seen anybody working this style, so he was a guy by the name of Jonas Peterson out of Brisbane, and I said well, if you really like this, I think you should hire the guy; and so she cancelled the previous a photographer; had to pay a cancellation fees.

She hired this new guy and she flew him out from Brisbane to Margaret River, and so then my wife and I really liked what he was doing, so we hired him to shoot, just some nature photos with us, you know, just in the forest, and whatever; and so I got a chance to see this guy working - and I highly recommend that; it’s always good to hire another photographer, because you can learn so much. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of working and assisting a professional photographer, but you can always buy one!

And you learn a heck of a lot.

And this guy really opened my mind, and my eyes to tilt-shift lenses; and he was using full-frame Canon camera and the 45 mm.

So, I loved what he produced for my wife and me, and I promptly bought one of these lenses as soon as I came back from Perth, and I’ve been using it ever since.

I used it just two weeks ago; we had an event at the (Pran) market for food photography and we did photo walks, and I used the tilt-shift lens for it.

So, let’s just quickly go through a little bit of a sample here, and I’ll show you what we’re you producing.


[Slides shows a shot of inside a café, with biscuits in clear containers on a counter top]

But basically, I’ve been using it commercially for quite some time.

So, here’s a classic case of, I’ve used it to focus on the sort of record and along this signage, and then just blur the barista and the patron in the café.

So it captures the feel of what I want but for all intents and purposes, it just is an atmospheric and I don’t have to worry about a model release for the patron in the café - it’s not a big deal.


[Slide shows a wedding couple]


I did a wedding shoot for an Indian couple, and I was actually using flash on this one; but I just love the way the specular highlights kind of just sort of, blossom with the tilt-shift, and so we’ve got it shifted, the focal plane is sort of bent - try to keep the eyes in focus when you’re using this style and then everything else just sort of turns into this dreamy kind of magic - and this is the style that this professional photographer that my wife and I hired was doing; although he wasn’t using flash at the time, so I was integrating a bit of flash with it.


[Slide shows patrons at an outdoor café with a bicycle basket in the foreground]


Ah, here’s a case of we’ve got an object very, very, close to the camera - the bicycle seat and everything - but as you see the blackboard menu is still in focus.

So it just bent all the way through, and a little bit of the woman’s hair is in focus, so you can just draw the viewer right down the line and it’s just very fascinating.


[Slide shows the wedding couple again, sitting on a bench]


So here’s another one from the wedding shoot; so we’ve just got them on a bench here, but all the background in the upper part is all just nicely blurred.


[Slide shows the couple, closer this time, holding hands and facing each other; there is a street below and behind them]


This is one just on the steps of Melbourne Parliament.

So again, now, in this case, we’ve got the focal line straight up the centre, so we see that even the buildings way off in the distance are kind of in focus, but the bride’s face is in focus, and again, I think I’m using flash on that one.


[Slide shows image of a street scene with cars parked along the side of the road, some people walking down the street, building facades]

Here’s a case of just some stuff just walking down the street; just bending it, you just get these dreamy pictures; this is this wavy building down in Port Melbourne and I’ve taken the focal line, right up the centre of it, and I just… I’m just addicted to this style.


[Slide shows an image of a bright yellow building between two palm trees]


So here’s another case of between the palm trees, but we can see that the sign of the shop is in focus.


[Slide shows an image of a motorcycle – purple and silver]


We’ve sort of drawn the focal plane down the line of this chopper.


[Slide shows a bright yellow tram]


Just drawing the eye to the bumblebee tram, you know, this one here focused on Yarra trams, but everything else is out of focus; just the top of a building; again the top of a building; this is one of the styles I really like; I just like walking around a city and looking at the tops of structures, and producing these shots.

So I’ve got lots more; I’ll put these all on Facebook when we’re done.

Let’s get back here.

So that is interesting!

Now, one of the effects that people talk about when they start shifting the plane to focus is this: it makes things look miniature; and why does it make things look miniature?

The reason is we are accustomed to seeing the low depth of field in macro photography; when you get really close into objects, depth of field is dramatically reduced.

So when people take pictures of toys and small objects, we see the very low depth of field; so when we take pictures with a tilt-shift lens, by really making this slivered line of focus; our brain says, maybe that’s a small object and the cameras very close, so things look miniaturized.

So now what we can do, is we can apply that to video, and there are an awful lot of creative work being done by people all over the world making tilt-shift time-lapses.


[Slide shows the words – “Bending your View of Video – Yet another reason why DSLRs shook the foundations!”]


So, I thought I’d go up to the roof today and shoot a video; so I did.

And let’s just show it to you.


[Slide now shows a video of time-lapse of the street below and buildings]


Using the Canon 80D, I put the 17 mm tilt-shift lens on it, and I just propped it up; and so here we have the line of focus is very low to the frame, the 80D has a built-in time-lapse mode, which is really convenient - just spits out a video when you’re done - and I just did a quick little 15-second video.

I’ve got another one as well, where I set the focal plane up on the clock of the Town Hall down the street there – I guess it’s the GPO is what that building is.


Now, needless to say, you can do anything you want with time-lapse, but I just kind of wanted to show the concept of how you can just bend the focal plane any way you want; and of course, you could have done it through a vertical line; however you wish.


There’s been some brilliant stuff done in Sydney Harbor of all the ferries moving through, and they just look like little tugboats in a bathtub; it’s just fascinating stuff.


Now I’m not a video person by any stretch of the imagination, I’m a stills photographer and panoramic photographer; but I just wanted to show that it’s quite possible to do these things.


I’ve got one other little video I can show you, which has not been sped up; and this one is in Port Melbourne, and I have the focal plane vertically in this case.


[Slide shows a video of a street scene where a central vertical section is in focus while the rest of the image is blurred – occasional vehicles come passed the camera]


So we’ve basically just got the white car is in focus, and it’s kind of interesting as you see the cars come through because they have a  little section of focus and then they just go right back out.

So it’s a really creative tool to add to your video toolkit and it’s not something that was easy to use on any other cinema cameras, but digital SLRs of course, are recording just fabulous clean and dreamy looking video; people love to record their videos on the full-frame digital SLRs because the sensor size is actually larger than 35 mm motion picture cinematography; so they can get that low depth of field look.

Well now, using a tilt-shift lens, you can take that low depth of field look, and you can apply it to anything far off in the distance; I mean, one of the great lenses for shooting low depth of field is the Canon 85 mm f/1.2; but still at 20/30 meters away, the depth of field is very great, but with a tilt-shift lens you can get this razor thin range of focus at  any distance.

So when you have a chance to play with one of these things, you really get excited about it, and it’s just, it’s such a different kind of tool.

So let’s just get back to our thing here.

So I think, it’s just a fabulous thing to integrate into your video and of course, into your stills.



[Slide shows competition details about the “Win a Day with a Tilt-Shift Lens – from Michael’s Camera]


Now, at last, we want to have everyone get a chance to have a little play with one of these things, so we’re  just going to round up the talk now, and I want you to come on up and we’ve got a number of bodies here and we’ve got all these lenses; you can feel free to have a little touch and feel, and just, you know, learn a little bit more about them; ask me any questions you want, and of course, we’ve got to have a competition.

So we’ve got our new Michael’s “We can help” Facebook group; so I’ve handed out a postcard to everybody; feel free to join, and there’s a reason why you might want to join: we’re going to have a little competition and you can rent, free of charge, a tilt-shift lens from us for the day.

So we’ve got the Nikon 24 and the Canon 24 and 90, in rental, so those are available - so if you’re a Nikon shooter we’ve got something for you, and if you’re a Canon shooter we’ve got something for you as well; and all you’ve got to do to win is just tell us what you would do with it if you had it for a day.

Come up with something that’s creative, and tell us what you’re going to do creatively; Facebook, you can talk in pictures; you can talk in video; and you can talk in words; so use your creative judgment and come up with something interesting, and the staff will pick out a winner at the end of the week, by July 8th; and you come pick up a lens for the day and have a little play.


And I think that’s basically sort of rounds it all up.

If there are any questions; happy to field them.

Peter’s got a microphone because of course, we’re recording today as well because we’re putting these seminars on YouTube.

So, if you missed anything you can watch it again, and hopefully, other people will get a chance to see this and get excited.

So if you’ve got any questions, Peter we’ll come on over to you, and just ask your question and I’ll be happy to answer anything.


[Peter walks over to someone in the audience]


[Audience member says – You’re referring all the time to full-frame cameras]


Question is, is there any advantage to using a tilt-shift lens on a full-frame or cropped? Simple answer is: they work very effectively on both, and I use them on both all the time; the difference you’re going to see is, on a crop camera you’re going to get even greater shift; so on a crop camera, you can - it’s really fabulous for shooting panoramas-  on a full-frame camera the intensity of your blur is going to be increased.

So that kind of explains it; but the other thing, of course, is your effective focal length changes; because these are not zoom lenses, it’s very nice to have both a full-frame and a cropped-frame camera in your kit to make the best of, in my case, I only own one tilt-shift lens, so when I’m doing product photography - and I really like to use this for product photography - I use it on my cropped camera because it’s a little bit longer, and here’s another little thing: tilt-shift lenses for some reason unknown to me, work really, really well with teleconverters.

Normally when you put a teleconverter on a lens you really notice, you see the image degrade - specifically with 2x teleconverters and specifically with cheap teleconverters, and I have a really cheap Kenko 2x – my tilt-shift lens just does not seem to suffer for optical quality, even on that inexpensive teleconverter.

The only thing I can [audio/video jump] as to why it’s so good is because the circle of light out of a tilt-shift lens is so large; so these lenses are able to be mounted on medium format cameras; they project such a large circle, which is by necessity because as you shift the lens around on the mount, it has to still project light on the sensor.

So I just think that that’s one of the reasons why these things are so good.

So yeah, that’s your simple answer: they work fine on both!

There are not any native tilt-shift lenses for the smaller removable lens formats that I know of; so your micro four-thirds users; they’re going to need to use adapters to use these lenses; and of course, with all these adapters there are all sorts of compatibility issues.

So tilt-shift lenses, and if you’re interested in them, are a reason to use digital SLRs; very exciting!


Anything else?

When we play, what I think I should show everybody is how the other Canon lenses are working.

So let me just do a little demo here.

I’m going to take the 45 mm off here and I want to show you the 24; because this is what I was describing earlier, is a super rotator.

So let’s grab the 24, which is here.

Now, I’ll just pass the 45 around and you have a little look here, and you can sort of see the design of it, and this is what’s different with the 24.

So basically, on these lenses you’ve got these knobs here, so these are your adjustments; in this case this is the tilt adjustment here, and you can see the lens is actually tilting – and they’re a little bit stiff, which is good because you don’t want them to be floppy - and you see that this is the shift; so the lens is shifting and you can see it going up and down on the sensor plane here, on the mount.

Now, in this case, these are lined up because this is a super rotator.

There are these little levers that are buried in here – let me find the one here- so here we go here.


[Demonstrates the various movements of the lens mounting]


Now, as you can see, I’m pressing the lever underneath here; now I’m rotating the tilt versus the shift, so I can actually change it; so I’ve got it inline, I’ve got it at 90 degrees; on the 45 mm and the 90 mm, they are locked until you take the lens apart with a jeweler’s screwdriver.

So you’ve sort of basically, got to decide which way you want to use it; because you’re not going to be doing that every day of the week; some people own two of them.

But these ones, the new style, enable you to super rotate.


Now, there’s another lever over here which enables you to then rotate the whole housing; and now that’s how you can choose whether you’re going to be shifting or tilting on the vertical, on the diagonal, or on the horizontal.


So there is a whole slew of ways that you can play with these things – they’re just amazing - and of course, your manual focus ring up front.

So the 24 has that feature, and the 17.

So the 17 is the widest one that Canon has in their line.

Now, the 17 has got a bulbous front element; so it’s one that you’ve got to be very, very, careful of.

To use filters with this lens you’ve got to use some very large glass filters that are designed for medium format cameras.


But again, it’s a super rotator design; this is really the architectural photographer’s dream lens; it’s wide; you can still go wider by building a panorama with multiple shots like I showed you using shifting; optically, it’s very beautiful lens; it’s just the bee’s knees for that kind of work; and of course, because you can bend the focal plane, you can do all the other interesting, you know, dreamy sort of styles with it as well.

In the Nikon line they’ve got a 20… is this the 24? No, they’ve got an 85 mm – now theirs are our not super rotators - and unfortunately, I don’t really know whether you can manually adjust these; I’m not a Nikon shooter.

But they’ve got an 85 and they have a 24, and they’re both very similar.

And the 24 is a f/3.5 the 85, I believe, is a 2.8.

In the case of the Canons, the 24 is a 3.5; the 45 is a 2.8; the 90 is a 2.8, and the 17 is a f/4, I believe.

Take a look here. Actually, I don’t know what it says there. Probably says up here… [Examines the lens] f/4! Yes!


And then lastly, the Korean manufacturer, Samyang; they’ve entered the market and they’ve got a 24 mm which I’ve not used yet, but I’m going to have a little play with it, and I believe that this thing is quite affordable.

We’ve got a price list here if anybody needs to know anything; and of course, we’ve got stock on all these things.

There also are a couple of used Canon tilt-shifts in the front window.

There’s a 90, I believe, and a 24 – I’d have to check; sometimes these things move pretty quickly - but they’re an interesting lens.

A lot of people find them so hard to use that sometimes they show up on the used market because people might buy them for one project and then projects done, and then they might sell it off.

So you can always keep your eyes open.

I certainly, every time I walk past the store, I always look in the front window; see what’s there, and buy a few things every now and then too.


So yeah, if you want to come up and have little touch and try to just frame up some shots and stuff, you’re more than welcome!


And thank you very much for coming!




I hope the hope you found it informative, and I hope someone can come up with a great little idea and wow us, and pick up a lens for the for a day and have a little play!

I think once you touch and use and shoot with one of these things, I think you’ll probably get the bug like I did.

I must admit, I wished I owned all four of the Canon lenses, but, you know, you’ve got to start somewhere!


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