Hand held tilt/shift?
Tilt and shift is just fine hand held
It takes practice, but camera movements are not confined to tripod use
Explore the freedom of camera movements without the need for a tripod.
Article first published in 2009 with update in 2016
Who said you must use a tripod?
Perceived wisdom is that you only use tilt/shift lenses with the aid of a tripod.
I was out in Leicester yesterday, on my way to a business meeting, so I decided to take a few ‘snaps’ using the TS-E 17mm hand held.
As I know from other work, it really helps having a ruled focusing screen.
I aim the camera at a point that is the same level as my camera and then shift the lens to get the framing I want. Then I fine tune this with the aid of any vertical lines in the shot.
Here’s one in the Silver Arcade, where I’ve not got it quite right, but the leaning verticals don’t distract from the shot too much.
1Ds3 1/60th f/8 – processed in ACR with some fill light.
Don’t get me wrong, for work like this I’d generally want to use a tripod to get the framing just how I wanted it, but it gives a nice feel for the field of view of the 17mm.
Here’s a version with better verticals – I found that the 17mm is very sensitive in this respect to movements of the camera, so I took several pictures at each location.
Here’s one of a narrow lane by the Cathedral (I’ve forgot its name)
100th @f/9 – all shots taken with manual settings – metered at no shift.
So, whilst I wouldn’t want to do too much of my architectural work without a good tripod, it’s nice to know that the 17mm is a good ‘walk round’ lens too.
One more in the ‘Lanes’ area
Update 2016: 50MP and all’s well
This article was written quite a few years ago, and with practice I’ve become quite efficient at using my TS-E17mm and TS-E24mm lenses hand held.
Moving to the 50MP Canon 5Ds means I take a little more care in getting sharper images (care in focus and a higher shutter speed) but I now don’t think twice about using a lens like the two TS-E ones for my walk-round lens choices.
Now, for my architectural work, I do tend to use a tripod, but often only a relatively light one, such as in the MPB Harrier Tripod review
If I’m on holiday, then a simple stitched TS-E17 image like this one of the harbour pier at Whitby makes for a pretty good print from an ~80MP image.
Two images shifted up/down with the TS-E17mm – simple stitch in Photoshop.
You do need to be quite careful if there’s more detail but it becomes quite a simple process.
More detail at Southwell Minster
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Some articles that may be of interest:
- Using a tilt/shift lens - what it is they actually do
- Focus with tilted lenses - lots more information about what's going on when you tilt a lens. See also: Focusing the view camera - External link to [very] detailed coverage of camera movements
- Keith's tilt table spreadsheet (zipped file)
- Using old lenses on your DSLR - fun with adapters
- Keith's lens reviews and lens related articles
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