Nikon PCE Tilt/Shifts for landscape

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by DABO, Jul 14, 2008.

  1. DABO

    DABO

    Jan 13, 2006
    I've got format confusion.

    I originally learned the beauty of tilt/shift using 4x5 cameras. Then, I used medium format for a while, then 35mm, and now I've been using DX Nikons for the past 5 years or so.

    So now I'm thinking of moving from my D200 to the D700 and, since I've been pining for tilt/shift, I'm thinking of getting a Nikkor 24mm or 45mm PCE lens.

    My confusion is that I can't picture how the viewfinder will look with these focal lengths and which is a better focal length for landscape work on an FX camera. If I was going to use T/S on DX, the 24mm is a no-brainer. But isn't 24mm REALLY wide on FX (like a 16mm on DX)?

    And it's been so long, that I can't remember whether the T/S accentuates the wideness of a FOV or diminishes it. Also, since there is side shift capability, wouldnt it be easy to tilt for DOF near and far and then shift side to side to get a larger FOV?

    Can someone help me conceptualize this?

    DAB
     
  2. slappomatt

    slappomatt

    811
    May 13, 2006
    San Diego CA
    you are correct about 24 on FX being the same angle as 16 on DX. the rest I dont know :)
     
  3. 24mm is quite wide, but still not wide enough for what I'd likely be using it for. Especially since I'm not really fond of stitching. The tilt or shift has no effect on the 'wideness' of the lens. Just figure out what field of view you use most now, and judge from there. Keep in mind that the tilt and shifting directions are opposite by default. I'm not sure whether you can align them or not. Since you've used large format I'll not elaborate further on what that means practically.
     
  4. rsprouse

    rsprouse

    Jan 25, 2006
    Encinitas CA
    Hi DAB:

    I have several shift and tilt/shift lenses including the new 24mm f/3.5 ED PC-E Nikkor. For landscape work, I think of the tilt function primarily as a means to increase apparent depth of field (technically a misnomer) by virtue of the Scheimpflug principle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheimpflug_principle

    So, it has little to do with the focal length. First you should decide on the focal length you want to use for your landscape photography - wide, medium or long? My brain still works in terms of film (full frame) terminology, so I consider 24mm to be a pretty wide FOV. But that is often what I want for landscapes, and VERY frequently what I want for architectural work. That's why I was praying for a 24mm T/S lens from Nikon, and why I jumped on it as soon as it was offered.

    That said, the 85mm PC is one of my favorite lenses, especially for product work and macro work, because of its close focusing ability and the working distance you have with smaller subjects. I haven't used it for landscape work very much, but that's not to say you could not or should not.

    I'm not sure I understand your comments / questions about T/S accentuating or diminishing FOV. I don't see why it would do either.

    Sorry if I have added to the confusion rather than reducing it.

    -- Russ
     
  5. rvink

    rvink

    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    Shifting in itself does not alter the FOV (much), it just moves it around - up, down or sideways. The lens focal length stays the same. Having said that, the image formed by a tilted or shifted lens can appear wider, or less wide than you would expect. One characteristic of wide lenses is the strong sense of convergence from front to rear, especially when you have lines receding in the distance. Shift lenses are usually used to correct this convergence so lines they appear parallel, so that buildings appear to stand up straight instead of sloping and converging upwards. This tends to make the image look like it was taken with a longer focal length. On the other hand, if you shift the opposite way to enhance convergence, the image looks like it was taken with a wider lens.

    Yes, use tilts to move the DOF zone over the subject, to get greater front - rear sharpness (or tilt the other way to get reduced DOF). Shifting side to side will give you two overlapping images which you can stitch together for a greater FOV.
     
  6. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Missouri
    If I had my druthers I would shoot with a 24 PC/Tilt on a high MP Camera. so I am waiting to buy a D3X before I take the plunge with the new 24 PC.

    Currently like my 14-24 on the D3 for scapes, but looking forward to the amazing dof with the tilt shift.

    check out jeff kohn's shots with the new 24 tilt on his basti shots, stitched panos with the tilt, incredible,

    http://www.pbase.com/jkohn/2008_bisti
     
  7. DABO

    DABO

    Jan 13, 2006
    Wade, thanks for the tip about Jeff Kohn’s pictures. Great stuff. It looks like he’s using this lens on a D300 AND cropping, so it’s hard to get a feel for the focal length.

    His first picture, http://www.pbase.com/jkohn/image/99336684, is very cool and was taken with a 12-24 lens (at 14mm). Seems like wider is probably better in these type of circumstances.

    Roland - Good point about the correction of convergence making the image look like it was taken with a longer focal length. Which raises the dilemma of the orientation of the shift to the tilt. You have to choose between shifting for convergence or tilting for Scheimpflug, unless you start playing with screws.

    It seems unanimous that 24mm is the way to go. I agree that wide is good. I guess it also gives more room for error (cropping).

    I didn’t realize so many people had the 24mm PCE. I’m going to have to check out the landscape forum and see what I find.

    DAB
     
  8. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Yeah. I'm recent enough to photography that I've always shot digital. Since I have no desire to shoot film and the view camera/MF digital back option will be way out of my price range for the foreseeable future, I figure these PC-E lenses are the closest I'll get to LF-style photography any time soon. I currently have the original 85 PC Micro and the 24 PC-E, and will be getting the 45 PC-E when it's available.

    24mm is pretty wide on FX. You're correct that it's equivalent to 16mm on DX. Which lens will be best for you really just depends on your shooting style. I'm all over the map when it comes to focal lengths for landscapes, I've used everything from 12mm to 400mm. For me personally, if I had to pick either the 45 PC-E or 24 PC-E for FX, I think I would probably pick the 45mm. I think the tilt will might be more important at that focal length since you don't have as much depth of field without it.

    Tilt does not directly affect the FOV, but it does allow you to do some compositions that you couldn't otherwise do since you have more DOF. Using the shift to stitch multiple images gives you a wider FOV. Three vertical shots using 11mm shift on DX gives me roughly the equivalent of 16mm FOV, it's pretty wide. I'm finding this greatly increases the flexibility of the lens since it's essentially a 16-24mm zoom. With the 3 image stitch I can crop down to the composition I like (including 5:4 or square) and still have plenty of resolution for large prints.

    I'm hoping the 45 will have a slightly larger/better image circle than the 24. I don't think the 24 will be all that well-suited to stitching on FX, because I'm seeing some (not much) quality dropoff toward the edges when stitching on DX; and I imagine it will only get worse on FX. The 85 is better in this regard so I'm guessing the 45 will be also.

    One thing you should know about the 24 PC-E is that it's not fully compatible with your D200; you won't be able to use much 'rise' due to clearance issues with the viewfinder. Currently only the D3 and D300 are fully compatible with this lens, although I'm sure the D700 and future pro/prosumer cameras will be as well. If I had to guess I don't think the 45 PC-E will have this issue due to being a slightly longer FL, but I guess we'll have to see. The 85 PC Micro doesn't have this clearance issue.

    You might find the this thread at DPR interesting as it discusses the 24 PC-E. In this post I give several examples of how I'm using the 24 PC-E with the D300 for stitching.
     
  9. DABO

    DABO

    Jan 13, 2006
    One of my main reasons for wanting to switch to the FX D700 is the view through the viewfinder. The view from the back of an 8x10 large format camera is incredible, the 4x5 view is beautiful, the medium format view is very good, etc. The DX view is only OK. I know that you do it, and you do it very well, but it must be hard to judge tilts and shifts in a DX viewfinder.


    So, if the 24 PC-E is roughly the equivalent to a 16mm FOV with two shifts (three shots), how would the math work with a 45 PC-E? Would a three shot FOV be roughly 30mm?
    I think I’m agreeing with you by saying that I find that if I take one shot, say at 24mm, it’s very wide with not enough resolution to print really large. But if I took the same picture with a 50mm lens, using stitching, I will get a better result. So in that sense, the 45 PC-E may be a better bet. There’s a lot of money at stake in buying one of these lenses, so I’d like to try to get it right the first time.


    Great post at DPR. I generally don’t look to DPR for thoughtful and intelligent posts, but there are exceptions. BTW, you said somewhere in your post that you thought the D300 was better than the D3 for your purposes, and that you were waiting for a D3x. I’m not sure I understand your reasoning on that. Given the same lens, of course, you get more resolution per view from the D300. But if you stitched using the D3 with the 45 PC-E, wouldn’t that be similar to the D300 with the 24 PC-E?

    DAB
     
  10. JeffKohn

    JeffKohn

    Apr 21, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I don't judge focus/tilt through the viewfinder with these lenses. I use LiveView. The ability to zoom in to 100% (or more) to judge focus makes a huge difference in the feasibility of using these lenses on a DX camera.

    Yes, the 3-shot stitch essentially "undoes" the 1.5x crop factor.


    With the 3-shot stitch from the DX, I'm getting a 25mp or so image from roughly a 24x38mm capture area on the lens' imaging circle. In other words I'm using about the same capture area as a single FX shot, but the extra pixel density of the D300 gives me a higher-resolution image than a single D3 shot.

    If you try a 3-image stitch with the D3, your image capture area is now 36x46mm, which means you're using much more of the extreme edges of the lens' imaging circle, and I think image quality will suffer. The image ratio is also different because 11mm is proportioanlly smaller compared to the FX sensor size. And if you crop to 3:2 you'll have less resolution than the D300 version because there's more overlap between your shots.

    With the D3x, the higher pixel density means I'll get roughly the same result from a single image as I do with the D300's 3-image stitch.


    THey're definitely not cheap. You should know that if you're planning to use the lens with FX, stitching may not be an option. One poster on that DPR thread said he tried using the D3 and 24 PC-E to created stitched images and it didn't work very well. I'm not exactly sure what the problem is, or whether it will also be a problem with the 45 & 85 PC-E lenses.
     
  11. Leif

    Leif

    Feb 12, 2006
    England
    Forgive my pedantry, but the TS lens does not increase DOF, rather it tilts the plane of focus, and allows you to align the features of interest in the scenery with the plane of focus.
     
  12. rvink

    rvink

    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    According to the specs, the FOV is 51°, and 66° when shifted, which roughly equal to the FOV of a 32mm lens.
     
  13. DABO

    DABO

    Jan 13, 2006
    Being a D200 owner, I forgot about LiveView. That’s probably very similar to composing with a medium format view screen!

    I understand, although if you only shift on the “short” side of the frame, which is what you would generally be doing, I would think the image circle would be OK. I do acknowledge your pixel density point with the D300. The equation would change if you took more than 3 shots with the D3/D700 using the 45mm, but then you have to take extra care with a pano head.


    I will certainly wait to hear more about that before I pull any triggers, but I can’t think of any reason why there would be a problem.


    Leif – Backatya (Americanized verb) with a pedantic argument. The T/S lens may not increase DOF, but it increases “apparent” DOF. And isn’t “apparent” all we as photographers are concerned with?

    DAB
     
  14. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    Missouri
    True, I should have stated apparent dof or it appears to increase because of the alignment. Thanks Leif!
     
  15. Leif

    Leif

    Feb 12, 2006
    England
    Absolutely, it can give an illusion of greater DOF.