After years of missing large format cameras with their swings and tilts, and of course their wonderful large film size that together produce incredible images, I think I have found something that will lessen my longing.
This tilt-shift lens combined with a high-pixel DSLR (like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II) enable a photographer to produce images that can rival the best from medium format cameras and even can under the right circumstances push image quality into 4 x 5 inch sheet film territory.
I got this lens, snapped it onto my camera and got excellent results right away. It helped to spend some time refreshing my memory about how to use tilts and shifts but aside from that, there was nothing mysterious about this lens other than the magical quality it possesses for producing sharp, colorful images that can be free of converging lines or offer incredible field of focus control.
Other's have described various technical qualities of this lens and most online reviews describe the several improvements this lens offers over it's predecessor.
The big ones are better control over chromatic abberation and the ability to independently control the axes of shift and tilt. Closer focus is also a bonus.
Opinion varies about sharpness in the corners but all agree this is perhaps one of the sharpest lenses in Canon's line-up. My example delivers sharp corners so perhaps my copy is better that some of the reviewers?
I had to choose between this lens and more traditional ones (I was looking at the 70-200mm) and decided that this lens offered me the things I could get with no other lens - a lens great for interiors, exteriors (architecture) and new landscape dimensions. I can get the zoom later! This lens is unique. I wasn't sure how much I would like it but now that I've had some seat time with it, I could never think of being without it.
Usual L quality - beefy, precise, and consistent behavior for all controls!
Not a bargain price but it's the old adage - you get what you pay for!
on March 3, 2010
If you are serious about landscape invest in this lens and you will not be sorry. Even if you don't care about the tilt and shift, get this lens because it is ridiculously sharp everywhere on the lens, the corners, sides, middle, etc. No CA, minimal flare, etc, etc. Everything you hear about this lens is true! Focusing on 5d2 via live mode and 10x zoom is a joy, just can't say enough good things. 24mm is the perfect focal length, no need for zoom. The build quaility is rock solid. This is the sharpest lens canon makes, at any focal length, so far.
on November 22, 2010
This is an amazing piece of engineering. You need patience to use it properly. It's great for landscapes, cityscapes and architecture, including interior shots. You can hand hold it but it will be easier to use of you have a monopod or tripod. It's a manual focus lens, so you need a Canon DSLR that has live view and the ability to magnify the image on the LCD screen I tend to turn on live view, magnify the image, focus the lens, and then turn off live view and frame the shot with the viewfinder, talking care not to move the focus ring.
You can (1) shift the whole lens up on its mount to accurately straighten the converging lines you get when pointing a wide angle lens up; (2) keep both the foreground and distance background in focus by tilting the font of the lens down or up slightly; (3) create a panorama on a full-frame DSLR equal to the width of a 15 mm lens by taking a shot with the lens shifted to the right on its mount, taking a second shot with the lens shifted to the left, and merging them in software; and (4) shift the lens left (or right) to get a photo of a reflective surface (like a mirror) that looks like it's taken head on, but is taken from the side, thereby avoiding having your own reflection in the frame.
The lens mount rotates so you can use both tilt or shift in landscape mode or portrait mode. You can combine shift and tilt, and you can rotate the lens to set both functions at various non-standard angles to adapt to all sorts of situations, like keeping converging lines straight when you're looking down or up at an odd angle. You can fix distortion and out-of-focus problems or get creative by introducing distortion and out-of-focus areas.
With all of this, the lens has excellent optical characteristics, as noted in other reviews and on dpreview.com. Its mechanical construction is excellent, although the locking mechanisms that keep the tilt and shift angles in place are not made for fast use by large fingers.
There's a learning curve, but you can shorten it by reading the manual that comes with the lens and by looking on line for tutorials and for tables that tell you how much to tilt the lens to keep the foreground in focus. (Only 1 to 1.5 degrees is enough when you're at eye level.) Patience will reward you with shots you can't get with any lens on a normal fixed mount.
on March 23, 2010
This is an important update on the TSE 24mm lens from Canon.
This new version is heavier, more versatile and definitely a step up optically.
Distortion is practically non-existent, which is a big plus for architectural photography: you don't have to correct the pictures with software like PTLens.
Chromatic aberration is almost inexistent, and sharpness is outstanding.
The tilt feature makes it possible to take a picture of a garden (or any planar scene) with the foreground and the background all in focus. The minimal focusing distance is 21cm. By the end of the first day I was proficient at using this feature.
The shift feature is used mainly for architectural shots. You'll get better results (edge sharpness and proportions) with such a lens than with perspective correction in software, and you will save time.
It's a manual focus lens that should be used with a tripod. Focusing when using the tilt feature requires a bit of practice to get it right, and is considerably helped by using Live View. For this reason you should use it on a 5D mark 2.
When used at the extreme shift position the top of the image is soft wide open but becomes acceptable at f/11. On this count it does better than the Nikon 28mm pc lens I was using before (which is an older design).
One problem with this lens is that it is very obviously a "professional lens", so I would not go walking around in a poor country with this lens. It's also very heavy so that would get tiring.
One wonders if it could not be improved further with autofocus, but that would require redesigning the camera as well, as well as adding a motor to operate the shift, which is a non obvious proposition.
Please take your time to get familiar with the locking switches on this lens before you go around in the field as you might accidentally try to unmount the lens from your camera when trying to change the axis of shift.
Not a lot to say here. This lens is not a zoom, not fast and it has a very large image circle. So there's every reason to expect it will perform and boy, does it ever. It's true that shifting, especially if you shift all the way, lowers the image quality. But this lens is so sharp and has so little chromatic aberration there seems to be resolution to spare. Image circle, freedom from CA, vignetting, and ergonomics are all superior to the Nikon 24PC (and that lens is no slouch, either.)
Good as the 24TS is, I would recommend stopping it down, even when you're not shifting. I know the test reports always say "Its fabulous wide open so stopping down just invites diffraction." This is certainly true in theory and probably in a test environment, but I find it's best at f/8 - f/11, even unshifted.
Liked the 24TS so much I bought the 17TS also. While the 24TS lacks the coolness factor of the 17, the 24 is, in my opinion a much more useful focal length. (It's also a tiny bit sharper but they are both first class.)
on September 5, 2011
Best lens I own...I shoot architecture and this is the king. Crazy sharp (as has been said many times here) and compared to the 17mm this thing is easy to focus. I own over a dozen L series lenses, all of which were purchased with a view towards their application in shooting buildings. This is the stalwart of the group; the one I'd never leave home without and the one that is used most frequently on every shoot. I'll also note that this thing has taken a beating...I use it all the time..it's been bumped and banged about a fair bit and still performs perfectly. Amazing piece of glass! I really can't recommend this lens highly enough especially for folks considering shooting architecture / real estate on a professional basis. Beyond the strict formalism of conventional architectural photography I should also note that this lens is great fun to play with in more creative applications. With a little shift and some tilt to throw focus you can make some highly compelling stills and doubly compelling video..fun times. If I had to pick 1 lens for work and fun this would be it.
on November 23, 2010
I have never used this kind of lens before.
After exploring the user manual and going through a lot of discussion regarding how to use it, I was finally able to enjoy the magical effect of it.
The resolving power of this lens is top notch. Much better corner quality compared to the 24L II I owned on my 5d mark II.
The really cool thing about this lens is that you can create quite some personalized photos.
I am still in the learning phase and this is the lens that creates magic.
The only thing is that it is really expensive.
on August 8, 2011
I own most of Canon's best lens, However, the tilt shift lens is the sharpest, has excellent color reproduction, and enables incredible depth of field adjustments as well as perspective corrections It is the best lens in my collection and seems to be staying on the camera most days. It is excellent for architectural and landscape photography and I highly recommend it. Yes, it is expensive, but worth every penny.
on July 27, 2013
I rent this lens on an assignment before and it blew me over with its vertical correctness and Overall sharpness. I decided to trade in my 16-35mm version I and added almost $1000 to get an used copy of this lens at Adorama. Having own it for 2 weeks and used it 2 times so far, my impression is this lens does force you to learn all basic photography skills. This is my sequence for using this lens each time:
1. Choose the shot carefully because it will take a lot of time to get it right.
2. Make sure all tilt and shift settings are at neutral (0).
3. Adjust all vertical and horizontal alignments by using the tripod's adjustment handles. I also use the Live View in my 5D mark II and it helps me tremendously.
4. Raise the shift to get the vertical height if needed. I have not used the tilt control much.
5. F stop - depth of field: this is the most important thing. Since this lens is 100% manual control, if the Live view does not show the correct focus, adjust the F stop until the focus is right. My experience for shooting city landscape is from 8, 11, and even up to 22.
6. Manual focus: I also use the 5x to 10x zoom in Live view of my 5d mark II (zoom button on upper right corner) combine with turning the focus ring on the lens to get the absolutely exact focus that I want.
7. Take the shot: I use the shutter release cable. If you do not have it, use the use the camera's timer or remote control.
8. Very heavy gear: this lens, combine with my 5d mark II and a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod weight almost 6 lbs. It does not sound that much but if you plan to walk around town with this lens, use a bag with wheel. I am currently use a Kata bag with a insert dolly wheel. I plan to get the ThinkTank bag ($348 currently on amazon) may be next year if I can afford it...
1. Like all other previous review noted, this lens does deliver excellent sharpness through out entire photo.
2. Filter: it uses 82 mm filter so if you own many Canon lens with 77 mm filer ring like me, prepare to fork over $150 to $200 for each new 82 mm for this lens. I only ordered a circular polarizing so far. Will plan to may be add a ND filter later...
Anyway, this is it for now. Will post more update when I continue learning to use this lens. So far, it has taught me a lot by forcing me to go back to apply basic photographic skills in order to get good shots...
on November 6, 2012
I bought my lens copy used in mint condition as upgrade from my 24/3.5 vers. I T/S lens. Optically it is a visible improvement - shifting the lens fully up or down does not lead to any cumbersome vignetting in the corners as the old lens version did. The lens overall is very sharp and provides an excellent image quality.
I also like that tilt and shift functions can now be rotated against each other easily in any angle.
Compared to my old version of this lens, I only see a few drawbacks which I want to mention here. Optically it does not make a difference, but the built style of the old T/S version was a metal housing while this new version uses plastic. This is especially visible when using the interlock buttons which are now tiny plastic locks (formerly metal). As mentioned in other reviews below, the new version now uses a 82 mm filter thread. This might have been needed to create a larger image circle of the lens to shift it better and to remove vignetting issues, but it forces you to get a new polarizer and/or ND filter if needed. In comparison with the older 24 mm T/S lens, you need now to keep a close eye on the scale of the tilt/shift positions. My old lens "jumped" easier back into the zero position while the new lens doesn't do this and might easily still be one mm off center if you are not careful. But you get used to the new system easily to center back correctly.
In my opinion it is the best 24 mm lens which Canon has available in regard to sharpness and for the tilt/shift performance image-quality wise.