Know Anything About Tilt-Shift Lenses?

by | Apr 7, 2011 | Recommendations | 1 comment

I had this question not too long ago. Though I love shooting wide angle, it does present a problem: distortion; especially of buildings or straight horizons. So my real question was: “Are there any lenses out there that do not have distortion?” Well, after a bit of online searching, I found that there really are no lenses that do not have distortion, but there some that correct for it. They are called tilt-shift lenses. And sadly, I found that the good ones are just as expensive, if not more so, than regular lenses.

But then something caught my eye. I discovered that a professional nature photographer, Ian Plant, was selling some of his old equipment, one item of which was a tilt-shift lens. I dropped him a note asking some questions about the lens and have posted his answers here for everyone’s benefit. I didn’t end up purchasing the lens, but it’s good to know I’ve learned some things in the process.

Q: What differences between the 24mm L Mark I and 24mm L Mark II cause such a marked price difference?

A: the Mark II is significantly sharper than the Mark I. The Mark I is adequate in terms of sharpness, on par with a number of older lenses, but it is not nearly as good as the Mark II and other new wide-angle lenses being released these days specifically for high-resolution digital camera.

Q: With software technology available today with Photoshop and other programs for correcting distortion, is a tilt-shift lens really all that necessary?

A: Personally, I think tilt-shift lenses are really great, especially for something like architecture. You can use computer programs to correct distortion, as the expense of resolution – also, sometime the correction process can be rather laborious. It depends on how critical your needs are – if you need to make perfectly corrected high res files for clients, then I’d definitely say get a tilt-shift lens. If not, if you’re just doing it for fun and on a tight budget, then use the computer to fix distortion.

1 Comment

  1. Robert

    Neat, James! This is new to me. I hadn’t ever heard of tilt-shift lenses before. Thanks for sharing!


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