Why do I need to Tilt & Shift?
If you have read my thoughts on my Nikkor 16-35mm f4 VR lens you will know there is a certain amount of distortion at the wide end of the lens range. In many cases, for wild landscape photographs in particular, this is not a major issue. However, when you include buildings or subjects where we recognise shape and form this distortion can become more obvious and detracts from the image.
You can correct the distortion in the image using Photoshop but this is not ideal as you are altering those precious pixels you have been so careful to photograph at their best. Also correcting distortion in Photoshop can alter your final composition, which again, having taken the care and attention to get 'right' is annoying.
With this in mind I started to think about purchasing a Tilt and Shift lens. This type of lens works in a similar way to a large format camera in that it allows you to 'reposition' the image view (shift) to eradicate distortions such as converging verticals in buildings. This type of lens has the added bonus of being able to change the plane of focus (by tilt) to suit large depths of field whilst using a larger aperture setting. This allows you to maximise depth of field in certain images whilst using the lenses optimum apertures (normally around f5.6-f11) rather than apertures such as f22 where diffraction can soften the overall image.
If you are unfamiliar with some of the terms used in these ramblings there are plenty of articles on the internet that will save me the time! :)
Choice of Focal Length
I did my usual research before deciding on the Nikkor 24mm PC-E. Having looked at some of my image history many of my landscape images tend to fall around the 24mm focal length (obtained through Exif data through Photoshop Bridge) so this seemed the ideal choice. Also Tilt and Shift lenses are only currently made in a few focal lengths, for example Nikon only make a 24mm a 45mm and an 85mm.
This is a new purchase so I have not had much time to discover its good and bad points. What I will say is that it is a lens that will make you take your time and consider your shots more because if you don't it can all go horribly wrong! It is not an easy lens to work with and to start with I have been 'conservative' with my choices of aperture because I needed to 'nail' some images I have recently taken in Europe.
Viewing the images at 100% in Photoshop on a 27" iMac screen the detail this lens captures with the D3 is fantastic, I would say it is sharper than the 16-35mm f4 when maximising depth of field which is not surprising.
I am still picking up the best techniques for using this lens but I have no doubt it can only help with my image making and take away any distortions.
Further notes and ramblings will come in my blog as my experiences with the lens build up........