Tilt-shift lenses have long been a favorite tool among architectural and landscape photographers for their ability to control perspective. They are quickly being adopted in other areas such as portraiture, still-life photography and filmmaking for their artistic versatility and creative possibilities.

Tilt-shift lenses share the same functionality as traditional large format cameras with bellows that were used prior to the traditional zoom and prime lenses used today. The tilt and shift functions can create images that are entirely in focus as well as a select central area of sharpness with artistic blur. 

Shift refers to shifting the lens upward or downward and is used predominantly in architecture to straighten buildings that appear to be falling away. The tilt function, on the other hand, is where the creativity can really shine.

3 Benefits of Tilt

  • Two subjects can be at different distances from the camera and still be sharp.
  • City and landscapes can appear very small, almost as if it is a miniature or toy set.
  • Creative blur can be created on the top or bottom of the subject.

Chicago photographer Eric Floberg frequently uses a tilt-shift lens and demonstrates how he uses the aforementioned creative blur in his work. A normal lens renders a vertical plane of focus whereas with a tilt-shift lens the same focal plane can be skewed diagonally simply by tilting it. The blurring effect can be adjusted simply by pressing a button and rotating it in any direction you see fit.

[REWIND: 2018 Fall/Winter Fashion Report | NYFW]

Example of focus with a traditional lens on the left and tilt-shift lens on the right.
Example of focal point with a traditional lens on the left and tilt-shift lens on the right.

Tilt-shift lenses are well worth their investment as they allow the photographer to be creative in the moment by providing varying perspectives and create stunning pieces of work without the relying on Photoshop. The artistic control alone that is provided by tilt-shift lenses is sure to inspire.

Gear Used

Check out the following video from Eric Floberg to see the lens in action and be sure to check out and subscribe to Eric’s YouTube Channel. You can also follow him on Instagram.