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Tilt and shift lenses


Jase Ryan
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The simple tilt focus lens has a pivot near the back of the lens so that, when tilted to one side, the rays of light from the lens do not fall flat onto the film plane, but at a diagonal. Here is a shot from "Remains of the Day" that used a tilt-focus lens:

remains2.jpg

 

See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheimpflug_principle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilted_plane_focus

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A shift which is used less often for cine purposes is effectively two tilts - one of the lens and one of the film plane...  Put in simpler terms its the same as 'shifting' the lens parallel to the film plane in any direction.

 

The most prolific example of the effect is to 'fix' converging parallels...

 

check it out:

 

028_4190~Flatiron-Building-New-York-Posters.jpg

 

See how the building although shot at ground level doesn't get smaller as it gets higher ?   Its an age old architectural photography trick that has led to many a statement of 'wow, its seems much smaller in real life' when people visit some architectural wonder they had only up to that point seen (shifted) photographs of ...

 

Grab a wide lens and look at something quite geometric - notice how straight lines become all curvy at the edges ?  Shift photography takes advantage of those curves to correct the natural fall off of things in reality ...

 

Good question:   why the hell do things get smaller the further away they are ?  :blink:

 

anyhoo - I digress

 

I remember seeing in one of those Ron Fricke films an animation of a shift lens from one extreme setting to another...

 

here are some cameras that can do shift pix:

 

00HI4L-31166484.jpg

 

thegiantcamera.jpg

 

and the good ol' home conversion:

 

IMGP3378_copy.jpg

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Thats definitely new to me. Very neat to learn about though. In the shot from "Remains of the Day", the DOP's reason for using the tilt lens was to have both the actors in focus and the neon sign in the background in focus with everything else in between and beyond out of focus? I haven't scene this film so I'm not sure how this effect was used to help tell the story.

 

Are these lenses used often in filmmaking? If you have used them, what was your reason for choosing them?

 

Thanks,

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In "Remains of the Day" there are a couple of scenes where the tilt-focus lens is used to hold both actors in focus. The visual tension is between these two people. The fact that the far background on the right fell into that plane was less important, though it does keep the location as an element. Remember that the focus is falling along a diagonal plane so infinity is in focus on one edge of the frame.

 

Here was another:

 

remains.jpg

 

They aren't used that often, but when they are, it's usually to create a false deep-focus effect like a split-diopter does, but it can be more subtle.

 

Or it can be used to throw some area out of focus that normally would be in focus.

 

Here are two shots in "Shadowboxer" where I used a tilt-focus lens:

 

shadowboxerDVD8.jpg

 

shadowboxerDVD11.jpg

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As already discussed, one of the main applications of tilt and shift lenses is in photographing architecture. If you ever tilt your head and look up at a building through a photographic lens, you will see a phenomenon known as 'converging verticals' where the lines of the building appear to fall away (ie look narrowest at the top and fan out at the bottom.) A tilt and shift lens allows you to line up the vertical lines of the building at eye level and once this is accomplished, the lens can then be raised relative to the camera body to include the top of the building, while maintaining the appearance of vertical lines. In other words, the lens keeps parallel to the building the whole time so vertical lines remain vertical. The basic principle of these lenses was borrowed from the view camera which is a rather 'ancient' but highly versatile camera design. In movies set in old times, you've no doubt seen a large wooden, old fashioned looking camera with a black bellows between the camera body and lens, and the photographer is hunched over under a black cloth at the back - well, that's a view camera! And view cameras are still made to this very day.

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Thats definitely new to me. Very neat to learn about though. In the shot from "Remains of the Day", the DOP's reason for using the tilt lens was to have both the actors in focus and the neon sign in the background in focus with everything else in between and beyond out of focus? I haven't scene this film so I'm not sure how this effect was used to help tell the story.

 

Are these lenses used often in filmmaking? If you have used them, what was your reason for choosing them?

 

Thanks,

I've used them in stills with my own home built 4x5 view camera:

(dont ever ask me to make a bellows again! a sticky swear word occasion I dont wish to repeat)

 

I want to build a tilt/shift system for my Bolex cameras - I reckon the bayonet versions will fit in a fair bit of movement, trick is getting lenses with the coverage for super16 - ie. I'll have to fork out for 35 stills fisheye lenses ...  (It will have a bag bellows)

 

The reasons for wanting to use one are almost opposite - firstly, one can use them to dramatically reduce DOF by having the plane of focus near on perpendicular to the 'scene' - this leads to an interesting effect that everything appears miniaturized as we are so used to that kind of DOF being associated with macro photography:

 

257388458_8dc6b6608e_o.jpg

 

weird huh!

 

If I remember properly I think they used this miniature effect in 'The Princess and the Warrior' - for the train um, thingy um, bit ... I watched that before I was even into stills photography so my memory is foggy, but I distinctly remember wondering how it was done...

 

The other use is by placing the focal plane along the line of the scene (characters whatever) then we can force focus to be where we like it - This could allow us to still use fast lenses fully open and slower stocks to reduce grain for instance  - See Davids examples for this...

 

I've noticed a lot of fake DOF tilt lens stuff that is actually just done in post with a selective blur - Its a bugbear of mine, I hate the fakeness - I find it a lot in those emotional blackmail genre adverts for pharmaceuticals ...

 

People absolutely love this guys photos - I think its done in photoshop ...  but it could have been done in the darkroom - still, I prefer the use of tilt rather than what you see here...

 

15.jpg

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As a view camera operator, I do miss the tilt-shift technique while using most cinema lenses, so I wind up opting for a set as often as the producers will allow me. (to date, once) It takes practice, but once you get the hang off it... amazing results.

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Can someone help explain how a tilt and shift lens works? And can you show me any examples of what it looks like?

 

Thanks.

 

Jase.

 

Hi guys.

The my experience of use of tilt- shift style of shooting begin from photo shooting of large format photo cameras.

The many great west photographers wrote books about technology of use of tilt-shift control of lenses with formulas and diagrams.

And i can confirm, this is great possibilities.

That's why, i was happy to use of similar technology at cine shooting .

You can control of sharpness distance.

You can control of geometrical error and more, more other.

The professional cine lenses with tilt-shift control have super high price, that's why, i will happy to use alternative way.

I use of Ukrainian modern Hartblei Tilt-shift lenses of medium format photo cameras Kiev-60, Pentacon Six and indstall on my n Konvas camera with adapter P-6/OST-19.

 

 

 

You can repeat of my way and to open of unique possibility of tilt-shift control.

I discussed with Sergey, designer of Hartblei lenses, and Segrey to promise to create of tilt-shift Super rotator lens with Arri PL lens mount on future.

 

You can read of information about Hartblei tilt-shift lenses:

 

http://www.hartblei.com/

 

http://www.hartblei.com/reviews/reviews.htm

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Thanks for all the responses. Very informative. One last question about them. How do you control where the image will be in focus and where it will be soft? I mean, if you can have three different locations infocus and everything between and beyond soft, how do you control where you want the sharpness to fall?

 

Also, on a side note, someone mentioned they converted their still 35mm lenses for their motion picture camera. Does that mean you can do that with any still 35mm lens? I just bought a Super 16mm Aaton with a PL mount and I also have an old Canon AE-1 still camera with a few different lenses. Is there a way I can get an adapter for those lenses to fit the PL mount?

 

Thanks.

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  • Sustaining Member

Hi,

 

This has been a very informative conversation indeed and also great photos as examples.

I have just watched 'The Illusionist' shot by Dick Pope, BSC. Beautiful work, I was wondering weather he used shift and tilt for the closer shots or he perhaps had Master Primes wide-open and defocused some parts of the frames in post.

 

Thank You,

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Hi guys.

The my experience of use of tilt- shift style of shooting begin from photo shooting of large format photo cameras.

The many great west photographers wrote books about technology of use of tilt-shift control of lenses with formulas and diagrams.

And i can confirm, this is great possibilities.

That's why, i was happy to use of similar technology at cine shooting .

You can control of sharpness distance.

You can control of geometrical error and more, more other.

The professional cine lenses with tilt-shift control have super high price, that's why, i will happy to use alternative way.

I use of Ukrainian modern Hartblei Tilt-shift lenses of medium format photo cameras Kiev-60, Pentacon Six and indstall on my n Konvas camera with adapter P-6/OST-19.

 

You can repeat of my way and to open of unique possibility of tilt-shift control.

I discussed with Sergey, designer of Hartblei lenses, and Segrey to promise to create of tilt-shift Super rotator lens with Arri PL lens mount on future.

 

You can read of information about Hartblei tilt-shift lenses:

 

http://www.hartblei.com/

 

http://www.hartblei.com/reviews/reviews.htm

Ooo, Olex, my savior! I shall name a camera after you!

 

Let me know when/if this is available, I shall be first in line!

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Find a book at the library called "View Camera Techniques". I Believe it's by Leslie Stroebel. It'll teach you all the technical stuff about view cameras and, by extension, tilt-shift lenses. It's pretty simple technically but tricky to do in a way that looks good. Plus, perspective correction pretty much rules out the possibility of camera movement in the shot because of the distortion (you're actually distorting things to make them look like they're not distorted, oddly enough)

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Plus, perspective correction pretty much rules out the possibility of camera movement in the shot because of the distortion (you're actually distorting things to make them look like they're not distorted, oddly enough)

no more or less change in distortion than the same shot with the same lens without a shift though ... (unless maintaining the correction at all times is desired that is) - maybe with 'follow-shift'/moco it could be done - programming that... ouch

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hey olex i like that idea :lol: what would be an optimal focal length for super16?

 

Frankly speaking, I test of tilt-shift Hartblei lenses with 35 mm cine camera.

You need choose of focal lenght depend from style of subjects of shooting.

This can be Hartblei Super rotator 45mm, 65 mm, 80 mm, 120 mm.

You an find of this lenses on e-buy or from other sellers.

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