Basic Q on Nikon 85mm PC (tilt-shift) and Macro Photography

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by laughing buddha productions, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. Hi, Sorry, I have spent a bit of time rummaging through old posts and learning a bit about the Scheimpflug principles and still don't quite have a clear answer. SETUP: shooting jewelry with a Nikon D70 and 105mm micro lens. NEED: want to improve depth of field QUESTION: is the PC (tilt-shift) feature on the 85mm PC lens going to allow me to tilt the plane of focus enough to get more DOF on say a ring or other piece of jewelry laying flat (more perpendicular to the plane of focus). Overall - how can improve DOF on macro shots? I know I can take multiple shots and merge them in PS. Does a MF camera give more DOF at say an equivalent magnification? Image attached - you can see the front part of the ring is in focus, but not the designer's name on the back. - Would a PC or tilt-shift mechanism solve this problem? - What about the Zoerk system, has anyone used this for this solution? Thanks in advance for any advice on improving my macro work. Michael
  2. Longer exposure to buy you a tighter aperture and thus greater DoF. If you're using strobes, go totally manual, and fire the strobes more than once during the same exposure if you'd be too short on light otherwise. As it stands at the moment, it looks like your light is a little harsh. Of course, reflective surfaces a major PITA no matter what... but you might be better off spending the $ on light modifiers than on glass? You don't mention at what f-stop you're shooting in this example.
  3. Check out this article in detail on - . Although, it was written for the Canon Tilt/Shift 90mm lens, the Nikon 85PC is essentially equivalent in focal length and T&S capability (with many advantages and a couple disadvantages).

    It provides excellent pictorial examples of the effects of tilt for close to macro photography.

    I currently own the Nikon 85PC and used quite extensively for DOF control for macro and product photography. Its an extremely capable lens, very well built, exceptional IQ, color, & contrast, but just a bit quirky to operate - takes a bit of time to get used to.

    For product shots as per your attachment, you can certainly acheive much more control of the focus plane with this lens.

    Hope this helps.
  4. Michael, the 85 PC Micro will definitely allow you to change the plane of focus which will allow you to control the plane in which you maximize depth of field. I've taken photos of coins laying on a flat surface with the camera at 45 degrees to the subject and gotten the entire coin within the depth of field at F4. The ability to tilt the lens definitely helps if the film plane cannot be placed parallel to the subject.
  5. Michael your image does not show a flat object. It is rather 3D. If you read up on the Scheimpflug principle you will notice that it applies to image >planes< . For example if your depth of field is 2mm your object should not be rising out of the plane more than this value.

    If your object reaches above the plane in focus more than your DOF it will be out of focus. What you need to do is to BOTH a) tilt the lens and b) use a small aperture.

    The image quality will degrade with very small apertures say beyond f8 so you need to compromise between limitation of image quality due to small aperture and diffraction against shallow depth of field due to open aperture. For the given image size of your post I would not worry about diffraction at small apertures up to f11 or f16but set on your lens. You can test this easily with a digital camera.

    A larger format will give you more comfortable adjustment (view camera movements and ground glass image control) but no better image quality unless you really know what you are doing. Shooting technique is the primary limitation here.

    BTW: For macro studio work it is very helpful to attach the camera to the computer for immediate quality control. Nothing beats the control you get from a nice image on a big monitor :)During adjustments you can shoot small size *jpg for quick upload and for the final image use RAW.
  6. I use a Minolta Auto Bellows III in a situation like this because the front standard has movements. To get the extra covering power I need I use an enlarging lens made for medium format sizes. An 80/5.6 EL Nikkor or a 105/5.6 EL Nikkor work nicely. If you can find a Nikon PB-4 bellows unit you will have some of the same movements.
  7. The 85PC can solve your problem in a breeze. You can get tack sharp images front to rear of your jewels. There is just one caveat, you need to modify the lens so its shift and tilt axes coincide. From the factory they come with tilt and shift axes 90 degees to each other, which sometimes is what you want, but not for this application. The modification can be done by any one with a a small screw driver and 5 minutes worth of patience, so it's really a minor annoyance. You could also purchase two 85PC lenses and modify just the one, to get exactly the tool you need for a given application.

    Be aware through, that depth of field doesn't come for free. When you utilise the Scheimpflug principle to *redistribute* the zone of acceptable sharpness, you simultaneously change its 3-D shape and restrict the positions your camera can have in relation to the subject. The closer you wish to come, the more restrained will your shooting options be. You also need to have the "thinnest" section of the motif in front, otherwise even the Scheimpflug can't help you when the magnification increases. Read up on this matter in any good book on view camera techniques.
  8. Thank you to everyone for your answers, the comments about the PB-4 bellows and the article on the PC 85mm were very helpful.

    A majority of my jewelry clients seem to like things shot at an oblique - the camera say at 45-60 degrees to the flat plane of the piece itself. Then they don't understand why with a 105mm at 1:2 they can't get their whole item in focus.

    I was looking for some gear solutions - it seems like both the bellows and PC lens could solve the issue. As well, I'm looking into some of that stitching software that pastes several images together to composite one image in focus - that'll give me a great reason to charge more.

    Thanks again for the tips.
  9. I'm just getting started with the 85mm PC Micro Nikkor. It really does do a lot of things for close-up photography. While it's no panacea, it offers some of the best solutions available. Besides it is a lot of fun to use, once you have gotten over the basic challenges. Go for it!
  10. I haven't used the 85 PC, but I have a view camera and it's an excellent tool for this. If the tilt range of the 85 PC is sufficient, then it is probably the overall best choice for this application.

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