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Tilt & Shift Lenses

Lesson 25 from: Fundamentals of Photography 2016

John Greengo

Tilt & Shift Lenses

Lesson 25 from: Fundamentals of Photography 2016

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

25. Tilt & Shift Lenses

Next Lesson: Subject Zone


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Welcome to Photography


Camera Types Overview


Viewing Systems


Viewing Systems Q&A


Lens Systems


Shutter Systems


Shutter Speeds


Choosing a Shutter Speed


Shutter Speeds for Handholding


Shutter Speed Pop Quiz


Camera Settings


General Camera Q&A


Sensor Sizes: The Basics


Sensor Sizes: Compared






Sensor Q&A


Focal Length: Overview


Focal Length: Angle of View


Wide Angle Lenses


Telephoto Lenses


Angle of View Q&A


Fish Eye Lenses


Tilt & Shift Lenses


Subject Zone


Lens Speed


Aperture Basics


Depth of Field


Aperture Pop Quiz


Lens Quality


Photo Equipment Life Cycle


Light Meter Basics




Histogram Pop Quiz and Q&A


Dynamic Range


Exposure Modes


Manual Exposure


Sunny 16 Rule


Exposure Bracketing


Exposure Values


Exposure Pop Quiz


Focus Overview


Focusing Systems


Autofocus Controls


Focus Points


Autofocusing on Subjects


Manual Focus


Digital Focusing Assistance


Focus Options: DSLR and Mirrorless


Shutter Speeds for Sharpness and DoF


Depth of Field Pop Quiz


Depth of Field Camera Features


Lens Sharpness


Camera Movement


Handheld and Tripod Focusing


Advanced Techniques


Hyperfocal Distance


Hyperfocal Quiz and Focusing Formula


Micro adjust and AF Fine Tune


Focus Stacking and Post Sharpening


Focus Problem Pop Quiz


The Gadget Bag: Camera Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Lens Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Neutral Density Filter


The Gadget Bag: Lens Hood and Teleconverters


The Gadget Bag: Lens Adapters


The Gadget Bag: Lens Cleaning Supplies


The Gadget Bag: Macro Lenses and Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Flash and Lighting


The Gadget Bag: Tripods and Accessories


The Gadget Bag: Custom Cases


10 Thoughts on Being a Photographer


Direct Sunlight


Indirect Sunlight


Sunrise and Sunset


Cloud Light


Golden Hour


Light Pop Quiz


Light Management


Artificial Light




Off-Camera Flash


Advanced Flash Techniques


Editing Overview


Editing Set-up


Importing Images


Best Use of Files and Folders




Develop: Fixing in Lightroom


Develop: Treating Your Images


Develop: Optimizing in Lightroom


Art of Editing Q&A


Composition Overview


Photographic Intrusions


Mystery and Working the Scene


Point of View


Better Backgrounds


Unique Perspective


Angle of View


Subject Placement


Subject Placement Q&A




Multishot Techniques




Human Vision vs The Camera


Visual Perception


Visual Balance Test


Visual Drama


Elements of Design


The Photographic Process


Working the Shot


The Moment


One Hour Photo - Colby Brown


One Hour Photo - John Keatley


One Hour Photo - Art Wolfe


One Hour Photo - Rocco Ancora


One Hour Photo - Mike Hagen


One Hour Photo - Lisa Carney


One Hour Photo - Ian Shive


One Hour Photo - Sandra Coan


One Hour Photo - Daniel Gregory


One Hour Photo - Scott Robert Lim


Lesson Info

Tilt & Shift Lenses

The tilt and shift is a very specialty lens. It's a lens that I would say less than 1% of photographers will end up owning, might rent it, give it a try out. It's an unusual lens and it's, it's kind of nice because it brings back the way we used cameras quite a while ago, with large format cameras. Now the tilt allows us to tilt the front of the lens, and this is to change the plane of focus, and we're gonna do this so we can either maximize or minimize the depth of field that we're gonna get in a photograph. And so if we want more depth of field or less, a tilt shift lens might enable us to do this. The other possibility is shifting the lens up down or to the side. And this is for perspective control. Sometimes these are called PC lenses, so with Nikon they call them PC lenses. And, now with digital these are very helpful in the world of panorama. And so let's take a look at how these cameras and systems work. Alright let's talk about the shifting aspect of the lens first. So the prob...

lem with taking your camera and pointing it up at a building, is we have a perspective problem in that the building appears to be kind of falling backwards. These lines are all tilting in because we tilted the camera upwards, and the essential problem is that the front of the building is right here, and my camera is now tilted. And so I need to keep the film plane parallel to the subject plane. And the problem is is that if you wanna get the building in the options are, tilting it, which is what I've done here. If you can climb a really tall ladder or another building, you can maybe shoot it from a higher perspective and so the other option for shooting this is get up in the air about 50 feet, with maybe a slightly wider angle lens. But as you know as you're walking down the sidewalk, moving straight up in the air 50 feet is not an easy option. I mean you could rent a, a high lift of some sort but for most people, that's just not an option. And so the designers, the engineers, the architects, they design these buildings with very straight lines in some cases. And they want those lines rendered straight in the final photograph. And so this is the corrected image using the shift on the camera. And so when you have these lenses on the camera, there's gonna be some dials that you can turn. And so what you can do is you can lift the lens up and reach up a little bit further above it, and you can go down below it. These lenses are very special because not only can you move them but they have a larger image area. And so their image circle is much larger than it is for a normal lens for that system. And so they actually have an image area that's more similar to a medium format lens. And so this lens is a bit more expensive to manufacture because it's letting light in and spreading it out over a much larger area. Alright, so here's another example of a parallax problem. The top of the building is narrower than the base of the building. And what we would ideally well, here you can see those, that narrowing of it. We don't like those lines. And so what we wanna do, is we want to point the camera straight ahead, and so when I'm using these lenses and I'm trying to correct for this, what I do is I just try to find a point, and right about on the railing, maybe on the second or the third step down from the top is where I'm looking at. That's straight ahead from where I am. You can also use, in your camera, the in level meter. Just get your camera perfectly level, and then you turn the knob and you crank the lens upward. And then you should get a nice, straight shot. And so that will give you all the lines corrected. And so this was the theory. Let's go ahead and show the video and here I am, actually pointing the camera up. I'm finding my point straight ahead, locking it in, and then I'm gonna turn the lens upward so that all the lines remain straight. And so the focal plane and the subject plane remain parallel in this case. And so this building unnaturally looks like it's falling backwards. It's narrower at the top than at the base. And from right at street level, I can correct for that problem so that the straight lines are nice and straight. Often times you have very tall buildings, so you're needing to shoot vertically. And so I shot this with a 24 millimeter lens and you can see that tower gets a little bit narrower than it should be up at the top. And in a rare case of using vertical video properly, I'm just showing this example here where I point it forward and then shift it upwards, and now it's got a very straight on look. And so now my final image here, with the shift, looks really, really nice. Now this is not something that you need to go out and buy if you wanna get this result. This is a way of doing it. It's the best way of doing it. The other way, is to go back to this original image, where it's kinda falling backwards, and take the image and bring it into Photoshop or some other photo manipulation program, and what you have to do is you have to do a transform or whatever terminology your system uses, and basically what you do is you squeeze the bottom, make it narrower, so that it equals the top. Now, this is available for far less money, because all you need to do is probably spend about $100.00 on software in order to do it, but the resulting area, the red box in the middle, is throwing away about 50% of the pixels. And you have to go through the work later on to get it done. And so it's not something that you get to see out in the field. If you wanted to shoot your house, you're selling your house and you wanted to photograph your house, and you need it for like, one shot, this would be a way of doing it. Especially if you know that you don't need those extra pixels. But if you're constantly doing this, this is nice to be able to do out in the field. I love getting things right in the camera. And so when you start looking at photos, look at those vertical lines. And you'll start picking out. Pick up an architectural magazine. Next time you're at the dentist, they'll probably have some sort of architectural magazine there. Look for those lines on those buildings, and you'll start noticing when the photographer used a perspective correction lens or not. The other way that they can be used, is with panoramas. So what I am doing here is, talk as the videos is, I'm shifting the lens off to the left and I take a photo. I'm gonna move the lens back towards the middle, and I'll take another photo. And I'm gonna shift it over to the right, and take my third and final photo, and then I'm gonna take these three photos, and I'm gonna combine them in whatever software program you wanna use. And the nice thing about this, is that the landscape the lines all line up really, really evenly. You remember the distortion we were talking about wide angle lenses? Well when you shoot three photos with a wide angle lens, and you shoot your first one over here, and your next one and your next one, you're distorting all that area that needs to be stitched together. And so when you try to stitch these together, it's really easy. They come together really smoothly and nicely and they look very nice as a result. And so it's a great little landscape tool, whenever you wanna get a very nice looking panorama. And so standard lens, and then you basically shift a little bit off to the left, so that you can get a little bit more. Shift a little bit more off to the right, and then you end up with a little bit wider angle, wider angle shot. And this is something I really like, for a little bit more of a cinema look. That's what I was saying. Not a cinnamon look. And so in this case I'm doing something a little different. I have subjects down below that I want, and I'm gonna shift the lens straight up. And I'm gonna take both of these images, combine them together and I end up with a square image. And as, you know, as a small Hasselblad fan, I do have an affection for square images. I do like them and I see a purpose in them. I don't use them a lot because they don't fit the HD ration of the TVs and so forth. But I do like a square image from time to time. Alright let's talk about the other aspect of tilt shift; the tilting portion of it. So we're doing this to change the plane of focus, and this is where we get to talk about the Scheimpflug Principle here. So, with our old fashioned camera, we have our image plane, which is where our sensor is in our camera, the lens plane, where the lens is mounted up, and then the plane of focus where our lens is focused at. Now in some cases we wanna focus on a flower in front of us and we can do that. And behind that flower is a mountain, alright? Very common landscape thing here, and we can focus on the mountain. And trying to get the two in focus can be a bit of a problem even with lots of depth of field. And so shallow depth of field will give us a very narrow reach in front of and behind that plane of focus. So if we try to get everything in focus, we're probably going to end up changing our aperture to F 22. But in many cases it just doesn't reach, from the beginning or from the flower all the way to the mountain. And the way to solve this problem is with a tilt lens. So with a tilt lens, we are gonna tilt the lens. And we'll tilt it a little bit, and logic, which isn't always correct, would say that if we have tilted the lens plane, whatever degrees this is, this amount here. The plane of focus would also tilt the exact same amount. But that's not what happens. It actually is double this, and there is a point at which the image plane, the lens plane and the plane of focus all meet, and this is called the Scheimpflug Intersection. And so the more you tilt, the higher up this brings this. And so now we're able to get the flower and the mountain almost in focus. And if we set shallow depth of field we may not get it, but all we need is just a little bit of depth of field, and we're likely to get everything in the foreground to the background in focus, when our camera is in this position, in relationship to our subjects. So what this looks like out in the field; we've got our flowers in the foreground, we've got our mountain in the background, and we're gonna tilt our lens down a little bit in order to get everything in focus at a very modest aperture. Usually around F eight or F 11, we don't need to have it at F 22. Now you might be saying well can't you just shut it down to F 22? Well that is an option, but it's not gonna be as sharp a focus, and if these flowers are blowing around in the wind, we're gonna need a longer shutter speed at F 22. And so it solves a number of problems which can be very helpful. And the beauty of these is that you can get incredibly great sharpness with them. And so this is a vertical image, tilted so I can get the flowers in really sharp focus as well as the mountain. And this is a photo that i have in my living room, about 20 by 30. And it's really nice that you can walk right up to it and all those flowers are really nice and sharp, and it was because a tilt shift lens was used, and it really wouldn't have been possible using any other system. Alright. You ready for some more vertical video? Notice how the background is out of focus, and I've got the foreground in focus. That's a petrified log in the foreground. In case you're wondering. And so what I'm gonna do, it's very subtle, I'm just gonna tilt the lens a little bit. And now that background is in focus as well as the foreground, and here is the final still image over on the right hand side. And so I'm able to get something extremely close in the foreground, and something in the background in focus by tilting that lens a little bit forward. And so any time you see these photographs that have things in the foreground and things in the background, it could be that they're just closing their aperture down a lot. Or it could be that they're using a tilt shift lens. And so this is something that I've been taking with me for the last couple years and been using in a lot of environments. And they can be used in the city as well. Just finding something in the foreground, something in the background. So here's one of my favorite tourist destinations in Seattle. It's Gum Wall, down at the Pike Place Market it's officially or unofficially I should say, the second germiest tourist destinations in the world, only slightly behind the Blarney Stone. Alright. And they recently just, I haven't been down there, but they steam cleaned the entire wall, and they took off something like 300 pounds of gum and people are now re-attaching gum out there. So, in this case, I got the camera pointed at the wall, and you can see to the right hand side it's a little bit blurry, and then we hit the focus point, and then it get blurry to the outside. And over on the left hand side you can see the camera movement that will mimic what's going on in the video, as I tilt the camera to the right, I'm changing that depth of field, making it parallel with the wall, and as I go the other direction, I make it even shallower depth of field. Alright? And so, let's diagram what's going on here. So let's put our brick wall together and let's put in the gum. There we go. Nice, lots of gum on the wall. And here's our camera pointed about 45 degrees into the wall. If we just shoot this at F four, which is rather shallow aperture, we're gonna have just a very shallow depth of field. If we tilt away, what I would call a reverse tilt, we get extremely shallow depth of field. Notice, over on the left and the right hand side of this gum cut, it gets very very out of focus. If we were to just go back and point our lens normally, but set it to F 22, were gonna get quite a bit more in focus. But at the extremes, it's not really as sharp as it can be. So what we can do is we can tilt the lens, into the lan, into the wall, and we get much better sharpness at even F four, and if we just stop down just a little bit, we're gonna maximize our sharpness around F 11 and we're gonna get every piece of tasty gum in focus on that bottom strip there. And so different ways of shooting the subject to get maximum or minimum depth of field. And you might be wondering, is it really that big a deal in sharpness? You know because I could just set F and do the same thing. So I shot these two images. One at F 32, maximum depth of field, verses the other at F eight but I tilt it, so that I could get everything in focus and I wanted to compare the sharpness of these two images, so let's take a look at the sharpness. Can you see any sharpness in these two images? I can see quite a bit, and so yes, it can help out quite a bit in many situations. And it can help out quite a bit, if the subjects are moving around. F 22 wasn't possible here, because these penguins are all moving around, and I can't do a one second exposure. But I could do a 60 second exposure, with a tilt on the lens. Alright, so we talked about tilting the lens forward, but what about tilting the lens in the reverse direction? Okay, we saw a hint of this on the Gum Wall. The Scheimpflug Intersection goes above the subject, and now it falls in a very unusual way, on subjects in front of us, and we can get very unusual results which has become, I don't know, kind of trendy in the last several years. Using this reverse tilting of the tilt shift lens. And so you can get extremely shallow depth of field when using this. And so this is a normal shot. And let's switch it over to a reverse tilt. We can mimic extremely shallow depth of field. Even though this lens is only moderately fast. I think this is a two point eight lens. It looks like it's an F one point 0 lens. It's because we're changing the depth of field on this. And so that's a 90 millimeter with a maximum reverse tilt going on verses trying to get everything in. So, the amount of either maximum focus or minimum focus is really heightened in these type of lenses. Now in this case what I did, can you see where the line of focus is? It's kind of diagonally through it. And so in this case I just tilted the lens to the side, to run the focus kind of at an odd angle, straight through the middle. So I just tilted it over to the right hand side. And so there's a lot of funky things that you can do with this. In this case down in Yosemite, the left is kind of your standard picture. On the right, I was getting the focus, and I was basically shooting the focus straight between the trees. I wanted the trees on either side of Yosemite Falls to be out of focus, so that just the falls would be in focus. A lot of times they are used as fake miniatures. And so what you can do is if you can get up to a higher location, and you shoot down, this is often done in little cities. And so in this case what I'm doing is I'm pointing the camera, in this case it's pretty straight ahead, but I'm tilting the lens upward, to getting this very, very shallow depth of field. And if you go up on a bridge or a high point and you look down, it mimics the look that you would get with a small set and a macro lens. And so it makes the bit city look like a miniature set. And so this is what's been done in a lot of different places, and these are not miniature cars and miniature people, it's just a lens with that reverse tilt. And so it can definitely give you a unique look to the images. But it can be a lot of fun. It's probably one of the lenses that I would most highly recommend to rent for a weekend. Just take it out, have some fun with it. It's kind of like a Lamborghini. You don't really need to own it, for the most part, but boy you could go out and have some fun with it for a weekend and it's not that much to rent a lens like that. So I think that's a lot of fun. Now, is it possible to use both of these things at the same time? Tilting and shifting. Yes. Not many cases, but in some cases, they can become very handy. So, in this case I had flowers in the foreground, and I wanted to get the ones in the background, so I'm tilting them forward, but I'm also shifting them to the side, so that I can create a panorama as well. And so having a lens that is able to do both types of work and combine whatever direction is gonna be the most versatile of these lenses. And so in this case, I have foreground that I want in focus and background, so I'm tilting the lens forward, and then I'm gonna shift off to the side, so that I can get a wider angle shot, and I end up with a nice panoramic, that has extremely deep depth of field. And as far as the tilt shift lenses there, there's no zoom tilt shift lenses. No one's made one yet. I think that's gonna be a real big challenge to make. These are manual focus lenses, so they require a little bit more care in their operation. Canon is the only one that I know of that makes a 17. That one's a really challenging one to use. The one that I really like is the 24. I think that's a good, general purpose tilt shift lens if you wanna borrow one, if you wanna think about buying one. That's one of the most popular ones out there. They do have normal 45. This works pretty good for product photography, and potentially people, or even fashion photography, where you want kind of an unusual look to that shallow depth of field. This is another way of getting it. And then also in the product, or potentially people, portrait photography would be something in the 85 to 90 range. Both Canon and Nikon have 24, 45s and either 85 or 90s. And there are other manufacturers as well, that will make similar focal lengths. Depending on the sensor size and so forth in their camera. And so, tilt shift lenses. A lot of fun. Great thing to try out on a weekend, and so it might be a good time to check in, see if there's any fisheye questions or tilt shift or see what were doing? Alright John we have a couple of, let's do some rapid fire on the tilt shift and then head into our first break of the day. How about that? Alright. Okay, so this is from Gordon, GM four designs. "Do you see the depth of field when looking through the "viewfinder on a tilt shift lens?" Yes you do. I hesitated for just a moment because there is a little something that we'll be talking about and technically no, but for the most part yes. Okay. And so yes, you can work with it on the cameras. Typically when I'm working with a tilt shift lens, I'm using with live view on the back of the camera, because it's usually on a tripod and I find that the easiest way to work with. However, I've been in a number of situations where I've just not allowed or I just don't have the opportunity for using a tripod, and you can do it handheld, and you see it right in the viewfinder. Alright so could you please comment on the Lensbaby line of lenses? Are those, how do those compare to the-- tilt shift? Well, okay. Sure. So Lensbaby is a lens manufacturer that makes a variety of lenses, and I don't know which lens they're talking about, but their original lens looks like a tilt shift lens but is not a tilt shift lens, okay? What it is, and they may have come out with a tilt shift that I'm not aware of but, they have a lens that has selective focus, which is a similar effect but it is different. And the Lensbaby, if you can think about your frame, it has a circle of area that's in focus. And you can move that circle of area around, but it's not correcting for perspective. It is giving you selective focus. Tilt shifts give you selective focus, but it's a very different thing because one is a circle in the middle and the other has to do with where the plane of focus is. And so, it is a cheap way of getting a similar concept in a very general sense. Awesome. And I apologize, this person was actually talking about the Edge 80 which has tilt shift capabilities. Okay now the Edge 80 I'm not as familiar with, and they might have added a little bit of that capability in there so, something to check into. Great. Okay, one more, just to clarify. This is from Juanita with a couple of votes. "If someone wants to get into architectural photography, "would the tilt shift be highly recommendable?" Well, if you are getting into it, if you want to do this professionally, if you want to make money from it, your competition is using it. And so you're probably gonna need to invest in one. Either renting one. You can do the Photoshop fix, kind of as a cheap starter so you can get things done and have work ready to go right now without a tilt shift lens, but it will make those problems easier. Especially if you're in a tight area. Being able to move that lens side to side, and being able to capture a little bit more of the interior landscape, while keeping those lines correct. And there's another little trick that we didn't get into where you can actually shoot directly into a mirror, but move off to the side, and look like you're looking directly in the mirror. And so there are some additional tricks. And, just for anyone who follows my classes. I wanna do a whole class on tilt shift. Like a whole day on tilt shift and so I'm starting to work on material for something like that, cuz this is the tip of the iceberg, you know. One of the other little things was, okay I'm gonna tip the lens forward to get more depth of field. How far do I tip it? And how do I focus it? And that's a very little complicated formula that I would get into in that class. And so that's something to look for. I'm not promising it, but I'm working on it right now.

Class Materials

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Fundamentals of Photography Outline

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Learning Project Videos
Learning Projects PDF
Slides for The Camera Lessons 1-13
Slides for The Sensor Lessons 14-18
Slides for The Lens Lessons 19-31
Slides for The Exposure Lessons 32-42
Slides for Focus Lessons 43-62
Slides for The Gadget Bag Lessons 63-72
Slides for Light Lesson 73-84
Slides for the Art of Edit Lessons 85-93
Slides for Composition Lesson 94-105
Slides for Photographic Vision Lessons 106-113

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Love love all John Greengo classes! Wish to have had him decades ago with this info, but no internet then!! John is the greatest photography teacher I have seen out there, and I watch a lot of Creative Live classes and folks on YouTube too. John is so detailed and there are a ton of ah ha moments for me and I know lots of others. I think I own 4 John Greengo classes so far and want to add this one and Travel Photography!! I just drop everything to watch John on Creative Live. I wish sometime soon he would teach a Lightroom class and his knowledge on photography post editing.!!! That would probably take a LOT OF TIME but I know John would explain it soooooo good, like he does all his Photography classes!! Thank you Creative Live for having such a wonderful instructor with John Greengo!! Make more classes John, for just love them and soak it up! There is soooo much to learn and sometimes just so overwhelming. Is there anyway you might do a Motivation class!!?? Like do this button for this day, and try this technique for a week, or post this subject for this week, etc. Motivation and inspiration, and playing around with what you teach, needed so much and would be so fun.!! Just saying??? Awaiting gadgets class now, while waiting for lunch break to be over. All the filters and gadgets, oh my. Thank you thank you for all you teach John, You are truly a wonderful wonderful instructor and I would highly recommend folks listening and buying your classes.


I don't think that adjectives like beautiful, fantastic or excellent can describe the course and classes with John Greengo well enough. I've just bought my first camera and I am a total amateur but I fell in love with photography while watching the classes with John. It is fun, clear, understandable, entertaining, informative and and and. He is not only a fabulous photographer but a great teacher as well. Easy to follow, clear explanations and fantastic visuals. The only disadvantage I can list here that he is sooooo good that keeps me from going out to shoot as I am just glued to the screen. :-) Don't miss it and well worth the money invested! Thank you John!

Vlad Chiriacescu

Wow! John is THE best teacher I have ever had the pleasure of learning from, and this is the most comprehensive, eloquent and fun course I have ever taken (online or off). If you're even / / interested in photography, take this course as soon as possible! You might find out that taking great photos requires much more work than you're willing to invest, or you might get so excited learning from John that you'll start taking your camera with you EVERYWHERE. At the very least, you'll learn the fundamental inner workings and techniques that WILL help you get a better photo. Worried about the cost? Well, I've taken courses that are twice as expensive that offer less than maybe a tenth of the value. You'll be much better off investing in this course than a new camera or a new lens. I cannot reccomend John and this course enough!

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