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Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 tilt shift lens


  • introduced in 1991 as the world's first 35mm-format telephoto lens with tilt-and-shift movement
  • Canon's highest optical performing tilt/shift lens until the new L lenses.
  • many reverse the factory default lens tilt-shift orientation otherwise the tilt tends to counteract the shift but this causes some vignetting on full frame
  • The lenses come preset from the factory with the axes opposite each other, but a Canon service center can adjust them so that they are on the same axis. This way you can use Scheimflug and a rising front (for example) at the same time.
    • this older model is:
      • half the price
      • almost half the weight 565g vs 915g
      • shorter 88mm vs 117mm
      • not as sharp or as optically corrected but nevertheless this is a very sharp lens even wide open (comparable sharp to Canon EF 100mm L but not as sharp as a Zeiss 100mm)
      • can use tele-extenders whereas apparently the new one can't
      • uses 58mm filters instead of 77mm
      • close focus 0.5m instead of 0.39m
      • different optical design with almost half the number of elements and groups
      • no extra coatings
      • 8 blades not 9 blades
      • aperture to f/32 not f/45 but then sharpness at f/32 is already less than half while at f/45 it falls to a quarter of maximum sharpness
      • arguably nicer, less busy bokeh


  • aperture f/2.8 - f/32
  • minimum focus 50cm 0.29x magnification
  • six elements in five groups, in a Gaussian-type optical system
  • recessed front lens
  • 58mm filter thread
  • manual focus
  • up to 8deg tilt, 11mm shift and 90deg rotation
  • nice bokeh
  • Super Spectra coatings for accurate colour balance and enhanced contrast
  • 565 g (1.25 lb)
  • 88 mm (3.46″) long
  • EW-65 III pinch-release hood


  • unfortunately, the minimum focus of this lens is only 0.5m which gives 0.29x macro (the new Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8L tilt shift macro lens may be a better choice for macro work as this gives 1:2 macro)
  • extension tubes
    • using a 25mm extension tube will allow close focus to 0.6x macro
    • using a 12mm extension tube will allow close focus to 0.43x macro
  • can also be used with tele-extenders 1.4x or 2x however, correct aperture and focal length information are not reported to the camera and this may impact IBIS systems

versatility of this lens

portrait lens

  • 90mm f/2.8 with lovely bokeh makes for a very handy, sharp, shallow depth of field portrait lens at f/2.8
  • if one wishes to give the appearance of even shallower DOF, one can use the tilt mechanism to advantage, in the opposite way in which it is used for in-focus landscapes.
  • of course, the biggest issue here is the lack of auto-focus

close up lens

  • at closest focus of 0.5m, it gives 0.29x magnification on a full frame dSLR but this can be increased by either:
    • with Canon EF-12 extension tube $A159 gives 0.56-0.18x
    • with Canon EF-25 extension tube $A279 gives 0.78-0.40x
    • with Canon 1.4x teleconverter gives 0.41x magnification
    • one can even combine an extension tube with a teleconverter
    • use on a cropped sensor camera such as a 2x crop Micro Four Thirds system
  • although magnification is not up there with a true macro lens, the tilt capability allows images that are just not possible with a macro lens, particular if you are imaging a subject with the key points of interest being in much the same plane which is not parallel to the camera sensor, such as a daisy aesthetically angled rather than straight on to the camera.
  • this lens is brilliant for many floral subjects

selective focus

  • the tilt mechanism allows emphasis of a subject by creating selective focus as with this image of a clock taken with this lens on a Micro Four Thirds system to show that even a flat subject taken head on can be modified:

product photography

  • the tilt mechanism enables selection of a plane of focus to accentuate your subject and make it pop from its surroundings.

landscape photography

  • the tilt mechanism enables one to get all the scene in focus without resorting to extremely small apertures


  • shift mechanism allows perspective control, although the 90mm focal length will be too long for many subjects

panorama stitching

  • place the camera on a tripod and use the shift mechanism to take 3 separate images which can then be stitched to create a panorama

tilt calculations

  • J point is the distance below the camera that will be in focus (although this point will not be in the field of view of the lens)
    • J = lens focal length / sin(tilt angle)
  • for landscapes, where nearly everything is in focus one usually selects a tilt and focus distance that changes the focus plane to horizontal (ie. 90deg) with the camera still aimed horizontally but placed at the J point above the ground.
    • thus determine how far you want to be from the ground (based on tripod, perspective, etc), then determine from the tables what tilt you will need and the focus distance to achieve close to 90deg focus plane.
  • camera sensor size and aperture have NO effect on the angle of the focus plane BUT do alter the total angular depth of field, and thus the calculations should apply whether you use it on a full frame dSLR or a 2x crop Micro Four Thirds system
  • at closest focus of 0.5m, you can change the plane of focus to max. 39 deg from horizon (or 51deg from perpendicular to camera), thus if you angle you camera down on your flat subject at an angle of 51deg with an 8deg lens tilt, your flat subject should be in focus (without tilt, your camera sensor has to be at parallel to the flat surface)
tilt amount (degrees) untilted focus distance (m) angle of plane of sharpest focus (degrees) J point
8 degrees 0.5m 39.3 deg 0.6m
8 degrees 1m 60 deg 0.6m
8 degrees 1.5m 70 deg 0.6m
8 degrees 2m 75.8 deg 0.6m
8 degrees 5m 86.6 deg 0.6m
8 degrees 10m 90 deg 0.6m
6 degrees 0.5m 30.9 deg 0.9m
6 degrees 1m 51 deg 0.9m
6 degrees 1.5m 62.5 deg 0.9m
6 degrees 2m 69 deg 0.9m
6 degrees 5m 83 deg 0.9m
6 degrees 10m 88 deg 0.9m
4 degrees 0.5m 21.4 deg 1.3m
4 degrees 1m 38.5 deg 1.3m
4 degrees 1.5m 50.5 deg 1.3m
4 degrees 2m 58.6 deg 1.3m
4 degrees 5m 77.4 deg 1.3m
4 degrees 10m 84.6 deg 1.3m
4 degrees 20m 88.3 deg 1.3m
2 degrees 0.5m 11 deg 2.6m
2 degrees 1m 21.3 deg 2.6m
2 degrees 1.5m 30.4 deg 2.6m
2 degrees 2m 38.2 deg 2.6m
2 degrees 5m 63.5 deg 2.6m
2 degrees 10m 76.5 deg 2.6m
2 degrees 20m 83.6 deg 2.6m
2 degrees 60m 88.5 deg 2.6m



In this example I used rotated tilt to select a plane of focus through her hand and left eye using a Canon 1D Mark III with live preview to focus on her eye.

see more examples:

photo/canontse90mm.txt · Last modified: 2020/06/26 17:59 by gary1

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