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Author Topic: Ultra-Wides, Landscapes, and Distortion ...  (Read 19386 times)
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #40 on: November 02, 2010, 07:24:28 AM »
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And that is the crux of our debate: my position is that it is not the lens that takes better photos, the photographer does. The lens might take technically superior photos, but that still does not translate directly into better photos.

That's like saying, "The car doesn't win the race; the driver does."

It's true in a sense, but it also completely overlooks the fact that said driver better be in a @%$#!&* fast car to begin with or he won't even be in the race. In short, it takes both a top-notch car and a top-notch driver to win the race.




Perhaps… but such issues are best handled with one's shrink.  Wink






I can: it is a matter of raising false hopes and priorities. By relying on the lens' "magical" features, by believing that it is the lens that takes better pictures, by expecting to improve one's photography by employing "better" lenses, one is inevitably downplaying photographer's role in producing better images by concentrating on creativity, vision, idea, feel, etc., things that actually result in truly better photos.  Why bother after all, when using a "legendary" lens is supposed to result in "legendary" photos?

Huh? The only thing "false" about your silly post is downplaying the importance of lens selection. First of all, no one has said anything about "magic," so you're still jerkin your pud here. I am just talking about tools for the job and the advatages/disadvantages of each.

If you don't think lenses are important, go try to take an ultra-close shot of a bird 500 yards away without a super-telephoto lens and you'll see what I mean (and you'll also see why there's a ~$6000 tag in getting such a lens). Or try to take an ultra-close 5:1 shot of a dragonfly's eye without the right lens (or stacked equipment) and you'll also begin to "get it" about the importance of lens selection.

Sure, maybe there's a lot more flexibility of choice when talking landscape lenses, I realize this, and I also realize the creative vision of the artist needs to be at the helm of any effort. No shit, Sherlock.

But that still doesn't mean a person can't really try to zero-in on which tools for the job might best suit him ... as well as make an earnest effort to get the very best quality equipment his budget will allow him to. Because, yes, some lenses are simply better than others and these better lenses are the ones I want to discuss (as well as which focal lengths are most suitable).

Since this particular forum is entitled, Cameras, Lenses, and Shooting Gear, I feel my subject matter is appropriate here (whereas your nonsense is not). I was just trying to get ideas from more knowledgeable and experienced forum members, and (thankfully) several have stepped-up to offer some suggestions I hadn't considered as well as confirmed some things I was noticing. If you want to sit here and ridicule my questions, that's cool I guess, but you're swingin-n-missin by a country mile.

I don't doubt for a minute that I have to keep improving my compositional skills, my knowledge of equipment, my roundedness in using Photoshop, etc., in order to get the most out of what I am trying to do. Again, no shit Sherlock. But if a person wants to be in the race, he's got to first sit his ass down in a "fast car" ... and he has to select the right type of "fast car" for his kind of race.

A straight-runner won't be much good for a slalom race ...

Jack




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« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, 07:35:03 AM by John Koerner » Logged
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #41 on: November 02, 2010, 07:34:43 AM »
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From a practical standpoint, this is true. The standard focusing screen in your camera is designed for brightness, not accuracy -- even with a silky smoooooth manual focus ring, you won't be able to achieve accurate manual focus. That is, images will *appear to be*  in focus through your viewfinder when they are not, in fact, in focus. Canon assumes you will use autofocus (which works quite well when used properly.)

Perhaps this is why images I could swear were in focus "in my viewfinder" looked slightly OOF on my monitor Huh

What about when using Live View? The images I take using Live View seem to come out the best.

And finally, AF works well in a "basic" sence, but it still pales in value compared to Live View and MF. This allows me to bring into perfect focus exactly what I want to be in focus.




Canon makes extra-precision screens for better manual focus with fast lenses. I have them installed in my 1-D bodies. They work well, but even wide open with fast lenses, I find the AF to be more accurate and repeatable. (However, I am usually shooting things that move a lot, not landscapes.) If you want manual focus to work best when shooting landscapes, use a tripod and Live View, zoomed all the way in, using a Hoodman loupe. I do this for architecture, and it works very well.

Okay, that's what I thought with Live View. But what is a Hoodman's Loupe?

Thanks again for your insight,

Jack




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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #42 on: November 02, 2010, 07:39:34 AM »
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Jack,
There's another option which you might find more flexible.
Select the 'Rectangular Marquee Tool' (the one with the dotted line).
Use it to select all or part of your image.
Right-click over the selected part of the image and choose 'Free Transform' from the drop-down menu. This option allows you to stretch or compress the image to your heart's content. However, if you want to avoid cropping when stretching, you should enlarge the canvas first.
For more options in 'Free Transform' mode, right-click again and the drop-down menu will offer you, Warp, Perspective, Distort, Skew etc.
Experiment and see what works best. For example, the 'perspective' option allows you to make equal corrections on both side of the image simultaneously, when you tug on one of the little squares in the corner of the selection, whereas 'distort' allows you to make corrections that apply separately to one side of the image.
Wonderful thing, Photoshop.
I would add, for a really wide effect in confined environments containing close subjects, the TS-E lenses are the best option, especially the new TS-E 17mm. On full frame this lens provides a significantly wider effect than a single shot from a 14mm lens, when stitching the usual 3 images you get from one extreme of shift to the other.
On a cropped format, the 17mm TS-E, after stitching, will give you a wider result than a single shot from an EF-S 10mm lens, and superb detail and resolution from corner to corner.
If the subject is distant, there's usually no problem getting a perfect stitch. You can use any lens. You often don't even need a tripod.
If the subject is close, there can be huge problems with discontinuities and getting straight lines to match, but not if you use a TS-E.
With Photoshop's 'Photomerge' you can even get perfect stitches of close subjects using a TS-E lens without tripod.


Thank you for taking the time Ray. I will experiment with all of this.

Jack




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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #43 on: November 02, 2010, 07:44:09 AM »
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If you shoot a pano from the exact same position, you will have the same perspective and therefore will have the same leaning lighthouse. You will likely have more detail in the image assuming the same quality of lens.

I understand what you're saying, but I thought that any such effect is the result of Barrel Distortion (an inherent problem w/ ultra-wides).

So you're saying "The Leaning Tower of St. Marks" would have occured in a less-wide lens that doesn't have Barrel Distortion?

I guess I will have to try it at 20mm and see. Will also compose a few panos, from a level perspective, and crop what I want out of it.

Thanks.


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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #44 on: November 02, 2010, 07:56:14 AM »
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I find the super-wide lens is overrated for landscape work. The exaggerated perspective can be effective at times, but can also become a boring gimmick if over-done. I have the Nikkor 14-24 but almost never use it because it's just not a useful focal range for me on full-frame. I can't quite bring myself to sell the lens because it's just so darn good at what it does, even if it's not something I have much use for.

That is how I was feeling about my 10-22 ... and I just did sell it for that reason. Everything I shot at super-wide was kind of distorted. I liked it at first but have grown tired of it.




I'm more likely to work in the slightly wide to slightly telephoto-range for the majority of my work (though there are certainly exceptions), in full-frame terms I'd say 30-85mm is where I'm most comfortable; I use the Nikkor 45mm PC-E a lot. I do use a 24mm T/S lens also, but almost never go wider than that unless it's one of those situations where you just don't have a choice due to subject size and proximity.

Interesting. Do you take just single images or do you stitch with such focal lengths?




In your situation I would take a good hard look at the newish TS-E II lenses from Canon, either 17mm or 24mm depending on which FOV you would find more useful with your cropped sensor. I found the Nikon 24mm PC-E to be very useful as a slightly-wide lens on APS-C. Not only do you get perspective control (which isn't just for buildings) but also DOF control and the option of flat stitching. Canon isn't exactly known for their wideangle lenses, but by all accounts they outdid themselves with the 17mm and 24mm TS-E II's (only Canon lenses I've ever been jealous of).

I had looked at these lenses, but the only real reviews I've been able to find were for the 'I' iterations not the 'II' versions.




I don't think the Zeiss is so much better that it's all that compelling, especially if you end up having to correct perspective in photoshop on a regular basis (which degrades image quality).
I think the advantages of T/S lenses for landscape photography are under-appreciated by a lot of photographers who think they're just for shooting architecture.

Good point.




If I could get T/S lenses for all the focal lengths I shoot, that's all I'd ever use.

Interesting.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.



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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #45 on: November 02, 2010, 08:06:26 AM »
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Most aspects of the op have already been covered - at least once - but at the risk of something-or-other I'd like to contribute. Firstly, I always find it odd that people ask about focal lengths for landscapes. Macro, interiors, portraits, yes, but "landscape"? It's a very, er, wide term.
I have the Nikon 14-24 and find it invaluable for interiors - it has earned its purchase price repeatedly. I try to avoid the need for vertical perspective correction in pp by shooting level and at the optimum height, but of course that's not always possible. However there's one form of distortion that really bothers me about fl's as wide as 14mm on full-frame (the widest prime I have, other than Fisheyes, is 20mm) and that's the volume anamorphosis effect. The non-linear stretching approaching the periphery of the wide axis is noticeable and (to me) unpleasant, even for vegetation, rocks, clouds etc. In fact I can live with it for interiors more easily than in (seldom used) landscape applications.
I've twice tried evaluation copies of DxO which offers the capacity to correct this form of distortion. I'm surprised that whenever I've tried to raise this subject no one seems bothered about it except me! As best I recall DxO offers two strategies each of which corrects differently to suit differing subjects and distances. Of course DxO also offers mapped geometrical distortion characteristics for a given lens/body combination - assuming it's in their db. But I use NX2 and don't feel moved to buy DxO as well. Most corrections can be effected in PS with a little effort, including this one.
here's a link to the relevant page of DxO's site:
http://www.dxo.com/us/photo/dxo_optics_pro/optics_geometry_corrections/anamorphosis
Roy


This seems to be exactly the unwanted effect I am seeking to correct.

I am not sure if this DxO software would have corrected the image I displayed or not, but I noticed in one of the pictures presented as a "before" in the link you provided that there was a lightpost bent-in ... and on the "after" photo it was straight.

Thanks for the link,

Jack




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k bennett
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« Reply #46 on: November 02, 2010, 08:14:46 AM »
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Perhaps this is why images I could swear were in focus "in my viewfinder" looked slightly OOF on my monitor

Yes, exactly. A great manual focus lens will not make any difference here.

Quote
So you're saying "The Leaning Tower of St. Marks" would have occured in a less-wide lens that doesn't have Barrel Distortion?

Yes, exactly. The lean comes from having the camera pointed slightly upward. A perfect lens will not make any difference here.


The Hoodman Loupe: http://www.hoodmanusa.com/products.asp?dept=1017

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stever
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« Reply #47 on: November 02, 2010, 08:53:08 AM »
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if you are considering a Zeiss lens, subcribe to diglloyd.com

There just isn't any really good ultrawide for Canon crop frame (the closest would be the Canon 14 which has some issues of it's own).  The Tokina 11-16 is measurably better than the Canon 10-22, but i think it would be hard to spot the difference in a printed image - neither has decent edge sharpness until you stop down to f8+ (true as well for all other wide zooms except the Nikon 14-24).  most primes 24mm and wider need to be stopped down as well

in addition to the Zeiss 21, the Canon 17 and 24 have corner-corner sharpness even at larger apertures and do not have the mustache (or wave) distortion of the Zeiss 21 and all of the wide zooms.  mustache distortion is hard to correct, and PT lens helps but doesn't fix it, don't know about DXO and haven't done a test yet with LR3.  mustache distortion can be really annoying when you got straight lines in the image.  PT lens and DXO will also fix perspective distortion but i'm not sure at what cost in resolution (and you've got to remember not to frame the subject too tight) - the largest print i've made with significant correction using PT Lens is a 13x19 from 5D and 24-105 of a power plant with smokestack, it will withstand close inspection and would be completely unusable without correction

if neither i nor the subject is moving, i'd rather shoot a panorama than use an ultrawide lens - particularly with a crop-frame camera - most of the time, shooting verticals, a 50mm eff prime works great, and i've hardly ever needed to go wider than 35mm or longer than 100mm

a lot depends on the use of the images - if they're not going to be printed, it probably doesn't make much difference.  but if there's important detail in the corners or edges i wouldn't print larger than 11x17, from an 11-16, even stopped down --with really good wide glass, 17x25 is just possible from a 7D, but shooting a panorama with reasonably priced primes, 17 or 20x?? is not a problem even with some cropping
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #48 on: November 02, 2010, 10:43:51 AM »
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I just got one of these. Much nicer than the Hoodman Loupe, and still relatively affordable compared to the Zacuto Z-Finder. The 2x magnification is nice when trying to nail focus at 100%, and the eye cup is much better than the Hoodman as well.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #49 on: November 02, 2010, 10:46:37 AM »
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Interesting. Do you take just single images or do you stitch with such focal lengths?
I sometimes stitch, but not always or even a majority of the time.

Quote
I had looked at these lenses, but the only real reviews I've been able to find were for the 'I' iterations not the 'II' versions.
I'm surprised, there has been lots of discussion of the II's, even here at LuLa. The 24 TSE II is greatly improved from the original (the 17 TS-E is completely new and had no predecessor).
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Policar
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« Reply #50 on: November 02, 2010, 01:03:47 PM »
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...in full-frame terms I'd say 30-85mm is where I'm most comfortable

+1 on these focal lengths.  No need to worry about "volume anamorphosis" or whatever if your lenses barely distort perspective in the first place.  Borderline ultra-wides (24mm equivalent) can also be useful if you have simple, non-detailed corners (skies, etc.), imo, but my default is 180mm (roughly equivalent to 45mm, actually).

That said, there's something very dramatic about ultra-wides...until you make a huge print from one and the corners look "off."  Some people love ultra-wides--and, like hdr or something, they provide impressive images in small prints and on the web, which is fine--but the popular opinion that wider is better when shooting outdoors is wrong and I don't know how it gets propagated.  Ultra-ultra wides are best for architecture and interiors, when you need to fit a lot in frame and can't back up--or for the sake of intentional distortion and "weirdness;" see virtually any Terry Gilliam movie, for example.

If I could get T/S lenses for all the focal lengths I shoot, that's all I'd ever use.

You can get T/S lenses for every focal length.  The only trade-off is each sheet of film costs like $5...and you get light leaks, accidental double exposures, film plane calibration issues, a five-pound camera that's designed like a sail and is incredibly fragile, and you need like five charts just to figure out how to expose and focus correctly.

On the original topic, the Zeiss looks like the "best lens ever" and if having the best lens ever frees you to shoot how you want, buy it.  What lens tests cover up is that even if you have great resolution, color rendering and micro-contrast may be off--so some of that subjective magic may-or-may-not actually be real even if flat charts don't show it.  Look at photos taken with the coastal optics 60mm f4 (the real best lens ever):  the colors are always perfect.  That said, I have never used any of these lenses in question because they cost as much as my entire set-up!  But if 10-20mm is too wide on a crop body and you're buying 21mm with the intention of later switching to full-frame, just be aware that it may be too wide, too, and since it's not tilt/shift you will have all manner of unavoidable perspective distortion.  Count mine as another vote (in theory, haven't tried any of these options) for 24mm or 45mm (on full frame) TS-E, but try all the options (rent, maybe) before comitting...
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welder
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« Reply #51 on: November 02, 2010, 03:23:40 PM »
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I was looking at the T/S 24mm and it doesn't seem to be what I am looking for. I am starting to lean heavily toward the simplicity of the Zeiss.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the Zeiss. But keep in mind that whatever new lens you get it has no bearing on your perspective issue. If that's an issue of concern for you and you are also concerned about sharpness, then the TS-E would seem a better option. With a non-shift lens, you either have to a) shoot with the horizon in the middle of the frame and then crop the composition later; b) apply perspective correction in Photoshop later (in which case you are somewhat altering your composition and will need to take that into account as you are setting up the shot...plus you are degrading pixel quality as you stretch the image by applying digital correction) or c) stitch panos.

Given those options, I would say that instead the TS-E seems like the simplest choice.

I also believe that the Zeiss comes with some barrel distortion (of the "moustache" variety, from what I've heard) while the 24MM TSE ii has practically no distortion.

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tokengirl
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« Reply #52 on: November 02, 2010, 04:18:02 PM »
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I am going to throw my lot in with the folks who have recommended the tilt-shift lenses.  I have both the 17mm TS-E and the 24mm TS-E II, both excellent.  The 24 is what is on my 5DMkII 95% of the time.  It is a spectacular lens.  There is no barrel distortion, no CA, extremely resistant to flare, and it is absolutely sharp corner to corner.  If I had to give up all my lenses and only keep one, the 24mm TS-E II would be the one.  Pricey, but worth every single penny IMO.
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Luis Argerich
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« Reply #53 on: November 02, 2010, 06:03:27 PM »
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On the not so expensive scale the TSE 45 and the superb TSE 90 are also worth consideration. I do landscapes only and I find I use the TSE 90 a lot, sometimes shifting to create a stitched image equivalent of a 40mm lens. It's like having a very sharp 40-90 zoom with tilt capability.
And the 90 works wonders for flowers and semi-macro photography too.

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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #54 on: November 02, 2010, 06:58:04 PM »
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Yes, exactly. A great manual focus lens will not make any difference here.

Even when the focus dogs "beep" to signify perfect focus? This doesn't sound possible. What good would they be then?

I can understand, though, if "I" think it's in focus ... but hear no "beep" ...




Yes, exactly. The lean comes from having the camera pointed slightly upward. A perfect lens will not make any difference here.

Okay, thanks. I know you said it earlier, but I wasn't sure I wanted to accept this. Learn something new every day.





Thanks for the link,

Jack




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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #55 on: November 02, 2010, 07:02:42 PM »
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if you are considering a Zeiss lens, subcribe to diglloyd.com

Thanks, however, based on all this further feedback, I am leaning toward the 17mm Tilt Shift ...




There just isn't any really good ultrawide for Canon crop frame (the closest would be the Canon 14 which has some issues of it's own).  The Tokina 11-16 is measurably better than the Canon 10-22, but i think it would be hard to spot the difference in a printed image - neither has decent edge sharpness until you stop down to f8+ (true as well for all other wide zooms except the Nikon 14-24).  most primes 24mm and wider need to be stopped down as well
in addition to the Zeiss 21, the Canon 17 and 24 have corner-corner sharpness even at larger apertures and do not have the mustache (or wave) distortion of the Zeiss 21 and all of the wide zooms.  mustache distortion is hard to correct, and PT lens helps but doesn't fix it, don't know about DXO and haven't done a test yet with LR3.  mustache distortion can be really annoying when you got straight lines in the image.  PT lens and DXO will also fix perspective distortion but i'm not sure at what cost in resolution (and you've got to remember not to frame the subject too tight) - the largest print i've made with significant correction using PT Lens is a 13x19 from 5D and 24-105 of a power plant with smokestack, it will withstand close inspection and would be completely unusable without correction
if neither i nor the subject is moving, i'd rather shoot a panorama than use an ultrawide lens - particularly with a crop-frame camera - most of the time, shooting verticals, a 50mm eff prime works great, and i've hardly ever needed to go wider than 35mm or longer than 100mm
a lot depends on the use of the images - if they're not going to be printed, it probably doesn't make much difference.  but if there's important detail in the corners or edges i wouldn't print larger than 11x17, from an 11-16, even stopped down --with really good wide glass, 17x25 is just possible from a 7D, but shooting a panorama with reasonably priced primes, 17 or 20x?? is not a problem even with some cropping

Thank you for your feedback. That is pretty much the direction I am headed ...

Jack



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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #56 on: November 02, 2010, 07:17:10 PM »
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I sometimes stitch, but not always or even a majority of the time.

Interesting.




I'm surprised, there has been lots of discussion of the II's, even here at LuLa. The 24 TSE II is greatly improved from the original (the 17 TS-E is completely new and had no predecessor).

Well, I have only been thinking about them for about a week now. When I started checking, there was no "TS-E 24 II" review yet at Photozone (though they did have the 17) and neither is reviewed at SLRLensreview.com.

In looking at the TS-E 17mm, the reviews at B&H, what was said at Photozone, and what has been said here ... it seems like a better overall bargain than the Zeiss (equal quality, wider, more versatile). However, I am more than a little concerned that it (like the Nikkor 14-40) has no way to protect the front element, not even a hood.

Jack




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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #57 on: November 02, 2010, 07:21:22 PM »
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There is certainly nothing wrong with the Zeiss. But keep in mind that whatever new lens you get it has no bearing on your perspective issue. If that's an issue of concern for you and you are also concerned about sharpness, then the TS-E would seem a better option. With a non-shift lens, you either have to a) shoot with the horizon in the middle of the frame and then crop the composition later; b) apply perspective correction in Photoshop later (in which case you are somewhat altering your composition and will need to take that into account as you are setting up the shot...plus you are degrading pixel quality as you stretch the image by applying digital correction) or c) stitch panos.
Given those options, I would say that instead the TS-E seems like the simplest choice.
I also believe that the Zeiss comes with some barrel distortion (of the "moustache" variety, from what I've heard) while the 24MM TSE ii has practically no distortion.

Good post. I guess in wanting "the simplicity of the Zeiss" I was over-simplifying in my mind.

The fact that I had never used a T/S made me shy away from it, but I suppose after I get the hang of it then it will indeed be the best and simplest choice.

Jack




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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #58 on: November 02, 2010, 07:22:26 PM »
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I am going to throw my lot in with the folks who have recommended the tilt-shift lenses.  I have both the 17mm TS-E and the 24mm TS-E II, both excellent.  The 24 is what is on my 5DMkII 95% of the time.  It is a spectacular lens.  There is no barrel distortion, no CA, extremely resistant to flare, and it is absolutely sharp corner to corner.  If I had to give up all my lenses and only keep one, the 24mm TS-E II would be the one.  Pricey, but worth every single penny IMO.

Thank you for your comments.

Out of curiosity, what made you choose the 24 II over the 17?
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #59 on: November 02, 2010, 07:29:29 PM »
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On the not so expensive scale the TSE 45 and the superb TSE 90 are also worth consideration. I do landscapes only and I find I use the TSE 90 a lot, sometimes shifting to create a stitched image equivalent of a 40mm lens. It's like having a very sharp 40-90 zoom with tilt capability.
And the 90 works wonders for flowers and semi-macro photography too.

I have seen some really nice flower shots with the 90 TS also ...



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