So, what is all the hype around the fancy and expensive Tilt-shift lens? That is the question I wanted to know the answer of when I bought the Canon TS-E 17mm. It is basically a camera lens that does not only move forward and backwards. It is able to produce a tilt and a shift movement, that is, with the help of dials. You can literally slide the lens left, right, up and down from the camera body. The main purpose of this function is that it lets you play with the plane of focus and convergence of straight lines! After using this lens, I learned a few things.
1. Easier said than done.
Don’t think that if you’ve bought the lens, little bit of movement here and there and you will have the perfectly aligned photo. Using this lens is not as easy as it seems. You have to keep practicing it till you learn how to properly overlap the shots. It also takes time to get the focus right since it’s a manual focus lens. Try not to get frustrated when you make mistakes. Once you get the hang, the pictures will be so good that you wouldn’t want to use another lens.
2. Sometimes you need the convergence.
Although the tilt shift camera helps in making sure that convergence does not exist in a picture with geometrical structures involved. Sometimes it cannot be avoided. This is because it gives the picture more depth and creates an illusion of distance. For example if you take a picture of the train station standing parallel to the track, you must need the image depth. In cases like these, I realized the beauty of convergence.
3. The art of panorama.
I used to think of panorama as a mode that just exists in my camera and that I would never use it. If you have a tilt shift lens and you aren’t taking panorama shots, what are you doing? I learned the art of covering a large area in one shot giving it so much more depth than a normal picture. It is the best when taking landscape and architecture pictures. It allows you to fit everything in one picture and does not cut of the top parts of buildings..
4. Focus on me.
When taking product or portrait photographs using TS lens, you can enjoy the control you have in deciding what should be blur and what should be in focus. This way, you can always focus on the object behind the main subject without blurring any of them, which is a feature you won’t find in other lenses. The ability to keep both subjects focused even if at different distances make the picture look more lively and communicates a story.
5. Jot it down.
At initial stages of learning on how to use this lens, take notes all the time. Make notes from the information you gather from Google and YouTube. Also take notes of information you get from your experiences in previous practices. This makes it easy for you to identify your mistakes and work on your weak spots so that you get better with time and don’t forget what you learn.
6. Keep your battery charged.
Since, it is manual focus; you have to use the live view so that you can make sure that your focus is set right instead of crying over a bunch of blurry pictures later. Now, as you know, when the live view of the camera is used, the battery drains way faster. So you don’t want to run out of battery at the wrong time. So, always fully charge your battery and bring extra battery packs for back up, too.
7. Architecture - a photographer’s best friend.
The lens are an essential for architecture photography because they can maintain the vertical parts of the buildings.They also maintain other structures and present them how the human eye normally sees it. (not with the straight lines converging at a distance). By tilting the lens instead of tilting the camera, you alter the middle point of that imaging circle thus making the subject appear straight. Properly captured pictures of exteriors and interiors are very important for marketing and business blogs of architecture companies.
8. Tripod is a must.
You cannot use this lens without a tripod because if you move while taking pictures on your camera, over lapping becomes impossible. As, staying absolutely still is the key to using this lens and staying still while physically holding a camera is not humanly possible so get a tripod or go home! Therefore, you can’t just carry it and use it whenever you want. You will have to properly plan your photo shoot and carry your tripod with yourself.
9. Foodie alert.
These lenses are not just limited to architectural photographers, infant they are of great use in product and food photography. The biggest benefit of using the tilt shift lens in this genre is that you can change the plane of focus. By doing that you have more freedom in focusing on preferred objects even if one object is behind the other object. This is a more expressive way of taking pictures and can’t be achieved with ordinary lens.
10. Worth it.
The lens does cost a fortune and I had to save up for months before I was able to afford this lens, but I have no regrets whatsoever. I feel like the Tilt shift lens is totally worth the money not only because of the of the advanced tilt shift features but also because of its optical quality. This is exceptional in the Canon and Nikon tilt shift lens, although I prefer Canon lens more. You can further make use of your purchase by providing 360 degree photography services that are used by many organizations for marketing and advertisement purposes.
11. The more the merrier.
Take more pictures that you think you really should because the pictures look different in the camera screen (usually better). They also look very different on a larger screen such as that of a computer. So just take more than one or two pictures of the same person, thing or place so that you have the option to discard the bad or blur ones. By doing this you can find the one that is best and put your effort on that picture. Besides, there is not harm in it and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
12. Better than Photoshop.
You can always merge multiple pictures using Photoshop to create a panorama effect or straighten them. You can also adjust the angles in the pictures to remove convergence of vertical structures. However, I think, if you can afford it or if you have a passion of collecting lens, just get the tilt-shift lens instead. Honestly, on Photoshop, you really are compromising on the pixels of the photo.
Bottom line is, get yourself a tilt shift lens if you can. It really is a game changer in the field of food, architecture and product photography. The love it’s getting by the photographers isn’t just baseless, it’s been earned and that is what I learned after using a tilt-shift lens.