4 Cheap Alternatives For Achieving The Tilt-Shift Effect

Always wanted to try to recreate that miniature effect, but don’t want to buy that expensive tilt-shift lens? Lucky for all of us, these days there are cheap alternatives that will allow you to achieve that same thing, without having to spend thousands of dollars.

Here’s our top 4.

1) Photoshop

The first alternative is probably the easiest and most obvious one. As in fact, it’s so simple almost anyone can do it.

You just take a picture, preferably with a wide angle and from a relatively high point of view. Next, you drag it into Photoshop or whatever program you have at your disposal that is able to blur out an image.

Finally, the only thing left now is to digitally manipulate your image and create this miniaturized illusion. In Photoshop, you can you use the Lens Blur Filter or the Tilt-Shift Filter to create the desired effect, or you can just blur the area’s that you want out of focus.

If you’re eager to learn how to create one yourself and you got 5 minutes to spare, you can start here.


Photo credits: Willhaney

2) Tilt-shift apps

If you’re able to take decent photos with your smartphone, another great way to achieve the effect is through “tilt-shift” apps. As the popularity of this type of photography is growing, more and more apps are created and find their way to smartphones.

Tilt-Shift Camera, Awesome Miniature – Tilt Shift and Tilt Shift Generator are all android apps that, despite their own pro’s and cons, will help you to miniaturize the world.

3) Adapters

Want to go for the real thing? One of the other alternatives to tilt or shift the current lenses you have is by using an adapter. We all know that adapters have been around for a while. They allowed us, for example, to use our favorite canon lens on our new Nikon body et vica versa.

Even more exciting is that in the last few years new types of adapters have seen the light: tilt-shift adapters.

A big name and pioneer in the world of tilt-shift adapters is Kipon, which has developed an adapter for most of the popular lenses. Here’s a short list to give you an idea of the possibilities:

Keep in mind that, though these adapters will give you a taste of what a tilt-shift lens would be able to do, they are still limited. Many of them are only compatible with certain types of lenses and can only be moved a certain amount (e.g. Kipon developed a couple of tilt adapters that can go to approximately 45°).

Either way, this is far out the best option if you want to have a real taste of what it’s like to shoot with a tilt-shift lens and bring back some use to your old lenses!


4) The Lensbaby

Finally, If you want to get as close as you possibly can without having to spend your entire budget, try the Lensbaby.

They are incredibly easy to use. You simply mount the Lensbaby onto your camera body, find the right spot and that’s it! With a total weight of fewer than 100 grams, you can easily take it with you as an extra lens.

To give a bit more choice, there are currently 2 types of Lensbaby’s on the market: the Lensbaby Spark and the Lensbaby Composer Pro II.

Both work the same way: you turn the lens until you have the bokeh and focus right where you want.

As for the differences:

Lensbaby Spark:

  • Focal Length: 50 MM
  • Aperture: 5.6
  • price: +- 90 $ (depends on your body)

Lensbaby Composer Pro II:

  • Focal Length:  35 MM, 50 MM or 80 MM
  • Aperture:  2.5, 2.5 or 2.8
  • price: +-330 $, 300 $, or 450 $ (depends on body and focal length)

That’s why, if you’re just curious about trying to recreate the effect, the Spark should be perfect. If you want more, go for the Composer Pro II.


Bonus: we wrote an article about our top 5 cheap tilt-shift lenses!



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