If you’re a savvy landscape shooter you know that in many situations only stopping down isn’t gonna cut it. No matter what, you will not manage to have a scene perfectly sharp front to back, and this even before starting considering the nasty effects of diffraction.
There is a solution, though, and it is the reason why large format has been historically the king of landscape photography – beside its inherent high-resolution, obviously.
Tilting the lens even a small bit will dramatically increase the part of field in focus, allowing you to stop down less and/or to have a perfectly sharp image front-to-back.
Shot with Olympus 24/2.8 OM Zuiko. Perfect focus front to back.
The only problem is that lenses that sport such a feature are normally quite expensive, and not available for every mount. Basically you have the choice among Canon or Nikon ones (or Samyang) (and they all offer a shift function as well). That’s it.
What if you shoot on a mirrorless camera and you’re not interested in the shift function, because you don’t shoot architecture and with such hi-res cameras available today you no longer stitch? Then you have one more alternative, and be happy because it is an extremely cheap one.
And please, understand that here I’m talking about full-frame cameras as well (I use this solution with a Sony A7r), not just Aps-c.
With a cheap (around 50€) tilt adapter you can use various legacy lenses on your mirrorless camera WITH FULL COVERAGE OF THE FORMAT!!!
Tilting the adapter just a tiny bit I was able to achieve perfect focus on both the tree in the upper part and on the extreme bottom left corner (look at the crop below). As you can see coverage of the format is not a problem (shot on a Sony A7r with the Olympus 24/2.8 OM Zuiko).
Extreme bottom left corner of the previous image. Please note that the image is not tack sharp because of the fierce wind that was blowing: I had sometimes trouble standing up, and it tossed my heavy tripod down even if the legs were deeply seated into the snow. The Olympus performs much better than this…
Smoothness and durability of such adapters are nowhere nearly as good as a Canon T&S lens, but the price is nowhere as expensive either. But they do the job perfectly, and that’s the important part, isn’t it?
There are two basic kinds of tilt adapters, but I wholeheartedly recommend the version with a rotating dial, not the free-tilt one. You can learn more about the differences in this old post of mine:
For now I’ve used them with a Pentax SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 and with a series of Olympus OM Zuiko (24mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2.8 shift, 50mm f/1.8, 135mm f/3.5) with perfect results.
Shot with Olympus 135/3.5 OM Zuiko. Told you it was windy!
I’ve seen various eBay sellers (mostly from China) offer this kind of adapters in Sony E/FE mount or micro 4/3 for Canon, Contax/Yashica, Nikon and Minolta MD lenses, but I don’t exclude that they might be offering them for some other camera mount or lens brand as well.
Anyway, given that it looks like they apply some kind of center tilt they should work flawlessly with basically any lens from any manufacturer – but I can’t guarantee that, you will have to try for yourself.
And now everyone on eBay to make the price of these lenses and adapters skyrocket! 😀