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Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt Shift Lens Review
written by Nori

Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt Shift Lens

Introduction

Field Test

The Tilt Efffect

Examples Of Tilt Effect

Shifting for Panoramas

 

Introduction

Reason Of Purchase I do a lot of flower photography and most of the times I need more control over DOF than what a normal lens can give. The TS-E was an obvious choice since it lets me control my plane of focus and lets me maximize my DOF and still keep the background out of focus.

First Impressions The lens felt solid in my hand and very well contructed. The knobs are a bit small at first but I got accustomed to it on the first day of use.

Field Test

Here is a picture taken with this lens with maximum tilt @f 8, 1/60 sec, ISO 200, Flash (550ex) with Mini Soft Box.

With the lens tilted forward you can see that I can get most of the flower in sharp focus even at f8. With a normal lens even at f/16 it is not possible to get the entire flower in complete focus.

The lens is very sharp and the tilt and shift are very easy to get used to.

I will definitely be adding more to this section as time goes by. I love this lens and would be using it a lot in the field. It is very small compared to my 180mm F3.5 macro lens (which never made it to any long trip as I like to travel light) and will definitely be in my bag on long trips.

Product Homepage Canon Web Site

Field Test

I have been shooting with this lens for over a couple of months now and find this lens on my camera most of the time. It has a minimum focusing distance which is enough to let you get close to the flowers. I dont need any extender or tubes most of the time.

One of the main aspects I have noticed from this lens is that the things out of focus has a special blur effect which I can only describe as "Dreamy". The out of focus things are not just out of focus it has a nice smooth dreamy feel to it.

1. To illustrate what I am talking about, here is a shot I had taken recently.

TS-E 90mm, 1/90 sec, f4.0, ISO 100. No Tilt, Shifted 2 to the right for composition.

 

2. Here is another, shot on a lovely overcast New England Day

TS-E 90mm + 2X Extender, 1/30 sec, f5.6, ISO 200, No Tilt, Shifted for Composition. The lens is very sharp even with the 2X Extender.

 

3. Here is another one shot just before a thunder storm, shot at New England Wild flower preserve, Mass.

TS-E 90mm, 1/90 Sec, f5.6, ISO 200, Flash -1/3 EV with Mini Soft Box, handheld, No Tilt, No Shift

 

The Tilt Effect

Here is a test of what the tilt effect can achieve. All shots were taken at f/2.8, with the camera mounted on a tripod. You can see from the examples that as the lens is tilted more towards the plane of required focus, more of the subject comes into focus. The depth of field remains the same for all the shots only that we have more control with the tilt shift lens to place the plane of focus as desired to achive the results

Note: Each time you tilt the lens, everything goes off focus and you have to refocus. I set the focus point on all shots to the exact same position on the spoon.

1. Shot with no tilt.
 
2. Shot with 2 degrees Tilt
 
3. Shot with 4 degress tilt
 
4. Shot with 6 degrees tilt
 
5. Shot with 8 degress Tilt (Max Tilt available on the TS-E 90)

Examples of Tilt Effect

Below are examples of using the tilt effect in the field. In the first example I tried to increase the perceived depth of field by tilting the lens forward to align the plane of focus of the lens with the flowers. In the second example I tilted the lens upwards to reduce the depth of field.

F2.8, 1/640 sec

Here is an example of using the tilt effect in the field. I shot this one wide open to get the nice smooth background but still could tilt the plane of focus to get all the flowers in focus.

 

F2.8, 1/500 sec

Here is an example of using the tilt effect to reduce the depth of field.. I tilted the lens upwards to get only a part of the flower in focus.

 

Shifting for Panoramas

I have been shooting with this lens for over an year now and have been throughly enjoying using this lens. On my visit to Yellowstone and the Tetons last fall I tried out some panoramas with this lens for compressed landscapes. Below is an example of an image created using three frames stitched together in PS. I composed the picture by shifting the lens left and right to make sure I was including all the interesting elements. Once I set up the composition all I had to do was to take three pictures by just shifting the lens left, right and with no shift. Once I bring the three pictures into PS, I create a blank image with twice the width of my image because that is the size of my resulting picture. I use the center frame as the top most layer and use the left and right shifted frames as layers below the middle frame. Some exposure compensation is needed for the shifted images, I use levels to increase the gamma value for the shifted image until they seemlessly blend into the center frame. Flatten the image and you are done.

 

Image stitched in PS from 3 frames #1 shifted left, #2 no shift and #3 shifted right. The resulting image is 6144 pixels wide which is twice the frame width on a D60.

 

Extra frames in Horizontal Shifting

Since most of us like to think in terms of a full frame camera, what does shifting and stitching mean in terms of a full frame camera. Let us first talk about the horizontal format of stitching to create a panorama. In the figure on the left (below) I have overlayed the frame captured by the D60 over the frame as would be captured by a 1Ds. By shifting the lens 11mm to the left(the max shift on canon's TS-E lenses) we capture the extra frame as shown in light blue in the figure to the right (below). By shifting the lens 11mm to the right again we capture the extra frame as shown in light blue in the figure to the right (below). By putting the images together in photoshop we end up with a frame significantly wider than the one captured by a full frame camera. So how much extra frame do we get by stitching the 3 frames together? On a D60 it is 22mm divided by the sensor size which is 22.5mm, so we almost get a full extra frame by stitching the 3 images together. On a 1Ds it would mean 22mm/36mm which is almost two thirds of a frame.

 

The frames capture by the D60 vs the 1Ds  The extra frames captured is shown in light blue. 

 

Extra frames in Vertical Shifting

Let us now compare the vertical frames captured using this method to a horizontal image captured by a full frame camera. Again in the figure on the left (below) I have overlayed the vertical frame captured by the D60 over the horizontal frame as would be captured by a 1Ds. By shifting the lens 11mm to the left(the max shift on canon's TS-E lenses) we capture the extra frame as shown in light blue in the figure to the below. By shifting the lens 11mm to the right again we capture the extra frame as shown in light blue in the figure to the right (below). By putting the images together in photoshop we end up with a frame almost equal to the one captured by a full frame camera. So you can use a 24mm TS-E lens on a D60, capture 3 images in Vertical format and put them together in photoshop and end up with almost the same field of view as using the 24mm TS-E on a full frame 12MP camera. Pretty cool isn't it.

 

The frames capture by the D60 vs the 1Ds  The extra frames captured is shown in light blue. 

I have put in writing all the things that have worked for me.

Thanks for taking the time to read the article, hope it is of some help.

Regards,
Ravi Shankar Nori
http:/www.noriravi.com

To read the "The way I shoot my flowers" article by Ravi, click here.

 

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