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Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C
  
 
rdeloe
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


I’ve been experimenting with tilt-shift on APS-C sensors, and have built a compact and very flexible tilt-shift kit around my Fuji X-T2 and Olympus OM lenses. Evolving notes on the results are here: http://www.robdeloephotography.com/Pages/Tiltshift-on-APSC

I like the “normal” focal lengths on my cameras (which is what 35mm is on APS-C). However, this focal length currently is a gap in my Olympus lineup. The OM 35mm lenses don’t get much enthusiasm on the Internet (although I’ve heard recently that the 35/2.8 late MC version is actually quite good). I wanted to fill this gap with something that could tilt and shift. The lens I’m using is the old Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 SSC TS lens. This posting is a rolling summary and review of my experiences using this lens on a Fuji X-T2. I expect you can get the same results on Sony NEX cameras.

Side note: The best explanation with diagrams I’ve been able to find of how lens tilting works is at this link: https://www.waldonell.com/photos/photography-articles/focusing-normal-and-tilt-swing-lenses

You can find a few old threads about this lens on FredMiranda. It attracted a small following around 2010-12 because it was a good, inexpensive option on full frame. However, it looks like most people who started with one of these have since moved on to the Canon 24mm Mark II TS lens. Basic specs for the FD 35/2.8 TS from the Canon manual are below.

Optically, I think the FD 35/2.8 TS is an excellent lens, even in comparison to modern lenses, and certainly for what it costs. In a head-to-head comparison with my Fuji 35mm f/2 XF lens (charts and real world), the Canon does well. The XF 35/2.8 is unquestionably a better lens… but it doesn’t shift or tilt! Canon’s “Super Spectral Coating” (SSC) was (and remains) very good, likely not as good as the best modern coatings, but more than good enough for my purposes. Distortion is well controlled on the FD 35/2.8 TS (although I think it has a bit of field curvature). Purple fringing is moderate and easy to clean up in Lightroom. There’s also a bit of a purplish cast, but it also adjusts easily.

The FD 35/2.8 TS and my Olympus OM lenses have a similar character (lower contrast, somewhat muted colours, evenly sharp across the frame rather than bitingly sharp central areas and softer edges and corners). These qualities are ideal for shifting on APS-C (you need good edges and corners). Also, I shoot for black and white (exclusively) so the RAW files these lenses produce on my X-T2 suit me.

The tilt-shift design in the FD 35/2.8 TS is easy to use, and more flexible than the one in my Kipon Tilt-Shift adapter (or my former Mirex adapter). The Kipon and the Mirex adapters have tilt orthogonal to shift, meaning you can tilt down or up and shift (left and right), or you can swing left or right and rise/fall (shift up or down). What you can’t do with a single Kipon or Mirex adapter is tilt and rise or fall (a common movement in landscape photography). The FD 35/2.8 TS is set up in this orthogonal orientation by default, but the base can be unscrewed and reoriented easily if you prefer tilt and shift going in the same direction (remove four screws, and there are no electronics so no cables to worry about). Better still, on a mirrorless camera body like the Fuji X series or Sony NEX, you need an adapter anyway, so you can use a shift adapter instead of a straight adapter. I have a Fotodiox Canon FD to Fuji X adapter on order. I’ve used their Canon EF to Fuji shift adapters before; they’re well-built and work very smoothly. Using a shift adapter and this lens, you can have tilt/swing combined with rise/fall/shift.
















Edited on Aug 17, 2017 at 09:41 PM · View previous versions



Aug 13, 2017 at 01:45 AM
rdeloe
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


What can you do with this lens on an APS-C camera that is actually useful? If you were looking for a wide angle tilt/shift solution, then this obviously isn’t for you because a 35mm focal length on an APS-C sensor has the same angle of view as a 53mm lens on full frame. And the FD 35/2.8 TS lens is a “long” 35mm; it’s probably closer to 36mm or 37mm. This isn’t a problem for me because I really like the “normal” and short telephoto focal lengths. Plus, in the Fuji ecosystem there are lots of excellent wide angle options that are wider than my OM 24/2.8. I have the XF 14/2.8, and it’s a phenomenally good lens -- so I’m not pining for an ultra-wide tilt/shift.

The FD 35/2.8 TS has a usable image circle of 54.8mm, which allows a lot of shift on an APS-C camera with a sensor the size of the one in Fuji X and Sony NEX cameras. The most you can shift the lens on its own is officially 11mm, but closer to 11.5mm. To show the shift capabilities of this lens, I visited a local hydro tower.






Hydro tower used in comparison shots




Aug 13, 2017 at 01:45 AM
rdeloe
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


These two 100% comparison sequences start with the Fuji XF 35/2.8 at f/8. The following shots are with the FD 35/2.8 TS at f/8, shifted 0mm, 2mm, 4mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, and 11(.5)mm. All shots are at the same position because with each shift I adjusted the lens down so that the top of the tower was in the same position in the frame. Post processing included my usual import sharpening; auto tone to brighten them up (it was evening); a bit of purple fringe removal, tint and white balance adjustment in the FD 35/2.8 TS shots.

Two things jump out at me:
(1) The XF 35/2.8 at f/8 is sharper than the FD 35/2.8 TS at f/8. Keep in mind for the XF 35/2.8, it’s actually much sharper at f/4 than f/8!
(2) The FD 35/2.8 TS is a fine lens considering its vintage. More importantly, there’s not much difference between 0mm rise and 11.5mm rise – which is a phenomenal performance. Keep in mind that the maximum shift of the much better Canon 24mm TS Mark II is 12mm on full frame; and on APS-C, 11.5mm is equivalent to a 17.25mm shift on full frame.






Shift Test 1







Shift Test 2




Aug 13, 2017 at 01:46 AM
rdeloe
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


But wait, there’s more! The ability to shift cleanly to 10mm opens up some interesting possibilities. Shift lenses are an easy way to create panoramas. The technique is called “flat stitching”. With this lens and a Fuji X or Sony NEX camera you can quickly and easily create a 54MP file with finished dimensions of around 6000 x 9000 pixels and a field of view equivalent to what a 24mm lens would see. (Don’t get too excited though: all you get is the field of view; you don’t magically get the properties of a 24mm lens!)
* To make a 54MP portrait-orientation final image, set up the camera in landscape orientation on the tripod, shoot the centre image, shift down (fall) 10mm to shoot the bottom image, and then rise 10mm to shoot the top image.
* To create a 54MP landscape-orientation final image, put the camera in portrait orientation, shoot the centre image, shift left 10mm to shoot left of centre, and then shift right 10mm to shoot right of centre.


Some technical notes:

* This kind of panorama can be shot using only the lens and a straight adapter. The image will be centred within the image circle. If you need to shift the whole assemblage (e.g., to correct verticals), you can do it if you also have a shift adapter.
* If you’re shooting a subject that is parallels to the lens plane (e.g., a building) then I recommend re-focusing the shifted images to deal with the slight field curvature (as explained above).
* You have to set exposure manually when making panoramas, and you need to watch out for movement in areas that will be stitched. There’s lots of useful advice on the Internet for how to make panoramas.
* Because there’s around 20% overlap, Lightroom usually has no trouble stitching the three images together. But, it can’t handle uniform subjects well, e.g., if you tried this with a “brick wall” shot it wouldn’t work in Lightroom because Lightroom doesn’t see enough differences among the three shots; you’d have to use one of the many other stitching programs that allows you to set manual control points.
* To avoid parallax errors, it’s technically best to fix the position of the lens and move the senor within the image circle. Alternatively, you can shift the lens in one direction, and shift the sensor the corresponding amount in the other direction. For example, I could do this on my Fuji by shifting 10mm left with the lens, and then sliding the whole camera body 10mm to the right in the tripod mount. With the exception of close-focusing, Lightroom deals with minor parallax errors just fine when flat stitching, so I don’t bother shifting the senor.







Edited on Aug 13, 2017 at 02:17 AM · View previous versions



Aug 13, 2017 at 01:47 AM
rdeloe
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


What, you think 54MP isn’t enough? No problem! If you have a shift adapter (you can’t do this next trick with a non-shift adapter), then you can make a four shot panorama that produces an almost 70MP file with finished dimensions of approximately 6800 x 10200 pixels and an angle of view equivalent to around 21mm on APS-C. To make the landscape version, you’d combine shots as follows: shift -8mm, rise +5mm; shift +8mm, rise +5mm, shift -8mm, fall -5mm, and shift +8mm, fall -5mm. As you can see, you’re not even at the edges of the image circle yet, so there’s room to shift this grouping up, down, left or right a bit if necessary.

You could make an even larger finished file, but you’d need to add more shots if you’re using Lightroom (because it wants around 20% overlap), or you’d need to use a stitching application that allows you to manually assemble the images; with the same four shot grouping you could shift and rise/fall until you filled the whole image circle with those four shots. If you can figure out a way to mount the lens to the tripod in front of the shift mechanism, then you won’t have to worry about parallax at all. This is how Fotodiox’s Vizelex Rhinocam works; the Rhinocam lets you use the entire image circle with no parallax error because it holds the lens in place and you move the sensor around within the image circle.







Edited on Aug 13, 2017 at 02:17 AM · View previous versions



Aug 13, 2017 at 01:47 AM
 

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rdeloe
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


There’s still more! What about tilting you might wonder? Is it possible to combine flat stitching with tilt movements? If you’re creating a landscape composition, it’s a definite yes. Referring to the three shot technique described above, you’d simply determine the correct tilt angle for the centre shot (e.g., if you wanted the classic sharp in the foreground and all the way back look) and then shift to create the left and right of centre images. If the lens is assembled so that tilt is orthogonal to shift, then you can use a straight adapter. Otherwise you would tilt with the lens and shift with the shift adapter.

A portrait orientation three shot flat stitch (the 54MP version) is trickier. Sometimes you can set the tilt based on the bottom image and use it for all three, then stitch them together successfully. This works when the subject plane is almost two dimensional (e.g., you want the whole beach stretching in front of you to be in focus). Things get trickier when the subject is more three dimensional (e.g, a horizontal plane like the ground, and a vertical plane like the side of a building).

To make this image, I used tilt on the bottom image (ground level) to get the ground in focus from right in front of the camera to the far houses. For the centre image I used 0 degrees tilt and tried to get as much of the wall and the background in focus. For the top image, I focused on the far edge of the house, again with 0 degrees of tilt. Lightroom stitched them with no issues. The resulting image is 50MP (I had to rotate a bit so lost some data). This would work a lot better if I could swing and tilt with this outfit (like a view camera can do)!

This technique probably won’t work all the time, and it requires a bit more planning, but it may prove to be useful in a case where high resolution is necessary. Honestly though, I duplicated the shot with my OM 24/2.8 and my Kipon tilt adapter. Apart from more pixels, the stitched shot from the FD 35/2.8 TS isn’t significantly better – so this is perhaps more a trick than a useful tool for me.






Three shot stitch with FD 35mm TS - tilt only on bottom




Aug 13, 2017 at 01:49 AM
rdeloe
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


While all the techie stuff is fun, the point of this lens is to make photographs. Here's one example of why I like shift lenses. From the camera position, there's a lot of underbrush in front of these two trees, and they're up on a bit of arise. I could point a normal lens up, and then correct the verticals in post. The shape of the trees would be changed (but it might still be OK). More importantly, I'd be losing pixels -- and I want to preserve the option of printing at 17"x24", so I don't want to lose any pixels. There's also the chance that I'd miscalculate how much space I'd need around the subjects so that I can correct the verticals and still have the composition I'm after.

With this shift lens, all those problems go away. I shifted up (rise) 10mm and got the composition I was after without having to do any correction of verticals in Lightroom. I focused at the top of the image, but it's still just a touch softer there because of the massive shift. Therefore, in addition to my usual black and white workflow, I used a graduated filter to add a bit of additional sharpness from the top (starting at the top and coming into the frame).








Aug 14, 2017 at 12:48 AM
rdeloe
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


My Fotodiox Canon FD to Fuji X shift adapter arrived (picture below). It's a heavy piece! The standard Fotodiox FD-X adapter weights 67.5 grams. The shift version weights 167.1 grams! The total weight of the lens and shift adapter is therefore 723 grams.

The Fotodiox adapter is well made and operates smoothly. It rotates 360 degrees and shifts +10mm and -10mm. In the photo of the adapter on the lens, below, I've shifted the lens in one direction and the adapter in another. This opens up a lot more options for camera movements.

In this picture you might notice that I've re-assembled the lens so that tilt and shift go in the same direction. This lets me tilt and rise in landscape orientation. I can shift orthogonally using the adapter.

Based on some quick tests of shifting on the adapter versus shifting on the lens, I saw no differences. In other words, you don't have to worry that the image quality is reduced by shifting on the adapter. I did remove one piece of the adapter just in case it gets into the light path during a combined shift. Adapters for Canon FD lens need a mechanism to open up the aperture. On this adapter it's a lever that moves with a ring on the adapter. This particular lens doesn't use the standard FD mount because you couldn't control the aperture from the camera (it was always open aperture metering). I don't have any other FD lenses so the lever isn't necessary.

I've done some preliminary testing of the 4 stitch concept I described above. I have to do some more testing, but I think that's a dead end. Image quality degrades substantially beyond 11mm on APS-C. Therefore, while you can shift 21mm with this combination, the results are not usable. The shifts in the 4 stitch model above are not that dramatic, but enough to lead to a bit of reduced IQ at the edges. More importantly, my brief test shows you get more pixels, but not necessarily better overall image quality. That may sound like a contradiction, but the lens doesn't get sharper because you've stitched images together. I made some test prints of the same area at 24"x36" print size and the 4-stitch file didn't produce a significantly better print than what came from the single file of the same subject.

So... three shot stitches as described above could be useful in some cases, but the four stitch concept may be pointless.

I also learned a lot about how this lens is put together through servicing it. For example, I've figured out how to adjust the tilt tension, and I found that what I thought was tilted lens elements actually was worn out felt in the shift mechanism that allowed the front part of the lens to droop. It's actually quite easy to replace the felt with optical flocking material. The result is corner-to-corner sharpness that I find quite incredibly good even at f/2.8 for such an old lens.







The Fotodiox FD to X shift adapter







Adapter mounted to the lens -- shifted in two directions




Aug 17, 2017 at 09:31 PM
rdeloe
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


Shift performance of the lens on APS-C is very strong. Here's a quick 100% comparison showing (1) unshifted at f/11 (left) and (2) shifted in two directions (right): a fall of -10mm combined with a shift of -10mm, also at f/11. Both images have had some sharpening and exposure correction, and are converted to black and white. This is the upper-right corner. The other corners look the same.

At f/11 it shows a bit more loss of IQ due to diffraction than I like, but the shifted one isn't as good in the corners at f/5.6 or even f/8, so I traded off all-over sharpness for a bit of diffraction.

A combined shift like this moves the sensor out towards the edge of the lens, so this is a really good performance. What this test tells me is that I can comfortably shift all over the image circle, and as long as I can work with f/11 I don't have to worry about weak edges and corners. Mind you, as I noted in a previous post, shifting beyond 10mm in any direction causes the image to degrade unacceptably.





Left: Unshifted image. Right: Fall -10mm and Shift -10mm




Aug 19, 2017 at 01:32 AM
mdemeyer
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Fun with a Canon FD 35mm f/2.8 TS tilt-shift lens on APS-C


Glad you are enjoying the lens and that it's working out well for you! I agree it's a sleeper and a great value.

Michael (yes, that Michael)



Aug 23, 2017 at 02:28 PM







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