Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published September 2005

Special thanks to Jaroslaw Komasinski for providing this lens!


The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L is one of the more unusual lenses in the Canon lens lineup: it is a tilt-shift (TS) lens.

The shift feature provides a limited degree of perspective control. We all know the effect - when using a wide angle lens and tilt the camera either upwards or downwards straight perpendicular lines are distorted towards a virtual vanishing point. This is especially annoying for architecture photography where you prefer a natural reproduction of a building. Shift lenses allow to counteract the effect by tilting the lens off its horizontal axis. By doing so the projected image (rectangle) on the film/sensor plane gets distorted to a trapezoid which compensates the effect. You may argue that you can also apply perspective correction via an imaging application these days. This may be true but you're doing so at cost of image quality because stretched image portions rely on interpolated data.

Below is a slightly upward tilted sample image. Move the mouse cursor in and out of the image to see what the shift function can do for you (sorry for the rather bad image - it wasn't exactly the best weather at the time):

Unlike most other shift lenses Canon TS-E lenses also offer a tilt feature allowing to alter the focus plane. On normal lenses the focus plane is parallel to the film/sensor plane. By tilting the lens you can coincide the focus plane to the layout of your main subject in your scene which may not be parallel to the film/sensor plane. This way you can optimize your depth-of-field though you're not increasing it.

If you both tilt and shift the lens it has quite a bizarre look to it (see below).

There's a side effect to the TS mechanism - this lens offers manual focusing only which is why it is not an EF (electronic focus) lens. The aperture mechanism remains under electronic camera control so it still deserves the E in the TS-E naming.

As usual the lens was tested using an APS-C DSLR where its field-of-view resembles a 38mm lens on full frame cameras. The optical construction is made of 11 elements in 9 groups including a grounded aspherical element and a floating system for improved close-focus performance. The grounded aspherical is also the reason for the L designation (consumer lenses feature molded asphericals of lesser quality). The lens features 8 aperture blades. Despite the rather small max. aperture the filter size is relatively large at 72mm. This originates in the shift function which requires a bigger image field than conventional lenses. The lens has a weight of 570g and a size of 78x87mm. Typical for L grade lenses the build quality of the lens is solid (metal body, smooth controls).

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