How many lens­es should a pho­tog­ra­ph­er have in their arse­nal? Two? Three? Or as many as pos­si­ble, for dif­fer­ent occa­sions? Lens­es allow you to adjust the angle of refrac­tion and reflec­tion of light. They expand the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er and help to shoot the same scenes in dif­fer­ent ways. Today we will talk about the tilt-shift lens. This is a device that allows you to work with sharp­ness and per­spec­tive. And when it is need­ed and why, we explain in this mate­r­i­al.

The Canon TS‑E 17mm f/4L lens is an exam­ple of a tilt-shift mod­el. Pho­to: vidfolio.kr

What is a tilt-shift lens
How a tilt-shift lens works
When you need tilt-shift for the cam­era
Prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy of food
Shoot­ing Archi­tec­ture
Shoot­ing acces­sories

What is a tilt-shift lens

This is a device with which the plane of focus can be shift­ed or tilt­ed.

How? To put it sim­ply, the lens­es installed in the device can be moved rel­a­tive to the cam­era matrix. The shift is pos­si­ble thanks to the clamps that are in the lens bar­rel.

Because of them, the device does not look quite ordi­nary. And the first thing that pho­tog­ra­phers pay atten­tion to is a non-stan­dard appear­ance.

Clamps are wheels that are on both sides. With their help, you can move the lens. As a result, if you move it to the left, the focus line will move in the oppo­site direc­tion. Now every­thing on the left will be blur­ry. Why? Because the right side will be clos­er to the plane of the pho­to­sen­si­tive sen­sor (matrix) locat­ed in the cam­era. If you move the lens­es to the right, then every­thing will be the oth­er way around.

An exam­ple of mov­ing a Canon lens. Pho­to: gpartow.com

You can get inter­est­ing effects for pho­tos by shift­ing and rotat­ing lens­es. As a result, the pho­tog­ra­ph­er has more oppor­tu­ni­ties to make an unusu­al shot.

A tilt-shift lens is usu­al­ly a wide-angle lens. Since the design is com­plex, the price of the mod­el is high. For exam­ple, the bud­get Samyang 24mm f / 3.5 ED AS UMC TS Nikon F now costs from 70,000 rubles. The best lens­es are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more expen­sive. For exam­ple, for the Canon TS‑E 17mm f/4L, you will have to pay from 135,000 rubles.

How is it dif­fer­ent from a nor­mal cam­era lens? In stan­dard designs, the plane of focus is par­al­lel to the cam­er­a’s sen­sor. It depends on what is in focus. As a result, the result­ing pic­ture is not quite sim­i­lar to what the human eye sees. She is dis­tort­ed.

For exam­ple, you are rent­ing a tall build­ing. If you take a sim­ple lens, to pho­to­graph it from the bot­tom up, you have to tilt the cam­era and point it up. As a result, you will not get smooth walls, columns, doors. They will all be stretched, slight­ly dis­tort­ed. And with the shift func­tion, the lens shifts a lit­tle. And as a result, you get an even build­ing. The way the human eye sees it.

The dif­fer­ence between a tilt-shift lens is that with its help the frame can be changed so that the com­po­si­tion looks like a per­son sees it.

An exam­ple of col­umn dis­tor­tion. The first pho­to uses a tilt-shift lens, while the sec­ond pho­to uses a reg­u­lar lens. Illus­tra­tion: YouTube chan­nel LensPro­To­Go

How a tilt-shift lens works

With this equip­ment, you can con­trol two things:

  • sharp­ness. For this, a slope is used;
  • per­spec­tive. For this, shift is used.

And now let’s talk in more detail about the pos­si­bil­i­ties of tilt-shift lens­es for pho­tog­ra­phy.


This option is need­ed to be able to change the sharp­ness. When? When you need sharp­ness through­out the image, but you can’t achieve this with a reg­u­lar lens. In this case, the tilt will help to bring all the nec­es­sary objects into focus.

This solu­tion is often used when shoot­ing land­scapes, land­scape com­po­si­tions.

Also, with the help of such a lens, on the con­trary, you can lim­it what is in focus. With this trick, you can shoot cities, nature and dis­tant objects. This cre­ates a minia­ture effect in the image.

What will the view­er think about when they see this pic­ture? Prob­a­bly about whether this is a real minia­ture or an amaz­ing pho­to tech­nique. Pho­to: pics.alphacoders.com


Most often, this method, as men­tioned ear­li­er, is used for shoot­ing archi­tec­ture. The appli­ca­tion of the method allows you to change the per­spec­tive. Build­ings, objects will not be dis­tort­ed, stretched where it is not nec­es­sary. They will look as nat­ur­al as pos­si­ble.

When you need tilt-shift for the camera

Product photography of food

Food pho­tog­ra­phy is an inter­est­ing mod­ern trend. Mak­ing beau­ti­ful, sell­ing food pho­tos is a lot hard­er than it looks. An elas­tic dessert can quick­ly turn into a shape­less mass, and a juicy steak will look like a dry sole. We have already writ­ten about how to prop­er­ly shoot food in the blog.

But why tilt-shift when shoot­ing food?

  • You can focus on the prod­uct itself (cake, steak, etc.). As a result, only the impor­tant sub­ject will be in focus, and the rest will not.
  • Empha­sis on mul­ti­ple sub­jects. For exam­ple, if you need to focus on both the small decor that is in the fore­ground and the main dish (it is fur­ther away).
  • When shoot­ing very long or very tall dish­es. For exam­ple, a mul­ti-tiered wed­ding cake with com­plex decor. So that it does not look dis­tort­ed, it is eas­i­er to remove it imme­di­ate­ly with a tilt-shift lens.
The pho­tog­ra­ph­er has more options. He can choose which parts of the edi­ble com­po­si­tion he empha­sizes. Pho­to: twolovesstudio.com

Shooting Architecture

Get rid of the unpleas­ant dis­tor­tion effect, shoot very tall or long build­ings, sev­er­al hous­es at dif­fer­ent dis­tances — all this is pos­si­ble with tilt-shift. Shoot­ing facades of build­ings, unusu­al bas-reliefs is also pos­si­ble with the help of such a lens. It opens up many pos­si­bil­i­ties when shoot­ing archi­tec­tur­al ele­ments. Already at the shoot­ing stage, you can cor­rect­ly adjust the lens tilt and sharp­ness.

On the left, a tilt-shift lens is used, and on the right, a nor­mal one. Illus­tra­tion: YouTube chan­nel LensPro­To­Go


The lens for shoot­ing land­scapes must be able to con­vey the depth of the pic­ture. This is the main thing. But with the help of such a device, it is real­ly pos­si­ble to con­trol the clar­i­ty of objects that fall into the frame.

Ordi­nary equip­ment is not capa­ble of pro­vid­ing max­i­mum clar­i­ty of the entire image. Even if you increase the aper­ture val­ue as much as pos­si­ble, some sub­jects will remain blur­ry. This will be espe­cial­ly vis­i­ble when approach­ing.

And with the help of a tilt-shift lens, you can make any objects that you need sharp. You can blur the top and bot­tom, sep­a­rate areas — the pho­tog­ra­ph­er is lim­it­ed only by his desires.

Unusu­al moun­tain land­scape. Pho­to: i.pinimg.com

Shooting accessories

The most impor­tant thing is that such equip­ment allows you to get the max­i­mum clar­i­ty of the image. Objects become more real­is­tic. If you take a pho­to of an ear­ring with a tilt-shift lens, it will be clear­er, with­out dis­tort­ed (elon­gat­ed) edges, with­out a stretched shad­ow. Such pic­tures are more suit­able for a cat­a­log, print. Because they are more detailed and have few­er visu­al flaws.

Such equip­ment is use­less when shoot­ing things that do not have an inter­est­ing tex­ture. For exam­ple, rub­ber boots. But dec­o­ra­tions with engrav­ing, a lot of ele­ments will look more attrac­tive when shoot­ing with a tilt-shift lens.


It seems that you can get the effect of tilt-shift pho­tog­ra­phy in Pho­to­shop. After all, most of the tech­niques that pho­tog­ra­phers use can actu­al­ly be imi­tat­ed in post-pro­cess­ing. But it’s not. It is not always pos­si­ble to repeat the desired effect.

For exam­ple, con­verg­ing ver­ti­cals can indeed be cor­rect­ed in Pho­to­shop. Adobe Cam­era Raw has a Lens Cor­rec­tions tab. Here you can cor­rect some of the per­spec­tive dis­tor­tion. But this method has a sig­nif­i­cant draw­back. To fix the defect, the pho­to needs to be stretched. As a result, qual­i­ty suf­fers.

In addi­tion, some of the effects can­not be sim­u­lat­ed in a pho­to edi­tor. For exam­ple, it will not be pos­si­ble to make details in the fore­ground and back­ground in focus at the same time if the frame was tak­en dif­fer­ent­ly.

There­fore, a tilt-shift lens is a good pur­chase if you are look­ing for equip­ment for non-stan­dard pho­to effects, back shots, food, land­scapes and acces­sories.