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Wednesday, 27 July 2016


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I'm in awe of the "tinkering mind"- if something doesn't come to my door ready to go and working correctly, I'm mostly out of luck :-)

Interesting. The price stopped me -- I had figured this would cost considerably more than a tilt-shift lens, which have been commercially available for some 35mm mounts for quite a while now. But you were able to do this mostly with stuff you already owned, that you were willing to use this way, and that's much less cash flow than buying tilt-shift lenses! It would cost me rather more than just buying the lens I think, since I don't have that stuff to hand.

I assume you've looked at the existing tilt-shift lenses. Are they too expensive, or not flexible enough for you, or in what way are they unsuitable? (Or, you just felt like trying this; that's a completely valid choice.)

I suspect the digital correction of perspective in PP and resulting image degradation is equivalent to the analog correction via camera movements. Have you actually done any comparison tests?

Some nice work on Jeffrey's site. Thanks for sharing.


There's something like this commercially available, based on Fuji GX680. I could link to it, but I won't because my heart bleeds every time I see someone destroy a fully operational, beautiful camera to put a toy lens on an inferior digicam.

Very neat. Seems like making that kind of interface (between digi-body and view camera back) would be something that Fotodiox (or one of those) could do easily enough. I recently bought a Minolta MD to Micro 4/3s adapter from them for only $30, to mount a manual focus Vivitar 400 mm lens to an Oly body. The lens was only $125. Not the best tele-lens in the world maybe, but perfectly adequate for the 3 times per year I'll use it.

One of the things that is always a little out of reach for most people is a retail location where you could get machining done of this nature, one-offs for special projects. Unless you have a millwright in the family, it's not obvious how to get stuff made. But there are people out there who can do this work.

And of course, there's this:

Bravo ! I've toyed with similar set-ups on and off for years --the last being adapting a Canon 1Ds III to a sliding adapter for a Sinar, which is fine for macro or relatively long focus lenses at infinity.
I can use a 75mm Super angulon and slide the back but it is clearly not ideal. Hasselblad lenses can also work.
As you point out, he problem is always back focus with which the Sony helps. A used MF back would help even more.
But looking at some of your photographs- which I like very much, and which speak to some of the work I like to do, I didn't immediately see a reason why a modern T/S lens like Canon's 17mm or 24mm wouldn't be easier ? They are edge to edge sharp and offer considerable movement. They may even be adaptable to the sony although I do not know if the adapter would limit physical movements.
In any event I enjoyed the post, thanks

JG, that's fascinating. Congratulations on figuring it all out.

Now please show us how you positioned and attached the Contax N lens mount to the front standard and the A7R body mount to the rear standard. Thanks!

"...it does exactly what I need (want) it to do with my favorite lenses, and in my opinion it will be a lot of fun to use for the type of photography I prefer to do."

Well that's all that really counts. It seems like you're enjoying this manual adaptation project very much. Thank you for your notes on it.

Annd does anyone else remember the Ilford K1 35mm technical camera? When I was a lab technician in the later 1960s, the chief technician got the photo bug badly. We made a vain attempt at colour printing in our spare time using the very limited resources our salaries could run to.
He decided this camera was too versatile for the department to pass up when it was remaindered for £60 or so.

Variations of these have been around since the get-go of digital, both commercial products (Calumet-Horseman made a nice one that wasn't too expensive) or home-brew. I don't understand why though, especially with the coarse gearing of a 4x5 view camera... and the degraded performance at the edge of the lens image circle? But if it keeps you out of trouble then all good ;-p

Although given the bulk and slop of a view camera I'd probably take a different track and utilize a helicoil from a large medium format lens and mount the smaller lens on a circular lens board that could be rotated for vertical and shift movements (like the one Toho made for their ultralight view camera).

This approach is well known for a while. Here are some articles with detailed description:

Michael Reichmann. Digital View Camera

Keith Cooper. An SLR to large format camera adapter project

Alex Koloskov. Large Format Camera DIY build for DSLR

I use this approach for still life and portrait photography. My system includes a Sinar P 4x5 and a Nikon full frame DSLR: http://www.markjberman.com/blog/2015/10/15/size-matters-kind-of .

Due to the DSLR design limitations, the actual 'stitched' image on the ground glass is approximately 3.5"x2.8". It is smaller than the camera 4"x5" ground glass dimension, but it still is more than twice larger areawise that the medium format film area and allow to produce image files of about 260 Mb.

Thanks to everyone for all the kind words! I'll try to answer below some of the questions that have been posed to me:

@David Dyer-Bennet and Michael Perini:
Yes, I have a couple of shift lenses already (an old Nikon 28mm/f3.5 PC and a Leica 28mm/f2.8 PC), but they're not quite as wide as I would prefer, plus I specifically wanted the character of the Contax N and Contax 645 lenses, which, along with the Toyo bits, I already owned. (My preference for the Zeiss "look" is also one of the reasons why I ruled out the Canon shift lenses. The other is that I would have had to buy them and they would not be a casual purchase purchase for me.)

The two main issues I have with perspective correction done via software instead of a shift movement built into the camera or lens are: 1) The process modifies existing pixels and creates new pixels from nothing, both of which reduce resolution compared to unmolested pixels and do so unevenly across the frame in proportion to the amount of correction applied; and 2) Whenever a camera without movements is tilted upward to capture all of a scene, the plane of focus is tilted as well and this cannot be corrected by any known software.

A third, related issue is that because of the cropping that is done whenever software perspective correction is used, a photographer usually has to shoot a looser composition to accommodate this, which means the subject of the photo is captured using fewer pixels, which further reduces resolution.

There are a few other technical issues as well, but they are of importance only to technofreaks such as yours truly ... lol.

@Robert Roaldi:
You would likely laugh if you saw where I did most of the work for this project, but I did it all myself using only basic tools (dial calipers, a disc sander, a drill, some files, sandpaper, etc.) The key is to work slowly and measure carefully, although if one does need to machine a part, most hobby shops can point you in the direction of somebody who can help. I have also used automotive machine shops for some tasks in the past and they did a fine job for not a lot of money.

@Rod S.:
Here's a photo of the camera mount:

I reversed a recessed Toyo 110mm lens board and bolted it to a Toyo 158mm to 110mm lens board adapter, using an old Toyo 45A bellows mounting plate as a shim. I then drilled three more holes into a Fotodiox Tough Mount (an all-metal, one-piece replacement for Sony's OEM two-piece, metal and plastic lens mount), permanently attaching it to the recessed lens board. I originally planned to attach the camera to the lens board via an adapter, but it would not focus at infinity, so I had to switch to Plan B.

And here's a photo of the Contax N lens mount:

I disassembled a Fotodiox Contax N to Fuji lens mount adapter, sanded down the backside to reduce its thickness, then drilled and tapped holes for five 3mm screws to hold it to the Toyo recessed Horseman lens adapter board. (See what I mean by using bits of various Toyo cameras and accessories?)

[[And yes, my particular A7R is damaged somehow—hence the magenta highlights and noisy shadows—so I'm actively looking for another one as I write this.) ]]

I am assuming the original was shot raw. Have you tried a different raw converter? I seem to recall seeing this somewhere else the web and it turned out to be a conversion software issue and not a camera issue.

That is amazing and the results are very good. I'm an urban-ish landscape kind of guy (demi-urban? more urban than sub-urban? industrial-residential landscapist?) and movements are very important to me. I don't generally crop and I sure couldn't stomach correcting perspective on the computer. How could you be sure you got the composition right when you're shooting?

I've seen a few setups like this over the past few years. My problem always came down to the fact that I need to shoot wide and most of these setups have used large format lenses with giant focal lengths. My sweet spot is in the 17-30mm range. I've been shooting 24mm lenses almost exclusively for many years now. The hybrid setups have fascinated me, but I eventually realized that I have a tinkering/gear itch, but it's not with photography. To me, photography is all about the results and I really don't care how I get there. Tinkering I get paid for. Photography is for making images.

My setup for the past two years has been centered around the Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens. To be honest, I only need to move the lens in one plane so it's almost overkill, but it gets the job done and the results I want.

The close-ups of your camera mount and lens mount look like very clean work; certainly cleaner than I tend to turn out (which is why I don't tackle projects of that scale).

Here's a link to info on the Ilford K-1 Monobar (made by their Kennedy Instruments division) that seems to work: http://www.photomemorabilia.co.uk/Ilford/KI_Monobar.html

Having done my 8x10 or 4x5 for awhile. Would you recommend to re-start it again with my nikon 810 with a new camera again? Any advice?

Has anyone tried the Canon 24mm T&S lens on a micro 4/3 body via an adaptor? And if you did, then how did that go? Did it even fit and leave room to work the knobs? The 24mm T&S Mk1 version is now available secondhand at a relatively reasonable price, since the release of the Mk11 version. The 17mm Canon T&S is still very expensive for my budget.

@Frank P:
I use the Toyo's geared rail only to dial-in the focus at infinity; thereafter, I use the helical focusing mechanisms built into the Contax lenses.

@Rob Bernhard:
Yes, I am afraid that it is a camera problem, as I have tried several different RAW converters and all of them produced basically the same magenta highlight effect. 8^(

@Chris Norris:
It sounds as though we're kindred spirits! My focal length "sweet spot" is also approx. 17-30mm; I generally don't crop, either; and like you, I prefer to correct perspective in the field rather than at my desk.

@David Dyer-Bennet:
If I can't do clean work, then I usually won't take on a project. Sometimes, there really is no substitute for having access to a proper lathe, a mill, and a surface grinder. At other times, though, it's possible to accomplish quite a bit with just basic hand tools and a lot of time.

FYI, the photos of the camera seen above were taken last Sunday. Since then, I have taken it apart and reassembled it using a different combination of Toyo bits and pieces such that it's now smaller and lighter, and works even better still!

Does the A7R support WIFI tethering to an app on an iPad/tablet? If so, you could mount that on the back, add a hood, and you've got a digital plate camera...


Beats me! And even if it does, that means I'd need to buy an iPad/tablet, which I am not inclined to do. It's not that I'm a Luddite, mind you -- I love technology! -- but for me to enjoy photography, I need to keep things simple.

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