If you’ve ever wanted shallow depth of field effects but were put off by the price of tilt-shift lenses, our technique editor Chris Rutter explains in our latest DIY Photography Hacks post how he converted an old lens at a fraction of the price.
I had been wanting to use the shallow depth of field effects from using a tilt/shift lens for some video I was shooting. But with tilt-shift lenses costing around £1000 I really couldn’t justify buying one.
So I decided to make my own DIY version of a tilt-shift lens, at a fraction of the price. In fact it didn’t cost me anything, as I had all of the components already.
What Chris used for his DIY tilt-shift lens
Mamiya 645 45mm lens
An old aluminium straight flash bracket
3 pieces of aluminium L-section
An aluminium lens mounting plate
Canon EF body cap
Plastic ‘bellows’ – I used one from an old tripod head, but many people use the gaitor from a car steering rack
How Chris constructed his DIY tilt-shift lens
I started off with a Mamiya 45mm lens. This was originally for an old 645 medium format camera that has long been consigned to the cupboard of old film cameras I no longer use.
I chose this medium format lens because it offered a large image circle to allow me to use plenty of tilt/shift movement without the image darkening towards the edges.
The Mamiya 645 also has a flange focal distance of over 60mm (compared to the 44mm of a Canon EF mount), so I could mount the lens far enough away from the camera to allow movement.
The DIY lens is mounted on a lens plate from an old field camera, with the plastic ‘bellows’ attached to the back of the lens.
On the other side I attached an old Canon EF body cap with the centre cut out so I can mount it to the camera.
The whole assembly is fitted onto a bracket made from some L-section aluminium, with large tightening screws to allow for the tilting movement.
This is finally attached to an old straight flash bracket, to allow back and forward movement to give some focusing control.
And the results…
The video below shows the amazing effects Chris was able to capture using his DIY tilt-shift lens while out photographing Snowdon.