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wide angle lenses recommandation for architectural photos

chi chang , Jun 19, 2010; 10:42 p.m.

I have a 5D and a 24-105mm f4. I need a wide or super wide angle lens to do architectural photos including some high rise buildings. I did some reserches that I need a tilt-shift lens. But canon t/s 17mm is over my budget at this moment. please recommand good lenses. also, just wondering if that is possible not using tilt-shift lenses and still doing a good job? Many thanks!


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Harry Joseph , Jun 19, 2010; 10:58 p.m.

Canon 20mm f2.8 USM has received some pretty good reviews in the past. A tilt-shift lens helps in getting that last bit of DOF, but if you move back far enough where you don't have to tilt your camera up to break the parallel plane where the image hits the sensor you should be fine IHMO.


Scott Ferris , Jun 19, 2010; 11:36 p.m.

Get a TS-E 24mm MkI secondhand. This will work much wider than your current 24 because you can shift and stitch to get wider, I think you can stitch to get an effective 17mm fov without moving the camera. The CA and other defects the MkII improve on can be mitigated far more effectively in software now.

You can use software to "fix" shift, the more important architectural advantage of the TS lenses, but not the tilt as well. Though software shifting is not as good as doing it with the lens. Take a look at the newest version of LightRoom for the vastly improved lens correction capabilities, they are very good and fast.

Hope this helps, Scott.

Craig Meddaugh , Jun 20, 2010; 01:08 a.m.

+1 to Scott's advice. The other thing you can do is pick up a large format setup for less than half the cost of the 17mm TS-E. Leaves a lot of money left for film.

Dan South , Jun 20, 2010; 01:29 a.m.

With all due respect to previous posters, the shift feature of your shift lens is going to be wasted on stitching when you can use it for rise or fall in order to eliminate the keystone/converging verticals effect. This means that you won't have to waste a lot of pixels by performing lens corrections with software.

Also, with regard to "getting the last bit of DOF," that works only if you are concerned with a single plane such as a detailed floor or wall. For most architectural shots you'll need the same DOF at the top of the photo as the bottom and on both sides equally. Therefore, tilts and swings aren't going to help. You need to use the hyperfocal distance or take create a composite stack of images focused at different distances into the subject space.

Shift lens with rise-no software lens correction applied

Robin Sibson , Jun 20, 2010; 03:56 a.m.

Yet another vote for the original TS24, which I have used for many years, first on film and then on both 1.6-factor and FF digital. OK, we all know that the II version is optically better as well as having more versatile movements, but if cost is a constraint then you'll be better off with an original TS24 than with nothing. I have a 17~40, and for architectural work I definitely prefer the TS24 in preference to cropping from the 17~40 set wide, even tho' I have plenty of pixels to play with on the 5DII. If you have an original 5D then you'll definitely be better off not cropping.

The main defect of the original TS24 is lateral CA that can be noticeable under some circumstances. Canon's own DPP software does not provide aberration correction capabilities for any TS lens. However, with third-party software you can do this if you are not using tilt. The trick is to create a 16-bit image from the RAW file (for example by using DPP to make a 16-bit TIFF), then use (for example) PS to extend the canvas so that the lens axis is, to a reasonably good approximation, centred in the canvas. It's the opposite of what you would do if you were cropping away the foreground from a wide-angle shot. You can then use any aberration correction tools that you happen to like, finally crop away the added area of the canvas.

John Crowe , Jun 20, 2010; 09:08 a.m.

I find 24mm not to be wide enough, and when it is you already have your zoom. The ideal lens, of course, is the 17 TS-E, but it's out of your budget. All the same reasons I use a 14mm f2.8 lens. keh.com currently has a used EX one for under $1200 and a Bargain one for $1000. I have had great success with their Bargain and Ugly lenses. 14mm is also excellent for interiors. I also use full frame.

My Nikon 14mm has minor distortion effects that can be a problem in some architecural uses but I believe the Canon 14mm is better corrected. I used a Canon FD 17mm lens for 15 years and it is a shame they never introduced it in EF mount since I never noticed distortion at all.

JDM von Weinberg , Jun 20, 2010; 01:11 p.m.

For a 5D I think the TS-E 24mm is a good bet, if any version of it is in your price range.

Alas, as nice a lens as the EF 24-105mm IS L lens is, at 24mm it, like almost all zoom lenses that cover a fair range, has noticeable barrel distortion when used for architectural photography. By the time you've fixed the distortion and done perspective-corrections, you're going to have massaged those little pixels a fair amount.

For years in 35mm film, I used an only 35mm PC-Nikkor and I still use it today with an adapter on a Canon 5D body I bought essentially to put that lens back in service. But 24mm is a lot better than 35mm or even 28mm perspective control. Since I've never had a tilt lens, I haven't missed it in architectural shooting, but when I get one, no doubt I will find something to do with it. :)

I think that the TS-E 17mm lens was primarily stimulated by the need for a wider angle PC on an APS-C sensor camera. That being said, it is my personal beau-ideal PC lens, which I will definitely buy when the kid gets out of college....

Robin Sibson , Jun 20, 2010; 02:07 p.m.

JDMvW, it is certainly my experience that 24mm is a really useful focal length for a TS lens, but so is (around) 35mm. In my film days I achieved this by putting my TS24 on an Extender 1.4× (as is well known, all TS lenses fit all Extenders physically, although the TS lenses do not have the extra pins) and that works better than you have any right to expect. Nowadays I use a 1.6-factor body rather than a FF body when I want that focal length equivalent.

As for the TS17, I very much doubt if use on an APS-C body was prominent in Canon's reasoning for introducing this lens, any more than I think they had APS-C in mind for the 14/2.8. Based on my experience using the TS24 and the 17~40 at its wide end on FF, I would expect the TS17 to be a very challenging lens from which to obtain satisfying results. If I were to replace my original TS24 with one of the new TS lenses, it would certainly be with the TS24II rather than the TS17.

Sarah Fox , Jun 20, 2010; 03:01 p.m.

This will not be a very chic or fashionable answer, but I'll stick my neck out here...

You don't HAVE to have a T/S lens. You can correct perspective in postprocessing. This approach will work very well if (1) your corrections aren't severe ones, (2) you're thoughtful about how you do it, and (3) you're not expecting the resolution of a 4x5 view camera (which a T/S on a digital isn't going to give you anyway).

Simply find a conventional UW you like, and do your corrections in post.

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