Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Started 4 months ago | Questions
mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 1,870
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Ian L wrote:

So i do a lot of interior and exterior building shots (commercial, real estate etc).

I know about and use the perspective correction in LR. But I've been wondering if it would be worth using an actual tilt shift lens?
I currently primarily shoot with a Nikon D850, but I also have a canon 5D mk IV.

I'd prefer to just use one camera body on a shoot. But, the canon has the widest tilt-shift lens and I'd prefer the wider shot.

So i have a few questions/concerns and I'm hoping someone else might have had to make the same choice and can give me some feedback.

1. First off - does it make a noticeable difference compared to just correcting in LR? It looks like for a more extreme correction, the lens does a better job. Plus I wouldn't have to crop the photo like you have to do sometimes with LR's tools.

2. If you do use a tilt shift lens, do you only use it when you need to correct for perspective? Or do you use it as one of your main lenses?

3. I can pick up a used canon 17mm TS lens for about $1700. There don't seem to be any used 19mm nikon TS lenses, so that would cost me $3100 new.

4. I imagine i'd be using this outside most often and not inside. In which case I think the difference between 17mm and 19mm isn't as critical. But if I'd ever wind up using this inside, I'd probably want the 17mm.

In an ideal world I could get the cheaper, wider lens and use it on the nikon so i don't have to carry two cameras with me. But considering i can get the canon lens for almost half the price of the nikon lens, and it's a little bit wider, i'm leaning towards that one.
Anyone know why there's such a huge price difference between the canon and nikon lenses?

I have 5DIV and all Canon TS-E lenses from 17 to 90mm including the new 50mm macro and I can not imagine my working life without them. I shoot mostly high end architecture and interiors for magazines, direct commissions from architects and interior designers and to me these lenses are a must. I do not have the 11 to 24mm so I can not comment on usefulness of that one but I suspect that my clients would not appreciate the 11mm wide perspective.

OP Ian L Contributing Member • Posts: 586
Re: On the other hand

JackM wrote:

Put it this way - I've done a few hundred r/e shoots and paid for all my gear several times over without a TS lens. I've never had a realtor complain or mention anything about excessive ceiling in my shots. So it's clearly not necessary unless you are shooting a lot of exteriors of tall-ish buildings. For interiors it's really just a convenience for the photographer, and you could probably get some marketing mileage out of saying you have a special tilt-shift perspective control lens. Still would be nice though.

Oh, i know i can keep using just a wide angle, and that probably 95% of all professional shot r/e images are not done with a t/s lens. But I'm interested in getting my photos as good as I possibly can. It's a little bit of an obsession. So i'm mainly just wondering if the t/s lens will make any difference, vs just using perspective correction in LR/PS.

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OP Ian L Contributing Member • Posts: 586
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

mmarian wrote:

I have 5DIV and all Canon TS-E lenses from 17 to 90mm including the new 50mm macro and I can not imagine my working life without them. I shoot mostly high end architecture and interiors for magazines, direct commissions from architects and interior designers and to me these lenses are a must. I do not have the 11 to 24mm so I can not comment on usefulness of that one but I suspect that my clients would not appreciate the 11mm wide perspective.

If you don't mind me dragging this conversation sideways a little bit - how did you get started shooting for magazines? So far, to the best of my knowledge I've only done one shoot that I think has gone to print, although unfortunately i don't have any copies of it. It was for a mansion Ethan Allen redecorated. But I'd love to get more shoots like that.

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mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 1,870
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Ian L wrote:

mmarian wrote:

I have 5DIV and all Canon TS-E lenses from 17 to 90mm including the new 50mm macro and I can not imagine my working life without them. I shoot mostly high end architecture and interiors for magazines, direct commissions from architects and interior designers and to me these lenses are a must. I do not have the 11 to 24mm so I can not comment on usefulness of that one but I suspect that my clients would not appreciate the 11mm wide perspective.

If you don't mind me dragging this conversation sideways a little bit - how did you get started shooting for magazines? So far, to the best of my knowledge I've only done one shoot that I think has gone to print, although unfortunately i don't have any copies of it. It was for a mansion Ethan Allen redecorated. But I'd love to get more shoots like that.

I started getting regular comissions from various magazines about 16 years ago. Well before Instagram and Facebook existence and in fact before digital cameras came into prominence. I simply had my portfolio folder under my arm and went knocking on publishing houses editor's doors. One day I got lucky and one managing editor probably liked my attitude and my work. I offered to do first job for free and with no commitments from either side. I had my Hasselblad 503 then with Distagon 40mm and a couple of other lenses. Anyway, she sent me a job shortly after and she must have liked what I did on the first assignment and how I handled it becauce it got published and I have been shooting for that publishing house ever since. Later also for several other editors in charge of several architectural and interior design magazines this house produces. Since then I was approached by other publishing houses and as we say the rest is history... Today, I can imagine the social media is the way to promote your work but I am a strong believer in personal interaction and face to face contact.

Good luck...

Photomonkey Senior Member • Posts: 2,584
Re: On the other hand

Ian L wrote:

JackM wrote:

Put it this way - I've done a few hundred r/e shoots and paid for all my gear several times over without a TS lens. I've never had a realtor complain or mention anything about excessive ceiling in my shots. So it's clearly not necessary unless you are shooting a lot of exteriors of tall-ish buildings. For interiors it's really just a convenience for the photographer, and you could probably get some marketing mileage out of saying you have a special tilt-shift perspective control lens. Still would be nice though.

Oh, i know i can keep using just a wide angle, and that probably 95% of all professional shot r/e images are not done with a t/s lens. But I'm interested in getting my photos as good as I possibly can. It's a little bit of an obsession. So i'm mainly just wondering if the t/s lens will make any difference, vs just using perspective correction in LR/PS.

TS lenses are sharp but most of the puffery you hear is from those rhapsodizing about their very expensive purchase.

In Julius Shulman's book on architectural photography notes that he rarely used the movements on his view camera. That is my experience in 20+ years of doing it.

In addition the notion that quality loss is significant when adjusting perspective in post is just wrong. Moderate corrections do not show issues at al. Moreover, if they were, they are at the edges and often in areas of no detail.

Like most obsessions, reality falls far short of fantasy.

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Photomonkey Senior Member • Posts: 2,584
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

mmarian wrote:

I have 5DIV and all Canon TS-E lenses from 17 to 90mm including the new 50mm macro and I can not imagine my working life without them. I shoot mostly high end architecture and interiors for magazines, direct commissions from architects and interior designers and to me these lenses are a must. I do not have the 11 to 24mm so I can not comment on usefulness of that one but I suspect that my clients would not appreciate the 11mm wide perspective.

I agree that the 11mm used recklessly will look poor. OTOH a stitched 17mmTS-E image has the AOV of 12mm.

Like using the 17 for a view with minimal room to site the camera and the demand from the client that they WANT the view. Then the 11 works well. It also can fail dramatically as  some interiors in particular will not render well.

The 11-24 zoom allows precise framing and if you keep the camera level the issues can be minimized.

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mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 1,870
Re: On the other hand

Photomonkey wrote:

Ian L wrote:

JackM wrote:

Put it this way - I've done a few hundred r/e shoots and paid for all my gear several times over without a TS lens. I've never had a realtor complain or mention anything about excessive ceiling in my shots. So it's clearly not necessary unless you are shooting a lot of exteriors of tall-ish buildings. For interiors it's really just a convenience for the photographer, and you could probably get some marketing mileage out of saying you have a special tilt-shift perspective control lens. Still would be nice though.

Oh, i know i can keep using just a wide angle, and that probably 95% of all professional shot r/e images are not done with a t/s lens. But I'm interested in getting my photos as good as I possibly can. It's a little bit of an obsession. So i'm mainly just wondering if the t/s lens will make any difference, vs just using perspective correction in LR/PS.

TS lenses are sharp but most of the puffery you hear is from those rhapsodizing about their very expensive purchase.

In Julius Shulman's book on architectural photography notes that he rarely used the movements on his view camera. That is my experience in 20+ years of doing it.

In addition the notion that quality loss is significant when adjusting perspective in post is just wrong. Moderate corrections do not show issues at al. Moreover, if they were, they are at the edges and often in areas of no detail.

Like most obsessions, reality falls far short of fantasy.

I guess it all depends. To me having worked with TS-E lenses for many years, the shift feature especially is indispensable. How someone shooting architecture can claim rarely using shift on their technical cameras is beyond me quite frankly. These lenses give you extra freedom when composing especially interior shots allowing you to place the camera higher (to eye level or even higher) without having half of the image filled with ceiling as is the case with normal WA lenses if you want to keep camera level. To avoid this you are left with having to tilt the camera downwards or placing it low at hip level or lower. Fixing the perspective in post not only deteriorates the quality towards the edges but you are cropping large parts of what you captured. The more you tilt the camera the more image you loose by fixing the perspective in post. But to each his own.

I am not going to argue with you about benefits of TS-E lenses if you can't see them and appreciate them it would be pointless. But accusing photographers who use TS-E lenses of "rhapsodizing about their very expensive purchase" is not only simplistic and ignorant statement but also insulting and plain silly.

Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,558
Re: On the other hand

mmarian wrote:

...

I guess it all depends. To me having worked with TS-E lenses for many years, the shift feature especially is indispensable. How someone shooting architecture can claim rarely using shift on their technical cameras is beyond me quite frankly. These lenses give you extra freedom when composing especially interior shots allowing you to place the camera higher (to eye level or even higher) without having half of the image filled with ceiling as is the case with normal WA lenses if you want to keep camera level. To avoid this you are left with having to tilt the camera downwards or placing it low at hip level or lower. Fixing the perspective in post not only deteriorates the quality towards the edges but you are cropping large parts of what you captured. The more you tilt the camera the more image you loose by fixing the perspective in post. But to each his own.

I am not going to argue with you about benefits of TS-E lenses if you can't see them and appreciate them it would be pointless. But accusing photographers who use TS-E lenses of "rhapsodizing about their very expensive purchase" is not only simplistic and ignorant statement but also insulting and plain silly.

One way around this is to use a camera with a lot of pixels.  With a 50 megapixel camera, you can have half the image filled with ceiling, and still be left with a high quality image  Similarly, you can tilt the camera up/down, and correct the parallels in post, and still have a very high quality image.

An advantage of a high megapixel camera, is that you have the ability to crop and correct with all of your lenses, not just a few fixed focal length primes.

The high pixel count can occasionally be helpful in jobs that don't need tilt or shift.

====

Now I am not saying that high megapixel bodies are "better" than tilt/shift lenses.  I am merely pointing out there is frequently more than one way to achieve the same high quality result.

A tilt/shift lens requires you to take more time when shooting.  You may need to spend more time on location.  If you are correcting in post, you may be able to spend less time on location, and more in post processing.   Some people like to minimize post processing.  Some people would rather minimize the time they need at the location, particularly if the realtor/owner is waiting around for you to finish.

Pick the tools that are a better match for your desired workflow.  Don't worry if someone else uses a different method to get the same results.

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mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 1,870
Re: On the other hand

Michael Fryd wrote:

mmarian wrote:

...

I guess it all depends. To me having worked with TS-E lenses for many years, the shift feature especially is indispensable. How someone shooting architecture can claim rarely using shift on their technical cameras is beyond me quite frankly. These lenses give you extra freedom when composing especially interior shots allowing you to place the camera higher (to eye level or even higher) without having half of the image filled with ceiling as is the case with normal WA lenses if you want to keep camera level. To avoid this you are left with having to tilt the camera downwards or placing it low at hip level or lower. Fixing the perspective in post not only deteriorates the quality towards the edges but you are cropping large parts of what you captured. The more you tilt the camera the more image you loose by fixing the perspective in post. But to each his own.

I am not going to argue with you about benefits of TS-E lenses if you can't see them and appreciate them it would be pointless. But accusing photographers who use TS-E lenses of "rhapsodizing about their very expensive purchase" is not only simplistic and ignorant statement but also insulting and plain silly.

One way around this is to use a camera with a lot of pixels. With a 50 megapixel camera, you can have half the image filled with ceiling, and still be left with a high quality image Similarly, you can tilt the camera up/down, and correct the parallels in post, and still have a very high quality image.

An advantage of a high megapixel camera, is that you have the ability to crop and correct with all of your lenses, not just a few fixed focal length primes.

The high pixel count can occasionally be helpful in jobs that don't need tilt or shift.

====

Now I am not saying that high megapixel bodies are "better" than tilt/shift lenses. I am merely pointing out there is frequently more than one way to achieve the same high quality result.

A tilt/shift lens requires you to take more time when shooting. You may need to spend more time on location. If you are correcting in post, you may be able to spend less time on location, and more in post processing. Some people like to minimize post processing. Some people would rather minimize the time they need at the location, particularly if the realtor/owner is waiting around for you to finish.

Pick the tools that are a better match for your desired workflow. Don't worry if someone else uses a different method to get the same results.

Mostly agree but you have conveniently or deliberately missed one significant aspect of my argument and that is that you are loosing significant part of you image when correcting paralles in post. And it is very hard to visualize how much of the sides and corners you are going to loose when shooting and composing your shots. With TS-E lenses you see your final composition. And that is a huge benefit which can not be discounted or ignored!!

Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,558
Re: On the other hand

mmarian wrote:

...

Mostly agree but you have conveniently or deliberately missed one significant aspect of my argument and that is that you are loosing significant part of you image when correcting paralles in post. And it is very hard to visualize how much of the sides and corners you are going to loose when shooting and composing your shots. With TS-E lenses you see your final composition. And that is a huge benefit which can not be discounted or ignored!!

That absolutely is a benefit.

However if I have the camera aimed up, I know that I get to keep whatever is at the bottom, of the frame, and I will end up with whatever is straight above that.

For instance,  if I have 10 feet of space on either side of the bottom of the building, and the building has straight sides, then I will end up with 10 feet on either side throughout the buildings height. This is true even though in the viewfinder I will see much more space on either side of the top of the building.

Personally, I don't find this to pose much of a challenge, but it may not be for everyone.

====

Another advantage of tilt/shift lenses is that they allow you to tilt the plane of focus.  If you are shooting the facade of a building, and want to shoot it from off to the side, then it can be helpful to tilt the plane of focus to match the front of the building.  With a regular lens, you would need to resort to a small aperture and deep depth of field.

The best workflow may very with the specific shot.  Some shooting styles will benefit a lot from tilt, and other photographers may never need it.

There is no single solution that is right for everyone.

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mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 1,870
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

"The 11-24 zoom allows precise framing and if you keep the camera level the issues can be minimized."(Quote)

You are kidding, right? Framing is done by positioning of the camera relative to the subject in front. To assist precise framing a geared head can surely help. But a lens? You probably mean zooming? Well that is a virtue of any zoom lens not just your 11-24mm. Zooms are very convenient to use but I am yet to meet a true dedicated pro architectural photographer who would prefer zooms over TS-E lenses. TS-E lenses require more time, discipline and deliberation but if an assignment allows for that, and most true architectural assignments do from my experience, they are hard to beat. Realtor shoots probably do not belong to that category a zooms are surely way to go but that is not what the OP asked about😉

mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 1,870
Re: On the other hand
  1. Michael Fryd wrote:

mmarian wrote:

...

Mostly agree but you have conveniently or deliberately missed one significant aspect of my argument and that is that you are loosing significant part of you image when correcting paralles in post. And it is very hard to visualize how much of the sides and corners you are going to loose when shooting and composing your shots. With TS-E lenses you see your final composition. And that is a huge benefit which can not be discounted or ignored!!

That absolutely is a benefit.

However if I have the camera aimed up, I know that I get to keep whatever is at the bottom, of the frame, and I will end up with whatever is straight above that.

For instance, if I have 10 feet of space on either side of the bottom of the building, and the building has straight sides, then I will end up with 10 feet on either side throughout the buildings height. This is true even though in the viewfinder I will see much more space on either side of the top of the building.

Personally, I don't find this to pose much of a challenge, but it may not be for everyone.

====

Another advantage of tilt/shift lenses is that they allow you to tilt the plane of focus. If you are shooting the facade of a building, and want to shoot it from off to the side, then it can be helpful to tilt the plane of focus to match the front of the building. With a regular lens, you would need to resort to a small aperture and deep depth of field.

The best workflow may very with the specific shot. Some shooting styles will benefit a lot from tilt, and other photographers may never need it.

There is no single solution that is right for everyone.

The OP asked about the benefits of TS-E lenses and if they are worth the price. He also stated his dedication to achieving the best possible quality in his work and he seems to mean his dedication seriously. Telling him that a WA zoom lens can fully replace the TS-E lenses is misleading  and simply not true. And that is all I have been trying to convey.

Ed Rizk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,536
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

Ian L wrote:

Thanks for the replies from everyone. I'm not sure why but for some reason I stopped getting notifications so I didn't see all these additional posts.

So, just to clear things up a bit for my specific situation:

I'm not shooting anything super high end (usually). Mainly due i think to my location. Detroit is the largest closest city and it's about a 90 minute drive for me. I have gotten a handful of nicer shoots in detroit.

I do however want to shoot higher end stuff, not just for the money, but i also enjoy it. And regardless of what I am shooting I always want to know if there's a way to take better shots.

Using the laowa TS macro lens might be an interesting option. Which also reminded me of their 12mm lens as well, which sounds tempting.

Just sort of in that akward space where I'm not sure i want to spend more money on gear unless i know for sure it's going to pay off since I'm still trying to build up my revenue.

The 17 is an awesome piece of glass. It will up your game for the reasons stated by other posters here, and for one not considered here.

As I go through properties, residential or retail, I consistently find myself wanting to emphasize either the ceiling or the floor. If both are equally good looking, which is rare, you can keep the lens level, unless you want a high or low perspective.

Inside you might want a high or low perspective to put an interesting item in the foreground, be it a light fixture or an interesting glass sculpture on a low table. Outside, you often need a high or low perspective to get a shot over a pool fence or to make a nicely landscaped sign area more prominent than the ugly building behind it.

A 24 would be wide enough for some exterior shots, but not all. If you're shooting a building that is close to the street, you need as wide as you can get. Shopping centers need wide and shift, because the buildings are so wide, and the sky is prettier than the parking lot. Tall buildings almost always require the width and the shift. You can always crop to the 24mm AOV.

I'm a broker that also shoots for other brokers and owners. Every advantage in IQ and creativity is worth a lot in my opinion. Non photographers noticed when I went from a P&S to the 60D with a 10-22, and they noticed when I went to the 6D with the TSE 17. I make a lot of presentations in person with printed flyers for retail leases and investment sales. When the shot is right, the prospects eyes stay on the paper longer. The longer the eyes stay on the paper, the more of the printed information the mind absorbs and the more the subconscious becomes invested in the deal.

On a marketing note, developers who own nice architecture love to hang wall prints of their properties with nice sunsets behind them on their office walls. As a broker, that has become my standard closing gift for my owners. Tenants get digital files. Many use them for their marketing. Both are cheaper than a good bottle of single malt scotch, last longer, and remind the client of me every day. As a product for sale, it might cost more than a good bottle of single malt, but commercial brokers and brokers who work with builders might be customers for it.

Get the 17. You won't regret it.

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Ed Rizk

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ashleymorrison
ashleymorrison Contributing Member • Posts: 540
shooting for magazines?

Ian L wrote:

If you don't mind me dragging this conversation sideways a little bit - how did you get started shooting for magazines?

Back in the 'days of film' (when I started), it was very different because there was only snail mail and one set of originals ; which, therefore, usually limited you to local magazines, who you would have hand-delivered your work to.

But when digital came along, that all changed... because one was now basically only 'a click away' from any editor's desk in the world and you only needed to send them a (digital) copy.

So with that in mind, instead of sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, I started by producing the type of images that I believed some of them would want to use - and those that did, I then sold them the rights to use it.

And 15 years on, that's still what I do...

.. since they all only pay for the rights to use one's work anyway.

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Cheers
Ashley

AZBlue
AZBlue Senior Member • Posts: 2,361
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

You don't need TS lenses for real estate shoots. Software make it much faster, easier, and nobody will notice or care. Here's a great video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXjNDkmYdY

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Ed Rizk Veteran Member • Posts: 3,536
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

AZBlue wrote:

You don't need TS lenses for real estate shoots. Software make it much faster, easier, and nobody will notice or care. Here's a great video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXjNDkmYdY

I looked into the software option before I bought the 17, but I watched the video anyway.

It definitely takes less time to shift the lens than to do all of that.

The speaker also said that there would be distortion and artifact problems if he had tilted his lens more than he did.

As a bonus, you get a really good piece of glass to go with that TS-E mechanism.

A better compromise, if you were hell bent on avoiding the shift would be to go with a wider lens, like a 12 or an 11, and crop.   I’d rather lose a few pixels than deal with the extra processing.

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Ed Rizk

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mmarian Senior Member • Posts: 1,870
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?
1

AZBlue wrote:

You don't need TS lenses for real estate shoots. Software make it much faster, easier, and nobody will notice or care. Here's a great video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXjNDkmYdY

I do not know how much is worth this fellow's time but by the time he does all the processing steps required as he demonstrates in that video he probably could have earned more money from shooting with TS-E lens rather then spending time behind the computer, and to be honest achieve better result in lot less time right on location 😂😂😂. Plus the Content Aware Fill only works well on natural or organic structures or plain surfaces, so he deliberatelly chose a shot where it would somehow work. Try using it when you have a furniture like chairs or a table with legs etc near the edge😋

MOD Victor Engel Forum Pro • Posts: 18,758
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

AZBlue wrote:

You don't need TS lenses for real estate shoots. Software make it much faster, easier, and nobody will notice or care. Here's a great video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXjNDkmYdY

Yuck. I can't believe he's seriously suggesting that much cloning, and I got a chuckle when he complimented the content-aware fill on the top piece of wood, because that part didn't need any filling.
I read through the thread with interest because I have a TSE lens (the Canon 24mm), but I haven't used it much yet for architecture. It seems like most of the discussion centered around the shift feature of the lens. In my own shooting, I've focused more on tilt for focus control.

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Victor Engel

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JackM
JackM Veteran Member • Posts: 8,677
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?

AZBlue wrote:

You don't need TS lenses for real estate shoots. Software make it much faster, easier, and nobody will notice or care. Here's a great video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXjNDkmYdY

I watched the video and learned a good tip.  Reverse-cropping or expanding the canvas larger than the picture allows the distortion correction tool to keep everything at the top of the image.  Nice.  I'm sure I will use that someday.

Of course the criticisms already stated are valid, but IMO in r/e photography it is pretty rare to need to include so much height in an image.  Rare enough that I simply haven't been able to justify buying a TS lens, so post-processing tips like these are useful.  No, it would not be cost-effective to shoot and post-process like this for any quantity of shots, but for occasional shots I'd say it's more cost-effective than buying a $2500 lens (and a FF camera to put it on) that you only really need for a small minority of images.

That said, if r/e photography was my full-time career, I would definitely have a TS lens.

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AZBlue
AZBlue Senior Member • Posts: 2,361
Re: Tilt-Shift lens worth it?
2

With regard to RE shoots, the best tools are the ones that save you time. Whatever they happen to be.

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