Getting to Grips

The very idea and potential of a tilt shift lens requires some effort to get your mind round because it is a very unusual and specialised lens to use, not something you just slap on the front of your camera and away you go. There is only one solution to this and that is to practise by taking lots of different pictures and inevitably as you experiment, you will be using your camera in a slightly different way and exploring menu functions you have probably not previously used.

A Choice of Camera Bodies

The Samyang lens I have is a Canon EF mount which means that I can use it on my 5DS, 7D MkII or 1D MkIV. However this lens is purely manual and none of these camera bodies have inbuilt focusing aides but that said, I do have an external monitor that I can plug in to give me focus peaking facilities via an HDMI connection on these three.

My first and most amusing little struggle came with the 1D MkIV a camera that is some 13 years old and was at the early stages of HD video on a DSLR. Because of this, activating ‘Live View’ and its options is buried in the menu system whereas on more modern cameras these facilities are via external buttons because they are nowadays, so commonly used.

My camera choices extend beyond these three because via Viltrox speed booster adapters, I can use this lens on both my Lumix G90 and my M6 MkII, the latter has excellent inbuilt focus peaking, the G90 less so. It has it but it is not very good however it does give me 5 camera bodies to play with and that is excellent position to start from.

Of course there is the ‘crop factor’ to consider on the G90 (x2) and the M6 MkII (x1.6) which means that 24mm on the G90 becomes 48mm and on the M6 38.4mm however as both the Viltrox adapters I have are speed boosters too, I get to pull this back quite a bit. The 48mm on the G90 becomes 34mm and the 38.4 on the M6 reduces to 27mm which in the latter case is not too far off the native 24mm.

In reality for architectural photography I suspect that I won’t be using the G90 too much, it’s main value will be for video. On the other hand and in part because of its 32mpx sensor plus 27mm being close to the native 24mm of the lens, the M6 is highly likely to be used alongside the 5DS as the main camera bodies.

To Start With…

The obvious thing would be to rush out and do lots of photographs of tall buildings but in a small seaside town on the Bristol Channel we just don’t have any or to be exact, any useable for this purpose. We do have the bell tower of St Andrews but that has long suffered over the centuries from a ‘list’ that is on a par with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We do have a disused (now a private home) lighthouse alongside the original wooden lighthouse on the beach but they were deliberately designed to taper towards the top so hard to imagine them as being useful for eliminating converging verticals !

Additionally and being January, the weather is pretty awful and because of their moving parts, tilt shift lenses are not capable of being weather sealed. So for the moment, I will be confined to trying to devise still life exercises which will be fine for the Tilt function but not for the Shift… Ho hum but better days will come and both Weston Super Mare and Bristol will provide better opportunities to “Shift Away” to my heart’s content.