Lateral shift movements on field camera : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

hi i am wondering how many people feel a field camera should have this feature? it is standard for most monorail cameras but not so standard for wood field cameras. thank y

-- robert (, May 19, 2002


If the camera does not have direct shift of the front or rear, it should provide swing for both front and rear. The shift can then be applied indirectly. There are simple techniques to apply shift in this way. It is a little slower but shift is not so often used on a field camera anyway. If neither of these methods is provided in the camera, I would find it limiting. (a press camera)

-- Gary Frost (, May 19, 2002.

None of my field cameras has rear swing. So when using front swing, shift becomes valuable - especially for lenses with smaller image circles.

-- Ake Vinberg (, May 19, 2002.

Lateral shift movements are a must have for me. I have owned five wooden field cameras, from various manufacturers, over the past twenty- two years. All of them had either front, and/or rear shift capability. Presently, I am using a Toyo 45AII metal field camera, and it only has front shift. I miss the rear shift movement, because it sometimes becomes necessary to adjust the image side to side, without the need to move the tripod head, or re-focus the image. Rear shift an optional feature, and front shift is standard on the Wista wooden field cameras. The Shen Hao, on the other hand, has plenty of rear shift capability, but it doesn't have front shift. I think rear shift is more important to have, if you need to choose one, or the other.

-- Eugene (, May 19, 2002.

I have rear and front shift on my camera. Using shift is very handy for fine tuning a composition, especially with a wide angle lens. As you rotate the camera side to side(pan)you will see the image "stretch" and "compress" in it's shape so using shift along with rotating the camera it is possible to control the final shape of an image. This can work with most lenses but is most prominent with wide lenses. Rear shift is especially handy since shifting the lens can alter perspective while rear shift only moves the film in relation to the final position of the lens which will not affect relative positioning of the near and far objects in the scene.

-- Jeffrey Scott (, May 19, 2002.

Front shift is crucial. If you do not have it you will always be making your photographs from the middle of the subject. To see what a front shift really does set up your camera in front of a row of books and straight on to them so that the bookshelf is parallel to the bottom edge of the ground glass. Note that the book that has the pages coming straight out at you is in the center. Now stand to the side and focus on the same books, but do not look obliquely at them. Still keep the bookshelf parallel to the bottom of the ground glass. Shift the front (or back) so that the book that was in the middle before is still in the middle of your picture. But you will see that now the book that has the pages coming straight out at you is off to the side--directly in front of where the camera is placed, even though the same book is in the center that was in the center before. Edward Weston used the front shift to this end when he made his lettuce field photograph. It can be used creatively in other ways, too. Using a front shift has much more implications for creative camera vision that is usually suspected and using it like this is surprisingly little practiced. Using it just to "fine tune the composition" is selling it way short.

-- Michael A. Smith (, May 19, 2002.

I have had several field cameras, most have had rear shift. One (an ancient Korona) had front shift. In my experience, while they have the exact same effect, I have found that front shift is 'better' since the bellows are less likely to cut into the image. Having 6 inches of rear shift is useless if the bellows starts showing after an inch.

-- jason (, May 20, 2002.


I did not quite understand your posting here - if the bellows is only supported by the front and rear standard then what is the difference in shifting the front standard one way or the rear standard the other way? (except for changing the lens position of course)

-- Ake Vinberg (, May 20, 2002.

I'm suprised by how picky people are on how shift is supplied by their cameras. I would suggest you just pick a camera and use it for a while to decide what is important for you. You can still use shift in a camera with no direct shift. What is important is that the camera allows you to position the lens-and-film plane in the proper relation. Yes, you may have to move the tripod for front vs. rear shift, but these things usually only become a pain for table-top distances. (where a field camera will really start to show it's movement limitations in other ways)

If you have front and rear swing, even with no direct shift, you have shift. If you have direct shift of either/both front and/or rear, it's still good to have both front and rear swing for when you run out of direct shift. If I had to give up one movement it would be the direct shift first before loosing swing on either the front or the rear. (I want swing on both) Example: I have a super graphic with front shift but no back movements. My Tachihara has only front and rear swings, but is capable of much more 'shift' than the Super Graphic.

...Like I said, just get a camera and start using it to decide what is important. You may want to get a monorail first that does everything. Then after using it a while decide what you can live without in a field camera.

-- Gary Frost (, May 20, 2002.

My apologies for a rather convoluted statement... What I meant to say was that, at least in the cameras I haveused, the front of the bellows, due to its taper, is more flexible, and thus less prone to cause vignetting than the rear. Now however, I am completely confused, and am thinking that (per Eugene) that front and rear shifts are quite different.

-- jason (, May 20, 2002.

Jason, I think that many of the contributers to this thread have confused front and rear SWING movements with front and rear SHIFT movements. Front and rear shift, rise, and fall will not distort the image, but too much movement will run out of image circle coverage from the lens and vinette the corners. Swing movements front and rear, on the other hand, will distort the image, as well as run out of lens coverage. All of these movement capabilities are a necessity for table-top work with a monorail camera in a studio environment, but only a nice convenience to have on a wooden camera that is used for field work. That was Robert's original inquiry.

-- Eugene (, May 20, 2002.

Both front and rear _swing_ can be applied in such a way (the lens and film can be kept parallel, and parallel to the subject if desired) that it is _exactly_ the same a applying shift directly. The swings used independently can also alter plane of sharp focus and perspective. A camera in your hands is worth more to understand these movements than all the explanation in this thread.

-- Gary Frost (, May 20, 2002.

Carpe camera?

-- Brian C. Miller (, May 20, 2002.

To introduce the opposite situation and really confuse everybody, you can also use lateral SHIFT (plus tripod rotation) instead of SWING to get a SWING effect in some situations! I have a monorail camera that I use in the field, with all movements. When I'm photographing a diminishing line of buildings, the wide-angle lens exaggerates the bigness of the near building and the smallness of the far. To make the angle of the line of buildings less oblique and reduce this exaggeration, you can use SWING to align the film plane more closely to the line of buildings. (Rear swing to re-align, then front swing to re-focus.) But you can also do this same thing by simply rotating the whole camera via the tripod head so that the angle is less oblique. At that point, you will have lost some of your faraway buildings. Now use rear or front shift to move the image back onto the ground glass the way you had it before.

You may ask: why do this if you have swing? answer: it's quicker and doesn't seem to require as much re-focusing.

I wonder if others use this rotate-and-shift technique and whether it is truly the same as using swing. It seems so to me, but I am not that experienced so maybe I am missing something.

Cheers, Sandy

-- Sandy Sorlien (, May 20, 2002.

I would say I use it about 1/3 of the time when shooting. I use it for perspective manipulation of objects at different distances from the lens film.

-- james (, May 20, 2002.

Buy yourself a nice Sinar p monorail - why compromise.

-- Dick Roadnight (, May 20, 2002.

What Sandy explained is the same principal I was explaining about rotating the camera and using shift to reset the edges of the image to what was desired. This is most effective with wide angle lenses as they tend to distort the image towards the sides. Yes shifting does not in and of itself distort the image but in combination with rotating the camera you can in affect change the shape of the image.

-- Jeffery Scott (, May 20, 2002.

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