An old lens updated…and enlarged?

Science library at Noyce Hall, Grinnell College
Science library at Noyce Hall, Grinnell College, Iowa | Canon 5D Mark II and 24mm f/3.5L TS-E Mark II lens | Exposed 1/20 sec. @ f/3.5, ISO 100.

Lens envy is something every photographer experiences, and sometimes it’s made worse when a lens you love is replaced with a newer, more expensive version.  I suppose this is what people who have iPhone’s go through every June.

About five years ago I purchased a Canon 24mm f/3.5L TS-E lens for its ability to control perspective…that is, I wanted to get a view looking “up” at a building without the lines converging.  And it was a small, albeit dense, lens, so it was pretty easy to slip into a camera bag and take it along just in case a landscape or architectural situation demanded it.  But it had its flaws, chief among them being that the tilt (also known as swing) movement comes from the factory 90 degrees from the shift (rise and fall) movement.  That means that if you want to use shift to get a higher perspective, but also tilt the lens downward, then you’re out of luck unless you send the lens in to Canon to be altered so that they’re on the same plane.

Canon 24mm f/3.5L TS-E lenses
Canon 24mm f/3.5L TS-E lenses - the Mark II is on the right, and now takes an 82mm filter thread instead of the 72mm thread on the older version. | Canon 5D Mark II and 85mm f/1.2L II lens | Exposed 1/80 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 100.

Then, Canon announced that it was revamping the 24mm TS-E to be introduced in 2009, and the biggest change was that tilt and shift movements could be rotated to be on the same plane, or 90 degrees from each other.  But, as with any advance, there’s a drawback: the new lens is huge in comparison to the old one!  Finally, one thing I don’t like is that the filter thread jumped up from 72mm, which was a little small for my taste, but my 77mm polarizing filter easily went onto a step-up ring.  However, now that the new 24mm TS-E takes an 82mm thread, like my 16-35mm f/2.8L II, so a true 82mm polarizing filter might just be a necessity.

That said, did I hold my 77mm polarizer up to the lens with my fingers?  Yup.  But I think it would just get old, so if/when I buy a lens like this one, I think an appropriately-sized polarizer is just going to be part of the cost-of-entry.

A wall with some personality to it
A wall with some personality to it, Joe Rosenfield Center, Grinnell College, Iowa | Canon 5D Mark II and 24mm f/3.5L II lens | Exposed 6 seconds @ f/11, ISO 800.

The bottom line is that the new lens is sharper, more versatile because of the ability to change the alignment of the shift and tilt movements, but also bigger and much more expensive.

Anyone want to buy my old one?  I may be broke, but I’m only half-kidding. . .

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