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Review: Canon 24mm TS-E F3.5L II

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Last week, we reviewed Canon’s 90mm TS-E lens – one of two lenses we rented from LensRentals.com for our recent trip to Iceland. We’ve been considering purchasing a tilt-shift lens, and wanted to try these our before making a final decision. Renting a lens is the perfect solution, and Lens Rentals does a great job for us, every time.

We posted a video in our earlier blog post that gives a breif overview of how a TS-E lens works. You can view the video at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HRYlJUwzYA

Once again in this review we will focus on creative aspects of using TS-E lenses, rather than focusing on technical reviews.

Canon’s 24mm TS-E is a second generation lens. Besides improvement in sharpness, Canon adapted the lens to allow the tilt and shift axis to rotate independently of one another. This allows for an extra degree of creative controls that was missing in the first generation lens… and we love it! Unlike Canon’s 17mm TS-E lens (which has a bulbous front element), this lens can easily accommodate 82mm filters. On the downside, this lens is heavy and requires manual focusing. The lens hood is of limited use because this is a wide-angle lens… but it does come in handy at times. The lens is incredibly sharp, and the build is excellent. There is some reduced sharpness at the edges when the lens is fully shifted.

One of the biggest advaintage of a T/S lens is its ability to control the DOF beyond what a traditional lens can handle. While the exact procedure requires some experimentation, a T/S lens can allow a photographer to get very close to the subject and maintain a sharp focus throughout the image. In this example, I used the tilt functionality to get the foreground sharply in focus, and used the shift axis to compose my shot so that the foreground leaves were only inches away from my lens.

Another creative way to use a T/S lens is to build panoramas by moving the lens along its shift axis between exposures. Here is an example of a panorama captured with Canon’s 24mm TS-E lens. I took three separate shots – one at center, a second shifted all the way to the left, and a third shifted all the way to the right. I blended the three shots in Photoshop.

Canon’s 24mm TS-E F3.5L II lens offers an incredible opportunity to get creative. This is another expensive lens – and it’s different from what you are used to – so unless you are really sure you want it, take the time to try it out before you buy one.

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