Control Your Perspective

A pair of new high-end tilt-shift lenses from Schneider Optics that mount on a DSLR

Schneider Optics PC-TS Lenses

For photographers looking to get view-camera lens movements in a DSLR, there were just a few options. Nikon and Canon make a couple of their own well-regarded models, or you could try some of the bellows-and-rail options that work through adapters. Beyond that, you were going to use devices known more for their special effects than for pure optical excellence.

This year, the landscape changed somewhat when Schneider Optics introduced its new PC-TS lens family. There are three models, two for DSLRs and one for medium format. If there’s a single word to describe these new lenses it’s precision. Schneider’s reputation among professional nature photographers goes back for decades. Its Super Angulon lenses are still regarded as some of the finest lenses ever produced, and now the company has brought that legacy to the new PC-TS line.

The lenses can shift laterally up to 12mm and can tilt up to 8º. If you’ve never used a perspective-control lens, these specifications may not seem particularly impressive, but in fact that’s enough movement to correct almost any scene or create just about any effect you want. The tilt and shift movements are available in 30º increments at any position within the 360º lens rotation; you can get that much movement because the lenses project a large 90º image circle (120º for the medium-format PC-TS lens.)

The image circle is the key to any lens that allows movements. A bigger image circle translates to more versatility. Of course, it also leads to more distortion in some photographs, so you have to take special care not to overdo the tilt movement, in particular. Landscape photographers have employed subtle amounts of distortion since the ƒ/64 days. It was—and still is—common to aim slightly down and then use the tilt to make the camera back perpendicular to the ground. This has the effect of making foreground objects disproportionately larger and background objects disproportionately smaller. The foreground looms slightly in the frame.

The other great advantage of having movements is the ability to make use of the Scheimpflug principle. Scheimpflug essentially lets you dramatically increase your depth of field by applying a slight amount of tilt. This is another secret that large-format photographers have used for decades to great effect.

The lenses have “zero-play mechanisms” so when you get the amount of tilt or shift you want, you can lock it down precisely. And, of course, the actual optics are designed and constructed up to Schneider’s high specifications. The currently available PC-TS lenses for DSLRs are the 50mm Super Angulon ƒ/2.8 and the 90mm Makro-Symmar ƒ/4.0. The DSLR lenses are made for the Canon EOS, Nikon F, Pentax K and Sony Alpha mounts. There’s also a 120mm Apo-Digitar ƒ/5.6 for Mamiya/Phase One digital cameras.

Contact: Schneider Optics,