Could You Get By Shooting Interiors With Just A 24mm Tilt-shift Lens?

February 28th, 2016

NikonTilShiftPatrick recently asked:

I LOVE my 24mm pc lens but when I try to use it to shoot an entire listing I find I am having to compromise the composition in certain situations. I end up going back to my car and getting my 14-24mm. Thoughts?

I can certainly identify with that. Although I’ve never used a tilt-shift lens, I did shoot with only a 24mm prime lens for many years and was able to get by, but after I got my 16-35mm along wil a full frame Canon 1Ds, in 2003, I felt liberated.

While 24mm is clearly the sweet spot for shooting interiors, having the flexibility using a wide-angle zoom that goes wider than 24mm is important. At the same time, learning restraint when using a wide-angle zoom is important and difficult. When I first got my 16-35mm lens when I was shooting my wife’s listings, she was always complaining that large rooms looked like bowling alleys and sending me back to reshoot. It took me a long time to learn restraint. I still find myself going wider than is necessary.

Could you live with a fixed 24mm (effective) for shooting interiors?

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20 Responses to “Could You Get By Shooting Interiors With Just A 24mm Tilt-shift Lens?”

  • I often get upset when I reach for my 17mm because I know it’s because I have gotten lazy.

    When you finally hit the composition you were looking for with a 24mm or narrower it’s a great feeling.

  • Years ago, when my 4×5 view camera was no longer an option, I purchased a 6×7 technical camera called a Corfield WA67 which had an RB-67 rotating back and a fixed super wide shift lens. But when digital took over, I tried to use my Nikon full frame and 28mm PC lens which was not wide enough for interiors and had to use my 20mm prime. I considered switching to Canon, because they have super wide shift lens. But now that I am, shooting with the Fuji X system, I use their beautiful 10-24mm lens, and have to consciously stop myself from shooting too wide. I wish that Fuji would also come out with a tilt lens.
    But for Now, I think only Canon makes a super wide Shift/PC lens.

  • I totally feel you. Going for the ultra wide feels like cheating. Nevertheless there are some spots where going to 14mm absolutely shines and gives you a composition and sense of space you can’t achieve with the 24mm. Nowadays I even try to keep myself even narrower. I’ve gone through my old portfolios and found that a lot of the frames I reay like have been shot at 50-85mm. I guess its the natural perspective and depth of space.

  • I haven’t used ANYTHING but my 24mm TS for the last couple of years. I have a 24-70mm on my backup camera but I rarely use it except for exteriors.

  • If Brad had only one lens for real estate photography he would choose the 24 tilt shift. Its the lens that he feels most comfortable with and produces the images that his clients want. And, in my opinion, that is the criteria – are you shooting the pictures your client wants?

    To us, it really doesn’t matter which lens is chosen. If you don’t produce what the client is looking for does the lens really matter if you lose the client or you lose the time going back to the listing to reshoot? Maybe you have a client that shoots all wide and you use the 14mm fixed, or maybe you have several clients that like that wide to closer in and you use a 16-35mm. If you have several clients or you want to produce the best image for a situation, you should have a selection of lenses in your bag to choose from. Each home, each realtor style and each photographer style dictates the lens you choose.

  • “Could you get by?” No. Simply put a 16-35mm FF lens provides you a lot more freedom than a 25mm lens does. It will work, in this field, when you can’t back up any more and when you must move in (avoiding ugly yard signs, trees, power lines etc) but still get the whole exterior in. The same goes for those small powder rooms and wine cellars.

    Yes you can abuse that wide angle but careful composition and understanding “shoot the wide crop to the best” works with UWA where it’s not possible with a 24mm.

  • Used for the tilt AND Shift combinaison , and his high optical quality , TS-E 24 mm is my main lens .

    But I do not only shoot one image , but I do two shifted takes , stitched together , it gives another point of view , “squared” .

    More resolution , less very wide angle distortion .

    To get it easy , I have special tripod collar , made in high quality aeronautic aluminium . Stitching is thereby made very easy and quick .

    Sometimes , If the room is very big , I will use the TS-E 17 mm .

  • Since purchasing 24mm T/S, that’s about all I use for interiors. Started out with the 14-24 F2.8 lens and I don’t use it much any more.
    I do the same as Olivier Reuter by putting 2 shifter images together. I think the composition works great.
    I think you can get by using the T/S for interiors only.

  • Nope.
    Some views work very well with 24 or 35 or even 50m. However on larger homes, exteriors with constrained setbacks etc one need an UWA to get a sense of the space that the eye experiences.
    Careful use of the UWA will render a scene in realistic manner. If your UWA images look like the fun house, you are doing it wrong.

  • A good tripod and some sort of gadget (could be a home made mounting plate) to get the nodal point of your lens over the pivot point of the tripod head, coupled with Photoshop or the excellent (and free) Image Composite Editor (ICE) from Microsoft will get you as wide a view as you’ll ever need, even with a 35mm lens.
    I do occasionally use an old 28mm shift Nikkor, increasing the angle of view by about 40% simply by shifting it all the way to one side and taking a shot, then flopping it over to the other side and shooting another, dropping both frames on the ICE workspace and getting great results.
    (If you’re a Windows user you can get ICE here: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/projects/ice/ )

  • I use the eqivalent of a 14-28 which gives me the ability to shoot any room including tight bathrooms without having to change lenses. If shooting wide, I always ensure that the camera is level to avoid converging lines and distortion if not centered correctly.

  • I still use the Canon EF-S 10-22mm with the 1.6 cropping factor. It gives me the best results.

  • @ Olivier Reuter:
    “…I do two shifted takes , stitched together , it gives another point of view , “squared” .
    More resolution , less very wide angle distortion…”

    You’re half right. You do increase the pixel count when you do a flat stitch (although why you need those extra pixels for real estate is still a question).

    But disotortion is a function of the Field of View, not the focal length of the lens. When you use a 24mm with shift and produce a wider field of view, you get the EXACT SAME DISTORTION you would have had with a single shot made with a shorter lens.

    There’s no escaping the laws of physics, folks!

  • I have shot at the equivalent of every focal length from 16mm to 300mm. 24mm is the length I use the most and I don’t doubt it is possible to do everything with that one lens, but I wouldn’t want to limit myself in that way for anything other than practice.

    “…I find I am having to compromise the composition in certain situations.”

    If you find yourself compromising quality in any way, *don’t do it*.

  • I’m VERY interested to see some of these smaller properties shot at 24mm. It’s not often but I do shoot small condos (800sq/ft) and very small homes. I couldn’t imagine trying to use a 24mm lens. I use a 16-35 paired on my Sony A7ii and it’s a perfect combination.

  • I agree with you, Dan. Even if you shoots a good size homes, but many bathrooms are pretty small. It is often pretty hard to take a horizontal picture.

  • If your interior photos look like “bowling alleys” then trying standing near one of the side walls rather than shooting right down the middle. Always include 3 walls in the photo if you can and you will find that the photos are more realistic and representative of the room.

  • For the past 6 months I have shot exclusively with the Sony A7RII body, a Metabones 4 adapter, and Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift lens. At first I went back & forth with the 16-35 & the 17-40 plus some other combos – but found the best and most consistent composition and quality was with the 24mm Tilt-shift. I find it most useful when faced with having to shoot multiple floors (like up or down a staircase – or down from a landing). It is super effective on the A7RII because of the focus peaking & manual focus assist…

    IMHO the 24mm tilt-shift is the best architecture/real estate lens out there…

  • I have shot listings where I used a 24mm pc lens for most or all of the views. However, I think an ultrawide zoom is usually much more practical for the majority of routine real estate photography. That said, I think all those who shoot buildings for a living should spend some time getting acquainted with using a 24mm pc lens on a full frame body.

  • I use the longest focal length I can for each composition. Every property I photograph will have me pulling out my 10-20mm Sigma and my Canon 17-40mm. For shallow DOF details, I often use my 50mm f1.4. Some detail photos will work well with my 70-200mm.

    In school we had sections where we were only allowed to use a 50mm prime. I understand why they do that, but it has nothing to do with working in the real world. I have a camera with interchangeable lenses for a reason. I could get by with a 24mm T/S as my only lens on a job, but why?

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