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Leveling your camera for Landscape shots

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by ddietiker, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. Another thread got me wondering what folks do about leveling their cameras. Do you feel an accurately level shot is important? Do you use a bulls eye or hot shoe level?

    I use neither, only the grid lines in my view finder. My shots aren't always level either. I line up the grid lines for the artistic perception of being level, which may or may not actually be truly level. What do you do?
  2. Hi Doug--I'm an unequal opportunity kinda guy! I have and use a hot-shoe level. Some days I forget to get it out of the bag (or am too lazy!), but even then I don't always (don't remember) to use it for every shot. Other times I use gridlines or the focusing brackets to align things up. But in the end it comes down to composition; sometimes a level and square shot just doesn't always look good or right!
  3. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee

    For really critical shots, I"ll TRY to remember to get the hot-shoe level out of the bag. Generally I just eyeball it. If it's off a little, it's easy to correct in CS3.
  4. Nick, sounds like you are the artistic level kinda guy or what ever works best :wink:

  5. More like what ever works best or whatever I did!
  6. I do a little correction in CS3 on occasion too Karen, using the free transform tools.
  7. When using a tripod I mostly use a hot-shoe mounted spirit level otherwise just the guides in the viewfinder. If necessary some correction in NX2 or ACR/CS3.
  8. Douglas,
    Like you I use the grid line marks in the viewfinder. However I do find myself doing alot of correction in Aperture to "straighten" things up.
  9. JCole

    JCole Guest

    Usually just eyeball it. If I were to go OCD with it I would end up with perfectly level landscapes with the horizon dead center, not the best if applying the rule of thirds. I do use the grid lines on my D200 more than the bubble level on my RRS BH-55 ball head.
  10. kingmeow


    Apr 8, 2008
    Don't assume that your grid lines are level. There were a bunch of D70's (mine included) that had a tilted viewfinder (about 1 degree but that's enough for the human eye to pick up on) so you *think* it's level but it really isn't. A quick trip to Nikon service fixed the rpobelm.
  11. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I have a hotshot bubble-level, although lately I don't use it as much because I'm using a geared head that has built-in bubble levels. I usually try to get the camera pretty close to level. And in the case of shooting panos I try to be even more precise.

    Off-level horizons do bug me some in pictures, and I'd rather get it right in-camera if I can rather than having to rotate and crop in post. Sometimes rotating after the fact will screw up the composition if it was composed pretty tightly in the first place.

    What's frustrating, is that sometimes you can get the camera perfectly leveled when shooting, but the resulting shot won't look like it's level. Usually it's because there's some false indicator that looks like it should be level within the frame but wasn't actually level in reality (curved lake shore, slight incline/hill, etc). In these cases sometimes I'll adjust the image for what looks best rather than true level.
  12. My point and shot friends (experts all!) wonder why I go to the trouble of using a hot shoe or head bubble, when they can hold theirs "perfectly level" all the time. As you can guess they have horizons that would require a tank to navigate! On a tripod I can be fairly close to horizontal. Hand held, all bets are off.
  13. Agreed Jeff, that is what I refer to as artistic leveling. Which I find the grid lines help greatly with while looking through the view finder.
  14. Without those grid lines, I think ALL my shots would be off :redface: Tripod or not
  15. I use a hot shoe level for panos or shots with an obvious horizon, but I find myself still needing to do minor rotation corrections when I process.
  16. Sounds similar to many folks
  17. Is that because it may be level but an object in the shot makes it appear not so?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2008
  18. JeffKohn


    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Yes, and if I notice while looking through the viewfinder that there is such an issue I'll adjust accordingly using the gridlines if I can. I ju8st prefer to use 'true' level as a starting point and with the geared head it's pretty easy to get things level (ballheads, not so much which is a big part of why I switched).
  19. Well Douglas we already knew you you were a bit crooked or skewed to begin with... :eek: :eek: :tongue::tongue:

    But seriously I always use a hot-shoe bulle level.. Keep it in the hot shoe unless i am handholding shots or at a airshow or something...
  20. 1) by eye normally
    2) double bubble level if I have it along
    3) software
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