FINALLY! Canon has announced 2 new tilt-shift lenses. One is a 24mm and the other a 17mm. A 17mm shifting lenses is somewhat amazing and certainly a first as far as I am aware of. So they have now 17, 24, 45, and 90mm TS lenses available. (the 35mm was an FD mount)

The new lenses tilt and rotate separately from the shift and rotation function, a very welcomed update! Why am I so excited? Because I have been using Mamiya lenses mounted on shift-adapters on my Canon 5Ds. A medium format lens has a much greater image circle and works just fine as a shift lens on a 35mm camera. There is hardly any light falloff even at 12mm shifts. I think the widest rectilinear MF lens I have found so far is the Mamiya 35mm f/3.5 Sekor C. (See why I’m excited for this new 17mm!!)

I look forward to adding the new 24mm TS to my lineup. I prefer that to the 17 at the moment strictly for the 82mm filter thread. The 17 does not look like it will accept any form of frontal filter.

A lot of people seem to think Tilt-Shift lenses are a gimmick and used only as novelty by a few bored photographers. This is hardly the case. Camera movements are still king when it comes to image control. Many areas of commercial photography utilize movements extensively. There are several solutions for getting movements on a digital camera. The exotic stuff from Cambo and SINAR are great, but expensive and very specialized. (Especially if you want to play in the medium format digital range!) These are not always practical solutions. Who really wants to lug a 4×5 with a MF back and a laptop around unless completely necessary?

Another major benefit to using a TS lens is seamless panoramas without the need for specialty tripod equipment. Aside from the basic center-left-shift-right-shift 2:1 panorama, you can also do “super-resolution” panos.

Take a center image. Shift the lens all the way to one end. Take another shot, then rotate the lens 15 to 30 degrees at a time and fire off another shot. Continue this until you get all the way around. I get about 12 shots or so. Using Photoshop, PTGUI, or another panorama stitcher, combine the images. There will be no parallax errors since the camera’s nodal point has not moved at all. In fact, the camera hasn’t moved period! You will end up with one massive image!

My Canon 5DmkII
Single image file dimensions: 5616 x 3744 pixels or 18.72 x 12.48 inches @ 300 dpi
Fully shifted file dimensions: 8776 x 5851 pixels or 29.25 x 19.5 inches @ 300 dpi

5DmkII Image: approx. 21mp (Colored inside box)
5DmkII Shifted Pano: approx 51mp (Entire image)


So on just the 5DmkII alone, you can print almost a 40 x 60 inch print @ around 150 dpi WITHOUT needing to up-res the file. Can you imagine the new Phase One P65+ with this technique?!?!?! By my same calculations using the numbers on the PhaseOne site, that gives you a 135mp image with a 90 x 67 inch print at @ 150 dpi. Not owning a PhaseOne system, I cannot vouch for these numbers, however I am more than willing to donate my time and drive space to conduct the tests should a system be made available!!!

Then again…do we need 135mp images when we resize for the web most of the time? When most images are limited by the paper they are printed on, does that level of quality really make a difference if we aren’t printing at those massive sizes?

Being a panoramic photographer, a lot of my work is making 9:1 images…I guess i’m partial to these large scales!

What a great time to be in photography!