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Landscape Tilt Shift users
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p.1 #1 · Landscape Tilt Shift users

I purchased my tilt shift for front to back sharpness and I am doing this with every shot. Lately I am thinking my images are too flat, one dimensional i guess.

Do other tilt shift users always strive for front to back sharpness or use selective focusing too? It feels like another rut I seem to be getting into. I am thinking while my 21mm zeiss images aren't sharp front to back, they have more of a 3d look.


Nov 15, 2013 at 05:21 AM
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p.1 #2 · Landscape Tilt Shift users

Really all comes down to quality and direction of the light.

You can have total near to far focus and still have a great sense of depth, or you can shoot ultra shallow DoF with selective focus and still have very flat looking images

Nov 15, 2013 at 06:13 AM
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p.1 #3 · Landscape Tilt Shift users

We would need o see a sample of your images that disappoint you.

IMO the real issue is not the issue of focus but one of lighting.
A scene with raking side light will look far more 3D than one lit from behind the photographer or in flat light.

Nov 15, 2013 at 06:14 AM
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p.1 #4 · Landscape Tilt Shift users

true about the light. I rarely get out in the golden hours due to real life commitments. And as there isn't much of interest around here apart from water I am usually making the most of the many overcast days. I'll try to find a sample.



Nov 15, 2013 at 06:24 AM

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p.1 #5 · Landscape Tilt Shift users

Lighting helps, but you are also talking about microcontrast differences in the glass.

The larger image circle of the TS simply does not have the same amount of micro-contrast that the Zeiss has. This is independent of the lighting involved.

A few things that come to mind are:

1. What apertures are you shooting your TS with?
With tilt applied, it is often not necessary to shoot with as small an aperture as you would with a straight lens. The significance of this is that you incur less diffraction. Even the diff between 5.6 vs. 8.0 or 11.0 can have some impact on your micro-contrast levels.

2. How much tilt are you using?
A common mistake is to apply too much tilt. The wider the lens, the less tilt is needed to achieve an impact on your near/far than with a longer FL lens. I find that with my 24L TS-E II that only 1 or 2 degrees of tilt is appropriate, unless I'm really close to my near foreground. By really close I'm mean 6" to 18". If you are standing or on a tripod ... you're not that close to the ground your standing on.

3. Overcast light is of a lower contrast than raking light. But it isn't just the direction of the raking light, but also that the raking light is more specular light. Specular light will provide more contrast than overcast/diffuse light. The variance in microcontrast of the lenses is compounded by the variance in contrast (not just direction) of your light.

So, while there are reductions in contrast being impacted by the micro-contrast of the lens, potential reductions in contrast from diffraction from too small aperture/too much tilt, and soft lighting ... all is not lost.

Recognizing the variance in contrast being projected and captured, we can adjust our processing to compensate. The pp needed for a lower contrast scene is different from a higher contrast scene, i.e. one size pp does not fit all. At the end of the day, the micro-contrast if the scene impacts the "3D-ishness". To a degree this can be generated in PP as was noted in the great "What is 3D" thread a few years back. Can your PP perform heroic 3D renderings ... just depends, but often times herioic isn't needed, just a recognition that you are starting with different levels of micro-contrast, so you need to use different levels of pp.

BTW, which TS lens are you using?

Imagine if you were a painter, trying to paint a very 3D-ish image. A study of trompe loeill and perspective can provide some insight into how a 2D image can yield a 3D-ish visual response. You mentioned how the Zeiss may not be in full focus front to back ... natural vision doesn't retain everything in the same focus, it is part of how we develop a sense of depth. Additionally, contrast levels provide response cues to depth. Also, color variance and changes in scale render clues.

Additionally, the Zeiss incorporates a different design for zones A,B,C (in concert with the mustache distortion) that assist with transitions. The TS glass is going to be better corrected (more linear transitions). Harnessing the change in transitions in Zeiss glass at appropriate zone/subject distance/placement can really make a diff that is noticeable. Imo, nobody does this better than Zeiss (which they also make progressive bi-focals).

The differences can be very subtle and gradual or they can be stark and in your face, but it is those differences and the rate of transition to them that helps us involve a 3D-ish visual response. Painters know how to do it ... we can learn a tip or two from them.

Here's (an older) one from my early experiences with tilt @ 5.6 and about 18" from the wall (albeit I've since learned better halo control in my pp ). I don't shoot much tilt infinity, so this is the only example that comes to mind (I tilt mostly for foreshortening dof increase). Take notice also of the shadows on the sidewalk coming from the flower bed fencing. Not exactly the most raking, high contrast light that I was working with, but it was mostly a test shot to go "near to far".

The bike shot is a bit more my style. I likely could have shot it with infinity dof as well. Both shot with the same TS lens.

I don't use my TS in tilt enough to be expertly proficient with it, but I have noted the issues that you present along the way. These are some of the things I've noted that may be useful.


Edited on Nov 15, 2013 at 07:20 PM · View previous versions

Nov 15, 2013 at 07:20 AM
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p.1 #6 · Landscape Tilt Shift users

I use tilt the same way as you but I don't use it for everything. As the guys above said, show some examples. I will add that in addition to light the subject matter, especially what's in the foreground vs background, matters an enormous amount.


Nov 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM
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p.1 #7 · Landscape Tilt Shift users

Good Morning,

I have enjoyed the FD 35mm T-S since the early 70's, and converted mine (and a few others) to EF mount. Here is a sample of images that use the tilt with selective focus, as an example of what I have done on this much smaller format.



No Tilt

  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    35mm    f/2.8    1/4000s    160 ISO    0.0 EV  

Full Tilt

  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    35mm    f/2.8    1/400s    160 ISO    0.0 EV  


  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    35mm    f/2.8    1/4000s    160 ISO    0.0 EV  

Narrow slot-focus with tilt

  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    35mm    f/2.8    1/200s    200 ISO    0.0 EV  

Offset narrow slot-focus with tilt

  Canon EOS 5D Mark II    35mm    f/8.0    1/50s    100 ISO    0.0 EV  

Nov 16, 2013 at 03:29 PM
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p.1 #8 · Landscape Tilt Shift users

nice set of samples Roboticspro. I figured I'd spend some time down some none front to back images to get mix it up some. I use to when I first got it but seem to have gone on a quest for the sharpest shot.

I was going to post a sample but after reading the helpful replies regarding contrast etc I edited it with a little more care & the result wasn't as bad as I thought. Not the best image, but can't move the bridge



Nov 16, 2013 at 07:30 PM

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