Tilt Shift Camera Lens | Try Before you Buy

posted in Camera Gear

Tilt Shift Camera Lens | Try Before you Buy

Rent a Tilt Shift Camera Lens Before you Buy | Photography

canon_tse_17mm_tilt_shift_smallThere are many purposes a tilt-shift lens can serve, but one of the most popular uses, and the one I use, is for architectural photography. I am not going to focus on that however. This article will be more broad and offer some insights into tilt shift photography and serve as a sort of buying guide if you are ready to do that. If you have ever wondered why it is called tilt-shift, we can stop and think about that for a second. It sounds like the lens is doing two things that other lenses don’t do.Tilting and shifting of course. Inside each lens are many pieces of glass that optically draw light onto the camera sensor. A tilt shift lens actually gives you the ability to rotate the lens plane relative to the image plane. That is called the tilt. Moving the lens up and down, left and right is called the shift; also relative to the image plane.  The image plane, or film plane is essentially the digital sensor inside your DSLR. It is what captures the photo; the light and converts it to pixels. Okay, so what do those actions actually do to the photo you are about to capture? The tilt helps to control what exactly is in focus; in other words, by using the tilt mechanism of the lens you are selecting what will be sharp in your photograph. The shifting on the other hand is used to adjust the position of the target (the building or the person) closer or further away without having to move the camera back. This helps when shooting buildings and allow the photographer to keep the vertical lines straight on tall structures.


17mm TS-E Tilt Shift



24mm TS-E Tilt Shift



45mm TS-E Tilt Shift

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about some of the tilt-shift lenses on the market. Both Canon and Nikon make several tilt-shift lenses. I’m going to speak to Canon as that is what I shoot, but all the discussion should be applicable regardless of your hardware of choice. Canon offers a 17mm TS-E, a 24mm TS-E and a 45mm TS-E. So how do you know which one is right for you? There’s no easy way to say for sure, but if you are shooting architectural photography, you are likely only interested in wide angle lenses. Now we get to the title of this article. Try Before You Buy. Let’s be honest, a wide angle Tilt Shift lens is really expensive. I don’t care who you are. Sitting around the 2000 dollar price point is a steep entry into the world of TS-E lenses. That’s why I am suggesting you get started the same way I have. Did you know you can rent these lenses for about 40 bucks and have it for a long three day weekend? In all seriousness renting is not a bad idea. In fact, if you are getting paid to do architectural photography and have always thus far corrected your images in Photoshop, why not consider renting a tilt shift lens for you next shoot? Forty bucks out of your fee is nothing to bat an eye at and you might just fall in love with the lens. With any luck, renting these lenses could pay for themselves with a couple hired jobs. Where Josh? Where can I rent these for that cheap?[blockquote cite]You can rent a tilt shift lens at Borrowlenses.[/blockquote]

I will vouch for them. I have rented many lenses and it has been nothing but a great experience. For those of you not interested in architectural photography, there are plenty of other uses for a tilt shift lens. They can really unlock a new dimension of creative photography. They have the ability to make just about any scene look micro; especially when photographing from an elevated position. I hope this article was helpful to you; the point I want to make is that we as photographers often grapple with what lens to buy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Try before you buy is a perfect motto for us to remember. There’s no reason to spend two thousand dollars only to find out it won’t be a lens we use very often. I want you all to know that you can rent the tilt shift camera lenses for more than three days, too. Rent them for a week or a month! Take them on vacation and get a feel for them. I’d rather be out a hundred bucks than be stuck with a lens that does little more than collect dust. More and more photographers are claiming that tilt shift lenses are no longer necessary as camera mega-pixel counts skyrocket and photoshop does a better and better job of either dealing with converging vertical lines or faking the tilt shift look in post production. So renting offers some middle ground to all the mixed ideas we are getting around the web. Happy Shooting from Pabst Photo.