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Inside a View Camera

Camera Parts | Camera Movements

View cameras are specially designed so photographers can change the placement of the rear standard (where the film is loaded) and the front standard (where the lens is mounted). These movements allow for extraordinary creativity in composing a picture.

Most view cameras are capable of three basic movements -- forward/backward tilt, side-to-side swing and multi-directional shift.

Unadjusted view

Unadjusted View
The camera is set up on a tripod, with the camera's rail parallel to the ground. In this position, not all of the building fits in the frame. Tilting the entire camera up would make the entire building fit in the frame, but would also cause the building's parallel lines to converge. Instead of tilting, the photographer uses camera movements to reframe the image and control convergence and other factors.

Front rise view

Front Rise Shift
Shifting the front or rear standard up, down or sideways changes the lens' position in relation to the film, while still keeping lens and film parallel. Shift movements allow you to change the point of view of your photo and control framing and perspective.

A rising shift can be used when photographing a tall building, for example. Keeping the film plane parallel to the building prevents the vertical lines from converging while shifting the lens up allows you to capture the building's entirety.

Backward lens plane tilt view

Forward Lens Tilt
A forward lens tilt allows more of the foreground to appear within the plane of focus. Here, the tilt is combined with a front rise to include more of the building -- but the top is still cut off.

Forward lens plane tilt view

Backward Lens Tilt
To focus selectively, tilt the lens backward. Here, the tilt is combined with a front rise. The foreground and the first two stories of the building are out of focus, but the top is sharp.

Forward film plane tilt view

Forward Film Plane Tilt
A forward tilt can distort the subject's shape or size. Here, the tilt is combined with a front rise, but the top of the building is still cut off. The movement exaggerates the upper part of the image, making vertical lines appear to diverge.

Backward film plane tilt view

Backward Film Plane Tilt
A backward tilt can also distort the subject's shape and size. Here, the tilt is combined with a front rise. The movement exaggerates the convergence of the building's vertical lines.

Uncorrected swing view

Front Swing Uncorrected
Swinging (pivoting) the front or rear standard so that one side of the standard is closer to the subject can affect depth of field. In order to focus on a long object that runs diagonally through your shot, swinging the lens to be more parallel to the object will make more of the object appear in focus. Here, in an uncorrected view, only a small part of the titles on the book spines are in focus.

Corrected swing view

Front Swing Corrected
In the corrected version, the front standard is pivoted so that its right side is closer to the books than its left side. Depth of field has been improved so that the titles on the book spines are entirely in focus.

Camera Parts | Camera Movements

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