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Thread: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

  1. #1

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    asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    I was reading some comments about using the asymmetric back tilts on the Ebony cameras for architecture. I am curious when you would do this. I am a pretty simple architecture photographer, so I work hard to keep the back dead parallel with the building and do my fixes with the front standard.

  2. #2

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    Re: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    Asymmetric tilts/swings are designed to speed up the process of applying movements. They have their drawbacks as well, especially when the points you want to focus on do not fall on one of the axes. With a little time and practice, you can do just as well with either axis or base tilts (the latter being the most "fiddley" IMO). I have a pdf document from Ebony by Richard Sexton called the "Asymmetrical Movements Manual" detailing their asymmetrical movements. Maybe it will provide more information for you if you can find it. I imagine it is available from their web site. Best

  3. #3

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    Re: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    I did see the Sexton piece, but I have done the same shots with axis tilts with no problem. I can see where asymmetric movements might make sense for tabletop work where you can set up the shot to match them, but I am having trouble seeing any advantage in the real world - as you say, it just depends on where the focus hinge line falls.

  4. #4

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    Re: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    Ed, the "trick" is to relevel the back with the tripod head after applying "asymmetric" tilts. You will have to apply an additional shift on the front standard to compensate for the this releveling. That's all. Anyhow, you will have to fix the right frame after applying tilt. In the first frame you'll have to point the tilt axis to landmarks that should stay in focus.

  5. #5
    Doug Dolde
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    Re: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    Sounds like a major PITA to me. If you were using a camera with front axis tilt (Arca Swiss with Orbix for me) you could keep the back vertical and use the front axis tilt to achieve the focus.

  6. #6

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    Re: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    The only thing that matters is the relation between the front and back standard and how these are oriented in space when you are done. How you go about getting there is irrelevant. Assymetric tilts or swings may make it easier for some people to get where they want to be, but I've never had any trouble with base tilt and axial swing. I usually manage the whole thing in less than a minute. In architectural photography, i occasionally use swings and more rarely tilts. Most often the only movements used are rises and shifts.

  7. #7

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    Re: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    I have an Ebony with assymetric tilts and swings - when shooting architecture, I just use the front axis tilt instead. Not sure what the big deal is - the cameras all have front axis tilt and swings too. The assymetric tilt is simply a time saver for when that criteria is most appropriate. It's very convenient for typical landscape shots when slight distortion from rear movements will not be noticed - extremely fast compared to the iterations required with axis or base tilt. However, with a little practice, the iterations for axis or base tilt on the front can also be accomplished pretty quickly too. The assymetric movements come at a high price (presumably due to the intricate machining involved - some mated curved dovetails in titanium), but work very well. That said, the Orbix option on Arcas is also expensive and in my opinion, almost essential, whereas the assymetric movements on an Ebony are not.

  8. #8

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    Re: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    I am thinking that for architecture work I wouldn't like the asymmetrical movements because of the slight distortion of the subject when I start using back movements. I have never tried asymmetrical movements however. I only read about the Ebony back once.

    It looked to me like the asymmetrical tilts might be handy for table top or still life subjects but not needed for architecture. Since the asymmetrical Ebony has the same movements up front as a standard Ebony, it might be worth the extra expense to have the asymmetrical back when you need it for some subjects. I don't think the cost difference is that huge.

  9. #9
    Jack Flesher's Avatar
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    Re: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    I shoot with both and find the asymmetrical rear movements a time-saver in the field. I get there with axial swings and Orbix tilts pretty fast, but it remains an iterative process -- A bit of swing (or tilt), a touch to the focus, more or less swing (or tilt), then a final re-touch of focus. With the asym I find you almost always do have some part of the plane you are trying to focus on at the pivot point, a common example is a swing for an angled fence-line or an angled side of a structure. Either near or far the process is one-shot -- focus at the off-center pivot axis, swing the other side in or out until your secondary focus point pops. Every time I go back to check the first point, it is still in focus Works just as well with tilts for foreground/background adjustments.

    As respects architectural shooting, I almost always level the back but sometimes do impart some swing to favor a side of a structure shot at an angle. Here the asyms work really well -- again, one shot focus.

    As for tilts in architecture, if anything it is usually a skosh of forward tilt on the front standard to help PoF period. For really tall buildings I almost always pull the back slightly so there is a touch of convergence, which also angles the PoF slightly forward and is generally a good thing. While not technically perfect, I find the tallest buildings look more natural with slightly converging sides than they do with perfectly parallel sides, but that is my personal preference.

    Cheers,
    Jack Flesher

    www.getdpi.com

  10. #10

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    Re: asymmetric back tilts and architecture

    I use asymmetric movements roughly 50% of the time when shooting landscapes; when in rapidly changing or fading light, saving several focus iterations is really appreciated. I am more circumspect about using asymmetric movements when shooting architecture due to the distortion of back movements, maybe using them only 25% of the time.

    Another argument in favor of asymmetric movements is that they can be used to estimate the amount the front movement required. However, unless the movement required is quite substantial, I haven't found this capability to save much time in the field, as even with the estimate I still have to make at least a couple of focus iterations to confirm proper focus.

    I've found asymmetric movements to be worthwhile since the majority of my shot are landscapes. If you mostly shoot architecture and your set-up time is already satisfactory, then asymmetric movements may not help you much.

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