Original 90mm ts-e with 16 degrees of tilt

Started Oct 19, 2017 | Discussions thread
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Chez Wimpy
Chez Wimpy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,999
Original 90mm ts-e with 16 degrees of tilt

Been a while since posting, but I figured out something that might be of interest to those of you considering upgrading to the new version of the 90TSE. Even within its mechanical (not optical!) limitations, the 90TSE has been a workhorse for my landscapes these last seven years. Only my 24TSEII gets more use, and the 90 has tremendous results printing large format panos via that telephoto compression + large-format look (ie "impossibly" deep DOF).

550D + 90TSE 3-shot flat stitch with forward tilt with everything in focus

Too big for the table, the edges of drying prints roll onto the floor - 5D2 + 90TSE 3-shot flat stitch

I would post some more illustrative samples but realized most of my work with the 90 is not actually online The only real downside of that lens for landscape is the constrained range of tilt and what subjects that limits you to. 8 degrees @ 90mm is not enough to get the in-your-face style shots that are easy with the 24.

The greater the focal length, the more tilt you "need" and unfortunately the mirror box on the SLR makes this impractical with longer lens designs. When I saw that Canon was finally going to replace the 45mm it got me thinking as I have long wanted a mid-focal length to complete my landscape toolbox. I have been using the 24TSEII on the APSC 550D (sometimes with a 1.4x TC) to work around the focal length gap, but it wasn't ideal. The TSE announcement included the 90 L upgrade and the 135, and these were curious as well. For landscapes with compression + close detail the 135 sounds impractical with just 10 degrees of tilt prevents shooting at moderate apertures (ie full front tilt necessitating f32 is essentially the same result as f32 on a 135 lens with no tilt). The 90II, now with 2 extra degrees in play, should allow for some as-yet impossible angles. This is especially true when you factor in the shift function axis-switched in the field without a screw driver (ie, shift the lens up, pitch the camera forward to recreate the approximate FOV, and you have already cheated an extra bit of tilt).

This all comes into consideration because I had long planned to do my landscaping on a Sony A7 series camera, but Sony's misstep with shutter shock on the original A7r (and the pricing on the A7r2!) kept me sticking with my Canon bodies in the interim. Now with a new TSE purchase looming, before picking up a Sony body or deciding on what lenses to sell I purchased an EF-E mount tilt adapter to see what might be possible with the optics I have on hand. A friend at work has the A7II so I could mount my lenses to test. Here is the fotga which was about $35 from China and seems to be the only sub $500 EF-E tilt solution

it is a dumb adapter so you have to pull the locked aperture trick with a second Canon body. Alone it seems to provide about 8 degrees of tilt, so the question I want to answer: disconnected from the limits of the EF flange, how much tilt is actually possible with the old 90TSE? It turns out, a lot. The image circle still covers the FF sensor fine even with full tilt on both adapter and lens, which would mean about 16 degrees of tilt. Full shift to the sides work as well (so you can flat-stitch for a wider FOV).  I tried it at f2.8 (works fine) and again remounted at f5.6

At f5.6, here is full-front down tilt on the adapter alone (peaking shows the focus plane):

8 degrees of adapter tilt; focus runs from the top of the front desk through the cabinets in the rear

and here with full lens tilt added in

16 degrees of combined tilt; focus runs from the top of the phone through the cabinets in the back

There is a very nice (and expensive!) German adapter that does tilt (and shift) between the EF and E mount bodies, but again no electronics requiring you to stop the lens down elsewhere.  Most of the people using that gear are working with shaved UWA lenses like a modified 11-24 to allows for extreme perspective shifts in architecture.  For $35 though I was shocked to see how impressive the extreme tilt result was.   I don't have the raw files, and next summer season for landscaping is seven or so months away, but for the time being it looks like I save on the 300,000 yen the 90II would have cost me. Now I am also wondering about the 135 TSE.  I am sure it would be pointless on a Canon body, but with this adapter and the added range of motion it might become a truly useful landscape lens.  Also I expect that were Sony to design their own tilt-shift lenses native to the FE mount, they could go 20 degrees+ with the longer lenses.  I mean, if a mere 58mm filter-threaded 90TSE can work with 16deg tilt (even with the hood still on!), I am sure both the 77mm fronted 90II and the 135 would be fine in an extended range.  Landscapers could finally get closer to the potential afforded by a large format camera. Consider a better EF-E tilt adapter, say at $100 or so, with precise markings and axis alignment could be quite the tool.  Even if it didn't connect to the body for EXIF info, electronic aperture control via a dedicated battery controller would kill it!

FWIW I also tried the original Sigma 12-24 at 12mm and the hood starts to occlude the frame at even the slightest tilt.  Of course "slight tilt" is very hard to approximate with an adapter this fiddly mated to a lens that wide and dark!  At 15mm it seems to work out to 8 degrees, but I will need to try it in the field to make a decision on its utility.  The 90TSE body design actually helps here is that being a "box" it lets you square the tilting lens with the front of the camera so the focus plane is pretty much parallel with the horizon.  Also since my 90mm pretty much lives at 8degrees of tilt, I can leave the adapter locked down at max, and work the tilt function on the lens for precise control (probably even "reverse" the tilt on the lens upwards for when I find I don't need 8mm afterall).

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