– for archit ectu re and more
If you want to avoid converging verticals in your shots of buildings, this is the lens to go for
Most lenses project an image circle that is just big enough to cover the sensor, but tilt-shift lenses cover a wider area. They work by sliding the lens elements up, down or sideways, which has the effect of sliding different parts of the scene into view. The main reason for wanting to do this is in architectural photography, to keep verticals vertical. Otherwise, if you stand reasonably close to a building, then even with a wide-angle lens you need to tilt the camera upwards to take it all in, and the result is a shot in which the sides of the building converge from bottom to top.
The procedure is to aim the camera level, which gives you a view with too much foreground and often cuts off the top of the building. But then, by shifting the front section of the lens upward, you shift the view upward also, but with all verticals staying vertical. Adding tilt does something quite different – it tilts the plane of sharp focus so that you can align the focus better to a subject (like still-life objects on a table), or do the opposite to throw parts of the scene unexpectedly out of focus. We’ll delve into this in a forthcoming issue, when we look at depth of field.
Earlier Nikon lenses, like the 28mm f/3.5 PC, offered just shift, but now the range of specialist lenses combines shift and tilt. The Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-E, Nikon 45mm f/2.8 PC-E Micro and Nikon 85mm f/2.8 PC-E Micro all boast both shift and tilt. Third-party Nikon-fit lenses include a range by SchneiderKreuznach and Hartblei.