When using a tilt shift lens for perspective control, you can use shift to help account for converging lines such as in a scene of a church from 100ft away. I can also handle this type of perspective control using the Photoshop perspective control tool. If I am digitally accounting for the perspective, I would be losing some resolution to the manipulation. But as sensors are providing greater detail and when using a full frame camera, I would think this becomes less and less of an advantage.

Essentially I am wondering if as camera sensor technology improves that the perspective control benefits of a tilt shift lens will be less of an advantage in favor of the digital alternative.

1 Answer 1


No and not just for perspective control. There are digital stabilization functions on some camera which have made hardware stabilization no less advantageous. The same is true with digitally rotating an image as oppose to taking it level or having hardware level the sensor for you.

It is great that these things can be done digitally but they will always produce inferior output. Losing resolution and having to generate pixels means that information has to be regenerated from an already digital version.

The dilemma facing people continues to be how much the advantage is worth to them. A Tilt-Shift lens is an expensive item for the vast majority of people and if they can get the same effect with lower quality using $99 software, they may prefer that approach. A $6 bubble level to ensure shots are level is much easier to be worth it. Digital stabilization saves a few dollars per camera which to some makes enough difference in affordability.

Lastly, think about Nikon offering a D800 and D800E for $400 USD difference. The output resolution advantage is far smaller than digital versus mechanical perspective control, yet the more expensive D800E without Anti-Alias filter keeps selling because it is worth it to some people. I also strongly suspect the cost of producing either camera is almost exactly the same, so manufacturers also know when the difference is worth it.

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    There are workflow advantages as well: I try to do as little in post as possible, not because I think digital post is 'wrong' or 'cheap' but because I like the RAW file to reflect the final output as closely as possible so I have less file & metadata management to deal with.
    – Shizam
    Aug 27, 2012 at 17:59
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    You're preaching to the choir :) My photography is shot in camera and I like it to end there as much as possible! It also lets you know you got the shot. Sometimes if you try to correct verticals in software for example, you end up with an image with parts missing because you did not shoot wide-enough. The same happens when correcting for optical distortion.
    – Itai
    Aug 27, 2012 at 18:26
  • the question was not whether tilt shift lens are useless, but if purely optical techniques become less advantageous. and YES, they do, because the high resolution sensors used with the same lens will inevitably produce more blurred images (at the pixel scale) than low resolution sensors. this means the quality is less affected by the reprojection and interpolation. or, in other words: the interpolation affects mostly the highest frequencies in the image, so if the frequencies are lowered, the image quality is better preserved.
    – szulat
    Mar 10, 2019 at 0:46

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