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on Apr 12, 2017 in Field Reports

The Nikon 19T/S Lens

Sandhills, NE
captured D5 / 19T/S

Late last year, Nikon released the PC NIKKOR 19mm f/4E ED Tilt-Shift Lens, a very esoteric, expensive, special use, amazing lens! This lens is not meant for mainstream photographers because it has a very specific application most photographers don’t need. I have the lens for one reason, shooting inside of hangars. But after mentioning the 19mm on the Podcasts, I had some folks ask just what a PC (perspective correction) lens does.

Burwell, NE
captured D5 / 19T/S

When you tilt a camera/lens up to take in all of a subject it changes the perspective of the scene. The classic example is that lines fall in on themselves (the bottom photo). For example the photo of the windmill, it’s on the edge of the frame and if taken with a wide angle lens, it would be tilting into the frame. It was shot with the 19mm so it’s standing up straight. If you look at the corrected and uncorrected photos of the lamp post, you can see how the top photo, the lines are straight (as much as the old building could be straight) and how the bottom photo the lines are all leaning in. Yes, you can correct of this to some extent in post as long as those lines are your only concern. But if you have like in my case an aircraft in a hangar, you correct the perspective in post and not in the camera and the aircraft get exaggerated and distorted (and shooting video, that’s not even an option). How does the 19T/S work?

Burwell, NE
captured D5 / 19T/S (uncorrected)

Keeping perspective correct is a simple process. You just have to keep the camera back parallel with the subject. The problem with this is we normally need to tilt the camera up to get all the subject in the frame. With the T/S lens, you first set the camera parallel with the subject then you “Shift” the front of the lens bringing the subject back into the frame. The lens actually “breaks” in two with the whole front assembly doing the shifting or the titling. With that moving front, it is a manual focus lens only. Metering while vastly improved from the original manual aperture PC lenses of the 70’s, still takes a little thinking. It’s a gorgeous lens though working some cool magic. I’ll leave the titling aspect of the lens to another post, just wanted to cover the shifting here. Hope that answers folk’s questions.

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