Cheap Perspective Control lens/accessory for Nikon DSLR

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by talkinglittlegirl, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. The Nikkor PC is currently out of my budget (Which is USD100 to USD200) and I got a couple of questions I wish to ask you guys...Hope you can give me some good advice.
    I shoot a lot of architectural pictures and apparently wide angle is not giving me the result I want. I did a serious research and upon recommendation of some fellows on the net, it seems like Perspective Control/Correction, PC in short, is something I need!
    So...after rounds of digging around the net, I discovered a couple of things:
    the old PC Nikkor 28mm f/3.5-to my surprise some of them are as expensive as the ones manufactured today. why is it so much sought after?
    the cheap lensbaby---I wonder if this cheap tilt-shift baby can do architectural pictures? most of the sample pictures i see on the online galleries have exaggerated bokeh...hmm...
    I wonder if there is an adapter or some sort of cheap accessories for my Nikon that can do a PC job? Or a dirt cheap lens?
    Or any old second hand dirt cheap lens that fits my nikon mount?
    Otherwise, what about some cheap vintage (but must give sharp images) with built in PC capabilities?
    Thanks for reading... :)
     
  2. a cheap pc lens that fits nikon? perhaps wide angle too?
    i'm afraid you have to exclude cheap from the criteria... and how i wish it wasn't that way...
     
  3. Wide angle field of view + Shift + Use-able edge Image Quality = Ultra Expensive, not reasonably price and never inexpensive.
     
  4. $200 can get you a very nice ladder. Works great for those shorter buildings... :)

    Actually, I'm only half joking. With a more traditional wide angle lens, even a modest change in your point of view (elevation, relative to your subject) can bring the perspective problems closer to being satisfactorily handled in post production. If you're shooting, say, a classic farmhouse or a two-floor brownstone, even a 10-foot A-frame ladder can do wonders.
     
  5. Arsat 35/2.8 is probably one of the cheapest PC lenses, but it has become less cheap in the past years. Used to be $250 but is now $350 or so. I briefly used one before finding a bargain on the 28/3.5 PC-Nikkor.
    Qualitywise it wasn't too hot at extreme shifts, but as I said, I only used it briefly.
    Note that 35 isn't wide on DX. Especially if you're using a DX body, it might make more sense to do the corrections in postprocessing. The PTLens plugin for Photoshop is way cheaper than any PC lens. Depends on your standards, of course, but I've done 12x18 inch prints from D200 pictures I've put through PTLens and have been satisfied with the results.
     
  6. Arsat 35 mm f/2.8 PC has been made for Nikon mount in Ukraine military optics plant. I recall the price being around 300 USD new, so could be possible to fit Your budget buying secondhand.
    Wouldn't be wide enough for DX but performs decently when stopped down.
     
  7. Not the way to go cheap.
    You could look at a used 4x5 view camera and wide angle lens. If you find a 120 or 220 film adapter you could shoot negative film at 6x6cm or 6x9cm and have that scanned. That is the cheapest way to go and gives better control than any PC lens on a 35mm camera.
    This also would be a great training to shoot 35mm with a PC lens later.
     
  8. [and once again, matt laur is offering great advice.]
     
  9. i remember my old "ladder days" with the F3 and a 24mm.
     
  10. Ni Hao, Saint Chatterbox (that last part rings a bell, I used to be called that in school....see my lastname :)).
    I have no idea how well this works, or even if at all, but take a look here . It is a shift adapter for Nikon F mount to use Pentacon Six lenses, which are available relatively inexpensively. According to this, it should work. It says 10mm of shift, not sure how much perspective correction that allows.
    The have a tilt adapter as well.
     
  11. Shift lenses are unfortunately not one of the cheapest things you can buy. I recommend that when possible, you go to the opposite side of the street, ask to enter the building and shoot from a window in the second or third floor, as appropriate. This is no joke; you can in many cases get a better result that way than by shooting with a shift lens from street level. If this isn't possible, can you perhaps back away and shoot with a short telephoto? Another possibility is to use an ultrawide and just keep the lens level just as if you were using a PC lens, just crop the result in image editor to reduce the amount of empty foreground. The last resort is to try using an ultrawide, tilt it up and "correct" the convergence in an image editor.
    I have the 24mm and 35mm Nikon PC lenses which I use for architectural wide shots and landscapes, and they're wonderful (in particular, the 24) but the shoot-from-the-window approach would actually result in better images, if I weren't so shy about it. ;-)
    Before you despair, remember that if you were into bird photography, a shift lens would feel very inexpensive compared to equipment that you would then need. ;-)
     
  12. lol "ladder days"
     
  13. At the end of my film days, I used a Mamiya 7 with a 50mm lens, and the carwfully leveled the camera to keep all vertical lines vertical. Had a lot of sidewalk and street in the bottom of the frame. But, then in the darkroom, I only printed the top half of the frame. Voila! The 50mm wide angle became a 100mm shift-lens. Of course, it helped to have 6x7 negative to work with. I'm just saying, a 24mm lens on a DSLR is a 48mm shift lens.
     
  14. 1) Shift lens with an adapter for P6 lenses (Soviet or Zeiss Jena) . - I have such an adapter (it is 11mm like the PC-Nikkor), but remember that a WIDE angle on a P6 lens is 45-50mm long. If yours is a small sensor camera this will be far too long for a useful architectural lens. I have one and I just don't find a lot of use for a shift on a 180mm Sonnar ("crop" equivalent of 270mm).
    2) Shift is the salient function for architectural photography. Even if the Lensbaby was decent optically (it's a nice special-effect toy, not a working lens for something like you're talking about), it has TILT, not shift. Tilt is useful for things like product photography which is the sort of thing 90mm tilt-and-shift lenses are made for.
    3) Check if it will work on your body : Older PC-Nikkors do NOT mount on all digital Nikons, in fact, I'm not sure that they mount on more than one or two of the newer digital bodies, if any. So, not only are they expensive, you need to research it carefully before you buy. Again, unless your camera is full-frame (24x36mm sensor), even 28mm is long. For architectural work over the years I found my 35mm f/2.8 PC-Nikkor to work fine on my film Nikons. I would have liked to get the 28mm, but the difference in focal length wasn't enough to justify the swap and cost.
    4) Consider 35mm PC-Nikkor : However, the 35mm PC-Nikkor is cheaper used than the 28mm, so you might look around, if you discover that it can be mounted on your body. These lenses are manual everything anyhow, so as long as it fits, get the older models.
    5) You need 24x36mm sensor for this purpose : In the long run, if you want to stay with what the Germans call the "Kleinbild" (small picture) format as opposed to a view camera, you do need to get a 24x36mm sensor. 15x22mm or so just doesn't cut it for this application. It's why I just bought a 24x36mm body (albeit a Canon EOS 5D) to use with my 35mm PC-Nikkor.
     
  15. Thanks guys for your response in just a few short hours!
    Currently I'm just using a very amateur machine, the D70s, but am considering to move to FULL FRAME shortly :)
    So ok, if I'm doing archi shots, Lensbaby isn't my choice (however I'd love to play with one when I have extra money...it really looks cute!)
    The Arsat adapter looks cute, for less than USD90, what else can I ask for? However, i need some recommendation about the lens side. Kiev C? Penta 6? Well, I need to find out more....and to make sure they can attached to my D70s... Where to get some cheap P6 or Kiev lens and which ones to get?
    The Arsat is a great alternative to the new PC-Nikkors which sells for more than USD1000, however, with this money, why don't I consider getting the old PC-Nikkor 28mm f/3.5?
    Finally, I know the old PC-nikkor isn't that wide on my DX, but do u think it gives good results on a FX? If so I'd like to consider that since it's just about USD700 which is half the price of the new PC-nikkors.
    Thanks.
    (Of course I still love the idea of experimenting with cheap alternatives first before splashing my cash for a good lens this moment)
     
  16. The cheapest solution I can think of that includes good optics is an enlarger lens in a homemade shift device. Typically it's an 80mm or so lens, so it's limited compared with a wide angle shift or tilt/shift lens. But if you have enough working room it's useful, such as some outdoor spaces with buildings that are no more than two or three stories tall.
    It's more difficult to describe than make. Basically you need two sheets of foam core or gatorfoam, approx. 8x10 in size. Cut a hole in one sheet to accommodate the enlarger lens and jam nut or other means to secure the lens to the board. Repeat this with the other board, cutting a hole large enough for the camera body lens mount and something like a T-mount adapter. Use large rubber bands to hold the shift position of the lens board relative to the body.
    Good rainy day project, especially if you already have the raw materials handy (I did). I've made variations of this rig, including one with a homebrewed bag bellows for tilts and swings. It works, but isn't convenient. It's better suited to tabletop photography but can be adapted to architectural and landscape use within limits.
     
  17. Lex, your solution sounds very cute...and indeed it's too abstract for me to understand...do u have any kind of illustrated examples? or a picture of your device?
     
  18. I might be getting a Nikon shift adapter (which is cheap) and combine it with one of those Kiev or Pentacon 6 lens. So now...I'm looking for that lens...lemme see if it's cheap
     
  19. Simple convergence is easy to correct in Photoshop, assuming you start from a scanned or digital image. Try to keep the center of the image vertical to minimize the amount of cropping needed later. There's no software solution for the DOF control provided by a tilting lens.
     
  20. Use wider than you need, keep the sensor plane parallel to the building elevation and use only the top half of the image. DOF is still parallel to the building face
     
  21. Remember that the new Nikon 24mm PC-E only partly works with your D70
    .
    Check Ken Rockwell's review of it for more info (can't link to it for some stupid reason), he lists compatibility with many older and current Nikon bodies. (cheaper bodies often limit the rotation and maximum shift, for instance)
     
  22. nah...photoshop is really a monster. i don't really want to spend hours in front of the monitor doing the editting after working outside all day :)
    i know even the most pro use photoshop to do part of their jobs, however, i'm still a newbie and too much photoshop is not too good for me.....i worry i might get too addicted to it later.... haha...
    just joking however i wish to have my prints as original as possible. ..i'm still waiting for some more answers about the Pentacon 6 mount lens recommendations while I'll keep researching about it too :)
     
  23. How about this:
    1. Use your regular wide angle lens
    2. Correct distortion in PhotoShop or a software like DxO (which has corrections for most available lenses, more useful for lenses with funky distortion).
    3. Correct perspective in PhotoShop
    4. Congratulations if your happy wíth the quality.
    You can not simulate tilt in post though. Please share your results if you care to try.
     
  24. If you really care about your archi photography then do it right, get yourself a 4x5 view with a 120/220 back. You'll love the results... Of course it takes time and is not the way to go if your lazy.
     
  25. On your answer for P6 lens recommendations, I think JDM already mentioned the limitations with the ARSAT adapter. The normal range for medium-format, which the Pentacon Six lenses are designed for, is roughly around 80mm. The widest non-fisheye lenses are around 40-50mm (example ). A 45mm lens on a DX camera will have the equivalent FOV of almost a 70mm lens, i.e. not very wide-angle. You have to decide if an equivalent FOV of a 70mm works for you for your architectural shots. Assuming it works, the ARAX price for the combo is roughly around US $350.
    If you need a wide angle, the Nikkor 28mm f3.5 PC is available used at keh.com for $450 in EX condition (which, from KEH, is usually quite nice shape). This would be 32mm equiv FOV in DX, and of course, 28mm in FX.
    Unfortunately, not much solution in the $100-200 range in terms of equipment. But, if you have decent light for your D70 pictures, I wouldn't discount the half-frame solutions people have mentioned, including the article I linked above.
     
  26. Thanks Chatterjee... :) Your response gave me some more useful insights....thanks to all other guys who answer me :D blow my kisses to all of you :) MUAH!
    After hopping around the net all day again with your advice in mind, I think the old PC-Nikkor is my VERY best bet. I'd better not spend the money to get those so-called ARSAT or whatever.
    Large format is definitely lovely, since the bellow allows us to shift up and down! I saw great archi pix taken with that...but I bet it's for exterior landscapes, or urban landscapes...? Correct me if I'm wrong...haha....not yet qualified to enter the world of large format....
     
  27. Saint Chatterbox , Jan 26, 2009; 05:43 a.m. (edit | delete )
    Lex, your solution sounds very cute...and indeed it's too abstract for me to understand...do u have any kind of illustrated examples? or a picture of your device?​
    This illustrated article may explain the technique better than I can: http://shutterbug.com/equipmentreviews/lenses/1000sb_doityourself/
     
  28. Some may not like this, or consider it to be off-topic, but the cheapest solution is a good panorama software. I use PanoTools GUI:
    http://www.ptgui.com/
    Free alternative (almost identical functionalities) at:
    http://hugin.sourceforge.net/
    Normally these softwares are used to stitch in a geometrically correct way several overlapping images. In a nutshell, each of the individual images is projected onto a sphere, they are collectively adjusted for proper stitching, including a determination of lens distortion, and then the sphere is re-projected onto a cylinder (that can be flattened to a plane), or onto a plane, the so-called rectilinear option. Shown below is a view of the Basel city hall. Stitched from a number of pictures with my daughter's credit-card size Sony. Who needs a super-angulon?
    Back to your question, you can use just the reprojection part (rectilinear mode) applied to a single image. This provides a geometrically correct solution to the problem. As far as I know, the "solution" proposed in Photoshop just makes the vertical lines parallel; that is not equivalent to a picture taken with a shift lens, keeping the plate and lensboard parallel to the building. In the second case, the 10th story of the building will appear with the same height as the first, in the Photoshop trick, after making the verticals parallel, the top of the building will still be foreshortened (in the vertical direction) with respect to the first one.
    Hope this helps
     
  29. Some may not like this, or consider it to be off-topic, but the cheapest solution is a good panorama software. I use PanoTools GUI:
    http://www.ptgui.com/
    Free alternative (almost identical functionalities) at:
    http://hugin.sourceforge.net/
    Normally these softwares are used to stitch in a geometrically correct way several overlapping images. In a nutshell, each of the individual images is projected onto a sphere, they are collectively adjusted for proper stitching, including a determination of lens distortion, and then the sphere is re-projected onto a cylinder (that can be flattened to a plane), or onto a plane, the so-called rectilinear option. Ideally the exposure should be consistent betzeen the images (read manual exposure) but the software successfully handles moderate discrepancies between images. Shown below is a view of the Basel city hall. Stitched from a number of pictures with my daughter's credit-card size Sony. Who needs a super-angulon?
    Back to your question, you can use just the reprojection part (rectilinear mode) applied to a single image. This provides a geometrically correct solution to the problem. As far as I know, the "solution" proposed in Photoshop just makes the vertical lines parallel; that is not equivalent to a picture taken with a shift lens, keeping the plate and lensboard parallel to the building. In the second case, the 10th story of the building will appear with the same height as the first, in the Photoshop trick, after making the verticals parallel, the top of the building will still be foreshortened (in the vertical direction) with respect to the first one.
    Hope this helps
    00SF9I-106999984.jpg
     
  30. The 35/2.8PC fits anything because its aperture ring is at the front of the lens.There's no clearance issue since it's a pre-set lens that's stopped down manually.The problem is the 1.5x crop factor that makes it around 52mm--not exactly wide. They're not wildly expensive now.
     
  31. That is a really nice tower. It seems to have grown with time - at least it looks very wide to me at the top :)
     
  32. Walter,
    "at least it looks very wide to me at the top :)"
    Open the image in PS or other, and turn the grid On.
    It's an psycho-sensory illusion. Full perspective correction runs against the eye/brain expectation that the verticals should converge. I tried to provide a solution to a technical question: perspective correction. Whether perspective should be fully corrected for aesthetically pleasing images is an interesting, but distinct question.
     
  33. There is a "pretty cheap" Nikkor PC lens available at a fixed price of $339 on eBay at the store named betteroffblu fotograph but its price is obviously above your limit. (This price looks good to me for what looks like a mint piece of kit. ) I have dealt with this e Bay store before and they usually price pretty well and I have found them to be reliable. It looks like a nice bit of kit.
    Sorry I cannot post a direct link as this dopey site will not allow eBay links. But if you search that search string when on eBay then search the word nikkor PC when in the store you will find it.
    If this is too expensive then may I suggest buying a copy of Corell Paint Shop Photo Pro X2. It has a perspective correction filter that is very effective and extremely easy to use. You are presented with a square "box" made up of 4 lines at right-angles to each other, overlaying your image. You just click and move the corners of the box to align with the current edges of the building you wish to correct. Once that is done, then one further click and the job is finished . I do a lot of building photography although this "artistic" more than documentary so I do not always need proper perspective. But for those occasions when I do not want any distortion I find that 99% of the time it results in a perfect fix on the first go.
    Cost in USA about $100 I believe. (I am in Oz where it cost a little more.) But as an alternative to Photoshop / Photoshop Elements its well worth it as it also has all of PS capabilities that a Photographer needs wrapped up in an easier to use package and also accepts PS plugins. (e.g.If you shoot RAW files it will handle all of that editing and conversion too.)
    Another lens option you may wish to look at is this little baby. It's Russian in design and build (but don't let that put you off as it has a fine reputation for optical and mechanical quality) even tho' the name sounds German. Its cheaper than "name" brands and is and is an interesting design to boot. You may find one approaching your price point on the Bay if you are very lucky but the home site says they are out of stock so second hand is the only option here.
    http://www.hartblei.com/lenses/lens_35mm.htm
    I just love the look of this thing and would almost be tempted to try one just for fun if I were serious about TC photography.
     
  34. SC, listen up, and the rest of you folks too. Go to www.loreo.com and scroll down to "PC lens in a cap". $21 plus shipping. Cheapest PC lens around. They have sample shots.
    regards John R.
     
  35. Go to www.loreo.com...​
    Good to see the spirit of Spiratone is alive and well. All they need now is a "girl watcher" round-the-corner peeper lens and a pair of X-Ray Specs.
    I almost want that doodad that turns an inconvenient SLR into a simple P&S...
     
  36. Just to further illustrate the idea that this can be done reasonably well these days in software, here is a PS "rectification" of the Reichstag. Not that PS is "cheap", but if you already have it. This was taken with a 20mm lens on a Nikkormat EL.
    00SFGq-107025584.jpg
     
  37. Lex, I just love cheap contraptions. I have a home made adapter to use my 24mm f2.8 Zuiko as a PC lens on my old Pen F. I figured the image circle would be about 46mm anyhow on the 24, and the diag. on the Pen F is 30mm so I have about 7 or 8 mm to play with in shift on the long axis.
    Hey, here's an idea. When they start to make more adapters for the Micro 4:3 mount why dosen't someone make them to tilt and shift too. Plenty of room for the mechanics I'll bet. What do you think folks?
     
  38. "Whether perspective should be fully corrected for aesthetically pleasing images is an interesting, but distinct question."
    Bernard I did not critic your post - actually I appreciate it and like it :)
    I just wanted to point to the problem that for some images pefect parallel vertical lines may not look convincing. Your image seemed such a good demonstration that I could not resist to raise curiosity and to make the readers aware of the problem. We "know" that the tower should look thinner at the top. You stated it well.
     
  39. There's no software solution for the DOF control provided by a tilting lens.​
    Actually, there are several. I typically use either Helicon Focus or CombineZ. TuFuse and EnFuse are the "new kids on the block" but are gaining in populatity. Hugin supporu for EnFuse is improving.
     
  40. Actually, there are several. I typically use either Helicon Focus or CombineZ. TuFuse and EnFuse are the "new kids on the block" but are gaining in populatity. Hugin supporu for EnFuse is improving.
    But that implies taking multiple exposures...
     
  41. Last year I had to create a virtual scene in 3D of an existing building with new landscaping and additional structures for a funding proposal. I took several photos of the building and separated individual components of all the flat surfaces which were than used as textures on a wireframe model.
    PS's perspective crop was used for the adjustment of all the components which worked out very well indeed. Not as good as correcting it from the lens I'm sure; but it sure was less expensive!
    00SFhe-107110284.JPG
     
  42. You could purchase a large format camera system.. it wouldn't be cheap but you'd have a whole other system to work with at the end of the day.
     
  43. I use a Leica Curtagon 35mm/4 lens on both a Leica R 6.2 body and on my Canon bodies. Gives pretty good results and can be found used for around $500.00.
     

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