I've found an awesome description for how to build your own tilt/shift lens (http://www.creativepro.com/article/build-a-tilt-shift-camera-lens-peanuts) that mentions using, for example, a lens for the now obsolete Pentacon 6 format. What other lenses could be used for this purpose? Are there any other concerns than it having to be a lens for a larger format than the target one (DX, in my case)?

Ideally, it would be a lens of great optical quality that you can get hold of cheaply (though I realize that posting this question doesn't really help with that).

2 Answers 2


The best lenses to use are those originally created for medium format cameras. This is for two reasons:

-when you tilt or shift a lens, you can end up with part of the resulting photo being black because the lens is not no longer pointed directly at the sensor. With a medium-format lens, you have a lot more play in tilt and shift, because the "image circle" is larger. It allows you to tilt and shift more.

-the lenses in medium format cameras are usually designed to be farther away from the sensor/film than your regular dslr lenses. This means that to get a correctly focused picture with a medium format lens, it needs to be spaced away from the camera. This gives you a bunch of space where you can construct a tilt/shift mechanism.

I would suggest… Mamiya or Pentax 645/67 lenses. They'r readily available (check keh.com) and some aren't too expensive.

  • I've ordered a used MC Volna 80/2.8 lens for Pentacon 6 as suggested in the article, we'll see what the result is like in a few weeks!
    – SoftMemes
    Jan 29, 2012 at 12:48

I'd scour the junk shops for old Kodak folders and Polaroids -- bellows cameras that are in far-from-collectible condition. It's usually the case wrap and the bellows that are shot (as well as the brass foldy bits). The lenses may be of a relatively small aperture, but the focal length is usually pretty long (somewhere in the 75-150mm range). You may need a locking cable release though, to keep the shutter open. You'll probably have to fabricate a "lens board" using another body cap for the other end of the plunger too.

(Added) These cameras would be classified as "medium format", so the lenses have an image circle much larger than you'd need. You could probably achieve a plane of focus that is nearly perpendicular to the sensor.

  • Good practical answer, I picked the other one for the explicit mentioning of having both a larger image circle and more space from the sensor for correct focus.
    – SoftMemes
    Jan 29, 2012 at 13:18
  • @Freed: just FYI -- the lens-in-shutter on these old folders will give you more backside room than the 645 or Pentax 67 ("Texas Nikon") lenses will, and some of them actually allowed for limited movements on medium format (usually just rise), so the image circle would be even bigger. (The Kodaks were 6x6.)
    – user2719
    Jan 31, 2012 at 4:02

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