A Short History Lesson: Where Tilt-Shift Lenses Come Frome.

Tilt-shift photography allows us to alternate a manipulate your final image by shifting or tilting your lens to a certain degree. As these types of lenses are getting more common and used by professional photographers, it’s always good to know where these special types of lenses come from. A short history lesson:

You see, though for many it may sound like a rather new idea, it’s pretty much as old as photography itself.

Actually, in the late 1800’s these types of camera’s that allow you to control the plane of focus was pretty common.

Large format camera’s like the Horseman (4×5 or 8×10 film) were able to get even more extreme movements then we are not able to do with tilt-shift lenses today.

Horseman Camera

It was only with the rise of the compact cameras that there was more of a shift away from these type of camera’s, as most major manufacturers saw these techniques as too expensive and complex for average consumers.

Thus, it became less popular. Partly because not many manufacturers decided to keep producing and improving new tilt-shift cameras and lenses.

Until half a century ago, when architects and photographers, in general, found the benefits of this type of photography and commonly used it for architectural and landscape photography.

The first company that builds a lens that allowed for a shift movement and was designed for smaller-format cameras was the Nikon Company (1962).  And so PC-E or Perspective Control-Electronic Diaphragm lenses were born, which might be a bit of a misleading name since the only way to change the perspective is to move the camera somewhere else. A decade later, Canon created a lens that was able to both shift and tilt (1973).

In the last decade, lenses and adapters that allowed for this type of photography came even more popular because of the miniature effect you are able to create by manipulating the depth of field.

Many manufacturers now are looking into these types of lenses and because it got so popular, there are now even ways to achieve the same effect very cheap, making the bridge between professional photography and amateurs a little smaller.



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