Taking real estate photos can be quite demanding because you might encounter large-scale properties or towering structures. In such cases, you need a different kind of lens to get the best shot, which is why we're going to teach you the best way to use a tilt-shift lens for real estate photography.
In general, using a tilt-shift lens requires tilting the lens up or down or shifting from left to right. As you control the tilt and shift, the focal length would run through varying distances, and the movements would correct the perspective in your real estate images.
Before we look into exact ways on how to control tilt-shift lenses for real estate photography, let's go over the basics of this type of lens.
A tilt-shift lens is a type of specialized lens that contains optics you can tilt and shift. This is better than wide-angle lenses in some cases because it changes the scale of focus to keep your lines straight and massive spaces broad without ruining the perspective in images.
It enables you to change lens orientation instead of physically changing the camera's position. This is why a tilt-shift lens is mainly used for landscape, architecture, and real estate photography.
Although there's a lens correction feature in Lightroom, the perspective control of tilt-shift lenses can help you save more time in post-production. However, you can only do manual focus in tilt-shift lenses because they lack autofocus systems.
Using a tilt-shift lens all boils down to knowing how you control the tilt and shift knobs because the movements are impossible to do with standard lenses.
Aside from many tutorials on how to use tilt-shift lenses, practice these various movements and see how a tilt-shift lens can create different effects in your real estate images.
When you use a typical lens, the depth of field and the focal plane will fall on distance. As a result, there would be a noticeable line of focus in an image, while the rest of the scene suffers from distortion.
Whether you tilt or shift, there are many great benefits to learning how to control a tilt-shift lens.
The tilt feature uses the Scheimpflug Principle, which means the image sensor and lens plane are not parallel. Unlike a tilt-shift lens, a standard lens features parallel focus and sensor planes. Since your camera would be steady, vertical lines won't converge.
One of the benefits of a lens tilt is that your camera can get a much higher view. When taking photos of vast neighborhoods or multi-complex properties, tilting creates a shallower depth of field, which can make a miniature effect on images.
For example, suppose you photograph a scene or object at an angle between 0 and 90 degrees with a normal lens. The nearest and farthest regions would be out of focus even if you use the narrowest aperture.
The shift feature lets the optics 'shift' compared to the image sensor plane. In effect, this type of lens allows you to shoot a photo while keeping the necessary camera position.
One of the challenges of real estate photography is that you have to deal with impossible angles. For example, when you place a camera on the correct level and point it directly toward a building, you would see that the vertical lines lean inward, creating a pyramid-like effect.
With a tilt-shift lens, you can face the camera straight ahead and allow the lens to move for you. The same idea applies when photographing in tight spaces or reflective surfaces. You can shift the lens from left to right to get a shot.
The ideal shooting height for real estate photography is 4 to 5 feet. Since the height might affect distortion on tilt-shift lenses, keep the setup around 3 to 4 feet to give space for tilting and shifting. Read more about how to pick the right tripod for your specific scenario.
A tilt-shift lens is heavier and larger than standard lenses. Additionally, it generally has fixed focal lengths, so you can't zoom in or out. It can be a bit hard to control at first, although with practice and knowledge, you can optimize its different features.
Specialty lenses like tilt-shift are more expensive than standard lenses because of their extra flexibility and features. However, investing in them can help improve your images, and eventually, get higher-paying photography jobs. You can rent or buy used ones to see if it's the right type of lens for you.
A tilt-shift lens maintains the scale of focus and control perspective over the entire frame without blurring out the other parts. Once you master how to control it, you will have a better way of covering different distances even if you don't reposition your camera setup all the time.