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PPL TSE-Adapter – lens shift review

  |   Articles and reviews, Composition, Hardware review, Lens, Review, Tilt / Shift   |   No comment

PPL TSE-Adapter – a review

Adapter for shifting the camera, not the Canon TS-E lens



One problem with using a shift lens, taking multiple shots and stitching them is that moving the lens changes the camera’s viewpoint, and can give rise to parallax problems.

Keith has been looking at a specialised lens mount, designed to attach to Canon TS-E shift lenses (17mm and 24mm) and allow you to shift the back of the camera, not the lens.

The pro P TSE adapter (V2) is available from PPL in Germany.

bracket with pan head

Using a shift lens

If I’m using a lens such as the Canon TS-E17mm f4L, then I have a very wide angle of view to start with.

I’ve written an introduction to tilt shift lenses if you’re unfamiliar with what you can do with them.

The benefit of shifting a lens allows for perspective correction and is a vital tool for my architectural and interior photography.

However, sometimes even the 17mm isn’t wide enough, and I’ll take multiple shots and stitch them (the stitching in Photoshop is normally quite adequate).

If there is nothing much in the foreground, then parallax often isn’t a problem, but nearby objects sill shift positions, the same way that your thumb at arms length will shift position against the background if you view it with just your left or right eye.

With my outdoor work and the wide angle of the 17mm (or 24mm) lenses, this isn’t often an issue, but it does become more of a nuisance indoors.

If you’ve a tripod head like the PHQ-3 (review) in the picture above, then you can shift the camera laterally to compensate, but I’ve always found this a bit imprecise.

What do you get

The adapter is an extremely well made chunk of metal, with an Arca-Swiss style base, and 3/8″ tripod fittings

lens mounting bracket

The top ‘wings’ rotate, once you’ve loosened the retaining bolts, and the lens fits snugly into the gap.

With the various adjustments available in the lens body, it’s important to set everything to a known position before starting.

Note the positions of the electrical contacts, shift knob at the top, and tilt knob at the side.

The bracket is very well made, all those little slots and curves are there for clearance purposes – everything fits very snugly.

bracket with lens attched to tripod head

The sequence of shots below, show the stages in swapping my 17mm for the TS-E24mm.

A hex head 5mm driver is supplied – do these nuts up to a light finger tightness, you are not tightening cylinder head bolts.

loosening attachment bolts

Both bolts should be unscrewed enough to raise the two top clamps.

retaining bolts fully slackened off

Rotate towards the rear.

rotate top clamps

Then outwards

top clamp free for lens dismounting

The lens can be lifted out.

bracket set to receive lens

Getting ready to put the second lens in place. Note how the lens name plate is in a recessed area, and the position of the control knobs.

identifying lens position

The lens slots downwards into place. It’s firmly held even before I replace the top clamps.

Make sure it is square to the bracket, it should only take moderate pressure to slide it into place. You may find it easier to practice this with the lens in one hand and the bracket in the other (not on the tripod).

fitting lens into place

Lift and rotate the clamps – they will only go this way round.

moving lens clamps into position

Tighten the retaining bolts.

lens in bracket, ready for use

Using the PPL TSE-Adapter

The lens mount moves +-12mm for this lens (mouse over the image to see)

With the camera mounted, the shift is clear to see (mouse over the image to see)

Here’s a simple left-right stitched image.

The slight step indicates that my old 1Ds (the camera in the shot above) has a bit of misalignment in the lens mount, and reminds me that I was supposed to take it for a service (it’s my backup camera – from 2003). I’m also using my ‘2nd reserve’ tripod for these shots of the adapter, so there is a bit of movement between shots – if you’re going to use a tripod, then get a solid one…

stitched images taken with shifted lens

A 100% crop of the two images. If you move your mouse over the picture, you can see my own movement in the reflection at the base of the clock, but no movement of the other reflections.

You might also notice a bit of darkening of the wall – at full shift, the lens mount can introduce a bit of vignetting, one reason I’d normally take 3 pictures. Left, centre and right. Photomerge in Photoshop handles this vignetting quite effectively.

The TS-E lenses allow you to rotate the camera for stitching portrait view shots. (mouse over the image to see shift)

If you are using the full 12mm shift, then in this instance, the three shots are needed.

Up/down shifting

Often of use in my architectural and landscape work, is shifting the lens up or down.

The simplest way to do this is just to tilt the head over by 90 degrees, so that the movements are up/down.

However, with the PHQ head I’m using, this puts the centre of mass of the camera/lens well off the vertical axis of the tripod. Given I sometimes work in busy or cramped locations, I’m acutely aware of the risk of knocking things over.

However, the bracket can be mounted sideways – in this case I’ve attached an Arca-Swiss baseplate to one of the threaded holes.

Lens bracket set for up-down movement of camera

The arrangement above would be fine if the camera was in portrait orientation, but you do need to position the plate with care for clearing parts of the body.

side mount adapter plate fitting

In the instructions for the adapter, it says that you should use a 3/8 tripod fitting, and not an adapter.

Well, 3/8 is uncommon outside of my studio kit, so I looked at what adapters I’d got.

The chrome finish one (and particularly a slightly longer version I have) is much more solid than the simple version at the right, which I wouldn’t trust with much load.

When using an adapter I’m looking for a good clean contact between the plate and the bracket. If I was using this arrangement often, I’d look to getting a base plate that had a 3/8″ fitting.

types of thread adapters

It works very well (it’s the same sort I use to attach my GigaPan to a survey tripod) – just make sure everything is good and tight.

My camera can now move up and down (mouse over the image to see)

This is an outdoor example of a shot taken with the 17mm shifted up and down.

reed beds at snape. Image created from two stitched images

The reed beds at Snape in Suffolk, on a stormy day.

Conclusions

A very well made and sturdy lens bracket that will enable me to eliminate any potential parallax issues when stitching shifted images, particularly useful for interior use.

Also useful for close-up work with tilt, where shifting the lens would move the plane of sharp focus. An example of such close up work is shown in an article about using an iterative focus technique for tilted lenses I wrote a while ago.

PPL have some additional sample images showing the use of the bracket with a 24mm lens.

I’d note that the adapter does not fit my older TS-E90mm lens, and although I don’t have one, I’d not expect it to fit the original 45mm either.

Available from PPL, but at 449 Euros (inc. tax), something more firmly aimed at the professional interior and architectural photographer?

Summary

Lens attachment bracket for TS-E17 and TS-E24mm Canon lenses

  • Material: Aluminium, black anodised
  • Dimensions: 19.0 x 9.5 x 3.0 cm
  • Weight: 370g
  • 3 tripod fittings 3/8’’
  • Comes with hex driver and storage bag.
  • Fits Canon EOS-1 DX, EOS-1 Ds Mark III, EOS-1 Ds Mark II, EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EOS 6D (and works fine with my 1Ds too)
  • Price 449 Euros (inc. tax) [Dec 2016 price]
  • Made in Germany
  • 5 Year guarantee
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