Contact us: +44 116 291 9092
Title Image

Hand held tilt/shift?

  |   Articles and reviews, Lens, Photography Ideas, Tilt / Shift   |   No comment

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.

Site update: Sorry for site slowness - the site has outgrown its hosting. Keith is working on this, but we are photographers not web developers!
...Get our Newsletter for new articles/reviews and why not subscribe to Keith's YouTube Channel
...Keith's book about how to use tilt/shift lenses is now available.
Our site contains affiliate links - these help support the site. See our Advertising policies for more

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.

Silver Arcade, Leicester

Silver Arcade, Leicester

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.

Silver Arcade - Victorian shopping arcade, Leicester

Silver Arcade – Victorian shopping arcade, Leicester

Here’s one of a narrow lane by the Cathedral (I’ve forgot its name)

Lane near Leicester Cathedral

Lane near Leicester Cathedral

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


Loseby Lane/Guildhall Lane junction, Leicester

Loseby Lane/Guildhall Lane junction, Leicester

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.

whitby harbour

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

Specialised architectural photography of Southwell Minster, using multiple shifted images

Never miss a new article or review - Sign up for our Newsletter (2-4 a month max.)

More lens use related articles

All articles and reviews are listed on our main Articles and Reviews page, or use the search box at the top of any page. Experimental items, hacks and how-to articles are all listed in the Photo-hacks category.
Some articles that may be of interest:  

More of Keith's articles/reviews (Google's picks to match this page)

We're an affiliate, so receive payment if you buy via Amazon US

No Comments

Post A Comment