Tilt & shift adventure

UPDATE 2: A tilt-shift adapter with Sony E mount is now available.

UPDATE: A new tripod mount is now available as an accessory for the tilt-shift adapter.

The following blog post has two goals: To highlight a new tilt and shift adapter for micro four thirds (M4/3) bodies and hopefully to set the starting point for a forthcoming series about my first steps and learning experience with tilt and shift photography. Until now I have no hands-on experience with tilt and shift photography whatsoever, but I intend to delve into this technique. If you want to learn about the theory behind this technique, I recommend the tilt-shift ebook by Darwin Wiggett and Samantha Chrysanthou or THIS highly educational resource. In short, tilt describes a movement of the lens relative to the sensor in order to control depth of field, while shift is a movement parallel to the sensor to adjust perspective or to create composite photographs (e.g., panoramas).

I have been looking into possibilities to control sharpness or blur more creatively and deliberately since a while. A classical technique for this purpose consists of tilting the lens, but it requires specialized, dedicated and very expensive lenses. However, the slim bodies of compact system cameras enable a new and more economical alternative. It is possible to mount lenses that were intended for thicker cameras on slim camera bodies through the use of adapters that bridge the difference in depth between the two bodies (to be exact, it is not the thickness of the bodies, but rather the flange focal distance that is relevant). If the difference between the different flange focal distances is large enough, it is possible to accomodate a tilt and shift mechanism in the adapter. This solution is much less costly than a dedicated tilt and sift lens and it can transform a huge number of "normal" different lenses into tilt and shift lenses. You could even "create" a tilt and shift zoom lens!

Following my web researches and through inquires I have learned unexpectedly, that the German company Mirex has just developed a tilt and shift adapter with a M4/3 bayonet and a Canon EF mount (it is not even listed on the Mirex website yet). Mirex has been producing nicely built and refined tilt and shift adapters with different mount and bayonet combinations for a while, but this is the first model for a compact system camera (only one other company sells similar adapters that look like copies of the Mirex design). Personally, I find the M4/3-Canon EF mount combination perfect and most versatile. Thanks to the different flange focal distances, this Mirex adapter could also be used on Sony NEX cameras (with a 1.25 mm thick adapter) and in addition to Canon EF lenses (without aperture control) many other "old" lenses (e.g., Nikon, Olympus Zuiko, Leica R or even medium format lenses) can be mounted.

The Mirex adapter is smooth and well built and allows defined and controlled shift and tilt movements (only perpendicular to each other). The maximal shift movement is 15 mm in both directions, which (theoretically) enables capturing an image width of 47.3 mm. Note that this is even wider than full-frame and therefore larger than the diameter of the image circle of many lenses that are likely to be used. The lens can be tilted by 10°, but only in one direction. However, a rotating mechanism allows to move the tilt into any direction (it snaps in defined positions every 22.5°).

Since the whole tilt and shift adapter is rather large in diameter, rotating the lens requires space. Before the purchase, I have been warned that the adapter is not compatible with the popular Olympus OM-D E-M5 and that it may touch the flash housing on certain Panasonic Lumix bodies. The adapter just fits the Lumix GH-1, but it is necessary to exchange to original screw that loosens or tightens the tilt mechanism with the included allen head screw (see the photograph below). Shifting the lens fully to the right may interfere with the grip and with holding the camera. Personally, I am not worried by this because I will use the shift movement mostly with the camera mounted on a tripod (e.g., for panoramas), which brings me to a really great feature of the Mirex adapter: There are three holes on the lower part of the housing (see for example the first photograph below), that serve to attach a tripod mount. This accessory is not yet available, but it seems like a worthwhile and useful addition and indicates foresightful planning.

The photographs below are meant to give you an impression of this interesting tool and to help you picture its functioning. So far, I have a very positive impression of the Mirex tilt and shift adapter and I really look forward delving into tilt and shift photography. If you have any questions concerning the adapter I am sure that the representatives of Mirex will gladly respond (they were very responsive in my experience), but I would also be glad to answer possible questions.

I hope that I can soon provide you with my first tilt and/or shift examples and wish you a nice day and good weekend!

View on the Canon EF lens mount of the adapter. The red arrow indicates the button to release the lens, just like on a camera body. The three holes on the bottom may permit the attachment of a tripod adapter (my hope) but I could not yet confirm their function.

View of the micro four thirds bayonet. The two arrows indicate the dentate disc that has to be turned/pushed in order to rotate the lens relative to the camera. The mechanism snaps in every 22.5° (16 positions).

View from above. The latch in the middle releases the shift movement upon pressing. The scale indicates the amount of shift (15 mm in each direction).

Same view as the illustration above, but with full shift in place.


View from the side. The dentate ring for turning the lens is again visible. On the left there is the scale for the tilt movement (10° in one direction).

View from the side with the adapter mounted on a camera and a lens mounted on the adapter (via a Nikon to Canon EF adapter). The lens is fully tilted downwards. The arrow indicates the screw that tightens or loosens the tilt movement. Originally there is a large screw that can be turned by hand. On the particular camera body used here, this screw would prevent rotating the lens (due to the housing for the flash). The replacement allen head screw in place here is provided together with the adapter (as well as the necessary allen keys).

P.S. The tilt and shift adapter that is described here and which provoked me to write this text was purchased from Mirex. I am not associated with Mirex and I do not receive any form of compensation for writing this text. 

2013/03/15 by Florian Freimoser
Categories: , | 20 comments

Comments (20)

  1. Hallo, nachdem ich bei Mirex nicht fündig geworden bin wollte ich fragen, wieviel du für den Adapter bezahlt hast. Danke und schöne Grüße, Jakob

  2. Hallo Jakob,

    der Adapter hat 299 Euro (ohne Mwst und Versandkosten) gekostet und ich vermute, dass dies der offizielle Preis ist (der aber noch nirgends publiziert ist).

    Gruss,
    Florian.

  3. Interesting. What about the results, does it work well?

  4. Hello,
    thank you for your visit and comment. So far I am very happy with the adapter. It is very well built and the operation is intuitive to me. As I wrote, I am really just discovering tilt and shift photography and I have not taken many photographs with the adapter yet.
    If you want, you can follow all future reports on my experiences with the Mirex tilt and shift adapter with this link (currently, there are three posts): http://www.blog.floriansphotos.com/search/label/Tilt-shift

  5. "this Mirex adapter could also be used on Sony NEX cameras (with a 1.25 mm thick adapter) "

    Could you give specific info on manufacturer and model number for this adapter? - Thanks - John S.

  6. Dear John,
    thank you for your comment and the visit on my blog.

    When I was searching the internet, I found this link:
    http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-Mount-Adapter-E-Mount-Camera/dp/B0095OLT6Q

    Do not mind the negative comment it has; it is obvious that such an adapter does not provide aperture control or AF. I would assume that there are other similar adapters available, but if I needed one for the mirex adapter, I would also ask the company itself. They seemed to have thought of this possibility when I mentioned it and may develop a solution themselves.

    All the best,
    Florian.

  7. Hallo,

    geh ich recht in der Annahme, dass der Adapter nur mit Objektiven geht, die einen Blendenring haben? (Also keine Nikon Typ G)

    Gruß,
    Peter

  8. Hallo Peter,
    der Adapter sollte auch mit Nikon Objektiven ohne Blendenring funktionieren. Es gibt Nikon - Canon Adapter, die ein Schliessen der Blende ermöglichen.

    Informationen gibt es z. B. hier:
    http://www.16-9.net/nikon_g/
    http://photographylife.com/reviews/novoflex-nikon-canon-lens-adapter

    Mit einem dieser beiden Adapter könntest Du Deine Nikon Objektive an den Mirex Tilt-shift-Adapter anschliessen und hättest die Möglichkeit die Blende zu schliessen (falls das Objektiv keinen Blendenring hat).

    Ich hoffe das hilft weiter.

    Gruss, Florian.



    For the english readers:

    The question was if the Mirex Tilt-shift adapter would work with Nikon lenses lacking an aperture ring.

    There are Nikon - Canon adapters that include an aperture ring. Descriptions are for example found here:
    http://www.16-9.net/nikon_g/
    http://photographylife.com/reviews/novoflex-nikon-canon-lens-adapter

    With one of these adapters you could mount Nikon lenses on the Mirex Tilt-shift adapter and you would have the possibility to close the aperture (if the lens lacks an aperture ring).

  9. Aaah, verstehe. Ich kauf also den den TS Adapter für Canon, und dafür dann einen Nikon Canon Adapter. Clever.

    Vom Bildkreis her sollten es aber wohl schon FX/FF Objektive sein und keine für DX/APS-C Sensoren?

    Gruß,
    Peter

  10. Hallo!
    Ich denke das hängt davon ab, was die Anwendung sein soll. Der Bildkreis eines DX/APS-C Objektivs ist immer noch grösser als derjenige eines m4/3 Objektivs. Man kann also sicher DX/APS-C Objektive mit dem Adapter verwenden. Vor allem der Shift-Bereich ist aber sicher kleiner - bei maximalem shift werden zum Teil mit "normalen" Objektiven die Ränder schwarz. Meiner Erfahrung nach lassen sich EF-S Objektive nicht montieren, aber das scheinst Du ja nicht zu brauchen.
    Ich weiss, dass der Leser Henrik Fessler DX Objektive für seinen Mirex Adapter gekauft hat um die Tilt-Funktion zu nutzen. Für die Shift-Funktion ist hier sein interessanter Text:
    http://www.mopswerk.de/shift-lens-adapter/

    Ich vermute, dass die Tilt-Funktion mit DX/APS-C Objektiven weniger oder gar nicht eingeschränkt ist, aber ich habe damit keine eigenen Erfahrungen.

    Uebrigens: Meiner Meinung nach ist das clevere an der Tatsache, dass der TS-Adapter einen Canon Anschluss hat, dass man z. B. auch Leica R oder Olympus Zuiko Objektive anschliessen kann.


    For English readers:

    The question was if DX/APS-C lenses can be used with the Mirex tilt-shift Adapter. The image circle of these lenses is still larger than for a m4/3 lens and therefore it is possible to use DX/APS-C lenses. However, it will not be possible to use the full amount of shift. Even with full frame lenses, the borders are black when the lens is fully shifted. According to my experience, EF-S lenses cannot be mounted on the adapter.
    I know that the reader Henrik Fessler has bought DX lenses for tilt-photography with his Mirex adapter. He has also written an interesting text on the shift-funktion:
    http://www.mopswerk.de/shift-lens-adapter/

    I would expect that the tilt function is less or not impaired with DX/APS-C lenses, but I have no own experience.

  11. Ah, ok, ich habs grad mal nachgestellt, es reicht grad nicht für einen "ganzen" Shift. Man kann so um 4,5 mm "shiften" ohne den Bildkreis zu verlassen. FX/FF ist kein Problem.
    Aber immerhin, 4,5 ist schon ganz ordentlich. Viele DX Objektive gehen auch noch ein wenig weiter als der Bildkreis eigetnlich muss. Wenn man das noch ausnützt, und bedenkt, dass viele Bilder mit Shift (Architektur) sowieso nur blauen Himmel in den Ecken haben, sollte das in der Praxis recht gut klappen.

    Leica R ist eine feine Sache, mir persönlich aber zu teuer. Und gute weite sowieso.
    Im Nikon DX bereich hingegen gibt es recht viele Objektive mit 10-12mm, womit sich dann ein 20-24mm TS Objektiv mit dem Adapter auf m43 ergibt.

    Sehr interessant.

  12. Is there a Tilt Shift MFT Adapter available for Leica R lenses or to NEX?

  13. Hello Sanyi,
    the Leica R mount has one of the longest flange focal distances. It is therefore possible to adapt these lenses to many different mounts. Have a look at the table in my adapter mania post for the combination that you need:
    http://www.blog.floriansphotos.com/2013/06/adapter-mania_18.html
    The spreadsheet is here:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AoMr3RbgCRoKdGM0NmRZeWMzRHdKRDhBUktsSDNxZWc#gid=0

    For use with the m4/3 Mirex adapter you need a Leica R - Canon EF mount adapter and the Mirex Tilt-shift adapter (I am using one lens with this combination and it works fine). It is possible to adapt the very same Mirex Tilt-shift adapter to the Sony E (NEX) mount (there is also a comment above) and more information here:
    http://hyperlinktionary.blogspot.ch/2013/06/micro-four-thirds-m43-sony-e-mount.html

    Alternatively, I think there are tilt, shift, as well as tilt-shift adapters specifically for the Sony E mount (check on Ebay), but you will not be able to use these on a m4/3 body. In any case, I would not buy an expensive adapter with a Leica R mount. A Canon EF mount is a very good solution because you can adapt different lenses for this mount.

    I hope that this helps.

  14. Very interesting.
    The only thing I don't get, is why the adapter doesn't allow shift and tilt in the same direction? Is there a physical limitation, that they can't move in the same direction?

    If you make an adapter were the two can't be rotated independently, wouldn't it makes more sense to have them generally move in the same direction?

    The adapter is still not on the companies website, neither did I get an answer on my email. What a pity...

    Best,
    Carl

  15. Hello Carl,
    thank you for your comment and visit on my blog!
    There is indeed a physical limitation that prevents shifting and tilting in the same direction. The tilt and the shift units and fused together and form one piece; without a rotating mechanism in between that would allow to define the tilt direction independent of the shift direction - the two are always perpendicular to each other.
    I do not know why the adapter was designed in this particular way, but it might not be that easy to fit a tilt and shift mechanism into such a small adapter. I understand that you consider this particular design a limitation, I thought so myself too. However, in practical use I was hardly ever limited by this and really think that the adapter is very well made.
    It is indeed a pity that the adapter is still not on the website and that you have not received a reply. Unfortunately, I cannot do much about this because I am not associated with Mirex in any way.

    All the best,
    Florian.

  16. Hi Florian,

    Have you tried this TS adapter with a Canon FD lens using an adapter for FD Lens to EF Mount?

    Best Regards and thanks for the posts,

    Rodrigo

  17. Hello Rodrigo,
    thank you for your visit! I have not tried a Canon FD lens with the TS adapter, sorry. In theory, there should be no problem though.

    All the best,
    Florian.

  18. Hi,
    Is this still available, and if so do you have details such as a model number?
    Thanks
    Andrew

  19. Hi Andrew,
    apologies for the delayed posting of your question. I assume that the T/S adapter is still available, but I am not associated with Mirex in any way. If you are interested in purchasing it is easiest to contact Mirex by e-mail (info@mirex-adapter.de) - in my case they have always been very responsive.
    I hope that this helps.

    Florian.

  20. Hello Andrew
    Apologies for the delay in the posting of your question. I assume that the T/S adapter for m4/3 is still available, but I am not associated with Mirex in any way.
    If you are interested in purchasing the adapter I would suggest to contact Mirex by e-mail (info@mirex-adapter.de) - in my case they have always been very responsive.
    I hope that this helps.
    Florian.

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