Micro Four Thirds – the ultimate compact tilt/shift digital?

Written by Gary on June 13th, 2009

The new Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system is quite unique in that the lens flange to sensor distance has been shortened considerably by removing the mirror.

Not only does this mean one will NEVER to need worry about doing mirror lock up to reduce camera vibrations, but it means a spacing adapter is needed to mount traditional 35mm format lenses.

NOW, requiring a spacing adapter means, that, in theory, it should not be hard for someone to engineer this adapter to be a tilt/shift adapter which could thus convert EVERY 35mm format lens ever made into an image stabilised tilt-shift lens when used in this manner, albeit with a 2x sensor crop factor, so a 21mm OM lens will in effect become a 42mm tilt-shift lens, and a 50mm macro lens becomes a 100mm macro tilt shift lens.

For image stabilisation, you would need an appropriate Olympus body of course.

And, you can take HD video using the Panasonic GH-1.

The smaller sensor is ideal here as it is much smaller than the image circle of a 35mm format lens, and thus when that lens is tilted or shifted, it will still cover the sensor area.

You could even potentially use such an adapter to tilt shift Four Thirds lenses such as the ZD 7-14mm lens, but their smaller image circle may limit this application.

See ideas for such an adapter here.

Some are considering taking this further and making adapters for view camera systems, but then it would not be compact, and a full frame dSLR might make more sense for such large cumbersome systems.

Until such an adapter is made, we still have a few tilt-shift options NOW:

  • traditional tilt-shift lenses made for 35mm SLRs via adapters already available:
    • Canon EOS TS-E 17mm, 24mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses via EOS-MFT adapter BUT these must be used wide open aperture as they do not have aperture rings – so great for emphasising subjects and blurring out distractions but not so good for maximising DOF
    • Nikon F tilt shift lenses via Nikon F to EOS or Nikon F to Four Thirds adapter – can control aperture as they have an aperture ring
    • Olympus OM 24mm and 35mm shift lenses via OM to Four thirds adapter – can control aperture but no tilt mechanism, only shift
  • lens baby soft focus lenses in either Canon EOS or Nikon F mounts via adapters as above, although this is not a true tilt-shift lens
  • the Zoerk system – tilt/swing or panoramic shift adapters to allow medium format (eg. Mamiya, Hasselblad, Pentax6x7) or preferably enlarger lenses (eg. 80mm f/4 APO Rodagon) to be mounted on various SLR adapters including Nikon F, Canon EF, Olympus OM, Mamiya 645, Hasselblad, Pentax 645, T2, etc so you could use these on Four Thirds or MFT bodies via the appropriate adapters, but the Zoerk system is not cheap! More info here.

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