Tilt Shift: We tested the OnePlus 9 Pro's new photo mode
Professional photographers have been familiar with Tilt Shift for a long time. Initially, it involved special lenses that could be used to straighten building contours in architectural photography. But it quickly became clear that there was also great creative potential in Tilt Shift photography: With the right subject and a viewing angle from above, sceneries suddenly look like miniature worlds due to the visual characteristics of our eyes.
Especially in recent years, Tilt Shift photography has experienced a boom because the effects can now be emulated even more precisely with image-editing software.
Smartphone manufacturer OnePlus now wants to offer its users the possibility to capture Tilt Shift effects directly with their smartphone. There's a special mode for this in the OnePlus 9 Pro and OnePlus 9, and we decided to give it a try.
In contrast to the rather complicated lens technology in SLR or system cameras, Tilt Shift photography works with a relatively simple filter on a smartphone: The top and bottom areas of the picture are simply put out of focus, while the middle remains sharp. The intensity of the blur can be adjusted relatively smoothly, and the camera's color filters can be combined with the effect, so that you can take Tilt Shift photos in black and white, for example.
It's actually quite difficult to find a suitable subject, especially since large gatherings of people aren't possible at the time of testing due to the Corona pandemic, but these work particularly well for Tilt Shift shots.
The classic Tilt Shift picture is taken from an elevated point of view, and you can actually achieve quite passable effects here if you zoom in before the photo is taken. The effect is lost much faster in panorama shots.
However, photos of objects often look more interesting even without the miniature effect, and individual parts of the image can also be highlighted well with the help of the blur effect. The blurring is actually even stronger than in Portrait Mode, where everything on that's on the same level as the main subject is brought into focus. With Tilt Shift mode, you can guide the viewer's attention even further.
However, the technique is of little use for close-ups, especially if there are areas in the lower or upper part of the image that are relatively of the same color; the blur effect is lost in these cases. A little help is provided here by setting the effect to a very strong intensity.
It takes some practice to achieve good results with Tilt Shift mode. This could lead to frustration for amateur photographers at first, but if you enjoy experimenting, Tilt Shift gives you another way to let off some creative steam. The adjustment options are more limited than with digital post-processing, but with the right subject, it can produce some pretty nice effects.
Here are a few tips if you want to try Tilt Shift mode for yourself:
- Make sure that the upper and lower sections of the image don't contain too many areas of the same color, such as in the case of the sky, since the blur effect isn't noticeable enough to the eye there.
- A top-down viewing angle emphasizes the model nature of the scene, because our brains are used to looking at models from this perspective.
- The subject should be relatively far away, and you should zoom in to take the shot.
- Large crowds of people look especially good when a large part of them disappears in the blur.