Flaming Fall Forest

Tilt-shift lenses help you to use perspectives impossible to obtain with normal ones.

The maximum 12mm shift on my Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens helped me to tame the strongly converging trees resulting from an upward pointed lens – but still keep some from the convergence, which makes this image work for me.

Flaming Fall Forest

Flaming Fall Forest

Colors from the Canon 5DS R and Capture One Pro 8 combination are just lovely (unfortunately you won’t see their full glory on an sRGB web image).

On the downside of things, the camera clearly outresolves the lens – which is a pity, as this is the best wide angle tilt-shift option currently available. Once the 24 TS was my very best lens, but today with the 5DS R all my Zeiss, Sigma and most Canon optics are better.

But regardless of the resolution difference, there are situations when the perspective control capability is a must, and in these cases the 24 TS comes out of the bag.

Shot tethered to a MacBook Air 11″ running Kuuvik Capture 2.1.1 beta. I’ll post about the whole rig I’m using for landscape shots during the coming days.

Wide Converters in Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder

Today we announced the beta of Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder. With the Mark II we took a new direction on how we handle wide converter lenses. In the past we just multiplied frame line positions with the wide conversion factor, not doing anything about the optical aberrations of the converter lenses. And believe me, they have many. Distortion, chromatic aberration, centering errors, you name it, the converter has it.

Most of these aberrations can be safely ignored as nobody takes real images with a viewfinder. One of them however, distortion to be exact, is a huge problem. It enlarges the center portion of the image and compresses the edges, making the effort of precise frame line positioning futile.

Given the immense power of today’s iPhone GPUs, we set out to get rid of wide converter distortion forever. And I’m pleased to tell you that we succeeded: the Mark II sports real-time distortion correction! Following is an example of its power.

Before and after distortion correction

Before and after distortion correction

ALPA’s ACAM Super Wide Converter exhibits about 11% barrel distortion (on the left). Which is completely eliminated in the Mark II (on the right). Yes, resolution suffers, but it is pretty much enough for viewfinder use. There’s also some darkening on the lower left corner (the converter vignettes heavily and asymmetrically on the iPhone 5s – which isn’t a big issue after the correction).

With the corrected view we can simulate super-wide lenses, which is a blessing for landscape and architecture photography. But I also regularly use the ALPA’s iPhone Holder together with the ACAM SWC as a viewfinder for my Canon TS-E 24 pano stitches. Here’s a screenshot I took on my old iPhone 4 while composing The Circle.


Composing a stitched pano

Note that the iPhone 4 isn’t fast enough to do the correction at full Retina resolution – all other supported iPhones (4S/5/5S) are.

At launch we’ll support ALPA’s ACAM SWC, but the lab and the measurement technology is ready, and we’ll add adapter/device combinations as we measure them. On the device front, iPhone 4/4S/5/5S are supported.

So if you regularly shoot wide, or want to get a tool that allows you to visualize tilt/shift stitches, then head to the Mark II’s site and sign up for a beta. Seating is limited, so hurry! Then it’s time to order an ACAM SWC from ALPA.

The Circle

I love the 5:2 aspect ratio. And I dislike the majority of the “trees from below” kind of images. But this afternoon I was unable to resist the temptation to turn my pano shooting rig upwards – the scene was simply too graphic to ignore.

The Circle

The Circle

And like all of my 5:2 images, this one really shines on a 40 cm x 1m print.

Composing Stitched Images Made Easy

As you probably noticed from my posts, I’m a huge fan of Canon’s TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens. One of the reasons is that I can make pixel-perfectly stitch-able 2.4:1 wide panoramic shots – like the one below – with it. The only difficulty in making those images was composition: it isn’t easy to visualize a shot when you only see half of it.

This image is a stitch of two frames: one taken with the lens shifted all the way to the left, while the other with the lens shifted to the right. Extreme edges cropped.

This image is a stitch of two frames: one taken with the lens shifted all the way to the left,
while the other with the lens shifted to the right. Extreme edges cropped.

But that difficulty is past now.

A couple of weeks ago I received a package from ALPA, containing their brand new ACAM Super Wide Converter. They sent it for certification with our upcoming Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder app, and also for my personal use. It was like Christmas for me. Quick first tests showed that the adapter has a conversion factor around 0.5x, which number was later confirmed with formal measurement in our lab. In other words, you can simulate a 17mm lens attached to a full frame 35mm using that. Or you can view almost the whole wide frame that will result from the TS-E stitch!

This is no small feat: you can walk around carrying a finder and checking lots of stitched composition without actually setting up the camera. And the actual capture needs less than half of the time it used to require.

The whole setup

The following image shows the setup I use for taking the images for pano stitches.

My stitched pano setup

My stitched pano setup

The camera and lens is nothing special, however the thing on top is. Attached to my iPhone is the ACAM wide adapter. The phone is held in position (note that the lenses are centered to avoid horizontal parallax) by an ALPA iPhone Holder. This is the Mark I, they now sell the Mark II complete with the wide angle adapter. As the holder was designed to be used on ALPA cameras, thus I also use an ALPA hot shoe mount adapter.

How much? – you might ask. You should log in to ALPA’s site to see their current prices, but as a guide: this whole viewfinder setup will set you back around $1150 (including the holder, hot shoe adapter, ACAM wide adapter and our Viewfinder iPhone app). If you think that’s a lot for a viewfinder, I recommend you to check out prices on a Linhof 45 Multifocus Viewfinder, for example (hint: it is around $2000 for way less functionality).

The ACAM wide adapter itself selling for less than $60 is extremely affordable considering what you get in exchange. I recommend every serious landscape and architecture photographer to check out this solution. Paired with our upcoming Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder it offers unprecedented value and functionality.

Update 11/20/2013

Today we announced the beta of Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder that sports real-time distortion correction for the ACAM SWC, making the above rig much more valuable. Read my post about it.