Canon TS E 24mm Tilt Shift Lens Review

I have to admit I have always been a pretty huge fan of tilt shift photos. With the soft focus edges tilt sift images really draw you into the image and can be used very creatively in many different types of photography. I have never photographed a wedding with a tilt shift recently when I got my hands on the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 lens and was pretty amazed at what this lens can do.

I am going to give a quick review of the lens but before wanted to give a brief overview of what Tilt shift lenses are. Before 35mm cameras there were larger view cameras that held 4″x5″ or 8″x10″ negatives. These camera’s had a lens in front with a bellows that connected the lens to the back of the camera where the film was held. Since you had this moveable bellows the plate that held the lens could move up and down and side to side. Because of that the plane of the lens and the plane of the film could not be parallel which can create some interesting results with depth of field, focus and perspective.

You can also use a tilt shift lens for architectural photos when shifting the lens to correct perspective of buildings.

If you want to check out some amazing images of tilt shift photos check out these 2 posts:

Amazing tilt shift photos

Some great tilt shift portraits

Canon TS E 24mm Tilt Shift Lens Review

Now back to the 24 TS-E tilt shift lens. Canon really revolutionized things when they created 3 different Tilt-Shift (TS-E) lenses back in 1993. Back then they introduced a 90mm f/2.8, 45mm f/2.8, and 24mm f/3.5L. This year they have released 2 new additions, a 17mm f/4.0 L and a improved 24mm f/3.5L II. I recently checked out the Canon TS E 24mm Tilt Shift lens and here is my quick review. First since I mainly shoot weddings and portraits I didn’t really test out the shift part of the lens which is more used for architectural photography. I really wanted to test out the tilting of the lens to get that cool narrow slice of focus. The Canon TS-E 24mm is a easy lens to operate but does take some getting used to compared to a regular lens. First you have a knob on the top of the lens that you can tun to “tilt” the lens, this starts to rotate the lens at an angle. The lens rotates pretty fluid so if you want to lock it in the normal position you have to remember to use the lock switch on the bottom of the lens. A few times I kept forgetting to lock the lens and when moving the camera vertical for a shot the lens would start to move. That along with the fact that its a manual focus lens will take you some getting used to at first. I personally love to shoot at high apertures so shot a lot at f/3.5 with this. That shallow depth of field along with tilting the lens did create many images that I missed the focus spot I was going for. It might be best to use different focus screen to make sure your focus is accurate.

Once you get the hang of the controls this lens is pretty awesome. The creative controls that you have when tilting the lens are so much fun and really inspired me to shoot as much as I could with this lens for the few days I had it. Here are a few images with the tilt at its max.

canon tilt shift 24mm

canon tilt shift review

The sharpness of this lens was great, it’s a typical Canon L series lens and I had no complaints with the quality of the glass and build of the lens. My only complaint is similar to many great things with photography, its not a cheap lens and will run you just a little over $2000. For me it’s a tricky choice, I think this lens is awesome however its similar to a fisheye in my line of work. I would use it for a few shots a wedding but definitely don’t want to overdo it, so for a lens that you only use for a few shots and not a staple like a 70-200 L lens its difficult to spend that much. Right now there are no cheaper alternatives unless you go with a very inexpensive solution like a lensbaby.

I rented this camera from BorrowLenses, you can check it out here if you want to take the lens for a spin: Canon TS-E 24mm Tilt Shift

For anyone interested in the technical specifications of the Canon TS-E 24mm II

  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture 24mm 1:3.5
  • Minimum Aperture f/22
  • Lens Construction 16 elements in 11 groups
  • Diagonal Angle of View 84° (without tilt or shift)
  • Image circle diameter 67.2mm
  • Focus Adjustment Manual focus, rear focusing system (no floating system)
  • Closest Focusing Distance 0.69 ft./0.21m (maximum close-up magnification: 0.34x)
  • Aperture Control EMD with 8 blade iris diaphragm, circular aperture
  • Filter Size 82mm
  • Max. Diameter x Length, Weight 3.5 x 4.2 in./88.5 x 106.9mm, 27.5 oz./780g
  • Overall it is an awesome lens and I was more than impressed with it. Great quality and the extra creative ability you have with tilting the lens really makes this a stand out lens in my mind. If it was just a little bit more affordable it would be a no brainer to add to my camera bag. Now just have to book some more weddings!

    You can get the lens on Amazon here: Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Ultra Wide Tilt-Shift Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

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    Author: Mark

    Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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    1 Comment

    1. Great overview… I can vouch for this lens. It may be the finest lens in the Canon lineup in terms of creative and photographic versatility. It blows your mind to have such powerful control over the image making process.

      I was an idiot and turned it in for the faster 24L… the second best Canon 24mm.

      A favorite use while I had itwas making vertical panoramas using the shift movements:
      http://www.leica-boss.com/2011/04/tilt-shift-vertical-panorama/

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