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Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews Canon's TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Tilt and Shift lens for full-frame cameras.

| Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and Features

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Lens Review: Canon TS E 45mm F2 8 (4)Tilt-shift lenses appear to be quite in fashion at the moment, although the high cost of these specialist lenses normally make it so that many photographers cannot justify the cost, despite its benefits with control of the focal plane and of distortion. This 45mm tilt-shift lens from Canon has been around for a long time now, and the price isn't shocking either, at around £1000. In this review, we'll take a look at how it performs.

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Handling and Features

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Lens Review: Canon TS E 45mm F2 8 (7)
This lens has a premium feel to its construction, with a combination of metal and high quality plastics being used in its build. As a result the lens has quite a bit of weight to it for its size and feels very solid, although at 645g, it isn't overly heavy when paired with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III used for testing.

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Lens Review: Canon TS E 45mm F2 8 (2)

Manual focusing is a pleasure, thanks to the smooth action of the focusing ring. A rear focusing system has been employed, so the lens does not extend, and the front element does not rotate during focusing. Closest focus is 40cm, which isn't massively close, which is a shame as the tilt-shift adjustments are especially useful for close up work. The controls for tilt and shift movements are smooth to operate and the amount of force needed to turn the dials can be easily adjusted via smaller dials on the opposite side of the lens, which can also lock the lens at the desired setting. The lens can be shifted up to 11mm off axis, or tilted by up to 8 degrees, which provides plenty of scope for adjustment.

A useful hyperfocal scale is marked onto the lens barrel although these values will only apply if no tilt movements are set. The tilt and shift parts of the lens cannot be rotated independently, which may limit the scope for adjustment.

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Lens Review: Canon TS E 45mm F2 8 (5)

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Performance

As you may expect from one of Canon's premium optics, performance is excellent within the limits of the 35mm frame, even at maximum aperture. With the lens fully shifted, sharpness toward the edge of the image circle is slightly reduced at maximum aperture, although sharpness is still very good. Stopping down to f/5.6 or beyond results in outstanding sharpness, no matter how much shift is applied.


Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Lens Review: MTF

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are extremely well controlled, even towards the furthest edges of the image circle, with fringing falling way below half a pixel width at maximum aperture. This low level of fringing should be very hard to spot, even in harsh crops from the edges of the image circle, or in large reproductions of images taken with the lens.


Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Lens Review: CA

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III using Imatest.


Due to the nature of the lens, it isn't possible to accurately measure the falloff across the whole image circle with Imatest. Across the normal 35mm frame with the fully shifted, the corners of the image are 3.56 stops darker than the image centre at maximum aperture and uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/8 or beyond. As is the case with other tilt-shift optics, applying a severe tilt will darken the image in the viewfinder.

Distortion is a little higher than you may have expected from a lens of this type. Imatest detected 1.15% barrel distortion, which is still extremely mild, be may be possible to spot in straight lines parallel to the edges of the frame

Contrast is good, even when shooting into the light, and this lens is quite resistant to flare too.

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Sample Photos

Value For Money

With a price of £1000 from some UK suppliers, this lens is priced fairly reasonably for a specialised optic, especially one that delivers such high quality.

For purposes of comparison, the Nikon 45mm PC-E f/2.8D Micro Nikkor lens costs around £300 more, but it does focus much closer, providing half life size magnification without extension tubes.

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Verdict

Overall, this old lens delivers excellent image quality, and a good range of adjustments for a reasonable price. However, it would be nice if tilt and shift could be rotated independently, and if it could focus closer. If you can live with these shortcomings, it is still an excellent lens.

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Pros

Priced reasonably
Excellent optical performance
Solid build
Good, solid controls over tilt-shift movements

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Cons

Cannot rotate tilt and shift independently
Closest focus is only 40cm


Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Lens Review:

The Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 delivers excellent image quality and a good range of adjustments.

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF
Focal Length45mm
Angle of View
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size72mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus40cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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DavidLaverty Avatar
DavidLaverty 12 833 Northern Ireland
31 Oct 2014 3:44PM
Is it just me or does the lens used in the review look like it has been kicked around the floor for a while before testing.
ste_p0270 Avatar
ste_p0270 12 74 England
31 Oct 2014 4:03PM
EPZ were obviously bottom of the pecking list for testing Wink
sasan Avatar
sasan 10 36 England
31 Oct 2014 10:07PM
This is a 45mm lens in 45 years oldGrin

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