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I need a serious camera for several art photo projects.

I'd love to be able to make old view-camera lens-plane and film-plane adjustments.

Ideally, I'd also like a few new features (e.g., maximally ISO-less shooting).

Any advice would be vastly appreciated!

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  • Hello Wombat, welcome to Photo.SE. Have you examples of photos you would like to make ? (What do you mean by "art" ?) For this post to be of interest to futur users, you should be more precise : how many pixels du you need (print size ?), what kind of light will you use, why do you need a tiltable lens... This way, we will be able to provide a solution specific to your situation in terms of technical needs instead of one model/brand which won't exist anymore in 2 years :)
    – Olivier
    Jan 6 '16 at 19:12
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    Why do you need a tiltable lens/camera if you want to "keep the planes maximally parallel"?
    – null
    Jan 6 '16 at 19:33
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    What do you mean by "maximally ISO-less shooting"? I've never heard that term, and film or digital, you always have an ISO setting.
    – inkista
    Jan 6 '16 at 19:59
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    Null - because the conditions are such that I have to position the camera off to the side and turn it to point it at the what I need to photograph. And inkista: look up "ISO-less" or "ISO invariance." Jan 6 '16 at 20:29
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    @WombatPete. Ah. A thing started by dpreview. That explains why I don't care. Just say you don't want a Canon sensor. [eyeroll]. Most of us don't feel a camera's capability hinges on the need to push an image 5 stops in post.
    – inkista
    Jan 6 '16 at 21:10
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While view/technical cameras with digital backs do exist, you don't put them together in the same sentence with "affordable", as most are medium to large format. Most of the bodies start around US$6k (at least from what I'm seeing on B&H) and those don't include the digital back (sensor). Think in terms of five figure pricetags.

I would also say that a view/technical camera is several degrees above "serious", and using one is something of a lost art these days and probably done as much (or more) with film than digital, given the prohibitive costs of the gear.

Your best bet might be to get a regular digital interchangeable-lens body, and then a bellows adapter or tilt-shift lens, but this will only allow for lens movements, and with a TS lens, you won't have nearly the same degree of freedom for those movements as you would with a view camera/bellows.

I'll also add that movements with a TS lens--tilt in particular--were probably the most difficult thing I ever tried to master with my Canon dSLRs. It is not a simple easily-acquired skill to shoot with one, but does require a fair amount of practice.

And if all you really want to accomplish is the miniature effect, post-processing with depth masks or specialized software might get you there more easily with a lot less equipment outlay.

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There is no "serious" camera that comes with a tilt/shift lens. They would have to be purchased separately.

The most affordable option is to buy any entry level DSLR along with a Samyang(Bower) Tilt/Shift lens.

You would need to spend a minimum of about $1,200 for a camera and lens.

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  • Thanks, both of those answers are really useful. It wouldn't seem prohibitively difficult to make the sensor plane shift a bit in a DSLR, but I hadn't heard of it, so I'm not surprised it doesn't exist. A tilt/shift lens, then, seems to be the best option. I need to look into that. And while $1200 is substantial, I wouldn't have expected it to be less. I'm trying to avoid making it several times that sum! Jan 6 '16 at 20:32
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    @WombatPete Pentax DSLRs can use their sensor-shift SR tech to provide "a bit" of shift, but that bit really isn't enough to be broadly useful.
    – mattdm
    Jan 7 '16 at 3:15
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Disclaimer: I have not used the gear combinations I am sort-of recommending below.

Perhaps the most "reasonable" or "affordable" setup you might consider, if you need lots of movements (2-axis tilt + lots of shift) for the lowest price, would be a Sony E-mount camera (such as the a7) + E-mount tilt-shift adapter (to either Canon or Nikon mount) + Canon/Nikon tilt-shift lens.

The reason I suggest E-mount is because its flange focal distance is quite short (18 mm), and because it seems to be very well supported in the 3rd-party adapter market. Because Canon's (42 mm FD / 44 mm EF mounts) and Nikon's (46.5 mm F-mount) flange focal distances are comparatively large, an adapter that also adds space is needed between the Sony body and the Canon/Nikkor lens. There are several E-mount to Canon/Nikon (and other) adapters available (Brian Smith has a nice review of several E-mount adapters).

Satoru Murata has a nice writeup of using Sony a7 + tilt-shift adapter + Canon TS-E 17/4L. This is probably getting close to the least expensive complex-movement DSLR setup you can do.

If you can get away with single-axis tilt only and possibly restricted shift control, then you can use a regular Canon/Nikon prime on the adapter.

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