#Canon’s latest wide-angle tilt-shift optic promises a higher quality over the entire imaging area and a wider range of lens movements over its predecessor.
As is usually the case with tilt-shift lenses, this optic isn’t inexpensive, costing around £1430. In this review, we’ll take a look at how it performs.
Build quality is typical of Canon’s L series lenses, with a robust textured black finish made from a combination of high-quality plastics and metal and the bayonet is metal. As a result, the lens has quite a bit of weight for its size and feels very solid, tipping the scales at 780g. Even so it balances well with the Canon EOS 6D body used for testing.
Although this lens has electronic contacts for focus confirmation and exposure, focusing needs to be performed manually, as is normal for tilt-shift lenses. Manual focusing is a pleasure, thanks to the well damped, smooth action of the focusing ring. The #camera will confirm focus at the selected focusing point with a beep as normal. Closest focus is 21cm, which should be ideal for shooting in cramped environments, or even for close-up images.
The controls for tilt and shift movements are smooth to operate and the amount of force needed to turn the dials can be easily adjusted using another set of smaller dials by each control, which can also lock the lens at the desired setting. An additional switch to lock the tilt setting in place is also present. The lens can be shifted up to 12mm off axis, or tilted by up to 8.5 degrees, which provides plenty of scope for adjustment. A hyperfocal scale is marked onto the lens barrel although these values will only apply is no tilt movements are set. Both tilt and shift movement can be rotated independently, allowing tilt and shift movements to be aligned with each other if required or for shooting in portrait or landscape orientation.
Using the lens centred, with no shift, sharpness in the centre of the frame is already outstanding at maximum aperture, with excellent clarity towards the edge of the 35mm frame and this is the case until the lens is stopped down beyond f/8. With the lens fully shifted, sharpness hovers around very good levels furthest from the optical centre between f/3.5 and f/16.
Chromatic aberrations are extremely well controlled across the entire image area, with fringing remaining below a quarter of a pixel width at all aperture settings.
Due to the nature of the lens, it isn’t possible to accurately measure the falloff across the whole image circle with Imatest. Across the normal 35mm frame with the lens centred, the corners of the image are 1.6 stops darker than the image centre at maximum aperture and uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond. As is the case with other tilt-shift optics, applying a severe tilt or shift will darken the image in the viewfinder.
Only a minute amount of barrel distortion was detected by Imatest, with only 1.04% barrel distortion being present. This extremely low level of distortion should rarely need correction in image editing software.
Those looking for similar functionality on a budget may consider the Samyang T-S 24mm f/3.5 ED AS UMC lens. Although this lens has no electronic coupling with the camera, it does cost under half what the Canon optic does, being priced at around £650.
As you may expect for a top of the range Canon lens, this optic delivers superb clarity and is packaged in a robustly built and well-designed body. The controls for applying lens adjustments are easy to adjust and overall this lens should more than satisfy the needs of anyone after a tilt-shift optic.
However, the price of over £1400 is a bitter pill to swallow, especially when there is an alternative available for under half the price. The high price may make it difficult for many to justify, especially for a lens as specialised as this.
The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.
Chromatic aberration is the lens’ inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Lens Review – Gary Wolstenholme finds out how the wide-angle tilt-shift S-E 24mm f/3.5L II from Canon performs when put to the #test.