Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Lens
The first tilt/shift lens Canon produced, the Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Lens, is also Canon’s highest optical performing tilt/shift lens.
I don’t like to be redundant in my reviews, but Canon’s tilt/shift line shares many qualities. I repeat much of this information for those who happen to be starting their TS-E search with each particular TS-E lens. And of course, the information is tweaked for the nuances of each lens. So with that said …
What is a Tilt-Shift lens? Good question. While many large format system users are familiar with the concept, I hazard to say that most 35mm format users are not.
Canon’s Tilt-Shift lenses feature three not-found-on-a-typical-lens adjustments. Tilt, Shift AND Rotate. These adjustments can be used individually or simultaneously to alter the relationship of the optical axis of the lens to the sensor (or film) plane.
Tilt. Turning the small (too small) tilt adjustment knob angles the lens up to +/- 8 degrees relative to the sensor plane. The result is a plane of sharp focus that is not parallel to the sensor plane. The TS-E 90 has a different tilt pivot arc than the other TS-E lenses, but I don’t see a functional difference in use. The plane of sharp focus follows the direction of the tilt of the objective lens. For example, tilt the Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Lens downward to keep an expansive area of relatively flat ground in focus from close out to infinity even at a wide aperture setting. Actually, the plane of sharp focus becomes more like a focus wedge as the DOF (Depth of Field) increases with distance.
Use this feature to selectively keep objects in or out of focus in the picture. A very diffuse background can be produced with this lens opened wide to f/2.8 and when tilted significantly. Diffusely blur the non-subject portion of your picture to dramatically direct the viewer’s eye to the subject. The tilt adjustment scale is marked in 1 degree increments. The amount of change in plane of sharp focus at the maximum tilt settings is significant.