How useful are lateral shifts for landscape photography? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am thinking about buying a camera that doesn't have lateral shifts on the front or back. I know that I could emulate a shift by using a combination of swings on the rear and front standard. My question to the landscape photographers out there is how often do you use lateral shifts? Would you buy a camera that does not have shifts?

FYI, I am looking a an Ebony RW45. The camera seems well constructed and has swing, tilt, and rise on the front and swing and tilt on the back. The price is right. Other Ebony cameras with lateral shifts are much more expensive. Thanks for your help!

-- Nicholas Fiduccia (, May 29, 2000


My Toyo field camera (the older 5X7 one)doesn't have any shift movements in either the front or back and I don't seem to miss this feature at all. I use (in order of frequency) front tilt, front swing, front rise and back tilt.

My use of the back tilt is kind of misleading as well. I just use it to square everything up when I drop the front bed (to get it out of the way) when I'm using my 65 mm lens.

Now ALL movements will come in handy eventually so if you CAN get a camera with them you would be better off. For what I do, I find my Toyo to be fully functional without front or rear shifts.

-- David Grandy (, May 29, 2000.

This is one movement many will never use...but, when you need it-you need it. For landscape work one can get along without it most of the time. You can work around it a bit, but if you find you need it on more than the rare occasion you better get a body that has the feature. I find when using one 4x5 body that doesn't have it I miss it more than I thought when getting this camera. So, I shoot 4x5 with the body that has the feature. I had never realized I used the shift as often as I do until I got stuck on a few images & didn't have it. Your shooting will probably be different.

-- Dan Smith (, May 29, 2000.

My camera has shift, and I have never used it. You can simulate shift by using front and rear swing, so I would not hesitate to get the cheaper camera.

-- William Marderness (, May 29, 2000.

I never use rear shifts and just about all of my photography is done outdoors. On very rare occasions I use front shifts, but I could probably get along just fine without front shift. As the former poster said, use front and rear swings if you have to have shift. Shifts are more valuable to architectural photographers than to us who like to go stomping through the woods and mountains. Save the money.

-- Doug Paramore (, May 29, 2000.

I fully agree with the previous comments. Front tilt, rise and fall will do in most situations.

-- Paul Schilliger (, May 29, 2000.

You can accomplish all the shift you will ever need readily using the front and rear swings. I wouldn't give it a second thought. Even for architecture subjects the method of using front and rear swings to accomplish shift is 'straight forward'. It is a convienence to have a separate front shift that might only be missed if you used it all the time.

-- Gary Frost (, May 29, 2000.

OK, maybe I'm using it wrong, but I find shift comes in handy when my little lens with a woefully inadequate circle needs a bit of help for coverage on a swing.

Something to keep in mind, unless there is a better way. But I certainly need it with the caliber of lenses I use.


-- Dean Lastoria (, May 29, 2000.

I always thought that swings, front or back, have an impact on the plane of focus. Am I wrong? I do considerable landscape photography and like the rear shift. More convenient to shift than to move entire camera.

-- Harvey Berman (, May 29, 2000.

I forgot to mention that swings alter the shape of an object and it is better to rely on shift if your desired result is to change the location of your subject on the ground glass without any changes in object shape.

-- Harvey Berman (, May 29, 2000.

All I mean is when you swing a bit for some Shl*.* or to, say get a fence in nice like, then the cone moves over a bit and you just shift a bit to keep the composition the same because the circle creeps up very fast on an over taxed lens.


-- Dean Lastoria (, May 29, 2000.

I have front shift on my 8 X 10 and wouldn't leave home without it. I shoot the urban landscape and can't always put the camera where I would like. I don't use it as much as front rise and tilt, but it is definatley in my list of must haves.

I can live with minimal rear movements if the front had a healty amount of everything.

-- Sean yates (, May 29, 2000.

To accomplish shift with front and rear swings, you swing BOTH the rear AND the front so it is parallel to the rear. The relative positions of the front and rear standards are identical to what they would be if you applied front or rear shift alone. Granted, a bit more trouble, but still accomplishes the exact same movement. If your camera has ONLY from OR rear swing, this technique will not work.

-- Gary Frost (, May 29, 2000.

I actually find lateral shifts to be very useful in landscape photography. I find them to be especially nice when doing close-up work when you only want to make a slight adjustment. Fudging it with swings, though definitely possible, isn't always a practical choice. When you only want to fine tune composition, shift (especially if it's geared)is a Godsend, at least in my opinion. How about this: try a camera with shifts and one without and see what you like better. Alternatively, use one with shifts, and then demonstrate to yourself what it's like trying to fudge a little shift here and there with the whole change-the-direction-of-the-camera-then-play-with-the- swing-until-things-are-back-to-normal-only-shifted thing. Hey, it works for some, not for me, so figure out what you prefer.

Just a thought...

-- Dave Munson (, June 05, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ