Tilt/Shift TS-E 17 vs G 12..24 - the unbiased comparison (incl. pixel shift) A7R III/IV & 5DsR

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joger
joger Veteran Member • Posts: 6,057
Tilt/Shift TS-E 17 vs G 12..24 - the unbiased comparison (incl. pixel shift) A7R III/IV & 5DsR
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Please read till the end ( I know - this is a lengthy process - I know because it costed me some time to compile the information in a hopefully comprehensive way )

Feedback and ideas are utterly welcome since photography is an interactive process and as such we all can learn from each other in case we listen carefully - that's why I invested my own money for rental and two days of my life to compile the information in a altruistic intention to give back some of the great information I've learned from very skilled people in this forum who started threads in the past.

I've read s few years back about the 85 f/1.8 being better than the GM 85 and I did a similar thing to clarify the topic and I'll try the same thing now to bing more value to some ongoing recent discussions with lots of opinions lacking a solid base for individual claims.

All Information provided and all tests are done as properly as I could and with full transparency on what I did. That said - I perfomed the comparison outside and as such small fluctuations in light can make a dramatic difference in perception. It is not my intention to proof that tool "A" or "B" is better, but to find the most appropriate and best tool for getting things done in the field.

I am a pragmatic person and I loved to use my Plaubel Eco Profia 5x7" a lot - 6 axis tilt and shift action with the utmost freedom in composition - yet - 20 kg of weight ( some 40 lb )

Plaubel Peco Profia optical bench - I used it with Schneider-Kreuznach lenses

When Canon brought out the TS-E 17 lens I immediately ordered mine the day it was announced and I loved this lens on my 5D II being able to overcome the limitations of the early digital days with partly noisy and low res sensors of only 21 MP - shifting and stitching lead to some 45 MP - combined with bracketing it led to 12..13 stops dynamic range - shooting some 15 frames and recombining them in post - a very lengthy and craftsmanship demanding process.

A few years later Sony brought out the A7R and I was completely convinced by the idea of a smaller lightweight package. I did some initial tests of my TS-E 17 vs the Voigtlaender 15 mm on the A7R II and sold my TS-E 17 afterwards immediately - knowing that others might find out too, that the days of DSLRs are numbered. I got a very nice price (close to the purchasing price some 9 years ago) for my immaculate mint condition TS-E 17.

In my memory the CV 15 easily beat the shifted and stitched TS-E 17 results. Memory is a bad advisory when you want to provide solid information. Thus I decided to rent a 5DsR and a TS-E 17 and test it against each other.

What do you use such lenses for normally? Well unshifted it is a 17 mm lens - fully shifted it is more a virtual 11 mm lens - dependent on how you shift it. This helps to avoid tilting lines - provided you use a tripod and level the camera perfectly. For architecture this comes handy at times - especially in tight places where you can't step further back and use a longe focal length because there is no further place or you'd need a helicopter - which is my last option sometimes.

So I acquired these images to illustrate the capabilities of the different setups.

1.) leveled cameras plus maximum upward shift vs 90° rotate G 12..24 at 12 mm with equivalent aperture - all single shots with remote release from tripod - learn more about equivalence

overlapping area of the shifted TS-E 17 vs. the 90° rotated G 12..24 at 12 mm

As you can see the frame of the shifted TS-E 17 is a tiny bit wider than the FOV of the G 12..24 in 90° orientation and the G 12..24 has a bit more headroom - I like this way of working since it reminds me of m y medium format days where I decided later how to frame the final content. This is how I use the G 12..24 today as well.

initial scene - Schloss Biebrich ( Wiesbaden Germany ) 12 mm upwards shifted with 5DsR

I photographed this scene with the 5DsR, A7R IV and A7R II with the TS-E 17 and G 12..24 - since the pixel count differs a lot I cropped the image and virtually printed it to have the 'burden' of resizing applied to all of them with LR print module. All images optimized identically and color graded a bit to compensate for slightly different appearance - did not spend too much time on the color portion since I do that to my liking anyway and it is no important aspect of my test here anyway.

5DsR & TS-E 17 | A7R IV & G 12..24 | A7R IV & TS-E 17 | A7R III & G 12..24

please click on original view to see in 100 % - focussed on the slightly left from center sculpture on the top - carefully focussed with maximum magnification.

Just have a look at the sculptures on the top of the building - - remember - I focused on the 1st left from center sculpture manly with maximum magnification.

Even though the G 12..24 has far less information (less than half the pixel count) the detail and sharpness is more than visibly better.

Conclusion: The G 12..24 is sharper than the fully shifted TS-E 17 - even though lower pixel count A7R III produced an overall better pleasing result.

2.) leveled cameras plus medium ( 6 mm ) upward shift vs 90° rotate G 12..24 at 12 mm with equivalent aperture - all single shots with remote release from tripod

2nd scene - Mathildenhoehe ( Darmstadt Germany ) 6 mm upwards shifted with 5DsR (art deco masterpiece)

5DsR & TS-E 17 | A7R IV & G 12..24 | A7R IV & TS-E 17

please click on original view to see in 100 % - focussed on the slightly left from center figure on the top - carefully focussed with maximum magnification.

In this occasion I could have zoomed in and get much more information from the G 12..24.

Conclusion: The G 12..24 is to my eyes roughly as sharp as the 6mm shifted TS-E 17 - all three result should be usable for though the TS-E 17 does not reveal any further details. It is visible that the color of the G 12..24 is slightly different

3.) What happens if you use the TS-E 17 unshifted and go to the maxed out quality with 16-images pixel shift? Leveled cameras plus no ( 0 mm ) upward shift G 12..24 at 17 mm with identical aperture - all single shots with remote release from tripod

both images 16 image pixel shift of A7R IV & G 12..24 @ 17 mm f/8.0 | A7R IV & TS-E 17 not shifted

Conclusion: The G 12..24 is to my eyes finer and sharper compare to the unshifted TS-E 17

I focussed on the small tower to the right ( the overview is included un the top left side for your orientation to understand the portion of the image.

A word of caution: I know - new toys are always the best since they are new toys. I love this feeling of playing around and understanding the capabilities and I tend to praise new tools a low when I have them. A used TS-E 17 can be bought (almost) ridiculously cheap these days. Ultimately the G 12..24 is smaller, lighter and provides a more solid performance even though it is a zoom - which is kind of crazy.

This is not saying that the TS-E 17 is a bad tool - it is not - the G 12..24 is simply a better one for compensating tilting lines. It even offers slightly more headroom in 90° orientation. I am pretty aware of the shift possibilities you have with a TS-E lens - I hardly ever miss them.

It's like a 1970s Porsche vs an 2010 version - the 40 years have brought a lot of optimizations - looks like the G 12..24 is the better tool, being smaller and lighter

G 12..24 vs fully shifted adapted TS-E 17 on A7R IV

Last but not least a word about the TS-E 24 II - I've compared it a long time ago and the slightly shifted TS-E 17 produced better results than the TS-E 24 in my tests long time ago.

So what about the tilting on a super ultra wide angle lens?

Well - you can do the math yourself with the different DOF calculators - at f/8 almost everything will be in focus all the time - tilting makes limited to no sense at all - in case you have this Bison scull right in front of your lens an the rocky mountains in the background just take two images and do focus stitching with one near object and far away object and you're done.

I totally get the idea of tilting with Scheimpflug and I used it a lot with my optical bench on longer focal lengths - with a super ultra wide angle lens this is in my experiences seldom to never needed.

Here are some images I did with my TS-E 17 in the past for illustrating the joy I've had with this lens - I really enjoy the size and weight of the G 12..24 now being half the weight and at least as good.

Hope you've liked my comparison and find the information usefully. My memory did not treat me unkind with my verdict. the TS-E 17 is still a very capable lens - yet we have fortunately smaller and lighter tools available that can do the same job even a tiny bit better.

I don't have any problem with heavier lenses in case there is no alternative - yet I am utterly glad in case a smaller and lighter tool does the same thing or even surpasses my old tools.

edit: there are of course copy to copy variations and I tested each only one lens - your results may vary and be different to mine - yet they are fully in line with my experiences 10 years ago

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A7R IV - one camera to rule them all
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 joger's gear list:joger's gear list
Sony a7R IV Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Sony FE 12-24mm F4 Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM Sony FE 200-600 F5.6-6.3 +11 more
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