I've noticed that large format cameras seem to keep verticals vertical whereas me shooting with 35mm lenses I get much more convergence. Is this just because the photographers are using architectural lenses which can correct for this or something intrinsic to large format?

Large format example - http://www.ourworldmyeye.com/wp-content/uploaads/john_davies.jpg

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just wanted to suggest that you can fix converging verticals in a digital image using a variety of editing applications that have a "perspective" tool. If the camera is tilted up when the photo is taken you "widen" the top of the image until the verticals are parallel. You will also need to "stretch" the image upward, I usually judge it by eye but there are ways you could do it subjectively. I have a TS lens for my SLR but I like the results from a good lens and manipulating the photo later better. YMMV. \$\endgroup\$
    – fCSjxMDv76
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 12:39

3 Answers 3


Its not quite restricted to large format, but is most common there. Whats going on is that on a large format camera, the front "standard" which holds the lens can move independently of the rear standard, where the film is. What a photographer does to avoid converging verticals is not to tilt the camera upwards, but to shift the front standard so that everything he wants in the picture is included.

There are a number of tilt/shift lenses for SLRs that can do the same shifting of the lens.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ With a monorail camera, it's more likely that the photographer would choose rear fall rather than front rise (with a field camera, there isn't that choice, usually). That's because the lens position determines the point of view, so it's the "less adjustable" of the two and is usually set first. That's also why a tripod collar (if available/practical) is a good idea for a T/S lens; you can determine what's peaking out from behind what and by how much first, then worry about perspective and focal plane corrections later. \$\endgroup\$
    – user28116
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 7:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I find your answer to be a bit unclear: You implicitly state that is has nothing to do with the sensor size but rather using tilt/shift lenses and not tilting the camera. ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – J0hj0h
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 15:18

It is not about the size of the format, but how the lens moves with respect to the film or sensor plane.

Lens movements

This particular case B maintains the 3 planes parallel: Lens, film plane, building.

Lens movements

Again, this has nothing to do with the film size.

You can google these kinds of lenses for a SLR camera: https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=slr+shift+lens

Or some adapters to use on a standard slr mount: https://www.google.com.mx/search?q=camera+bellows

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ They are called bellows. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 3:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you make these diagrams? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 5:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes Matt. Suggestions accepted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 12:55

Actually, what keeps verticals vertical in large format, is the possibility to keep the film plane parallel to your subject. If you take an image of an house, you want to keep your film plane parallel to the front side of the house.

Using a SLR camera this means to use half of your image to capture the floor. With a large format camera, you can shift up the lens to capture the building and not the floor. This only is possible, because of the large image circle large format lenses create on the film plane. Depending on the lens it's a bit larger than the film, sometimes it's much larger. The larger the image circle, the more freedom for movements.

Hence the Schneider Kreuznach Super Angulon72 is a very hard to get and expensive lens. The dream of every architectural large format photographer.

To get a deeper understanding of large format photography and it's equipment, large format photography info is a great resource. It has a lot of basic information and a forum.


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