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How To Use A Tilt Shift Lens For Architectural Photography

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Do Y’all Need a Tilt-Shift Lens for Interior Photography?

Y’all’ve probably heard most the benefits of using a tilt-shift lens for architectural photography, specifically for exteriors. Those photos of a skyscraper or the office edifice that you just can’t to straighten out on camera? Not a problem with a tilt-shift! Merely what about using a tilt-shift lens for interiors? Is it as vital as when you lot’re shooting exteriors? I rented a 24mm TS lens and took a few photos effectually the house to test information technology out. Let’s compare!


First, allow’s talk about what a tilt-shift lens is and what sort of magic it tin can do. A tilt-shift lens is essentially a lens that lets you tilt and shift from within the lens itself. Okay, permit me explain some more! When we talk about tilting, imagine information technology as the equivalent of nodding your head up or downward. This changes the perspective. This is what you can exercise manually on your lens so that the camera looks up. In the world of architectural and interior photography, though, this is a huge no-no considering information technology causes lines to converge from the potent perspective. Shifting is when an object stays in the aforementioned tilt position, only just shifts up or down or side to side. Imagine property up a slice of paper and sliding information technology up or down while the paper stays vertical – that’s shifting! And then this ways that a tilt-shift lens allows yous to practice both tilting and shifting inside the lens itself, without moving the camera or tripod at all!

Original limerick for reference

Tilt: Imagine the camera swiveling up and down or side to side.

Tilt: Imagine the camera swiveling upward and down or side to side.

Shifting: Imagine a piece of paper that slides up and down or side to side while staying vertical.

Shifting: Imagine a piece of paper that slides up and down or side to side while staying vertical.

When shooting exteriors, this is a handy tool considering you can control the perspective by adjusting the tilt and shift to capture a tall building without converging lines from the perspective. When shooting interiors, though, the benefits aren’t so articulate. Is information technology actually worth the investment if you’re not trying to straighten out alpine buildings?

When you lot’re considering a tilt-shift lens for yourself, information technology’ll come up down to the blazon of clientele you take, the upkeep that you can stretch to, and your workflow on location.


  • Cleaner edges on the frame, with straighter lines (less distortion)

  • Great for capturing exteriors with straightened verticals, especially if the edifice is tall or you have to shoot from a slope

  • Tin can capture a vanity or mirrored console area without getting y’all in the mirror (past shifting)

  • For larger spaces, tin easily stack exposures and so you capture more surface area


  • Information technology slows y’all down – no moving quickly with a tilt-shift!

  • No zoom – all tilt-shift lenses are prime

  • Less versatility

  • Big price tag

So what does this all mean?

The first thing I would take into consideration is your budget. Tilt-shift lenses are not cheap, so if you lot take a express budget, you would benefit from looking at lenses that are more versatile. In other words, get more bang for your buck first (become those workhorse lenses!) and so every bit budget allows, invest in the gear that is more of a “nice to have”. Lenses like a 16-35mm or a 24-70mm will cover a good range for you and give you the versatility of a zoom lens. Versatility as well comes into play when you consider that the main benefits for a tilt-shift lens when shooting residential interiors is being able to shift in tight spaces. This is great for getting a straight-on shot of a vanity or console if at that place’s a wall in the style (like in a tight bathroom)

Adjacent, consider the clientele that you lot serve. Is information technology ALL interior work? Then your benefits from a tilt-shift will be more limited. Tilt-shift lenses are absolutely known for being able to straighten out those building exteriors, but the benefits for interiors are much more than specific and less mutual. So if yous’re doing all interior work, then you lot won’t feel the benefits of this lens quite every bit much as if yous shoot a fair amount of exteriors. I personally would want to be shooting some outside on nigh every photoshoot to be able to justify the investment.

Along these lines, call back most who you WANT to work with. Are you looking to piece of work more with architects and builders? Then a tilt-shift lens would accept you well fix upwards for those clients considering you’ll do some larger projects and outside shots. If you want to work more exclusively with interior designers, and so the tilt-shift probably shouldn’t exist in your gear case until you’ve got more versatile lenses purchased.

Finally, consider your workflow. Are you nevertheless doing a fair corporeality of real estate piece of work? And so steer abroad from a tilt-shift! These lenses make you lot dull downward way also much for a existent estate shoot, so it will either not get used properly or not get used at all. You’re improve off going with a versatile zoom lens that reaches a bit broad then it can comprehend the compositions y’all demand for existent manor. Just like you lot consider your ideal clients, though, think about the type of shoots that you lot WANT to exist doing. As you steer away from real manor photography and more in the management of designers, your shoots volition exist longer, more than methodical, and more than collaborative. Still, you may not want to dull down the process too much, so really consider if you want to be forced to tiresome everything.

Side past side comparisons

First, allow’s simply look at the photos next so you can run across for yourself the differences. A few things to note:

  • All settings are identical for both lenses. Same shutter speed, ISO, aperture… The tripod was also kept in the exact spot between lenses also.

  • Since the 24mmTS is being compared to a 16-35mm, I got the zoom lens equally close every bit I could to 24mm then that the framing of the shot could exist every bit identical as possible.

  • These photos accept had identical edits washed. The two things that were NOT done: Lens correction and straightening lines. This is because I wanted the comparison to be as native as possible. Then the edits I did practice are all for basics such as exposure, clarity, shadows, highlights, and white balance. I did not one edit difference on the second set of photos because the TS photo was noticeably brighter than the zoom lens photo. Otherwise, all identical!

WIDE ANGLE LENS:  24mm, ISO 200, 1.0s, f9.0

WIDE Angle LENS: 24mm, ISO 200, 1.0s, f9.0

TILT SHIFT LENS:  24mm, ISO 200, 1.0s, f9.0

TILT SHIFT LENS: 24mm, ISO 200, ane.0s, f9.0

In the photograph higher up, there isn’t much divergence from ane lens to the other. The wide bending’s 24mm is a bit wider than the TS, but a bit of cropping could even that out. The tilt-shift lens did feel overall sharper, which was unexpected!

WIDE ANGLE:  24mm, ISO 200, 1.6s, f9.0

WIDE ANGLE: 24mm, ISO 200, 1.6s, f9.0

TILT SHIFT:  24mm, ISO 200, 1.6s, f9.0

TILT SHIFT: 24mm, ISO 200, 1.6s, f9.0

The biggest difference here, of form, is that the tilt-shift lens limerick is lower, capturing more table and less ceiling. It was super convenient to be able to adjust this without touching the tripod, and it does help go along your verticals vertical while letting you shift the view down a chip. I desire to note that the tilt-shift lens was also considerably brighter at the same settings. In fact, for this one, I had to do a slightly different exposure aligning so that the comparing could exist more even. I as well noticed considerable difference in the handling of colour from i lens to the other (in the editing, any color balancing was done identical on both photos).

Once more, the 24mm focal length with the wide angle lens is slightly wider than with the tilt-shift lens, simply that’s piece of cake enough to edit by cropping.

TILT SHIFT:  This photo was taken on an interior shoot with the rented 24mm TS lens! I decided to use the TS for this shot because I wanted to adjust to be able to see the legs of the coffee tables and the base of the light fixture. The space was ti…

TILT SHIFT: This photograph was taken on an interior shoot with the rented 24mm TS lens! I decided to employ the TS for this shot because I wanted to adjust to be able to meet the legs of the java tables and the base of operations of the low-cal fixture. The infinite was tight, so beingness able to brand this adjustment on the lens was a benefit. I too was feeling like the TS lens might exist a bit sharper overall, and so wanted to incorporate it every bit much every bit I could in this shoot.


I was SUPER excited to hire a tilt-shift lens for interior photos! In fact, I took my rented lens on a client shoot and used it for a couple of shots. Being used to using a zoom, it was an aligning to have a fixed focal length. I also had to requite myself a little extra time for making the lens adjustments, which take longer as yous’re learning. I found that the tilt-shift lens was nearly beneficial when I had a skilful limerick but needed to adjust the ‘height’ while keeping my verticals straight. That’southward the departure that y’all meet in the living room shot to a higher place.

Is the tilt-shift lens worth an investment for interiors only? I haven’t establish there to be enough BIG advantages, so I say it’s Non a recommended investment if you lot shoot solely interiors. The truthful benefits come up when you practise extremely large spaces (similar commercial spaces or very large residences with double pinnacle ceilings) and exteriors. For residential interiors only, the shifting abilities are the near beneficial, simply I would consider heavily the options because tilt-shift lenses tend to take hefty cost tags.

If your workload includes a fair amount of exteriors, a tilt-shift may be worth the investment…. but be certain to consider whether it’due south versatile enough for your needs! For example, if you demand a lens that tin handle real manor shoots as well, then this is not the lens for you lot. Tilt-shift lenses force you to proceed a slower step, both because of the lens adjustments and because they’re stock-still focal lengths. So the lens is best when y’all’re doing larger or higher-stop shoots that allow you lot the time and attention.

Also, if your clients consist more often than not of interior designers, you’ll want to compare this lens to a zoom lens such as the 16-35mm or the 24-70mm, which can offering the range you need with the flexibility to adjust apace and seamlessly.

On the flip side, if you do a lot of work for larger projects, commercial work, exterior shots of whatsoever kind, or big developments, and then you’ll desire to consider adding this lens to your arsenal! Information technology tin make your life much easier when you go to edit, and it tin give you more freedom to etch how you lot want in a big interior because you lot tin stack multiple frames by shifting the lens. Once more, though, I would take into business relationship whether a tilt-shift lens is versatile enough for your needs.

Tilt-shift lenses are typically in the $one,500-$2,000 range, and then it’s non an investment to rush. If y’all’re because buying ane, I recommend renting a tilt-shift lens from a local camera shop or an online renter (like and then that yous can give information technology a test run earlier spending large bucks!

Whether yous decide to get for it or non, it’s always good to know virtually your gear options. This manner, even if you don’t invest in a tilt-shift lens, yous’ll know WHY y’all’re not investing in it right now!

1 last note: if you’re starting out with existent estate photo shoots but aspire to shoot high-stop interiors or architectural works, then this lens is one to continue on your radar. Information technology may not be a good fit for your needs today, but in one case you’re working with larger, college-upkeep clients information technology’ll be a lens to consider seriously! Every bit ever, though,

information technology’s about the photographer, not the gear.

Become your main gear showtime, make sure it fits your upkeep and needs, and then add the college-terminate gear that is more specific and pricey.




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