Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Swing / Shift On 16mm


Interested to know if anyone has shot with swing/shifts on 16. I've seen some footage on 35, as well as 2/3" video, but it seems the effect has less impact on the smaller formats.

I'm curious as to what experiences might have been had trying this. I know the longer lenses work really well, but slapping a 100mm on an SR would make a really tight shot.

Any experience with these handheld as well?


Christopher Ratledge

Christopher Ratledge wrote :

>Interested to know if anyone has shot with swing/shifts on 16.

I have used tilt lenses on 16 a number of times. they are a little different beast from swing shift but very similar. They tend to be not very fast, around T4-ish if I recall, and the effects are certainly more subtle than 35.

One shot I did was looking down a fairway on a golf course. A player who was doing a line to camera was near and sharp, parts of the fairway were very soft focus and there was another area that was infinity + + + that was also sharp as well.

As for hand held, it can be done, but it is definitely weird and a good bit more difficult from the composition side of things.

Mark Smith

The only swing-shift gig I've done was for a show shot on video, and they wanted me to do the title sequence/promo in S16, but I convinced them to go 35mm for the swing-shift. It's the only way to go if you want to have a flexible plane of focus to isolate the focus in your compositions. However, if your swing-shift is the less trendy type : in effect, trying to get more DoF, then S16mm - or better yet, the 2/3" video - is the way to go.

There's a bar scene in Far and Away (65mm) where they had to use a swing-shift just to do a raking wide shot.

Mark Doering-Powell
Los Angeles based Director of Photography

Hey :

Back in '99 I shot a local diet company spot using a (Super 16) SRIII and the Clairmont set of Swings. The only physical issue was that the viewfinder would get in the way a little when you tried to swing to the right or heavily upward. There were no issues colormetrically or photometrically. To be a little plainer, I didn't have any color fringing at the sides of the image circle and just a little of a drop in exposure in the same place (at the very edge of the image circle).

If you really wish to narrow the plain of focus, use a longer focal length element. The longer focal length doesn't require you to swing the element off of the lens axis nearly as much as the wider elements for a given amount of focused area. You can filter the Clairmonts (I think they were 4 x 5) using the shade that is part of the kit. You usually get about three elements in the kit before you need to start paying more. The strangest thing about operating with the Swings was that you needed to really follow the target. If you didn't, it was off to blurry-land. Also, if you really wish to affect geometry, use the wide elements.

The 18 (I think-its been awhile) really loved to bend stuff around. On the longer focal lengths, I liked the way those would smoothly ramp the exposure down a little at the edge (yum, Power-Windows, on set). When selecting focus targets, pay attention to where the rest of the plane goes.

Make sure you select something which does not pull attention away from your hero target, or use hard grads to pull the bg part of the plane down in luminance.

Hope this helps, y'all.

Michael Bratkowski

>Also, if you really wish to affect geometry, use the wide elements.

I do. (wish to really affect geometry). Even just a shift, I love what my 35mm PC-Nikkor does for stills, it's become my favourite lens on the Nikon. So that is roughly = 9.5 or 10mm in reg 16. Now, I want the same !

>The 18 (I think-its been awhile) really loved to bend stuff around.

Has anyone figured out a way to do this really wide for the 16mm formats ? Combine an Aspheron, what ?

Sam Wells

I have had great success with the Cannon Tilt lenses.

I shoot them on my Aaton as well as my ol' Arri M. A 3 lens set, 24/45/90mm. The 24 is a 4, the 45&90 are 2.8. They are very fast to work with Clip on 4x4 Arri Bayo I get the lenses from A.C. Inc in Nashville. They were cool enough to give them to me in Arri Bayo.

I would always try to shoot wide open of course, to reduce the Depth of Field. AC Inc is 800. YES -ARRI. I am not affiliated nor do I owe money to A.C.Inc. They are a pleasure to work with however, and have treated me very well, though I am just a Owner Operator

Speaking of Me…

Scott Mumford soc
DP Cinematographer
Outside of Nashville

One tip with T&S on 16mm is to remove the cross bar on the top of the Clairmont system.

This always hits the SR3 V/F and limits the amount of swing you can get.


Geoff Boyle FBKS

Director of Photography
EU based

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