I have recently bought a 24mm Tilt and Shift Lens for landscape work.  I have read a lot about the theory and how other people come to the right tilt and focus points, but I have modified these procedures to make it easier for *me* to quickly setup the lens for landscapes, this may therefore work for other people but it also might not suit them.

I am assuming that knowing how a tilt and shift lens works and is adjusted are already known.

Firstly this might seem a bit complicated, but after a couple of practises all should become clear and it has become almost second nature to me now.

First a mantra, or really 2 mantra’s…

far focus point – less is less and more is more
near focus point – less is more and more is less

the only other thig I remember is for a 24mm lens…

camera 140 cm above plane of focus 1 degree tilt and from that I can work out that
70 cm = 2 degrees tilt
35 cm = 4 degrees tilt
17 cm = 8 degrees tilt

…because halving the distance doubles the tilt.

…I will use these later…

Firstly I will compose the picture in the camera viewfinder.

Then I pick a near point that I want in focus and then a far point, in my mind I will then extend a line between these and continue it until the line is ‘underneath’ my camera, this may mean in my mind the line is actually below ground level.  I then estimate how high my camera is above this line and use the above approximations. e.g.  If it’s over 140 cm I will dial in a little under 1 degree of tilt, if I estimate it’s say 50 cm then I would dial in 3 degrees etc etc.

Using live view at either 5x or sometimes even 10x, I will navigate to the near focus point with the liveview screen and then focus the lens on the near object, it doesn’t matter if you focus on the near or far first.

Move liveview to show the far focus point, if it  is in focus (and sometimes it will be) the estimate  you made above with the tilt angle was a good one and you are set up for the photograph. If it’s not in focus, refocus the lens on the far point and NOTE if you increased the focus distance or decreased the focus distance, also if the movement was large or small.  Here is where the mantras come in, for the far point if you increased focus distance ‘more is more’ so you need to now dial in MORE tilt and if you decreased the focus distance then ‘less is less’ and you dial in LESS tilt.  The amount will depend if you moved the focus just a little then just alter the tilt just a little, if you moved it a lot then alter the tilt quite a bit more, with a few practise runs this will become very predictable and you will be able to estimate the amount reasonably accurately.

Refocus on the far point after you have changed the tilt.

In liveview navigate to the near focus point and if it’s in focus then you are setup to take the picture.  If it’s not in focus, you alter the lens focus and again NOTE if you increased or decreased the focus distance and also if it was a small or large adjustment.  For the near focus point the mantra is ‘more is less’ and ‘less is more’ so if you reduced the focus distance ‘less is more’ then you add MORE lens tilt etc.

In liveview refocus on the near point and then go back to the far point and carry and  do the smae again remembering that for the far point the mantra is ‘less is less’ and ‘more is more’ again…. although most of the time you will need only do this once or twice and everthing should then be set correctly.

It seems a long winded and complicated way to tilt and focus a lens but it is really easy once you have done it a couple of times, certainly for me I can get the correct tilt and focus for a landscape mostly in 5-30 seconds.

If the above doesn’t make much sense to you at the moment and you have an Iphone, this app…


…is very good IMHO 🙂