Sunday, March 9, 2014

Going ‘Technical’

Ever since taking up photography, some four years ago, I have been fascinated by view/technical cameras. That is cameras that allow the sensor plane and the lens plane (rear and front standards) to be independently moved, in 3-D, relative to each other, and by ‘angle’, or ‘tilt/swing’.

Some insight into the advantages and disadvantages of these cameras may be gleaned when playing around with macro bellows. However, in this case both the sensor and lens plane remain parallel relative to each other.

In the last week I have taken the ‘obvious’ step towards a technical camera and treated myself to a Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II tilt+shift lens. The lens is a 24mm L prime with a tilt of +/- 8.5 deg and a shift of +/- 12mm. The shift function allows 1-D panoramas to be created for perfect stitching; and, for example, in 2-D, rotating a 12mm shift around the lens axis gives a 2-D pano stitch equivalent to 14.4mm lens.

This weekend has been spent experimenting with the lens, using my usual test subject: our front room!

The glass is superb: the advantage of a tilt+shift lens is that the glass diameter extends way beyond the sensor size.

My main interest in the lens is to use it for correcting the ‘leaning building’ problem we suffer from when taking images of tall objects; and to create 1-D and 2-D panos, ie emulating wide angle lenses, but with lots of data.  For instance, the three image pano shown below, which was stitched together by shifting left and right by just under 12mm, has a final dimension of 9210x3847. Of course, I could have set up my nodal rail and taken the three images, but now I can take great panos ‘in-camera’, ie by just carrying my 24mm TS-E. That is three pano images with no distortion to correct in the stitching software, as with nodal rotations.

So far I have only played around with the lens on my 5DMkIII: on my cropped 50D the shift multiplier will be more pronounced.

Bottom line: another tool (toy?) and one I’m really going to enjoy using.

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