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The Shift and Tilt Lenses - part 1 of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

by Mike McNamee Published 01/10/2014

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The shift lens is a throwback to days gone by. Older folding cameras had rising fronts to provide shift correction almost as standard. The MPP Field camera, much loved by 5x4 landscape specialists also had tilt and swing on the front standard. The model shown is the 1955 version out of the author's book by George Wakefield. The appearance at the edge of one of the illustrations of a horse and cart indicates just how far back we go by!

The MPP Field camera circa 1955 showing the rising front in operation.

While digital cameras have revolutionised photography, the fundamentals of optics have remained the same.

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The Samyang 24mm TS on trial in the English Lake District. It performed well enough for us to give it the ultimate reviewer's accolade - we bought it!

We move forward now to 1961 when Nikon introduced the first 35mm shift lens, the F3.5 35mm PC Nikkor. It was followed by a 28mm f2.8 in 1968 and then Canon joined the party in 1973 with their TS f2.8 SCC.

Currently there are eight shift and tilt lenses available, three Nikkors, four Canons and the Samyang 24mm (which is available in Nikon, Canon and Sony fits). As with all shift lenses, the Samyang is devoid of auto focus.

Additionally it does not auto-close the aperture and no metadata is available either. So, shift lenses are the province of all-manual operation, which is not too much of a hindrance as their most frequent use does not require any speed or agility. One advantage that the Samyang has over the Nikkor is that it can be rotated into any one of four orientations with tilt remaining available in the same or any other direction (the Nikkor has to be reset by Nikon technicians).


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1st Published 01/10/2014
last update 18/07/2022 16:31:48

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Updated 18/07/2022 16:31:48 Last Modified: Monday, 18 July 2022