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I'm not sure which one suits best my needs. However, I am curious to know why the 24mm is a lot more expensive, given that it is a f3.5. Perhaps, the maximum aperture does not matter very much with TS lenses?

I would also like to know, apart from the focal length, the things that you can do with one lens versus the other.

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It's a bit of an aside, but this question is a good guide as to why lenses (around) 50mm are the cheapest. –  Philip Kendall Jun 7 '13 at 7:27
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The differences in what you can do aren't "apart from the focal length". They are because of the focal length. –  mattdm Jun 7 '13 at 11:17
    
@dpollitt The ability to do TS rotation, which the TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II has and the TS-E 45mm f/2.8 does not is quite significant and gives the 24mm version, along with the TS-E 17mm f/4 L that also features TS rotation, the ability to orient the tilt and shift axes to each other in ways that produce results the TS-E 45mm f/2.8 can not. This goes well beyond the differences in focal length. –  Michael Clark Jun 7 '13 at 19:06
    
@dpollitt How does modifying the title to reflect the actual names of the two lenses in question suit my needs? There are no other T/S lenses from Canon currently available in 24mm and 45mm focal lengths. –  Michael Clark Jun 7 '13 at 19:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Reasons for the price difference are:

  • The TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II is part of Canon's luxury "L" series, whereas the 45mm is not
  • The 24mm is a much newer digital era design (all lenses are discounted with age)
  • The 24mm is a lot wider (see Why are wide-angle lenses so much more expensive?)

Most uses for the tilt function are to maximise depth of field, so lenses are rarely shot wide open when tilted.

If you wanted to do low light architecture photography using the shift function then

24mm and 45mm are quite a long way apart in terms of field of view, you can't really compare these lenses on merit, you have to consider which focal length is most appropriate and base you decision on that.

Finally rumour has it that the longer TSEs (the 45mm and 90mm) will be replaced soon with L versions (and the obligatory doubling of price).

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The TS-E 24mm can also alter the angle between the tilt and shift axes in variables between 0º and 90º. The only other lens in the world that is capable of this is the TS-E 17mm f/4 L. –  Michael Clark Jun 7 '13 at 16:34

The focal length you want depends on what you want to do with it, and also if you want to use it on a crop camera, or full frame.

I think that a very common purpose for a tilt shift lens is architecture, and for this I would suggest the wider lens of the two. The tilt shift possibilities of the two lenses are almost the same, but due to the different focal lengths, the final images will of course be different. So you really have to think about what you want to photograph, and which focal length is best suited for that. Just as you would do for any other prime.

Tilt-shift properties (source):

  • TS-E 45mm f2.8 (1991) – Maximum Shift = 11mm. Maximum Tilt = 8 degrees.
  • TS-E 24mm f3.5L II (2009) – Maximum Shift = 12mm. Maximum Tilt = 8.5 degrees.

To comment on the price: in general wide angle lenses are more difficult and therefore expensive to produce. A very simple example is the canon 24mm 1.4 vs the 50mm 1.4, the price difference between these two is huge. And yes, I know the 50mm is not an L lens, and the buid quality is less, but even the 24mm f2.8 is more expensive already. Furthermore the design of the 24mm ts-e is a lot newer than for the 45mm, and this has probably also an impact on the price.

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Also, the complexity and cost of a wide-angle lens basically comes from covering an image circle that's large compared to the focal length. A TS lens needs to cover a larger image circle than a regular lens, to allow for the movements. So the 24mm lens is (from a design complexity standpoint) "wider" than the 24mm would imply. –  coneslayer Jun 7 '13 at 11:14
    
@Johann3s You said, "The tilt shift possibilities of the two lenses are almost the same..." This is not true. The ability of the TS-E 24mm f/2.5 L II to do TS rotation is revolutionary and allows the user to vary the angle of the tilt and the shift axes in relation to each other from 0º to 90º and anywhere in between on-the-fly and without disassembling the lens. Even when taking apart the lens, the choice with the TS-E 45mm f/2.8 is either 0º or 90º, with no intermediate angles. –  Michael Clark Jun 7 '13 at 19:14

There are three major differences between the two lenses:

  • Focal Length/Field of View. The TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II is almost twice as wide as the TS-E 45mm f/2.8. The 24mm has a diagonal angle of view of 84º compared to the 51º of the 45mm lens.

  • The TS-E 24mm is a much more recent design that is part of Canon's "L" series of lenses. The TS-E 45mm is an older design and is not a "L" series lens. In general, the "L" series have a much heavier construction and higher build quality and usually have superior optics to the consumer grade counterparts for the same types of lenses.

  • Perhaps most significantly,the ability to set the relationship of the tilt and shift mechanisms to variable angles between 0º and 90º is shared by the TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II and the newer TS-E 17mm f/4 L and no other T/S lens in the world. Below is a quote from The-Digital-Picture's review of the TS-E 24mm:

Like no tilt-shift lens before it, the TS-E 24 L II's tilt feature rotates independently of and in relation to the shift movement. This is a really nice feature - its called TS rotation. In the past, the orientation of the shift and tilt mechanisms could be changed in relation to each other, but it meant taking the lens apart with a screwdriver (or sending it to Canon Service if you were less adventurous). And even then, the movement orientation options available were either perpendicular (right angle) or parallel to each other (2 options). Now, rotation of the tilt and shift features can happen independently of each other. The tilt-shift relationship can be changed by varying amounts up to 90 degrees on the fly.

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