I'm looking for super wide angle lenses, ideally 50mm and below. I'm only interested about decent rise/fall movements because I do mostly architecture, and I'd like to be very close to the subject.

However, I cannot find suitable lenses for it. Meaning, super wide angle lenses image circles are usually around 160mm.

Is there a viable alternative that would allow me to do rise/fall movements?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The problem with using ultra wide lenses with perspective correcting movements is that the geometric distortion of the UWA lens is so pronounced that the correction of perspective distortion is wasted. So what's the point? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Feb 19, 2019 at 9:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question seems very odd to me. What is "4x5 movements"? "wide angle lenses IC" - what does IC stand here for? \$\endgroup\$
    – Rekin
    Feb 19, 2019 at 11:42
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Rekin I assume that "4x5 movements" means he's using a 4x5 camera body, so needs a shift lens with a large enough image circle to be useful on a 4x5 sensor/film. The giveaway is "super wide angle lenses, ideally 50mm and below". 50mm is only 'super wide' if the film size is quite large, such as 4x5. And by "IC", he means image circle. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Feb 19, 2019 at 18:55
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Rekin IC would be shorthand for Image Circle in this context \$\endgroup\$ Feb 19, 2019 at 20:35

3 Answers 3


They don't exist. They can't exist, really. 120 degrees is about as far as rectilinear designs seem to go.

If you wanted that Super Angulon 47XL to cover more than 166mm it'd have to be wider than 120 degrees.

Shift is identical to off-center cropping.

But somehow people understand "cropping narrows your field of view" better than they understand "shooting a lens on a format small enough to permit shift narrows your field of view"


All lenes project a circular image of the outside world. This image is sharpest and brightness in the center. As you examine this image, you will discover that it has reduced sharpness and it dims thus the fringes are substandard as to image quality. This is called a vignette.

As a rule, we match lenses to format size. We generally select focal length based on the corner-to-corner measure (diagonal) of the format. The 4x5 inch format has a diagonal of 5.4 inches = 160mm. in other words, a 160mm focal length lens projects an image with a circle of good definition that properly covers the entire 4x5 frame.

Lenses shorter than the diagonal are classified as wide-angle. It takes a special lens design when it comes to expanding the circle of good definition so that it adequality covers the frame size. Making a 50mm that will work with a 4x5 format would be a challenge. Making one that will accommodate a rising / falling front is likely wishful thinking.

Why the vignette? Imagine a miniature you is waking on the 4x5 frame looking up at the lens. When you are at the center of the frame, you will see a circular opening when the shutter is snapped. Now walk towards one of the corners of the frame and look up again. As you move more and more off-axis, what you see is an oval lens aperture, not a circle. This oval opening will pass less light due to the fact at it appears to have a reduced area. Thus, the further off-axis, the weaker will be the image. Additionally, all lenses have residual defects called aberrations and distortions. I fear that a 50mm on a 4x5 will have too small a circle of good definition. Now add rising and falling front and you likely entered the realm of the impossible.


The image circle is usually specified at a specific aperture. Often f16. Smaller apertures will produce a larger image circle unless the lens is designed with a baffle or similar element that limits the image circle.

In addition, high quality lenses typically give a conservative image circle size. The amount of vignetting may be acceptable for a particular use (and unacceptable for others).

In addition, wide angle large format lenses are often used in conjunction with center weighted neutral density filters due to the longer light path to the corners relative to the center of the film plane. This is another way to mitigate light falloff outside the specified image circle.

It is also worth noting rear tilts and swings do not require a larger image circle because the skewed film plane presents a smaller area perpendicular to the lens axis.

Finally, the right tool for extremely wide angle architectural photography might be a smaller format. A somewhat similar field of view can be achieved off the shelf using a 35mm format camera with a 17mm tilt-shift lens...so long as you are willing to forgo rear movements.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.