What Is a Shift Lens and What Does It Do?

Shift lenses offer a lot of unique solutions in certain situations. Is it beneficial for your photography workflow? In this video, we'll see the uses of a shift lens and for what genres of photography you may want one.

Shift lenses are specialized lenses. Not a lot of manufacturers make them and until recent years, most of those available in the market were significantly expensive. However, for some genres of photography, shift lenses are very useful tools. In architectural photography in particular, they solve a lot of problems regarding angle of view and distortion. In shooting real estate, specifically interiors, they can also enable you to capture a wider angle of view without producing a distorted image. Shift lenses are particularly helpful in this case for tight spaces in shooting interiors, as well as in capturing tall buildings up close. Shift lenses also enable you to produce a larger image by shooting shift panoramas. They are also quite useful for landscape photography in terms of extending the frame when you need a wider view or when you want to maintain perspective. Shift lenses are also very useful in shooting products and macro. A shift lens' effect in correcting perspective can be emulated in post processing in most situations. However, doing so would also mean cropping out a significant portion of the frame which defeats the purpose in some cases. 

This video is a demonstration of how a shift lens works and how to use one specifically for architectural photography. Demonstrated in this video is a Laowa FF 15mm f/4.5 Shift lens which is available in most mounts (Sony FE, Canon EF and RF, Nikon F and Z, and Leica L) This lens may have a few differences in terms of controls, but generally has the same functionality as other lenses that can shift. Other options in the market are Canon's TSE lensesNikon's PC lenses along with Samyang/Rokinon's 24mm shift lens. 

Nicco Valenzuela's picture

Nicco Valenzuela is a photographer from Quezon City, Philippines. Nicco shoots skyscrapers and cityscapes professionally as an architectural photographer and Landscape and travel photographs as a hobby.

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Buy a large format camera and all your lenses are shift tilt and swing.