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A shift lens at 50mm

  |   Article, Articles and reviews, Composition, Lens, Rumour lens article, Tilt / Shift   |   No comment

A shift lens at 50mm – adding rise and fall to a standard focal length

Making use of shift at longer focal lengths

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Keith uses the Canon TS-E17mm and TS-E24mm tilt shift lenses a lot for interior and architectural work.

With Canon announcing longer 50mm/90mm/135mm TS-E lenses, just how useful are such focal lengths when used with shift, as you typically would do for architectural photography?

Using a Mamiya 645 Sekor C 55mm f/2.8 lens and a shift adapter (detailed review) on a Canon 5Ds (50MP) makes for a simple comparison with some shots using wider angle lenses.

Click for larger versions of photos in the article – see also gallery at the end.

55mm lens shifted upwards for rise

Using shift lenses for composition

My standard lenses for architectural work with my Canon 5Ds are the TS-E 17mm f4l and the TS-E 24mm f3.5L II. I use them primarily to ensure that vertical lines in the scene become vertical lines in my photos.

As you’d expect, architects are quite particular about this aspect of their work and those two lenses are great for smaller spaces and interiors.

If you’re new to the whole idea of tilt/shift lenses, I’ve written quite a few articles explaining their use.  I do use tilt occasionally, but nowhere near as often for this sort of work as shifting the lens up or down  (rise/fall). See the Tilt/shift category for articles for much more

I tend to use longer focal lengths much more rarely with tilt, but do have a M645 -> Canon EF shift adapter for use with some of my old Mamiya Medium Format lenses.

Here’s a 55mm lens fitted to the 5Ds with no shift applied.

55mm lens and shift adapter

Here’s the lens at full upwards shift.

55mm lens shifted upwards for rise

It’s around 11mm, but I know from experience that this will be pushing the frame into part of the lens image circle where quality starts to fall off. Fortunately, it’s often Sky in this part of the frame, so not as limiting a it might be.

A different look

A quick visit to the nearby De Montfort University campus should illustrate the use of different focal lengths quite well.

Note – Click image for large versions. Photos are also in a gallery at the end of the article

Here’s the Riverside cafe at the Vijay Patel building – taken whilst testing a very wide lens (Sigma 12-24mm F4 review) at 12mm

riverside cafe 12mm

Just the sort of shot some designers seem to like and architects hate (I work for both, so it pays to know)

At 14mm, by keeping the camera level, I’ve not much distortion of verticals, but my shadow has appeared, and the image is still not quite level.

shadow on lawn

So, how curved is the Riverside building?

Here’s the view taken with the 55mm shifted upwards.

dmu riverside cafe

The gallery next door (right) looks quite square in this 55mm (shifted up) shot.

dmu vjp gallery

You want a bit more dynamic? Well this is a view at night – at 12mm on the Sigma 12-24mm

vjp evening view

That’s this view (@55mm)

dmu vijay patel building and gallery

If you want to push it, I can go to fisheye (Samyang 12mm f2.8 fisheye – review)

gallery in black and white

With a 50MP camera, you get quite a bit of scope for cropping, especially for web use.

With the shift lens it’s easy to take two shots shifted up/downs and flat stitch the two together, giving an image in the region of 80MP and detailed enough to print at a metre square.

This view from a bit further away gives a better feel of scale for the campus.

The 55mm also lets you concentrate on detail, without the more extreme feeling of depth you get at wide angles.

dmu food court

Similarly, the entrance of the award winning Queen’s Building is more proportional to the receding frontage and distant converted factory.

There’s nothing special about this – you are just further away, and the lens (shifted up again) has a narrower field of view.

In the UK, it’s this need to be further away that often necessitates the use of wider lenses and more dynamic views. I often have the Mamiya 35/55/80mm lenses and adapter in my bag, but they don’t get nearly as much use as I’d like. This and the old TS-E 45mm 2.8 optical quality are why I currently own just Canon’s 17mm, 24mm and 90mm TS-E lenses. I’m curious to see just how good the TS-E50mm, 135mm and new 90mm are, but won’t be rushing out with my cheque book…

Gallery of all images

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