Electrically-coupled tilt-shift adapter for Four Thirds lenses onto Micro Four Thirds cameras – now I’m getting really excited!

Written by Gary on March 12th, 2010

Anyone who follows my blogs will know that I am in love with the Micro Four Thirds camera system and I also love using tilt shift lenses – I own some very expensive Canon professional tilt shift lenses such as 17mm, 45mm and 90mm TS-E lenses.

Unfortunately, these tilt shift lenses are cumbersome to use on Canon dSLRs as you MUST use live view manual focus assist to ensure accurate manual focus, and doing this necessitates activating the clunky dSLR live view function which requires moving the mirror up then dropping it down prior to taking the photo.

I can use these tilt shift lenses on my Micro Four Thirds cameras and get MUCH easier manual focus control but the 2x crop factor effectively converts these into 34mm, 90mm and 180mm tilt shift lenses (although I can go a touch wider using 16:9 on the GH-1) – which can be very handy to compliment my Canon 1D MIII which effectively uses these at 1.3x crop giving 22mm, 59mm and 117mm tilt shift lenses.

See some of my demo photos using the Canon TS-E 90mm on my GH-1 here – it is awesome for close up work!

You can also get tilt or shift adapters which enable this function for a wide range of legacy 35mm lenses, but the 2x crop limits how wide you can go – perhaps the widest rectilinear  lens for 35mm cameras is 14mm and this then becomes a 28mm tilt shift lens – very nice but still limiting.

Now, a Japanese company, Hino (see translated page), has come to the rescue and will be releasing this year, a tilt-shift adapter for Micro Four Thirds which will give us incredible power – it will be electrically coupled and thus allow any Four Thirds lens to be used with full aperture control, EXIF data and if AF-compatible, you even get contrast-detect AF – imagine how cool that would be with the new touch screen Panasonic cameras such as the G2 – you could put an Olympus ZD 9-18mm lens on it and zoom out to 9mm giving an 18mm tilt-shift capability, then touch the the LCD at the subject area you want in focus and voila – fast touch screen tilt shift AF not previously possible on ANY system let alone at 18mm angle of view!! The main issue with such an adapter is that the small image circle of Four Thirds lenses will limit how much one can tilt or shift, but at least you should get enough that it will be very handy! The other limitation is they appear not to recommend using lenses heavier than 500g so that will exclude the Olympus ZD 7-14mm lens unfortunately – unless used with care.

If this is not enough, it is likely that Olympus will be producing a totally different type of adapter – an adapter for Olympus OM lenses which will enable them to be used at their native field of view on a Micro Four Thirds camera via a 0.5x wide converter, which will mean the light gathering power will be improved by 2 stops, but that is not all – the adapter will give all these lenses auto focus capability!

If you want dreamy shots, then the new Nokton 50mm f/0.95 Micro Four Thirds lens at $US750 may take your fancy!

If you want to try 3D images – check out Loreo 3D lens for Micro Four Thirds.

So hopefully you will be able to see now how I visualised the potential for this Micro Four Thirds system when it was introduced, and why I was an early adopter – the system is designed for fun, creativity and to be the camera you will bring with you – the best camera that you can have is the one you are willing to take!

And this is only just the start – just wait until they really get going with some technological advances – it will leave the mirror-based dSLR systems for dead within 5-10 years – and these dinosaur dSLRs will have advantages in a few niche areas only.


9 Comments so far ↓

  1. Gary, this is MOST interesting! I have a view camera background, so am also in love with tilt/shift lenses! To be able to use one on the new Panny G2 should be awesome, and may be what swings me to that system over the new Canon T2i. Thank you once again,

  2. admin says:

    The ability to use tilt shift with this adapter will make it much easier and cheaper than what I currently do on my Canon – unfortunately, I have spent a LOT of money on tilt shift lenses.

  3. plevyadophy says:

    Just seen this. A tilt AND shift lens with dedicated mFT mount.

    What you think? (Is it good value? Is it better to buy an adaptor? Likely image quality? etc etc)

    Here it is: http://cgi.ebay.com/MC-2-8-35mm-TILT-SHIFT-lens-Olympus-MICRO-4-3-rd-camera_W0QQitemZ170469206702QQcmdZViewItemQQptZCamera_Lenses?hash=item27b0c1aaae#ht_2162wt_939


    This new electronically coupled T & S adaptor seems to me to present a problem, namely the image circle. Will this thing really be of any use if it relies on standard Four Thirds lens whose image circle isn’t that large in comparison to the sensor size when discussing lens movements?

  4. admin says:

    I share your concerns regarding the image circle of the Four Thirds lenses but presumably it is large enough for this to work otherwise they would not bother making this adapter.

    As for the new Kiev lens:

    It is great to see third party manufacturers making lenses for Micro Four Thirds, but this 35mm f/2.8 tilt shift lens made in Kiev and selling for $US589 and weighing 900g seems a bit big, heavy and expensive now that tilt and shift adapters are becoming available.

    With these adapters, you could pick up a 21mm, 24mm, 35mm and 50mm OM lens and use them all on a tilt adapter as tilt lenses and they would work out much lighter and cheaper.

  5. plevyadophy says:

    Dear Admin,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I hadn’t noticed the weight of this Kiev lens, which is extremely heavy, much heavier than the Panasonic Leica 14-150 which I sold. Could the weight be due to lens barrel materials used?

    The other thing that I am finding curious is why aren’t there any T & S adaptors for legacy glass yet (we have tilt, and we have shift, but not both in one adaptor)? Could there be some technical difficulty?

    As for electronically coupled T & S adaptors for use on standard Four Thirds lenses, I have serious doubts as to how useful it’s gonna be. I suspect that you will get very little tilt and very little shift as the lens image circle isn’t that much greater than the sensor circle. I suspect that it is do-able in a fashion but rather limited and is being done simply because it can be, not because it has much utility.

    In any event, like you I too am enthused by the fact that many more manufacturers are making products with the mFT format in mind.


  6. admin says:

    It may be that the Kiev lens is actually a medium format lens adapted for tilt shift on 35mm full frame cameras and they decided to make an adapter for Micro Four Thirds – that would explain its weight.

    I think we will see tilt and shift adapters for legacy lenses come soon but the adapters thus far announced are just first steps in development.

  7. gilesw says:

    I’ve been searching high and low to find out if this ever eventuated. I have been thinking about buying a tilt AND shift lens for my Canon. The idea of a tilt AND shift adapter on mFT is very attractive, but I can only seem to find tilt OR shift adapters. This seems to be no more than a concept now.

  8. admin says:

    Hi Giles, I believe he is still perfecting it before he starts marketing it.
    The website in Japanese still does not give availability other than “2010” sometime.

    We will just have to be patient.

  9. gilesw says:

    Wow – that was a fast reply! I’m really interested in the mFT sector, even though I’m not yet an owner of one. I’m looking to make the switch. Thanks for the excellent mFT and general info on the blog. I’ll wait with bated breath for this adapter.