Tilt/shift focal plane tables for 24mm & 45mm lenses

Tilt/shift lenses, when tilted, produce a focal plane which is not parallel to the lens plane. Rather, it’s a wedge, with the narrow end towards the camera and the wide end in the distance. The degree of tilt and the focusing of the lens both affect just where this plane is. For a detailed description, see Tim Parkin’s article on tilt in Great British Landscapes magazine.

The key point, however, is that tilting the lens produces a ‘hinge point’ around which this plane will rotate when the focus is changed, and that this ‘hinge point’ is a predictable distance from the camera, for a given angle of tilt. This is an enormously useful thing to know when trying to achieve the right focus in an image using a tilt/shift lens as it makes achieving something close to the right focus very rapid, with only minor adjustments needed after framing the image.

The tables below shows the distance of the hinge point from the camera, in metres, with the corresponding angle of tilt required to achieve that hinge distance. In practice, the best precision I can realistically achieve with either the 24mm PC-E or the 45mm PC-E lens is ‘about half a degree’. I’ve included a fairly full version of the tables below one degree, but it’s a guide only at those settings.

I have a copy of these tables printed out and stored in my camera bag. It’s invaluable!

Important note: the following table is for a 24mm tilt/shift lens. There’s a 45mm lens table below it and lenses with other focal lengths require a different table…

24mm table

Hinge distance (metres) Tilt angle (degrees)
0.16 8.4
0.25 5.6
0.32 4.4
0.50 2.8
0.66 2.1
0.76 1.8
1.00 1.4
1.31 1.0
1.53 0.9
1.83 0.8
2.00 0.7
2.13 0.6
2.74 0.5
3.28 0.4
4.00 0.3
6.00 0.2
10.00 0.1

45mm table

Hinge distance (metres) Tilt angle (degrees)
0.32 8
0.37 7
0.43 6
0.52 5
0.64 4
0.74 3.5
0.86 3
1 2.5
1.3 2
1.7 1.5
2.6 1

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