Mind Blowing Depth of Field – Tilt Shift Lenses

Tilt Shift Effect…

Most people have heard of Tilt Shift because of the miniature filters you get on camera apps. Ones taken from high up to make the world seem like a toy town – or like this where just a bit is sharp.
It’s a cool effect and very handy for creative souls – though for landscape and architecture people, getting MORE depth of field is usually the goal.

What Tilt Does

There are dozens of youtube on the subject if you google it, I did and ended up buying 2 lenses so be careful.
It’s actually a lot harder to explain than demonstrate, here’s an attempt…

  • Normal lenses have a “plane of focus” (the sharp bit of a photo) which is parallel to the camera sensor – so when you take a shot, everything at the same distance away will be sharp.
  • Tilted lenses have a plane of focus which is not parallel to the sensor. This creates a “line of focus” across the image, with anything either side of the line being blurred. The line can be any angle and the effect can be increased by more tilt or wide apertures

See – really hard to explain.

This video is long but he does explain what happens


My experiments in a field

Here are a couple of examples from a trip last night:-

  1. Close up wheat field using the Canon 16-35 and the Canon 17mm-TS – compare the depth of field
  2. Opposite tilt using the Canon 90mm TS e – lots of foreground blur and infinite DOF

If you want lots of depth of field then you can tilt the plane of focus to get the front to back sharpness.

If you want the exact opposite, less DOF, then just tilt it the other way and use the focus ring to move the line of focus around.


Would I recommend you buy one?

  • Well the elephant in the room is price – they start at around £1000 and go up from there. They are not really for the enthusiast – you need to be pretty serious to buy one, or better, HIRE one for a day and make the most of it.
  • Once past that – watch lots of YOUTUBE tutorials before you get it and be prepared for it when you get one. I’ve used one in the past without doing this and just got frustrated with the knobs and got nothing.
  • The creatives will love the blurring capability – food photography will be a different experience now I’ve got one of these
  • The purist techy photographer will love the infinite DOF you can get with tilt

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *