Longer Look – Canon 17mm f/4L TS-E Lens

On the heels of my last post I took the 17 TS-E out for another spin this morning.

Canon 17mm TS-E, Shift Range from -12mm to +12mm.
Canon 17mm TS-E, Shift Range from -12mm to +12mm.

The screen grab above gives a sense of the range of shift movement in the new lens. It is impressive, especially for a 17mm wide angle lens and a 35mm-style DSLR lens.

Canon 17mm TS-E, Vignette Control, f/4 - f/11.
Canon 17mm TS-E, Vignette Control, f/4 – f/11.

The lens does vignette a bit wide open but as you can see above it’s eliminated once you have stopped down to at least of f/8.

Most lenses on a Canon 1Ds Mark III body will max out their sharpness at about f/10. Stop down more than that and diffraction sets in, softening the overall image. With a shift lens the amount of shift is a factor as well. The lens by design will be sharpest when not shifted (it’s only using the center of the glass,) so it’s always good to test what happens at the extremes.

Canon 17mm TS-E, Full Shift, Corner Sharpness.
Canon 17mm TS-E, Full Shift, Corner Sharpness.

Above is a screen grab showing the upper right corner of the image with the lens shifted to its maximum, +12mm. It was interesting to find that f/16 looks to be optimal in this scenario. It’s noticeably better than f/8, f/11, and f/22.

One thing I neglected to test fully was the lens performance unshifted.  I know that f/8 looks very good but I suspect that f/11 will better and possibly f/16 as seen in the fully-shifted test.

When given the opportunity, I like to create composites with tilt/shift lenses. It gives a wider field of view with a longer lens, much like the feel of a view camera image. Most of the personal work on my web site was created this way using Canon’s 24mm TS-E and 45mm TS-E lenses.

I suspected that the 17mm TS-E would be too wide for this to be effective but a few tests this morning show it to have potential.

Canon 17mm TS-E, Three Vertical Frames Stitched Together.
Canon 17mm TS-E, Three Vertical Frames Stitched Together.
Canon 17mm TS-E, Three Vertical Frames Stitched Together.
Canon 17mm TS-E, Three Vertical Frames Stitched Together.
Canon 17mm TS-E, Three Horizontal Frames Stitched Together .
Canon 17mm TS-E, Three Horizontal Frames Stitched Together .

Maybe I won’t miss that 14mm II lens so much after all?..