Patent: Electronic control for tilt-shift lenses

Canon Rumors Guy

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A patent showcasing some new tilt-shift lens technology has surfaced from Canon. We have had both the Canon TS-R 14mm f/4L and Canon TS-R 24mm f/3.5L on our RF lens roadmap for quite some time. It has been rumoured that these will be autofocus tilt-shift lenses.
The patent here discusses electronic control of of the tilt function of a tilt-shift lens.
If Canon pulls off both autofocus and electronic controls on their new RF mount tilt-shift lenses, that will be pretty revolutionary.


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neuroanatomist

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Jul 21, 2010
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That would certainly tempt me to swap my TS-E 17 and 24 II for the RF versions.
 
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tiggy@mac.com

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There is a lot of potential with a software-controlled tilt function. Getting the degree of tilt correct now requires you to measure the imaginary distance between the camera and the plane of focus you're trying to achieve. You then look up on a chart the degree of tilt. It's not terribly intuitive, and takes some getting used to.

If a user could input where they want a plane of focus somehow, Canon could theoretically use the information it gets from phase detect to figure out the angle and tilt it. That would be amazing. It would mean more of a run-and-gun use case, where now tilt/shift lenses are for the slow, considered shooters.

But if you take the existing EF tilt/shift lenses and put the RF premium on them; then add the supply chain premium, then add this new innovation premium, it hurts thinking about how much they'd cost.
 
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Del Paso

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One giant reason for staying with Canon.
An automated tilt-function would be sensational!
PS: who needs a pre-owned kidney?
 

davidcl0nel

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Jan 11, 2014
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Again: I say a motorized Tilt is useful for the longer (90mm or beyond) lenses. Imagine a dual eye autofocus, he tilts the plane a little bit to both eyes. That could be very useful as a portrait lens, even if its "only" f/2.8 then.... Or 135 f/4 (both are the latest TS-E lenses).

But I will not switch by TSE17 for this electronical feature. How expensive they might be? 5k? (double) or even more? No way. For architectural photography the current lenses are ok. I don't like the "make it louder, go to eleven!" thing to replace it by an 14mm... Then the distance between the common 24mm is to high. (or do they want also add a 19mm or so in the middle?)
 

Antono Refa

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Mar 26, 2014
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Amazing if Canon can pull this off. Wonder what the battery drain will be like.
The engine tilting the lens would have to move about as much mass as an AF engine, but for a shorter distance. That's not negligible, but I think the largest power consumer in the system would still be live view, whether through the back screen or viewfinder.
 

Juangrande

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Mar 6, 2017
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Again: I say a motorized Tilt is useful for the longer (90mm or beyond) lenses. Imagine a dual eye autofocus, he tilts the plane a little bit to both eyes. That could be very useful as a portrait lens, even if its "only" f/2.8 then.... Or 135 f/4 (both are the latest TS-E lenses).

But I will not switch by TSE17 for this electronical feature. How expensive they might be? 5k? (double) or even more? No way. For architectural photography the current lenses are ok. I don't like the "make it louder, go to eleven!" thing to replace it by an 14mm... Then the distance between the common 24mm is to high. (or do they want also add a 19mm or so in the middle?)
“But this lens goes to eleven”
“What about this lens”
“Don’t touch that lens….”
“Don’t even look at it”.
 

Hector1970

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This would be one hell of an expensive lens if it had that capability.
Personally I don't think it would be worth it.
I think one of the things that makes the TS-E great is that it is manual focus so you are far more precise in what you are doing as you are checking focus.
Motorised tilt is interesting but I wonder really. It's a function I don't use much. The current controls are not precise, hard to make minor adjustments.
I wonder would a motorised version be much better. It's like those motorised lens you can get for micro 4/3 or superzoom bridge cameras, they tend not to be that controlable. You'd want to be able to make micro adjustments.
Sometimes adding technology doesn't make it better.
 

Del Paso

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This would be one hell of an expensive lens if it had that capability.
Personally I don't think it would be worth it.
I think one of the things that makes the TS-E great is that it is manual focus so you are far more precise in what you are doing as you are checking focus.
Motorised tilt is interesting but I wonder really. It's a function I don't use much. The current controls are not precise, hard to make minor adjustments.
I wonder would a motorised version be much better. It's like those motorised lens you can get for micro 4/3 or superzoom bridge cameras, they tend not to be that controlable. You'd want to be able to make micro adjustments.
Sometimes adding technology doesn't make it better.
It would, in my understanding, not just be a motorized tilt function, but a combination of tilt plus auto AF.
This would render obsolete the complex and boring calculation of focus distribution. Also ideal for handheld photography!
 

Bonich

EOS M6 Mark II
Apr 29, 2019
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Just make an ultra-wide lens with tilt, then simulate the shift by cropping and streching the image in software that can't be turned off ;)
Did you ever use any TS lens?
There is a difference between
- tilting (the topic of the patent)
- and shifting (your not so wise proposal)

No, a 10-500 zoom will not do the job.
 

Bonich

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Apr 29, 2019
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The engine tilting the lens would have to move about as much mass as an AF engine, but for a shorter distance. That's not negligible, but I think the largest power consumer in the system would still be live view, whether through the back screen or viewfinder.
An AF engine has to move a group of lens elements within the tube of the lens

A tilt engine has
- to tilt the whole tube with all lens elements.
- to rotate the whole mechanism to get the tilt orientation needed.

Frankly, I hardly can imagine this to happen (robustness).

And the user interface dealing with at least three independent focus points seems a challenge for me as well. (This is to be done by the body, not the lens)
 
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Bonich

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Same for me!
I have to say though, that the MF aids are so good with the R5 (and I assume R6 and R3 at least) that I haven't missed AF on my 2 TS-E lenses
Basically the TS-E lenses started to make sense adapted at R-bodies :)
 

keithcooper

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CR Pro
The motorised bit is interesting, but looking at this I see mainly a move away from the side mounted control knob for tilt - a more accurate setting for those that need it.

The Laowa 15 and 20mm shift lenses have a lens ring approach to shift and I find it very useful when using the shift axis set at arbitrary directions (I still have the 20mm here from my recent testing/review)

Lens ring based adjustments for shift/shift axis/tilt/tilt axis/focus will make for some interesting ergonomic design challenges. Explaining how to actually use such functions (and, for example, the practical limitations of tilting the focus plane) will make for some interesting challenges in screen UI and user education and expectation management ;-)

A previous 2019 patent is worth looking at if you're interested in automation of some aspects of tilt use [ USPTO ]

My suspicion is that an updated tilt/shift mechanism, the latest in optical designs and T/S EXIF data are far more important to people willing to pay for lenses like this than AF and motorised functions.
 
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Del Paso

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If it's a 14mm, this lens will replace my extreme WA lenses (14, 15, 18, 16-35).
No doubt the IQ will be Canon-like! (The price will be CanonRF-like too, sadly). But I want it!!!!
I often use shift-lenses in landscape photography (forest-trees, canyons, mountains etc...) I just hate converging lines!
 
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Nemorino

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An AF engine has to move a group of lens elements within the tube of the lens

A tilt engine has
- to tilt the whole tube with all lens elements.
- to rotate the whole mechanism to get the tilt orientation needed.
If you have a look at the pictures in the article, you will see only a single lens is moved.
If it's a 14mm,
This doesn't look like a wide angle lens. The front element is in a housing which cut of the edges of wider lenses.
Probably this patent is aimed at unique portrait lenses or something different. These use cases would also more profit from electronic control. A landscape or real estate shooter is able to spent some seconds in adjusting the lens. They also are more interested in the shift function which this patent seems to lag.
 
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