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About 3° of tilt
Nikon PC-E Micro-Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED

Focusing for Optimal Tilt Placement

The main challenge in the field to obtaining peak sharpness with a tilt/shift lens (for tilt or swing) is determining the optimal amount of tilt for the particular subject matter. With a cooperative subject, wide apertures can yield impressive results.

While an optical viewfinder can be used for a “rough cut” at it, focusing and adjusting tilt/swing using an optical viewfinder is mainly an exercise in approximation; the feedback is crude in terms of precise placement of tilt/swing and focus, at least on a high-resolution DSLR.

Live View on modern digital cameras is extremely helpful in establishing the optimal amount tilt or swing for a subject out in the field because it can be used to zoom in and verify sharpness. Even so, changing the tilt might require modifying focus, so it can be a tedious back-and-forth affair with complex 3D subjects that require judgment on the best compromise.

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Diglloyd Making Sharp Images articulates years of best practices and how-to, painstakingly learned over a decade of camera and lens evaluation.

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  • Eases into photographic challenges with an introductory section.
  • Covers aspects of digital sensor technology that relate to getting the best image quality.
  • Technique section discusses every aspect of making a sharp image handheld or on a tripod.
  • Depth of field and how to bypass depth of field limitations via focus stacking.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • MTF, field curvature, focus shift: insight into the limitations of lab tests and why imaging performance is far more complex than it appears.
  • Optical aberrations: what they are, what they look like, and what to do about them.
  • How to test a lens for a “bad sample”.

Intrigued? See Focusing Zeiss DSLR Lenses For Peak Performance, PART ONE: The Challenges, or (one topic of many) field curvature.

Variants Optimal Tilt, No Tilt available in full article

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