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Thread: To tilt or not to tilt

  1. #1
    Senior Member btaylor's Avatar
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    To tilt or not to tilt

    Hey guys,

    I'm considering purchasing either the 17mm or 24mm tilt shift lens. I like the idea of perspective control and also the ability to better control depth of field. This would pretty much be a dedicated landscape lens, not so much architecture but maybe a few cityscapes here and there.

    At the moment I'm swaying toward the 24mm because I think that's wide enough on full frame to be an effective landscape lens without being too wide. The other, and main, reason I'm swaying toward the 24mm is that I'm also going to invest in a good filter system. I have seen some modified lens cap setups to allow the lee system to work with the 17mm but tilt and shift functions are severely hampered.

    I've been doing a lot of research of late and I think I like the Lee system. It seems to be the general consensus that Lee filters are superior to Cokin or Hitech but not without additional cost.

    I'm also a little confused about which parts I'd need to buy to get set up. I assume you need the foundation kit (4"x6"?) and from there I'm thinking a 0.6 soft grad ND, a circular polariser (which appears to need another clamp setup so it can be rotated if used in conjunction with other filters), a normal ND filter (10 stop if possible but the Lee big stopper appears to be on constant backorder), and a reverse ND like this one http://singh-ray.com/reversegrads.html

    So after all that, the advice I'm chasing is basically:

    1) TS-E 24mm or 17mm - pros and cons?
    2) Lee/Cokin/Hitech holder system and what size?
    3) Am I choosing the right filters (e.g. is a 0.6 a good choice for, say, sunsets)
    4) Hard grad or soft grad

    Thanks in advance guys, this would be a significant investment for me so I'd like to be sure I'm making the right choice. Probably won't happen for another couple of months.

    Cheers,

    Ben
    Last edited by btaylor; 08-05-2013 at 12:02 PM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    17mm vs. 24mm really comes down to which focal length you prefer. Personally, I chose 24mm as the best match for my style. Especially for landscapes, I find it's wide enough. Occasionally, I could use wider for architecture, but that hasn't happened often enough for me to strongly consider the 17mm.

    I use the Lee setup. You need the foundation kit and an 82mm adapter ring (the wide angle one is better, and of course you'd get a 77mm one for the 70-200, etc.). The main downside to Lee is availablility - they produce everything in small batches, so often you have to wait for the item you want. The foundation kit seems to be in stock more often now, but as you say, there is often a long wait for the Big Stopper.

    Soft vs. hard grad is all about the scene - for a crisp horizon like the ocean or flat land, hard is better; for a horizon broken up by mountains, trees, or buildings, soft is a better choice. I find the 0.9 soft a good first choice. For sunsets/sunrises where the sun is at the horizon, a reverse grad is a better choice - Singh-Ray or HiTech, I'll likely go with the former in a 0.6.

    For the CPL, if you're using it alone or with a solid ND like the Big Stopper, you don't need anything extra - the holder can rotate around on the adapter ring to adjust polarization. If you want to combine a grad ND with the CPL, that's when you need more hardware - there are a couple options. First is a second foundation kit and the tandem adapter that allows you to connect them, and then you'd use a 4" square CPL in the outer holder. The second option is the 105mm accessory front thread adapter ring, which would go in the outer slot of the single holder, and you'd screw on a 105mm round CPL (B+W, etc.). The first option is a bit cheaper, but also bulkier.

    Hope that helps!

    --John

  3. #3
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    You do not even need the kit, just the 4x6 filters. You can use the polarizer you are using now, hand hold the 4x6. Just a suggestion for starting out inexpensive.


    17mm would be to wide for my taste, just a personal preference go with the 24mm.
    I bought the Lee, at the time you couldn't find the Cokin holder.
    The Lee works fine. Hand holding is faster.
    There is no one "right" filter. 0.6 may be right one time, not the next. I suggest you get several, 0.6, 0.9 etc then you can stack them and have a more diverse effect.
    Hard vs Soft, I find more use for the soft. But they are somewhat different in their use. There is not a incorrect answer on this one.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    To tilt or not to tilt

    I have a Cokin holder. I selected this over the Lee based on a comparison I saw done by Darwin Wigget. I use the 4x6 holders.

    I've been playing around with different filter brands. I think that Cokin gets a bit of a bad rap, but there is a difference once you start stacking filters. In particular, the Lee provided much more accurate colors when paired with my 6 or 10 stop ND filters. When on their own, the Colin's are pretty good.

    I am working on limiting my filter kit. I think the ideal 3 grad filter kit would be a 3-4 stop reverse ND filter (I currently have the Singh ray 3 stop nod-lots of warm color caste with this filter), lee 2 stop hard edge grad filter and the a lee 3-stop soft edge filter. I still vary that a little as I've yet to finalize.

    For solid ND filters, my 6 stop B+W solid ND filter is probably my most used. But the 10 stop is typically needed to smooth water in the pool below a water fall, or blur people to the point they disappear. I have a 3 stop hitech that I almost never use, but that is my style.

    So grad filter rankings would be Lee-Singh ray then Cokin/hitech.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
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    Hi Ben -

    I'd suggest the 24 mm TS-E as your first tilt-shift. One of the reasons is that you can easily add filters, as you pointed out. But for me I just think it is a very good focal length for the kind of landscape shots where tilt-shift really shines. Those shots are the ones where you have a foreground element just inches away from the lens, and the main subject in the background (an example in my neighbourhood would be a wildflower and a mountain). With a 17 mm lens, the foreground becomes weirdly stretched and enlarged compared to the background (you end up with a large flower and tiny mountain). With the 24, it looks a lot more natural. Obviously there are times you want a wider angle than 24 mm, but you already have it with your 14 f/2.8 lens. Or you can stitch images together when shifting, to give you a wider angle without making the background tiny.

    Your photos tend to use a lot of creative focus, and I think you'll like what the 24 TS-E can do in that department. You'll no doubt start tilting in all directions to bring out individual elements of a scene. With the 17 TS-E, my guess is that effect will be a bit more difficult to achieve.

    For filters, I use the Lee system and it works fine for me. I have a screw-on polarizer and just mount the Lee holder on top of it. I can use one 4x6 filter plus the polarizer without vignetting, or two 4x6 filters without the polarizer. I have a 2-stop hard-edged grad and a couple soft-edged grads, which I use fairly equally. Plus the 10-stopper (which is fantastic). I don't have a reverse grad yet but it's on the wish list. The cool thing about a tilt-shift is you can shift with a grad filter in place, and not have to move the filter. It's excellent for quick panoramas that way.

    Using a tilt-shift means being on the tripod 100% of the time, and using live-view for manual focusing. So you'll need a lot more time to take a shot, especially when you add in one or more filters. Note that when you shift the lens, it throws off the camera's light meter (something to do with the angle of the light --- John can explain this much better than me). But the live-view mode is immune to this problem.

    Hope that answers your questions!

  6. #6
    Senior Member btaylor's Avatar
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    Thanks so much guys, you've been a big help. I think the 24mm will be my TS-E of choice. I do have the wide end covered with the 14mm but I think it's going to be fairly reserved for night shots, star trails etc. The reason being that the distortion is very difficult to correct for in post even with lens correction profiles - it's kind of moustache shaped, so it's not ideal for straight horizons like the ocean. Don't get me wrong, for $350 that Samyang is superb bang for buck. It is tack sharp and has great colours and contrast but has its limitations.

    I'm not worried about having to manual focus and set up for a shot a bit longer because that's what I really enjoy, seeing the results of a bit of a vision and taking the time to make it come to fruition can be very rewarding. Besides, I have to manually focus with the 14mm anyway so I'm used to the idea (although if it's at f/8 and somewhere near the infinity mark everything is in focus).

    I might hold off on the polariser for the mean time and see how I go before dropping the extra cash but I do like the idea of the tandem adapter, I'll try out Jonathan's idea on the 35mm first then see what I want to do. The 105mm option is pretty damn expensive!

    I'm not too keen on the hand holding of the filters as I'm starting to do a lot of multiple exposures and working with luminosity masks in photoshop so I think it'd be a bit hard. Although there's no denying that's the cheapest way to get started.

    Oh I'll have a look at the comparison between the cokin and lee holders too - thanks for the heads up.

    The only other things I am unsure about it whether to use resin or glass filters... haven't found a lot on that one yet. I see both are available, I would assume the glass filters would provide a better result???

    Cheers guys, great help as always.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_taylor_au/ www.methodicallymuddled.wordpress.com
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
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    I use the Singh-Ray 4x6 filters, which are resin I guess, and they've withstood a lot of abuse without getting scratched. I think you'd have to be a lot more careful with glass filters. I can't detect any distortion or other problems with the Singh-Rays... they are very good quality (but ridiculously expensive).

    Happy shopping!

  8. #8
    Senior Member btaylor's Avatar
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    Cool thanks. To be honest I'm ok with spending the extra money for the best filters. I'm about to drop over $2000 on a pretty purpose specific lens so I'd much rather put something in front of it that's going to retain IQ than save a few bucks. Thanks Jonathan.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_taylor_au/ www.methodicallymuddled.wordpress.com
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Huyer View Post
    Hi Ben -
    Using a tilt-shift means being on the tripod 100% of the time, and using live-view for manual focusing. So you'll need a lot more time to take a shot, especially when you add in one or more filters. Note that when you shift the lens, it throws off the camera's light meter (something to do with the angle of the light --- John can explain this much better than me). But the live-view mode is immune to this problem.

    Hope that answers your questions!
    I just spent some time w/ the 24 and 90 TS. I shot some video tilting and shifting to see what was going on - very helpful. I agree w/ Jonathan that Tripod and time are needed for the TS world. They certainly aren't "walk arounds" planned shots, etc, etc. there were fun, I rented them. Just know that in the centers they are very sharp, but at the extremes they soften up, particularly the 24.

    Mike
    If you see me with a wrench, call 911

  10. #10
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    To tilt or not to tilt

    I do use the TS-E 24L II handheld occasionally, but only with shift. If you're going to tilt, it's tripod time.

    Jonathan is right - Live View is the way to go. Both shift and tilt will affect the metering sensor (over or underexposure depending on whether you apply a positive or a negative lens movement). Before Live View, you had to meter with the lens at neutral, then apply movements and dial in your exposure.

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