An Introduction to Tilt-Shift Lenses and Why They're Useful for Photographers

When it comes to camera lenses, tilt-shifts are a bit of an odd variety that can be intimidating when you first come upon them. This helpful video will introduce you to tilt-shift lenses, how they work, and why they're a great tool for many photographers.

Coming to you from Canon USA, this great video talks about tilt-shift lenses and why they're treasured by many photographers. Tilt-shifts are definitely in their own category, as they're all manual focus only, and the plethora of knobs and dials can make them a bit difficult to grow accustomed to. Nonetheless, those controls serve very useful purposes, such as allowing you to control the focal plane or correct nonparallel lines. Architecture photographers swear by them, but their usefulness extends far beyond that genre. By tilting the focal plane, you can keep more in focus while using a wider aperture to let more light in, or you can selectively focus on different elements of a scene. Most tilt-shift lenses are also remarkably sharp, and they make excellent portraiture lenses. My favorite combination at the moment is the older model of the Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 with the Sony a7R III. Give the video above a watch for more.

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6 Comments

Scott Mason's picture

Gotta love tilt shift lenses. In architectural work, they allow me to easily capture tall buildings which is a huge benefit. They also help me maneuver around interiors, showing more or less ceiling or floor with little to no distortion, yet keeping the height I want.

"To the critical photographer", you tilt the lens up, ever so slightly, to prevent the illusion the structure is leaning forward. You want to minimize the converging lines, not eliminate them. smh

Scott Mason's picture

The standard for architecture photography is to have completely straight verticals for both interiors and building exteriors. Most of the people doing this sort of work professionally are inclined to eliminate converging lines, completely. If you don't get it straight for this sort of job, you probably won't be hired again.

Now if you're photographing architecture as an artform, you can do whatever the heck you want. I've seen lots of interesting, dizzying photos taken from the bottoms of skyscrapers looking straight up.

It all depends on your end goal.

In that case, a whole lot of architectural photographers didn't get the memo. But that's okay. there's room for subtle distinctions.

Michael Yearout's picture

Yes, these lenses will change the way you think about your images and the way you compose them. Expensive, but well worth the investment.

Johnny Rico's picture

But ya'll people shooting LCC plates to fix that vignetting.