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TS-E 90mm f/2.8 – tilt and shift for 35mm format

The move to digital has precipitated the need for tilt and shift lenses suitable for 35mm cameras. The TS-E 90mm lens is just such a lens. The lens is one of the unsung gems in the Canon lens range. Launched in 1991 it still shines as an example of what Canon’s optical engineers can achieve. It was the first tilt and shift lens to feature an automatic aperture, made possible by the electromagnetic diaphragm developed with the birth of the EOS system.

Who is it for?


Tilt and shift lenses are usually thought of as the domain of architectural photographers, but the longer focal length provided by the 90mm lens makes this perfectly suited to product photography and portrait photography, where the natural perspective helps.

Key features

  • Focal length and max. aperture: 90 mm, 1:2.8
  • Lens construction: 6 elements in 5 groups
  • Diagonal angle of view: 51°
  • Focus adjustment: Manual focus, overall linear extension system
  • Closest focusing distance: 0.5m/1.6ft
  • Filter size: 58mm

TS-E lenses are also known as ‘perspective control’ or ‘tilt and shift’ lenses. They offer the same sort of lens movements enjoyed by large format camera users on a 35mm format camera, allowing you to adjust the optical axis of the lens to control either perspective or depth-of-field.

The TS-E90mm f/2.8 is great for pack-shot style photography as well as being useful for commercial uses, like food photography. With a maximum magnification of 0.29x it can be used a bit like a macro lens with plenty of working distance between you and your subject. This lens makes a fantastic portrait lens, being so close in length to the ‘optimum’ portrait focal length of 85mm, and can provide some interesting and different results allowing you to bend the common 'optical rules' about what's possible in an image.

Although it is a manual focus lens TS-E lenses are used in a slow, considered manner, where any lens movements are lined up very carefully and the exact point of focus needs to be chosen with absolute precision to get the best results.

TS-E lenses are unique in the Canon range in that they are end-user adjustable. In the standard arrangement, the shift movement and the tilt movement are aligned at 90° to each other, so you cannot use both tilt and shift in the same plane. However, by carefully removing four screws on the back of the lens and rotating the two halves, it is possible to align both tilt and shift so they are in the same plane and can be used in conjunction with each other for more creative control. If you aren’t certain about making this adjustment, it can also be done quickly and easily at a Canon Service Centre.

With the advent of digital cameras, it has become easier to stitch images together to create panorama images. The difficulty is putting the images together when you rotate the camera, especially if you don’t rotate around the nodal point of the lens/camera combination. However, with a tilt and shift lens, the shift can be used in a horizontal fashion to take a 3-step panorama that can be stitched together with no distortion at all. Combined with tilt in the same optical plane, it becomes much easier to achieve depth-of-field through the image, in a non-distorted panorama, even when shooting with a much larger aperture than expected.

  • Tilt and shift

Being able to tilt and shift the lens gives much greater control over the look of the final image. Front tilt will provide increased depth-of-field, while reverse tilt keeps the focus very shallow and can be used to give the impression of a model or toy town for creative purposes.

Technical product specifications are currently unavailable.