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Tilt and Shift Lenses - Canon Announces Two New Ones

Published: 23/02/2009
By: larry

Last week Canon announced two new magnificent looking tilt and shift lenses. The the TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II and the TS-E 17mm f/4L. Nikon calls these kind of lenses "perspective correction" lenses. What ever you call them, these lenses are designed for architectural photography because they do two things that architectural photographers want to do:

  1. Keep verticals, vertical by shifting the lens parallel to the sensor plane.
  2. Selectively  keep objects in or out of focus by tilting the lens so it is not parallel to the sensor plane. I know, not all architectural photographers want to do this. It's not so much a architectural technique as a landscape or portrait technique.
  3. Canon's two new TS-E lenses feature a rotate adjustment which gives added flexibility to alter the relationship of the optical axis of the lens in relation to the sensor (or film) plane.

There's a article over at that gives more in-depth description of tilt-shift-rotate lens features and use, along with a gallery of photos shot with the older version of the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L.

For those of you that are not PFRE flickr group regulars there are several interesting discussion threads relating to tilt-shift and perspective control lenses in the PFRE flickr discussion group. One particular link that David Palermo suggests is a good article on tilt-shift lenses.

For some, I'm sure the question that will come to mind is, " why pay $2200 USD for a lens when I can create the same effects in Photoshop?". This is a valid question. You can do very respectable interior and architectural photography without a tilt-shift lens. However, the ease with which you can straighten verticals and create selective focus effects in the camera is significant. It depends on your shooting philosophy and style. Some photographers would pose the question in reverse, "why spend time in post processing when I can create the image in the camera?" There's no right way, just different approaches to creating images.

It's important to understand that a lens like the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II is a close to the perfect lens for interior and architectural photography even if it didn't have the tilt-shift features. The "L" in a Canon lens description means a lens is the highest possible build and optical quality. Most Canon L lenses are over $2000 USD. Also, to me, 24mm (on a full frame sensor camera) is the perfect interior focal length. I worked for many years with a 24mm lens on my film camera and was pleased with the results.

4 comments on “Tilt and Shift Lenses - Canon Announces Two New Ones”

  1. I would love to own a tilt-shift lens
    because I am the type like to do as much as I can in-camera
    but not sure my eyes are good enough to do manual focus

  2. The topic of "in-camera" vs. "post-processing" is such an interesting one -- it seems like it applies in so many different realms (i.e. strobes vs. HDR). Surely there are different approaches that might be more "right" for different scenarios, but mostly it seems like personal preference (and available equipment) is really the strongest factor.

    Thanks for reminding us of the factors at play though -- it's too easy just to brush something off because it seems too expensive (when ultimately it could be an investment that saves you time and money).

    That's one of the things I love about photography -- rarely is there one "right" way to do something.

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