Fig. E: Cardboard backing ring.
Fig. F: Finished assembly.
This hack works surprisingly well. The image
quality of the Zeiss is awesome, and I didn’t
get any optical interference between it and my
Nikon DSLR’s CCD chip. But there are a number
of things to keep in mind while shooting. First,
automatic exposure modes will not work with
this lens, so you have to shoot manually. The
apertures will still work, but in general you want
to shoot with the lens wide open, or it will be far
too dark to focus.
Needless to say, auto-focus also won’t work.
With this lens, you focus (or selectively un-focus)
by squeezing the lens and plunger down, bending
it, and twirling it around to get the cool effects
you want. To give a “miniature” effect to a cityscape, tilt the lens forward or backward so that
the only things in focus are in the middle ground,
in mid-frame horizontally. The blurred foreground
and background simulate the look produced
by a macro lens taking a close-up of something
small (Figure G).
If you want to use a lens like this in low light
conditions, where you’ll need to hold the lens in
one position for a long time, you might augment
this design with an adjustable mechanical frame
146 Make: Volume 09
Fig. G: Bendable lens makes Prague look miniature.
that controls the lens’ range of motion. If you
build a tilt-shift lens with a frame, a photographic
bellows will be more flexible than a plunger.
A note to digital camera users: dust is a common problem with most digital cameras. Projects
such as this one can exacerbate the situation.
Before using this lens, be sure to clean it out with
some strong puffs of air, to get rid of any loose
dust particles that might be inside.
Dennison Bertram is a fashion and beauty photographer
who lives in the Czech Republic.