Several years ago I obtained a Nikkor 35 mm perspective - correction lens, f 3.5. I bought it for use with both a Kodak SLR/n and a series of Fuji S cameras, but it never would work right because of interference caused by the "Kodak Lip" that protruded low and in front of the cameras, Kodak and Fuji alike.
Enter the Nikon D700, and the lens fits right and works like a champ. Mind you, this particular lens was first issued in 1962, the year I was 17 and spent the summer in France .... ah, the memories.
Anyway, I'd only shot a few frames, perhaps a dozen, with this lens, in the 5 years I've owned it. But this weekend I had the chance to take pictures at the Basilica of the Assumption, in Covington, KY. I was there to sing in a chorus doing a couple of Haydn pieces, but frankly, the photo op was the big draw for me!!
Now as I said in my very first blog entry, I've got truly lousy eyesight. Buckets of astigmatism, which means I can't tell a straight line when I see one. So even with the PC lens, my results weren't perfect ... but they were definitely good enough to be exciting!
For what it's worth, I was also shooting my Mamiya 645 / P25 back and a wide angle lens ... but there was so much curvature that the Nikon wound up doing better, thanks to the PC lens.
What the PC lens does is shift the field of view, just like the view cameras of yore. It also rotates in 30 degree increments, so you can tilt and shift at the same time (though not independently). Here's a diagram from the original Nikon manual:
You can't imagine how this straightens out the trapezoidal shape images that results from tilting up your regular lens. Amazing!
The drawback -- this lens is 100% manual, no contact with the camera's electronics at all, at all. So YOU are responsible for metering, focusing, choosing aperture, and making it work. Poor you.
Actually with a DSLR and plenty of time, you can guess your exposure, shoot, review histogram, refine, re-shoot, etc. Works OK that way, if you're afraid of your light meter or don't own one. Not the best way, but hey, if it works, that's great.
So much for the rhapsody. Let's cut to the chase. According to the antique user's manual, which I found
here, the lens is great for commercial and formal architectural shots. OK, no surprise. What IS a surprise is that the shift allows you to use it for a PANO lens. The total field of the view of this lens is 76 degrees, compared to the 62 degrees of a normal 35mm lens. What that means, if you're using a tripod, is seamless overlaps. It also makes taking panos WITHOUT MOVING THE CAMERA possible --- not huge ones, but, hey, see last week's post about aspect ratios.
I didn't know this on Sunday, when I was using the lens. But I kind of intuited it, and used CS3 to blend two images together to produce this one:
This is actually two horizontal images stacked atop one another and merged, but thanks to the pc lens there was virtually no loss at the edges and the blend is pain-free and invisible.
I joined three images using the standard "rotate the lens on the tripod" technique. Produced this wonderful image:
These images are not completely straight. I don't know why not; tripod was level, camera was level (left to right, anyhow), and axis was barely tilted. The PC function brought the tops down and avoided keystoning, as advertised. So I had to do some PS work to fix that, and given my bad eyes, got pretty darned close.
Now that I know the lens will do double-duty as a pano lens, I can't wait to try it. Shift left, shoot, shift middle, shoot, shift right, shoot. The alignment will be perfect AS LONG AS YOUR TRIPOD IS DEAD LEVEL. The D700 comes with an artificial horizon to let you make sure of this. It's buried about 6 levels down in the menus, but it's there and worth finding and using! (Remember the curse of astigmatism!)
More later on this topic. Meanwhile, visit my architectural gallery and see what kind of fun you can have with a PC lens and a bit of patience.