View Full Version : Tilt shift lenses, how shifting works to make panos...

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07-10-2008, 11:44 AM
OK, I know this is really confusing for a lot of people until you get to touch/feel a lens with perspective controls, but I'm going to try to explain it anyway....

I own 3 lenses that shift. Shifting means the lens itself shifts from side to side. This changes the composition of the shot when you shift the lens. We're ONLY going to talk about shifting in this thread, the T in TS-E can be discussed in another thread if people want to....

There are a few basic reasons to shift (I'm sure I'm missing some here):
shifting makes for panos where each image has the same perspective. So stitching is VERY easy, the only stitching isssue is keeping the exposure/wb the same, and anything that moves can cause issues. But those issues are all present in other pano tecniques anyway
perspective control
this is the leaning in of buildings when you look up... If you want to avoid this, shoot with a shift lens, LEVEL the camera, then shift the lens up, instead of the camera. Lines will remain parrallel.
keeping yourself out of a reflection (shooting "around corners")
you can setup your camera/tripod a bit to the left of a mirror and shoot at the mirror with the lens shifted towards the center. No reflection.... but this thread is to mainly show how shifting works in terms of the lens movement, and what the images will look like.

This tutorial is done to show an example of the first reason to shift (the reason I shift). The second two reasons would be single shots with a shift involved.

Here's my example photo:

it's made up of 3 images, each shot is a horizontal image. Between shots the lens is moved up and down to alter the composition of the shot... Now you can move the lens up or down, and you can shoot with the camera vertically or horizontally, so there are 4 basic rectangular shapes you can get.

Here is the top shot taken with the camera horizontal and the lens shifted up:


this is what the lens looks like shifted:

what's on the left there, would have been up towards the prism on the camera body for the above example...

then, I shoot a shot with zero shift:
that is the same image you'd get with a normal 24mm lens on a 5D. NO DIFFERENCE.

the lens looked like this for that shot:
that would be the side profile of the lens.

then, I shifted the lens down and took this image:

this is what the side profile of the lens would have looked like:

see how the lens moves, and the image it makes moves as well? I hope this helps show it a bit better. As Jay said elsewhere, it really does help TONS to see it in person looking through the viewfinder and shifting it yourself. I really need to take a video of a series, or shoot shots of the lens on the body as it shifts to make it very clear.

Here's a link to the full file with the 3 images above stitched:

The lens has a giant image circle. Most lenses have vignetting and other issues at their edges w/o shifting, but the TS-E lenses have a large enough circle, you can shift them ~12mm in any direction w/o and issues. So you're moving their larger circles over the sensor showing it different images. Also, the mechanism that does the shifting will shift ~12mm either way, so it's 24mm total with the middle being the centered image. BUT THEN the whole mechanism ROTATES 360 with 30 stops (but you can stop anywhere, it just clicks into 30 increments). So this will let you shift the image any way you want. Combine the shifting with the ability to move the camera to horizontal or vertical compositions, and you have several options for stitched images.

Here's 2 more great tutorials on shifting:
http://noriravi.com/ArticleTSE90;jsessionid=F6D70DC514429EC6860E8DCB99 BF3782 (shifting is at the bottom)

07-10-2008, 11:50 AM
Great, now I want one more than ever. Thanks :unamused:

07-10-2008, 11:52 AM
here are 4 examples of the rectangular options:

from above, camera in a horizontal layout, using vertical shifts (24mm & 5D):

camera in a vertical layout, vertical shifts (90mm & 1DmII):

camera in a vertical layout, horizontal shifts (45mm & 1DmII):

camera in a horizontal layout, horizontal shifts (90mm & 1DmII):

07-10-2008, 11:53 AM
something else to bear in mind... You "pick up" more pixels and get "wider" panos when using a 1.6 body over a FF. This is because the 12mm shift is absolute, but it's in relation to the sensor size... So it's shifting over half the width of a 1.6 sensor, but only 1/3 the width of a FF sensor. That just means you get wider panos with a 1.6 really, but for instance, when shooting with the 24mm TS-E on the 5D and 40D, both produce merged files that are roughly 20mp, but the 40Ds is wider and not as tall -vs- the 5D's.

Here's a horizontal camera horizontal shift with a 24mm TS-E, first on the 5D:

now everything is the same here, just on a 40D:

both of those are ~20mp when stitched, but different ratios.

Here's the 45mm on the 5D for reference:

07-10-2008, 11:58 AM
these are probably my favorite/best 3 examples of shifting:

vertical camera, horizontal shift (45mm & 5D):

vertical camera, horizontal shift (45mm & 5D):

horizontal camera, horizontal shift (45mm & 5D):

you can easily see where each frame starts and ends there if you carefully look at the water in each shot. That's the PITA, blending things that move when you merge the 3 frames.

07-10-2008, 12:01 PM
Wow, thanks!

I think I get it, but I really want to try one now. These are all with the 24mm, and thats what you'd reccomend for the 40d right?

Kris is gonna kill me.

edit: AHHHHHH $1150! Kris is really gonna kill me.

07-10-2008, 12:19 PM
the first post is with the 24mm but the images are OF a 45mm... the rest I'll label, but should all have their exifs intact.

As for what to get, that all depends on what you're shooting honestly. The shifts give you some pretty wide compositions, so 24mm can get too wide at times (yes I just said too wide!). Go here and play with the calculator at the bottom:
that will tell you the effective FL you'd have to use (and crop) to get the same corners into a single frame on your camera with each of the 4 options I showed in post #3.

edit: AHHHHHH $1150! Kris is really gonna kill me.

FYI you can get shift adapters for old medium format manual focus lenses for MUCH LESS and some would say it's a better (optically) solution. I didn't learn about any of those options until after I bought my last TS-E or I would have gone that route.... Basically you the adapter costs somewhere around $500, does the shifting, and you buy that part once. Then you buy random medium format lenses that work with that adapter for a few hundred each time (each FL). So the first setup is a tad under $1k, but then each new FL after that is much less expensive. The only issue there is the only way to get to really wide lenses that shift (like 24mm) is with the canon TS-E or an olympus 35mm shifter but the olympus is very rare and even more expensive. So if you want wide, you'll need at least one proper canon TS-E.

user errors
07-10-2008, 06:04 PM
I've never seen a direct comparison between a FF and crop body with these lenses, thanks for taking the time to do this

07-10-2008, 09:13 PM
my 24mm is basically a 35mm on the 40D, but honestly its pretty wide for panos - sure id love it on a ff, but it does wonderfully on the 40d anyway :)
(get one used - they're "cheaper")

07-10-2008, 09:34 PM
First of all, nice write up, really nice.

Would this do the same thing? I realize it's purpose is for macro, however it would move the camera far enough left and right to get a few frames to stitch? Then couldn't you move the tripod up to include the upper part of the image.

I am just thinking for those that would like to try this on a cheaper level.

I understand it would not be as convenient.

If this should be removed, go ahead and remove it, I am not too worried about it. Just curious.


07-10-2008, 09:47 PM
I don't think that would work (but I could test it with my acra clamp, same thing just w/o gears basically). Why? When you shift the lens (or camera body) you have the same image circle and are just moving to record a different part of it. When you move the entire camera and lens combo, what's at the edge at one point will be distorted, but when it's in the center, it won't be.

Obviously this comes down to the quality of the optics (and their lack of distortion) and if you're willing to warp images when you stitch. I think your idea would work in the same manner as a pano done with rotating the camera on a ball head. IE it'll work, and stitch w/o visible seams, but the way TS-Es work, there's no distortion.

But I've never tried it, so I could be wrong, but that's how I imagine it working out.

07-10-2008, 09:58 PM
optically you need to think of the sensor looking out of the corner of the lens.
If you move it over, its the same scene, just a 1/2 step over.. you need to move the lens relative to the sensor for it to work...

07-10-2008, 10:10 PM
nope to shawn, or me, or both? :confused:

07-10-2008, 11:25 PM


07-10-2008, 11:35 PM
Ahh, thanks guys that makes sense.

07-11-2008, 12:55 AM
Bottom line, I think it'd be fun to play with, but there's a lot of stuff I'd rather spend my $1k on.

07-11-2008, 01:02 AM
dont be hatin'

07-11-2008, 01:11 AM
its more like jelousin', but i'd buy a brick before I bought a ts-e.

07-11-2008, 02:12 AM


07-11-2008, 05:01 AM
no no no...

a 'brick':


07-11-2008, 05:41 AM
I was half joking...

I knew you didnt mean a LITERAL brick...
But, I didnt know EXACTLY what you meant.

to me a 'brick' is the old Motorola HT1000

user errors
07-11-2008, 07:01 AM
no no no...

a 'brick':


Ok.. it's an L, but which?

07-11-2008, 07:07 AM
24-70 f/2.8

user errors
07-11-2008, 07:34 AM

07-11-2008, 09:04 AM
not to get too far off subject, but isn't the "brick" more FF specific than crop? I just feel like it would not be near wide enough. I know it would work if you had a dedicated UWA. I guess I'd just rather have the 17-55 IS...

07-11-2008, 09:42 AM
depends on what you shoot and what ranges you like IMHO. Yes the brick is the standard zoom designed for FF and the 17-55 is it's 1.6 specific version... But the brick costs the same and is weather sealed and has more range if that's something you'd prefer of the wider range. Also, Jay has a 10-20, so he'd be missing 21~23 with a brick, but pick up 55~70, so it's not an easy choice.

But yeah, not to get too far off subject......

I've wanted the TS-E's ever since I found them in the canon lens catalog. I've shot 4x5 cameras when I had access to them in school and loved the insane details and the methodical setup they require. It slowed me down, and IMHO I get better shots that way (landscapes). They also REQUIRE a tripod when stitching (and pretty much any other perspective controlling shots) so it forces me to use it when sometimes I get lazy. It's taken me ~10 years since I put them on the wish list to own the set, and it took ~8 until I got the first one. I don't use them nearly as often as I'd like, but they're something I really REALLY enjoy every time I do, so they're here to stay. They're certainly not for everyone, but I'd really recommend anyone even slightly curious to rent. They're very educational in the least.

07-11-2008, 09:48 AM
wow dude, awesome. thanks for the SHinfo!

07-11-2008, 09:52 AM
yeah this thread is a great entry to intermediate lesson on TS-Es

I don't know if I have the paitience to set up and take these shots, but when you do the outcome is phenominal.

07-11-2008, 10:05 AM
it's a good thing pentax is pumping out tilt shifts!


07-11-2008, 10:28 AM
it's a good thing pentax is pumping out tilt shifts!


You can snag the old Shift only lenses for $500 if you are lucky.

07-11-2008, 10:30 AM
yeah, it's not worth it...but they are WAY cool

07-11-2008, 11:41 AM
not to get too far off subject, but isn't the "brick" more FF specific than crop? I just feel like it would not be near wide enough. I know it would work if you had a dedicated UWA. I guess I'd just rather have the 17-55 IS...

Yeah, the 17-55 was my choice first for my crop body, thats why I got it.

depends on what you shoot and what ranges you like IMHO. Yes the brick is the standard zoom designed for FF and the 17-55 is it's 1.6 specific version... But the brick costs the same and is weather sealed and has more range if that's something you'd prefer of the wider range. Also, Jay has a 10-20, so he'd be missing 21~23 with a brick, but pick up 55~70, so it's not an easy choice.

The brick would be nice for me in that its a bit better sealed, better construction, and I may pick it up down the road to prepare for a swap to FF in a year or two.

And back on topic, I think it'd be fun to rent a ts-e.

09-02-2010, 06:58 PM
bump for Jay!

09-02-2010, 07:54 PM
Old thread, I thought I'd seen something here before. Thanks for the bump, it now makes sense.

The next concept I've been reading into is the focal plane - with the context of landscapes it seems that you could tilt the lens to get more of an image in focus at a specific aperture. I haven't quite figured out the advantage of this versus shooting a smaller aperture yet, but I'm thinking if you wanted a specific water movement effect that only 1' exposure can give you then you need to be able to control aperture or ISO to make it work.

09-02-2010, 07:59 PM
^ yeah, it's for when you can't just stop down... Tilts are more for when stopping down doesn't work though. Think of macros where you want just the plane of something in focus that's NOT parallel to the sensor. Tilt and it'll be in focus. tilting is also how people do the fake model look (tilt the wrong way). :daniel:

here's a good tilt article: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/tilt-shift-lenses2.htm

09-02-2010, 08:14 PM
So are you saying that Jeff did his nudescapes with a tilt shift and a giant girl and real workers? :lol:

10-21-2010, 09:56 AM
bump so you guys can see this WITH the video:

11-05-2010, 07:56 AM
here's another good writeup:


11-05-2010, 09:26 AM
WTF no pics? :huh:

12-27-2011, 07:17 AM
bump for Dave and Will per our discussion on the way home yesterday. Also watch this guys:


12-28-2011, 10:25 AM
Anyone wanna buy a 24TSE I? Great shape! Filter, hood, bag and box included

12-28-2011, 10:58 AM


12-28-2011, 11:02 AM
I got $55

12-28-2011, 11:03 AM
try 20x that lol

12-28-2011, 11:08 AM
I'd pop on that and be a buyer at about $75. You gotta leave me a little meat on the bone.

12-28-2011, 11:08 AM

12-28-2011, 01:16 PM
Anyone wanna buy a 24TSE I? Great shape! Filter, hood, bag and box included

What do you want to sell it for? I might be interested.

Will 46 and 2
01-01-2012, 09:47 PM
Thanks for the bump Ben.