After an entire week of having a Canon TS-E 17mm F/4 at my disposal, I am still not sure which control to start setting first. This particular lens has a total of 5 degrees of freedom:

  1. ±6.5° tilt
  2. ±12mm shift
  3. Rotation between tilt and shift axis
  4. Rotation of the entire lens
  5. Focus distance

The focus distance seems to be the last one to set since changing another degree of freedom affects focus by a significant amount. Other than that, I'm not sure. So:

  • Besides focus, which of these affects another?
  • In which sequence should these be set in order to avoid having to change a previous one?
  • What else does the order of setting these degrees of freedom depend on?
  • \$\begingroup\$ Itai, can you please explain #3? Does it mean that there's only one tilt axis and one shift direction and you can change the relative angle between these two? Which one is closer to the body? \$\endgroup\$
    – ysap
    May 2, 2012 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ The obvious answer would be to work from the body outwards. This way, consecutive settings won't affect the previous ones. However, I suspect there is more to that than this, as you surly figured that rule yourself. So, if it is not so, what do you experience when setting the lens in this particular order? \$\endgroup\$
    – ysap
    May 2, 2012 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. Good point. Its good to know which one is closer and in this case it is the shift. - About what happens in body-to-outer order, I will make some more tests to make sure I have the facts right. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    May 2, 2012 at 13:10

1 Answer 1


(Note, this is based on my experience with the Canon 24mm TS-E which I assume is similar in operation to the 17mm)

Tilt should always be set before shift as tilting in a particular direction also causes a noticeable shift effect in the same direction.

The rotation of the lens controls how the rotation of the tilt axis can be made to relate to the scene (mostly important when you want the tilt axis to be diagonal rather than horizontal/vertical). Canon also states that if you are using the lens on a camera that has an inbuilt flash that the larger shift knob (which makes setting the shift far easier and I highly recommend attaching) will prevent the lens from achieving its full rotation because it will hit the inbuilt flash.

My approach to setting up the lens is to first set the lens and tilt rotation so that the in-focus wedge will end up covering the desired part of the image and I can shift in the direction I need to, then set the tilt/shift amounts and focus distance to what should be about the right settings, and finally using liveview to fine tune the settings to match what I want to see in the image.


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