I haven’t posted a good camera modification in a while, so it feels good to present you with this new tutorial on how to build your own tilt-shift lens. Have you seen those photos where only a small part of the picture is in focus and the rest of the image gets dramatically blurred? If you ever wondered how this effect is created, chances are the picture was taken with a tilt-shift lens. Most lenses are fixed exactly parallel to your lens because that is the position that will distribute the light evenly and keep focus at a fixed distance. A tilt-shift lens is different because it allows you pivot the lens. By “tilting” and “shifting” the lens you can throw things out of focus in unconventional ways. Using a tilt-shift lens is a fun way to inject your photos with drama and controlled distortion. Here is a link to a good Flickr gallery full of examples of tilt-shift to give you an idea of what is possible with a tilt-shift lens.
If I have convinced you that a tilt-shift lens would be a nice addition to your photography arsenal, I have some bad news for you. Tilt-shift lenses are expensive. A quick Ebay search reveals that you will be lucky to secure a lens for under $500 with some lenses well over $1000. Yikes! A slightly less expensive option is something called a Lensbaby, which will run you between $100 to $400. Despite hearing good things about the lensbabies, I just can’t justify dropping a couple hundred dollars on a lens that’s main purpose is to degrade and distort my pictures. Luckily there is a third option. Here are some ideas that will help you create your own tilt-shift lens for next to nothing.