Free-Lensing: Turn Your Old Lens Into a Tilt-Shift Lens
Israeli based photographer Dima Vazinovich is specializing in news, documentary and wedding photography. One thing that separates him from other photographers in the industry is the unique and creative look his photography has. Recently Dima decided to try adding a new kind of look to his portfolio, and the results are truly amazing. The idea: “Freelensing” / tilt shifting with a cheap broken 50mm 1.8 lens to create magical images.
Dima told Fstoppers about the idea and also gave us a step-by-step of how he hacked the lens:
“The free lensing technique was around for a while and i’ve been using it for a year or so. I tried it with many different lenses (35mm/85mm/135mm) and also couple of my old M43 55mm lenses.
“Some call it ‘lens whacking’ and some know it as ‘free lensing,’ but both use the same technique of detaching the lens from the camera, holding it close to the mount and slightly moving it to get the right focus.
“I remember talking to Sam Hurd about his technique of free lensing and he told me about his 50mm f/1.8G that he broke and took the mount off to get much more movement when you hold it near your camera body. He wrote a small article on his blog about his 50mm lens he’s using. He glued the aperture so it will stay wide open at F1.8 since nikon lenses default makes the aperture closed, and canon lenses default makes them open. After my last shoot using the free lensing technique I learned that focusing at open apertures can be really hard so I decided to go the DIY route and build something to help me control it.”
Take your old Nikon/Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, if you have a broken one its even better – if not – you can just get one on ebay for really cheap.
Take out the 3 screws from the back and take the mount off. When taking it off you will have to cut the cord (orange) that is connected to the lens.
Get the mount and the aperture ring out to get the lens clear of parts that could fall apart.
The aperture ring is not connected with any screws in the Nikon lens, but might be connected in the Canon lens.
Take a small piece of an old AA battery plastic cover and glue it to the aperture ring so a part of it still sticks out and you can move it to control the aperture.
To make sure it stays in place use a small piece of duct tape around the lens mount (as seen in the picture), so by moving the duct tape to the side you control your aperture.
To make it easy to move the lens next to your camera, use a chainsaw to cut the plastic on the sides of the lens. Thats not mandatory, but it helps later when using this lens. The removal of the plastic also helps more sunlight leak in to create very interesting effects.
The easiest way to use this lens is to set the focus to infinity and move until you get your subject in focus. If needed, you can always use the focus ring to change it manually.
All Photos provided from Dima and are used with permission.