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Watch photo shoot: advantages of using tilt-shift camera adapter

I continue to use my tilt-shift adapter for DSLR, and now I explore the limits of the system.  Below is the watch, at a very narrow angle, shoot by using  Rodenstock Rodagon APO 80mm F4 lens at aperture setto F16.

Watch photography using tilt-shift DSLR

The lighting schema is simple: two narrow soft boxes on top, each highlighted top and the bottom part of the watch.  There should not be direct reflection form  a watch’s glass, as it immediately become dull and low contrast.

Front lest was tilted to about 25-30 degrees, the maximum I can get without   lens projection circle going out from a sensor.

Lighting schema watch photography: using tilt-shift adapter fro DSLR
Lighting schema watch photography: using tilt-shift adapter fro DSLR

The focus plane was tilted accordingly (see the schema), produced image was exceptionally sharp across a whole watch’s dial. Something which you can’t never get without tilt-shift adapter or  focus bracketing.

There are few trade-offs from such setup:

  • Little increase of chromatic aberration and diffraction, increasing with the tilt angle.
  • Manual operations focusing  (aperture is manual as well)  only available, done by moving the lens plate on and off from a camera. Which require precise gearing on the large format camera. (Cambo Master PC I use, is really good, very precise movements).
  • Weight. The whole thing weights a lot, heavy weight head and tripod is a must.

Overall the system works very well for me, despite I never used Large Format cameras before.

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11 responses on "Watch photo shoot: advantages of using tilt-shift camera adapter"

  1. Алексей, спасибо огромное за Ваши уроки. Особенно с водой – очень помогли понять процесс!!!


  2. Hi
    Do you find that you need to compensate for the drop in aperture caused by the distance of the lens to the focus plane and the tilt/shift/swing?

    I believe it used to be called Bellows Extension Factor.


  3. Dear Mr. Alex,

    WOW! I am amazed by the quality of your photography. Your tips and tutorial are very informative and very easy for beginners like me to understand.
    Thanks a lot.


  4. Thanks a lot for the tips

  5. Dear Alex
    can you please advise which kind of light is best for watch photography flash or continuous (through soft box )

    • Salman,
      I use only flash (strobe) lighting in 99% cases. I do not have continuous light, except a flashlight, use them for light brush technique. Sorry, can’t recommend any continuous lights, but if I would need one, I’ll look at LED type of light kits: no heat issues, constant color temp. They less powerful then halogen, but for watch/jewelry you do not need fast shutter speed and powerful light. I know for jewelry this type of kits are really good: MK Digital Direct Ultra Bright LED , I will buy this or similar soon.

      I use strobes because I shoot liquids and other moving object, so only strobe will work for me.
      I would say if you are going only for watch/jewelry: get LED, if any type of studio work, get strobes.

      Hope this will help.

  6. Are there advantages using a tilt-shift adapter as opposed to faking a tilt-shift photograph? Here is an example of my fake tilt-shift: my image on a flickr

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