TS-E 17mm or 24mm for landscape photography

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jim_morka, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. hey,
    I own EOS 5D MarkII and currently planning to get Tilt and Shift lens. The primary purpose for using it would be landscape photography, but of course, I would look forward to benefit from other opportunities provided by such lens. I do not know if it would suitable, but would be ideal if it would fit for close-up photography with perspective background.
    At the moment, I cannot decide which one to get - 17 mm f/4L or 24 mm f/3.5L. I've seen few post on this, which did not provided clear dominant opinion, thus I would appreciate if you would share your ideas and experiences, especially from the landscape photography point of view.
    Since I use full frame camera, I've heard an opinion that 17 mm. might appear too wide and 24 mm would suite in more situations. But isn't it so, that using 17 mm I would still get a chance to crop the image and get an 24 mm effect?
    I really do not mind paying bigger price for 17 mm., performance quality and usability is most important thing.
    What about optical performance of both lenses - are they both equally good? I understand that with 17 mm. I would not be able to use CirPol filters, which is disappointing. This would be possible with 24 mm.
    What about the DOF of those lenses? - I've read an opinion that with 17 mm. I would not be able to get shallow DOF with tilting the lens. Is it true?
    I would also appreciate if somebody would post some links with landscape pictures taken with 17 mm lens.
  2. Here are my dominant opinions: ;-)
    - They're both VERY high-quality lenses.
    - 24 mm is a nice focal length for wide-angle shots.
    - 17mm is a VERY wide angle on a full-frame camera. The extreme angle-of-view can be useful, but it can also pose some difficulties. For instance, it may be difficult to avoid capturing the legs of your tripod in the photo. Also, wide-angle distortion will be extreme. Rectangular objects like tennis courts or the top of a picnic table will morph into trapezoidal shapes.
    - Polarizers don't work well with wide-angle lenses, and the light fall-off problem is even more extreme when you apply movements (rise, tilt, etc.).
    - If you plan to photograph architectural interiors, the 17 mm lens would be a great choice. Otherwise, the 24 mm lens is a more versatile choice.
    - Use a bubble level attachment to level your camera body for the best possible effect.
  3. The 17mm is known for being THE sharpest lens in its class. People love that lens, sharp even in the corners. Lucky you.
  4. Maybe this and this would help a bit. Those are flickr images taken with the lens.
  5. What other lenses do you have and use most often for landscapes? That might give you a good indication as to which one to choose.
    I have a 24mm TS-E and a 17-40mm. Looking at my image collection, and as far as landscapes are concerned, I use the 17-40mm at focal legths from 17 to 20mm most of the time. In fact even 17mm occasionally turns out to be not quite wide enough.
    So I consider the 17mm TS-E the more desirable lens for landscapes, and of course for interiors.
  6. Martin and others - thanks so far, look forward for more opinions.
    Martin, I also have 17-40 mm and I do like using 17 mm. However, at the same time, I avoid using 17 mm due to high distortions. This is why I also take pictures at e.g. 24 mm focal length where distortions are significantly lower.
    This is why I seriously considering TS lens which would avoid such distortions by shifting possibility.
  7. I've been using a shift lens since 1971 for various kinds of architectural photography, much of it archaeological.
    I'm saving up to eventually get the 17mm TS-E, which by all accounts and all examples I have seen of its use is a marvelous lens. I currently have a shift-only 35mm lens that I use on my 5D (the same lens I've been using from 1971).
    All the same, I cannot see that a shift feature is really necessary for landscape photography where the upward angling of the camera back is often not necessary; and where it is necessary, would rarely produce noticeable "distortions" except where some local feature like tall trees in the foreground might occur. Even there, it seems likely to me that just a wide-angle lens could be used without absolutely having to angle up the sensor plane at all, thus negating the utility of the shift. Most of the other utility of the shift lens for things like "shunting aside", so to speak, foreground objects when the camera cannot itself be moved (the classic problem of photographing a reflective surface 'straight on' without showing the camera and photographer) are not usual problems for landscape.
    I am less qualified to speak on the advantages of tilts. However, this feature seems more often to be associated with relatively close objects for which the plane of focus needs to be turned (as in product photography). In even architectural photography on a large scale (except for things like models), this is not a necessity. Of course, you can use the tilt feature to make real world objects look like models, but again, I wonder if this would be useful in landscape photography.
    In short, alluring as the TS-E lenses are, I suspect that you will be paying a lot of money for features that are of relatively little utility for landscape photography, per se. Particularly for the 24mm focal length which is in the range of the excellent 24-105mm L lens (with a little barrel distortion at the wide end). For a prime, you can buy a nice 24mm f/1.4L for less than half the price of the 17mm TS-E (although the TS-E 24 is closer to the same price). Although for some reason Canon does not have a rectilinear prime of less than 20mm, shorter focal lengths are of course available on the 16-35 and 17-40mm L lenses. Even these are by far less costly than the TS-E 17mm.
    When I got my 5D (to be an accessory for my PC-Nikkor 35mm f/2.8), I confess I did find the lack of an equivalent to my 10mm ultrawide angle on my APS-C bodies more troubling than I anticipated. While saving for the TS-E 17mm, I cast about for a wider (than 24mm) lens that did not have the gasp-inducing price of the 17mm TS-E -- I finally settled on a 15-30mm "full-frame" Sigma lens (the direct ancestor, as I believe, of the more recent 12-24mm "full-frame" lens). Wide open at 15mm it is a little rough at the edges, but stopped down and by 17mm it is plenty good. Its cost was about 1/8th of the TS-E 17 and I suspect it will serve me for general landscape purposes until I accumulate sufficient Macedonian staters for the TS-E 17mm, my daughter graduates from college, and the pets die.
  8. Rise and fall are useful to keep trees, fence posts, and the occasional building from leaning over. Tilt is useful when you want a plane (usually the ground, as in a field of flowers) to be in focus from front to back. Swing is useful when you are standing beside a hedge or a fence or a wall and you want to keep it all in focus.
    When I use my view camera, the first thing I do in most cases is to level the camera. When this is done, the film plane is perpendicular with the ground (assuming that you're standing on a level field). If I want to compose upward or downward, I now apply rise or fall. The film plane remains perfectly vertical. In cases where there's something in the distance and the foreground that both need to be in sharp focus I'll employ tilts or occasionally swings (almost neve both at the same time, though). Of course, with digital capture you can take two or more shots (close focus, middle focus, far focus) and combine them with software. Further, when you're working as wide as 17mm, depth-of-field goes to infinity fairly quickly. Still, tilts have a magic all their own when they work. Unfortunately, the world does not always present its features on a single plane.
    I miss the ability to work like this with small-format cameras. Converging verticals drive me crazy, and there's only so much perspective distortion that you can eliminate with software. Getting it right in camera takes a little work up front, but it's a blessing when you nail it.
  9. [F]or some reason Canon does not have a rectilinear prime of less than 20mm...​
    JDM, isn't the EF 14/2.8 L a rectilinear prime?
  10. My 24 just arrived yesterday. It truly is an amazing lens. I have the original version; until yesterday, that was my favorite lens. The new one…wow. It’s just unbelievable. Physically impossible, I’m sure of it. Canon must have an illicit faery garden where they harvest the little buggers and grind ’em up and mix them with unicorn horns to make these things.
    Zymantas, 24mm on the 5DII is pretty much the textbook focal length for wide-angle landscape photography. It gives the perfect feeling of a sweeping grand vista without going over the edge into looking unrealistically distorted. And, if you ever need something wider, you can do as in the attached picture: shift the lens and stitch the two frames together. You really only need two frames; as you can see from the added drop shadows, the outer two do overlap significantly. But the center is as wide as I usually ever find myself wanting.
    You can shift up and down, too, as well as diagonally to any angle. You can probably get an equivalent FOV as of somewhere around a 17mm lens (or thereabouts; haven’t measured) in a 2:3 perspective — at MF digital resolution, no less. Of course, stitching the 17 will give you wider still.
    JDM, movements are far more useful for landscape photography than you suspect. I’ve already demonstrated one potential: panoramas. I, like Dan, start by leveling the camera (and pointing it in the right direction) and then use movements to frame things. It keeps saguaros, for example, from looking like they’re falling over more than they really are. It’s also a great way to get the foreground right at your feet in the frame. Put the tripod almost on the ground, shift down, and you get a close-up shot of some flowers with the mountains in the distance still framed.
    And tilting is simply amazing. The panorama below I shot at f/5.6. The foreground is about four feet away from and two feet below the lens. I almost could have shot it wide open — certainly for any desktop-sized print. At f/5.6 it ranges from razor-sharp to “OW! YOU SLICED OFF MY CORNEA!”
    (For those who are inexperienced at this sort of thing, the easy way to focus with movements is to focus far and tilt near. It’s especially easy with Live View. At 10× view, use the focus ring to bring the most distant object in focus. Use the joystick to maneuver to the nearest object and use the tilt knob to bring that in sharp focus. Go back to the distant object and use the focus ring to bring it back in focus. Bounce back and forth once or twice more and you’re set. Pan around the scene and see how bad things are that aren’t in the new focal plane; hold the DoF Preview button while adjusting aperture to the minimum amount necessary to bring them in line. Adjust the shutter speed with the LV histogram per your normal taste. Fire the shutter and marvel at the preview image.)
    And, of course, not all “nature” photography excludes man-made objects. Having movements makes it much easier to get good shots of bridges, for example. And — okay, I should shut up, now. Just get one or the other (or both!) of these new lenses and you might never shoot anything else. Heck, I just now caught myself trying to think of an excuse to use one for sports…not that I’ve ever shot sports before, but just think of what you could do, say, right up against the inside of the curb of a turn at a bike race…
  11. isn't the EF 14/2.8 L a rectilinear prime?​
    Well, I thought it was a fisheye, but it could be. If it is rectilinear, then it's clearly another alternative.
    I am well aware of the panorama use of the shift lenses, but with judicious shooting with non-shift lenses these days and a bit of software, it's possible to make much wider panoramas than those available with a shift lens. I've personally not found it all that useful for that since first starting to use a shift lens in 1971, and most expecially not in the digital age. I don't find the stitched panoramas to be that inferior when a sufficient number of pictures is used, not to the degree that correcting convergence is in software. I will grant that I should have mentioned that as a factor on the other side of the balance sheet. It's so easy to crop in digital, I don't think the foreground/etc. shifts are so significant as there were in film days.
  12. Yep JDM,
    The 14 is rectilinear, the 15mm is a ff fisheye.
  13. This reviewer is very Canoncentric but the images towards the bottom, with the girl in front of the gate, give a very good example of what you can do.
  14. (For those who are inexperienced at this sort of thing, the easy way to focus with movements is to focus far and tilt near.​
    Yup, that's the way to do it. Shooting off-hand or on the monopod, I set the approximate tilt by the numbers, focus the foreground in the optical VF, then fine tune the distant focus by tilting the whole camera rather than mess with the itty-bitty joke of a tilt knob. (Hartblei Super-Rotators use a 2-1/2 turn worm gear to cover the same angular movement. If only they had the same quality glass. And, oh yeah, if only they still made them.)
    Merklinger's "Focusing the View Camera" changed my life. Highly recommended and well worth the Google search and download. The monopod makes a very handy measuring stick, especially when it's sitting on the intended focus plane.
    Hinge line distances at various tilt angles for 24mm are:
    1 deg. : 4'-6"
    2 deg : 2'-3"
    3 deg: 1'-6"
    4 deg: 1-1 1/2"
    5 deg: 11"
    6 deg: 9"
    7 deg: 8"
    8 deg: 7"
    Notice that it changes very slowly above 4 degrees or so of tilt.
  15. 1. No 17mm lens is going to be as sharp as a 24mm lens. Unless something magical has happened, the 24mm is just a heck of a
    lot easier to make.

    2. This is sort of like asking, which do I need, a 24mm lens, or a 50mm lens? the difference in field of view is about the same.

    Obviously you can crop the shots from the 17mm to look like they came from a 24mm lens, but this is not always a good option.
  16. I guess the 24mm sift&tilt will be the more universal usable wide angle lens.
  17. stp


    It's a personal opinion, but I've found 24mm to be a far more useful focal length for landscape photography (at least the kind of landscape photography that I do). I just recently purchased the 24 T/S, and I'm enjoying it greatly. I don't have the 17mm T/S, but I do have the 14mm. It's amazing what a couple of extra millimeters will do. The 14mm is a specialty lens and will receive relatively little use compared to the 24mm. My guess is the 17mm, for me, would fall in the middle (of course!) but tend to be more like the 14mm than 24mm. Also note: If you shoot with a 17mm and then crop to match the 24mm perspective, you are going to be throwing away pixels, and this will make it more difficult to do large prints (if making large prints is something you want to do). Second note: I also have the 16-35mm II, but I use the 16mm relatively infrequently.
  18. I thought tilt and shift lenses were generally used for architectural photography- not landscape.
  19. Brian,
    A T/S lens on a small format camera such as a DSLR is a god send for landscape photographers. Especially useful is the tilting feature, since it can help extend depth of field with larger aperture settings reducing aperture diffraction effects. The T/S lenses are highly corrected and sharp lenses, so even without and T/S applied they could prove to be quite useful because of their high optical quality. However the Zeiss 21mm ZE might give these wide angles a run for their money!
  20. I got the 24mm because it's a far more generally useful focal length and is also optically superior to the 17mm (as amazing as the 17 may be).
  21. Obviously you can crop the shots from the 17mm to look like they came from a 24mm lens, but this is not always a good option.​
    Well, sort of. You can crop the width of a 17mm image to make it match the field of view of a 24mm lens, but the relative size of near objects versus distant objects will be dramatically different.
    I thought tilt and shift lenses were generally used for architectural photography- not landscape.​
    I'm not sure what percentage of landscape photographers invest in T/S lenses, but a fair number of them still use view cameras for the same reason. Perspective control is very useful for capturing grand vistas in all of their glory.
  22. I don't know if this helps much (and Canon won't like the comment) but the 17 TS is such a unique purpose lens that it begs to be rented vs owned. I think between the two it makes a lot of sense to own the 24 and rent the 17. However, you know your work best. If you think the 17 will get a ton of use then buy it but I think for most photographers the 24 will come out of the Pelican case a lot more often.
  23. Well, I went from 24mm to 17mm to 14mm, and now I even yearn for an 8mm full frame fisheye. That progression took many years though so I am concerned that you may be making an extremely expensive leap to a lens that may still not do what you expect. I suspect that you are not used to the perspective distortion and elongation of objects in the corners when using your 17mm focal length. The idea of a 17mm lens, other than getting a wider view, is to create images that exagerate the foreground/background relationship. Cropping a 17mm image to try to give the impression of a 24mm lens is waste.
    There is not as much perspective convergence in a 24mm lens compared to a 17mm lens, hence if I were able to spend the money required for one of these lenses I'd be spending it on the 17mm. Way more bang for the buck once you learn how to create effective compositions with it, and this does take time, perserverance and attention to detail.
  24. Hi, Folks,
    thanks so much for your suggestions and thoughts. They are helpful. At the same time I am not yet fully decided which would be a right choice in the give situation. Firstly, to say - I think both focal lengths - 17 and 24 - are valuable for landscape photography purposes. Secondly, in my country, I do not have a possibility to rent any of those lens (simply it is not on the rent), and if it would, I am not sure if this would be very helpful - I am not used to TS lenses yet, thus, I would need time and experience on using it to understand it all benefits. Thirdly, I am still sure that I want to get one (and cannot afford getting both) and expect starting "a new page" in my photography with dramatic landscapes and exteriors of the old village houses.
    And the idea of heading to more "dramatic" (I am not sure if this would be the right word to say it) TS lens picture leeds my feelings more to 17 mm option.
    I am sure, the great shots are done with both lenses and its focal length. To my current experience (using 17-40mm f/4.0 L) I like wide angle which 17 mm provides however in most cases I really dislike the distortion in the edges (especially such as trees or houses). That was my primary reason to think about TS lens, later I learned that it can provide far more possibilities.
    24 mm. focal length has far less distortion, which invites me to think that I might be in very often cases be quite happy with normal (not TS) lens, such as 24-70/f2.8
    I understand that cropping to get the 24 mm results in some situation would be bad idea. Another option would be to shoot with my alternative body - 30D, but I guess this would be just the same as cropping.
    I understood that 24 mm. might be of better optical performance and sharper. Such thinking arises from an idea that to make 24 mm. lens is more simply and easy. But in a way, this is just as guess based on theory. I have not seen any real comparison of the optical performance. At the same time, I understood that both lenses simply are superb in their quality, thus the performance differences are too minor.
    yes, it is great that 24 mm lens has a possibility for attaching a filter and pitty that 17 mm does not have such option.
  25. Zymantas,
    In case you haven’t spotted it already, I just posted a bunch of sample pictures from my 24 at the thread here. I think you’ll find it worth perusing.
  26. stp


    I think (but I'm not positive) that the amount of distortion at the edges of a 14mm, 17mm T/S, and 24mm T/S is directly related to the degree to which the camera is pointed up or down from straight horizontal. Point them parallel to the ground and there will be no distortion at the edges. Point them up or down, and distortion will appear, and it will be more pronounced on the shorter focal length lenses. That's the advantage of the shift function; you can "raise" or "lower" the camera while keeping the camera on the straight horizontal, and vertical objects at the edges will stay vertical. The other compelling feature for me regarding the 24mm T/S was the reported sharpness of the lens.
  27. I have very many images in my portfolio taken with a Nikon 14mm lens, and more with a Canon FD 17mm lens. In most cases I have been able to eliminate or reduce corner and edge "distortion" by choosing the composition carefully. My architectural interior shots are not in my portfolio here.
    I am posting an image below since I am not sure what sort of distortion you are having a problem with. In this image below taken on film with a 17mm lens, I have taken the shot upwards to include more sky but the tree in the bottom right corner is clearly suffering from convergence perspective and is quite distracting to the point of ruining the image. This is the sort of scenario that I would love to have a 17mm TS-E lens for. I would be able to keep the horizon low in the image while maintaining proper verticals. Is this the type of thing you would like to correct with a TS-E lens?
  28. Is this the type of thing you would like to correct with a TS-E lens?​
    John, yes, indeed - this is exactly what I would like to correct by having TS lens.
  29. Ben,
    thanks for posting your impressions on 24 mm lens. Yes, I see and no doubts that 24 mm is a great lens. Somehow, I've seen quite a lot of impressions (good impressions) about 24 mm lens and not so much practical impressions about 17 mm TS lens. I just wondering - why is it so? Is it so that it does not that suitable and thus not so popular. Or is it so that not much people had a chance to have it and thus there are no practical experience.
    So, I would appreciate if anyone could give a feedback who practically has the 17 mm TS lens.
  30. Not too many people venture into 14mm and 17mm territory, especially for a prime lens, and especially the TS-E when it costs twice as much as the next best lens. 24mm is a little easier to "stomach" for normal wideangle views.
    I think you are going to have to ask your retailer if it is possible to exchange your TS-E for the other one within a few days in case you don't like it.
  31. I routinely use post-processing controls in Photoshop or other programs to fix up converging and diverging verticals in landscape shots. I think that you get a much more natural feel to a canyon, for example, if you show the walls at their natural angle...it draws you into the scene. Here's an example to demonstrate the effect. Note the degradation of the image at the bottom of the frame due to extreme correction in post processing. If only I had the 17mm TSE! (These were taken with the 30D and the 10-22mm zoom, probably at 10mm or so.)
    Without perspective correction:
    With perspective correction:
  32. The 17, with its bulging exposed element and no support for hoods, has the obvious consequence of being very susceptible to flare -- both general contrast reduction and floating colored balls. You would notice this in the field, especially in summer. A tripod and a manual shade can deal with much of it, but the 24 is much better in this regard.
    The 17's acclaimed optics are also best when the shift / tilt is not used, negating part of the appeal of going ultra-wide and then "correcting" for it. Besides, you can't correct every dimension.
    I'd suggest the 17 only if you really benefit from the greater field of view -- the 24 will be better than a cropped 17, is a nice focal length on a full frame, and has other advantages.
  33. I too am looking at the 24mm and think it would be more advantagous than the 17mm, I went back and looked a couple times at where I shot in the past and found both focal lengths to be popular in my image library, I will want to use GND and CPL filters so that rules out the 17mm for me and stitching is pretty easy to do if I want to go wider as shown in one of the above examples, I was pretty tempted by the 45mm, but will start with the 24mm lens.
  34. As I see it, the 24TS II has many practical advantages over the 17TS. It can easily take filters, it is cheaper, it is lighter, it does not have a humongous protruding front element and it has a lens hood. Thus, if you are 100% certain that it would fit 100% of your wide TS shots it is easily recommended.
    The 17TS has only one advantage, but it is a huge one. It is wider. That is, it is much wider. You can easily get from 17TS PoV to 24TS PoV by either cropping or adding a 1.4X TC and you can't do it the other way around. In that regard, it is the more practical one.
    Happy shooting,
  35. Hi,
    so finally, after long thinking and bringing together pros and cons, I have at home... 17mm TS lens. First impression is very very great. Unfortunately, I did not manage to explore it really in the field yet, but look forward to go out within few days and enjoy shooting.
    At the same time i got quite confused seeing how much you can do and what is so many of different options are there, especially as you can combine independently tilt and shift functions rotating the lens by every 30 degrees.
    I see that it will still take some time to learn go to use it best and what is the workflow in the field. It is really so different from usual lenses.
    Thus, I would really appreciate if you could point out some good and comprehensive links on using TS lens in different tilt/shift combinations and workflows of focusing and making composition. I've seen some articles on the web, but most of them gives very basic theory, which is good, but I would love to read something more practical and coprehensive (I found somewhere video's but lost it on web and don't remember how get back to it).
    Please, share some links, which you found useful walking on your TS path..
  36. http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/HMbook18.html
    Congrats, and may I be the first to express my envy: YOU SUCK!
    Also download Merklinger's small book "Focusing the View Camera", linked at the above link.
  37. Dear co-photo net members,
    I would like to add one photo showing the benefit of the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L when using the SHIFT movement in order to get an interesting view of the sky above you.
    Maybe this would give some little view of one of the many benefits that this unique lens is capable to do for you as a landscape photographer!
    With Best Regards,
    Charl Mellin

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