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Canon TS-E 24mm f3.5L II
Tilt-Shift Full-Frame
(2009-today)

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

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Canon 24mm f/3.5 L  II

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II (82mm filters, 0.7 feet/0.21m close-focus, 27.7 oz./786g, about $2,100.) enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially these directly to it at Adorama or at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

 

October 2011    More Canon Reviews    Canon Lenses    All Reviews

See also

Why Tilt and Shift?

Focussing a Shift Lens.

 

Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

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The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II is a special-purpose lens that allows one to tilt and to shift the lens to mimic the movements of large-format cameras for serious landscape, studio, tabletop and architectural photography.

Tilt allows one to tilt the plane of focus to allow perfect focus along any plane, not just the plane of the sensor as with a normal camera. By tilting the lens, we can bring the ground, a wall or a table-top all into perfect focus, from inches away to infinity.

Shift allows one to keep parallel lines parallel, even if you need to look up, down, left or right instead of directly at a subject. For instance, pointing a camera up at a building makes the top look too small. This special lens allows the lens to be shifted up so that the camera remains horizontal and therefore the building will remain straight.

One may tilt and shift at the same time.

Metering doesn't work when shifted; you need to lock or meter the exposure in the unshifted position, and then shift back to your chosen positions.

It works hand-held, but for the most precise results for which people pay for this lens, this lens works best on a tripod. Ideally the movements need to be done very carefully for the best results.

These movements are critical to fine photography. They let us define precisely what is or not in focus, and let us alter the relative sizes of things, as well as just let us keep lines parallel

See Steve Simmons "Using the View Camera" and/or Ansel Adams' "The Camera" for the best explanation of how and why to use these movements.

These movements can be used in reverse from their classical applications to narrow a plane of focus and to exaggerate towering perspective. We can use shift to let us shoot directly into a window or mirror, and not be seen in the reflection. Stitched panoramas are the least creative use of these lenses.

It is manual-focus only. Note the lack of the "EF" electronic focus designation.

 

Canon 24mm f/3.5 L  II

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II. enlarge.

 

History

This new Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens replaces the first Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L that was introduced in 1991.

This new lens adds:

1.) More tilt and shift range

2.) A new rotating mount to make it trivial to change the shift and tilt axes.

3.) A tilt lock to lock the tilt at neutral.

 

Compatibility

This L lens is optimized for 35mm film and full-frame digital, and of course works on 1.3x and 1.6x Canon cameras.

This Canon TS-E EOS 24mm f/3.5L II works perfectly with every Canon EOS camera ever made, meaning every Canon DSLR and every Canon autofocus 35mm camera made since 1987.

This means of course it works great on today's 5D Mark II and Canon 7D, but it works just as well on my original Canon EOS 620 from 1987!

 

Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

 

Name

Canon calls this the CANON LENS TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II .

TS-E means "Tilt Shift Electronic" meaning that the aperture is coupled electronically to your camera for full control and exposure automation.

L only means as expensive as L; it means nothing technically.

II means that this is the second Canon 24/3.5 . The earlier one was made from 1991-2009.

 

Optics       top

16 elements in 11 groups.

Molded glass aspherical front element.

Three UD glass elements to minimize secondary lateral color.

Variable-index-of-refraction "sub-wavelength structure" coating (SWC).

Rear focus; nothing moves externally as focused except the big focus ring.

Image Circle: 67.2mm diameter.

 

Focal Length

24mm.

On 1.3x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 31mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

On 1.6x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 38mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

 

Angle of View (unshifted, on 35mm and full-frame cameras)

84º diagonal.

 

Tilt

± 8.5º

 

Shift

± 12mm.

 

Base Rotation

180º with seven locking positions spaced 30º apart.

 

Close Focus       top

0.7 feet (0.21m), specified, from the image plane.

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio       top

1:2.9, which is very close!

 

Extension Tubes

Use the Canon EF12 II to get close-ups to about 4/5 life-size at the image sensor.

 

Diaphragm       top

Canon 24mm f/3.5 L  II

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II at f/3.5 (no diaphragm visible). enlarge.

8 blades.

Stops down to f/22.

Reasonably round at smaller apertures, octagonal at smaller apertures.

 

Hard Infinity Focus Stop?        top

No.

You have to focus manually at infinity, which is needed in light of the movements.

 

Focus Scale       top

Yes.

The ring turns from infinity to the closest focus distance in about 105.º

 

Depth-of-Field Scale       top

Yes.

 

Infra-Red Focus Index       top

Yes, nearly invisible dot above the "4" on the depth-of-field scale.

This mark is for the 800 nm wavelength.

 

Filter Thread       top

82mm.

Metal.

Does not rotate, even when turning the focus ring.

 

Size       top

Canon specifies 3.5" (88.5mm) diameter by 4.2 " (106.9mm) long.

 

Weight       top

27.710 oz. (785.5g), measured.

Canon specifies 27.5 oz. (780g).

 

Hood       top

Canon 24mm f/3.5 L  II

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II with included EW-88B hood.

$37 plastic bayonet EW-88B, included.

 

Case       top

$30 LP1319 pouch, included.

 

Caps       top

82mm ET-82 front cap, included.

Unlike the caps included with USM lenses that say "Ultrasonic," this cap just says Canon.

Standard EOS cap rear.

 

Introduced       top

PMA, March 2009.

 

Quality       top

Made in Japan.

 

Price, USA        top

2011 October: $2,100.

 

Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

Overall    Focus    Bokeh   Breathing   Distortion

Ergonomics   Falloff    Filters    Lateral Color Fringes   Macro

Mechanics   Sharpness   Spherochromatism   Sunstars

 

Overall     performance      top

The Canon 24mm f/3.5 L II is mechanically superb. It's a machinists' nightmare to produce, and Canon does an extraordinary job.

It's not the sharpest lens if all you're going to do is shoot it straight-on as do most amateurs; it's designed for flexibility and large image circle and not unshifted performance.

Thank goodness it has no distortion. It always drove me up a wall that Nikon's tilt lenses, like the Nikon 24mm PC-E, has distortion we have to correct before we can use it for architecture. With this Canon lens, shoot and you're done.

 

Focus     performance      top

Focus is manual only.

It feels fine, and feels as if there's an electronic encoder reading our input.

If you're shooting at large apertures, it's difficult to get perfect focus without an AF system; you turn the ring until your AF sensors blink "OK."

 

Bokeh     performance      top

Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is beautiful, if you get anything out of focus.

 

Focus Breathing     performance      top

Focus breathing (the image changing size as focused) is mostly of interest to cinematographers who don't want the image changing size ("breathing") as the lens is focused among different subjects.

The image from the Canon 24mm f/3.5 L gets larger as focused more closely.

 

Distortion     performance      top

Thankfully the Canon 24mm f/3.5 has no distortion.

if there is any, it will take less than a setting on -0.1 in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool to remove it. Caution: the reason a lack of distortion is so important with this lens is because once shifted, you'd have to enlarge your canvas around the actual optical center of the image before Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool could work properly on it!

 

Ergonomics     performance      top

Canon 24mm f/3.5 L  II

Canon 24/3.5L II.

This is the nicest tilt-shift lens I've used. All the locks and knobs feel perfect. Canon has really done its homework on manufacturing this one. If you're crazy enough to want to manipulate and shoot this lens hand-held, go for it.

The filter mount does not rotate, even when turning the focus ring.

 

Falloff (darkened corners)     performance      top

Unshifted on full-frame, falloff is visible at f/3.5 and gone by f/5.6.

My Canon 5D Mark II (as of firmware 2.0.4) doesn't have the data to correct this automatically in its Peripheral Illumination Correction menu option. Even if this data were available, I don't know if the camera is able to read the shift and tilt values and correct for them. I strongly doubt it.

I've greatly exaggerated this by shooting a flat gray target and presenting it against a gray background.

 

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 falloff on full-frame

No peripheral illumination control

 
f/3.5
f/5.6
f/8
No
shift
Canon 24mm f/3.5 falloff Canon 24mm f/3.5 falloff Canon 24mm f/3.5 falloff
Full
12mm
shift to side
Canon 24mm f/3.5 falloff Canon 24mm f/3.5 falloff Canon 24mm f/3.5 falloff

© 2011 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Filters, Use with     performance      top

Canon are kind of bums for upping the filter size on some lenses like this one and the newest 16-35mm f/2.8 L II to 82mm, but what we get after buying all new filters is no problem from vignetting.

We have to buy new filters, but we don't need to spend more on expensive thin filters.

What's slick is that even though the focus ring is most of the lens, the solid metal filter ring doesn't move as you turn the focus. This very important, as the people who use this lens are likely to have a big matte box loaded with filters and flags and they do not want them floating around as focused.

 

Lateral Color Fringes     performance      top

There are no lateral color fringes as seen on my Canon 5D Mark II.

 

Macro     performance      top

Canon TS-E 24mm Macro

At closest-focus distance on full-frame, Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II.

This lens can get way too close. Look at the crazy distortion making my watch look twice as large as usual.

These images would be even tighter on smaller-format cameras (see crop factor).

 

Mechanics     performance      top

Canon 24mm f/3.5

Rear, Canon 24 f/3.5 L. enlarge.

The Canon 24mm f/3.5 L II is a beautiful piece of work.

Everything is tight, without play, and moves smoothly.

It is astonishing.

 

Filter Threads

Metal.

 

Hood Mount

Metal.

 

Identity

Painted on focus ring.

 

Focus Ring

Metal, rubber-covered.

 

Mid-barrel

Metal.

 

Shift and Tilt Mechanisms

All metal.

 

Internals

Seem like metal.

 

Rear barrel

Metal.

 

Moisture seal at mount

No.

God bless you if you're out crawling around in the rain with this.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Serial Number

Engraved into bottom of lens barrel and filled with white paint.

 

Date Code

Yes, hot-stamped into the rear light shield.

See Canon Date Codes to find your lens' birthday.

This sample is stamped UX0400, meaning April 2009

 

Noises When Shaken

Light clicking.

 

Made in

Japan.

 

Sharpness     performance      top

Lens sharpness doesn't matter much, but it sure distracts amateurs who confuse lens sharpness with picture sharpness.

As shot on the 5D Mark II under test conditions at infinity, the Canon 24mm f/3.5 L II is always sharp in the enter, but not that great in the corners, and even worse shifted. The corners improve gradually as stopped down, optimum only by f/11 unshifted.

Shifted, the edges are sharpest at f/16.

In the center, diffraction dulls the image by f/16, and dulls the entire image at f/22.

This might concern amateurs, who probably would only be shooting this lens unshifted anyway, but remember: if you're shooting a flat subject at infinity., you don't need or want this lens.

Here is Canon's claimed MTF curve, which doesn't agree with what I see:

Canon 24mm f/3.5 MTF    

Canon's MTF Curve.

This lens is designed precisely for a huge image circle to shoot difficult non-flat subjects without distortion over a huge shifted angle. If all you want is a straight 24mm lens, try the 24-70mm f/2.8 or 24-105mm IS, either of which might be a bit sharper, but each of which has far, far more distortion.

More important to sharpness is that this lens shifts so it can bend the plane of best focus to match your subject, which ordinary lenses can't.

Here are a couple of shots made just inches off the ground from the same place, all at the same wide-open f/3.5 aperture. Look how we can move the plane of perfect focus at our whim:

A few inches above the ground in Central Park, not tilted. (roll mouse-over to see tilted.)

 

Tilted

A few inches above the ground in Central Park, tilted forward to move the plane of perfect focus over the ground. It's in perfect focus at f/3.5 from an inch to infinity.

 

Tilted

A few inches above the ground in Central Park, tilted up to render as small a depth-of-field as possible.

 

Spherochromatism     performance      top

I see no spherochromatism

Spherochromatism, misnamed "color bokeh" by laymen, is when out-of-focus highlights take on color fringes. The Canon 24/3.5L's out-of-focus highlights have no color fringes.

Spherochromatism is a completely different aberration from lateral color fringes.

 

Sunstars     performance      top

With its 8-bladed diaphragm, this Canon 24mm f/3.5L II should make boring Canon-standard 8-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light at smaller apertures.

 

Compared       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

 

Nikon's comparable NIKKOR 24mm PC-E has much more distortion, which is a royal pain to correct once the lens has been shifted. This is inexcusable, while this Canon 24mm TS-E lens has no distortion.

 

Usage       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

 

Read the Instructions

Read Canon's 24/3.5 L II Instruction Manual to figure out which knobs and levers do what.

See Steve Simmons "Using the View Camera" and/or Ansel Adams' "The Camera" for the best explanation of how, why, when and where you'd want to use these movements.

 

Shift Knob

The box contains a bigger knob and 3.0mm long screw for the shift control.

If you have a pro camera without a built-in flash, this knob is easier to use.

If your camera has a built-in flash, forget this bigger knob because it will interfere with the camera.

Use the supplied 3.0mm screw with the bigger knob, and the original 2.2mm long screw only with the original smaller knob.

 

Metering

Meter before you move the lens. Then move the lens and shoot.

If on a tripod, manual exposure is easiest.

If hand-held, use the exposure lock button.

 

Tilt

Tilt the lens down to bring a landscape's foreground into perfect focus. Tilt it to the left to bring a wall to your left into perfect focus from here to infinity.

Keep focusing as you do all this.

The Scheimpflug principal observed that the planes of the subject, lens and image all meet at a single line. For most cameras with parallel lens, subject and image planes, this line is at infinity.

When tilting, imaging where the plane of the image sensor intersects the plane of the subject you want in focus, like the ground in a landscape. Now simply tilt the lens so that the plane of the lens meets your subject at the same place as the plane of the image sensor.

 

Shift

Keep the camera parallel to the subject, and move the lens to frame the image.

If you want to look up at a building, keep the camera horizontal and push-up the lens.

 

Panoramas

The least creative way to use this lens is to lock it down, make a few exposures shifted all over, and then stitch them together into a larger, wider image.

 

Recommendations       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

This Canon TS-E 24mm lens is a special lens for special photographic needs. If you need a tilt-shift lens for nature, tabletop and landscape photography, you probably already know it.

If you're just a rich guy who has to have everything, I doubt that you'd find this lens very helpful, except for awesome near-far photos in perfect focus.

You can make parallel lines parallel later in Photoshop, however this loses a lot of resolution for serious work. With this lens, you can use every pixel without having to crop some of the image and without having to resample it in a transform.

If you've found the time I've spent sharing this professional review helpful, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially these directly to it at Adorama or at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.

Thanks!

Ken.

 

More Information:

Canon's 24/3.5 L II Instruction Manual.

Canon, USA's data.

 

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