All Photographers Need a Tilt-Shift Lens: Here’s Why

One of the biggest misconceptions I have come across in the industry is that tilt-shift lenses are just for people who shoot architecture. Once you understand how these specialist lenses work, you’ll realize how big of a deal they can be for almost any genre of photography.

I have to hold my hands up and say that for many years, I thought tilt-shift lenses were just for people who shot buildings. That was until I delved into how these lenses worked. Once I managed to grasp the concepts behind the workings of these lenses, I began to see their potential for things more than just architecture. If you are still trying to get your head around tilt-shift lenses, I would highly recommend watching technologist Joseph Thio’s latest video on this very subject. In just over 10 minutes, he shows both the uses for tilting and shifting a lens and how this all relates to your focal plane and the sensor of your camera. For the visual learners out there, Thio includes some handy animations showing exactly what happens when the controls on these specialist lenses are adjusted.

I really like how Thio manages to illustrate what is a complicated subject into an easy-to-understand video. He even talks about the Scheimpflug Principle, which is a geometric rule related to tilt-shift lenses, without boring the viewer to tears.

While I appreciate that tilt-shift lenses are expensive and specialized, I still think all photographers should try to take advantage of them from time to time. To be able to control your focus plane in a very different way to a regular lens really does open up a world of both technical and creative possibilities, from landscape shooters who wanted to make better-stitched panoramas, to portrait, wedding, or street photographers who want to get more creative in their work. A tilt-shift lens may just be what you were looking for to give your work a little something extra.


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