Schneider Optics - Tilt Shift Lenses
By Dan Carr | November 01, 2012
My usual plan when visiting trade shows is to get some hands on time with the new big announcements and then spend a day poking around every other little thing I can find at the show. Occasionally I stumble across something that I have no prior knowledge of and when that also happens to be something amazingly cool then it's even better. This was the case when I walked onto the Schneider booth at PPE this year. I'd just come from spending some time at Leica, playing with all their new cameras and also their gorgeous S Lenses. The LEICA TS APO ELMAR S 120mm f5.6 ASPH in particular impressed me with it's clever tilt-shift design and frankly stunning build quality.
What caught my eye then as I walked on the Schneider Optics booth was seemingly the same lens mounted to a Canon 5D MKIII ! Now there may be some Leicaphiles out there moaning 'yes of course because Schneider makes Leica's tilt shift!'. Well I certainly didn't know that, and the fact that I could conceivably order that same 'Leica' Schneider lens for my camera really caught my attention. Even more so when I realized they also made a 55mm and a 28mm version as well! Now with the larger sensor of the Leica-S , of course the optics have to be a bit different in the Leica version but the feel, the mechanism and likely the optical quality are the same.
It's very hard to describe the way the tilt-shift mechanism works so make sure you check out a couple of videos below. Most will be familiar with the Canon and Nikon TS lenses which are pretty similar to each other but you'll notice the look of the Schneider is different. As one of their representatives ran though the various moving parts my mind was getting blown. It must be some of the most complicated optics ever designed for a 35mm camera.
Obviously this isn't really a review since I can't speak for the sharpness of the lenses at all. Think of it more as a heads up. If you're in the market for a tilt-shift lens then you absolutely must take a look at these things. They even have interchangeable mounts on them! A little pricier than Canon's versions at around $3000 a piece but Schneiders optics have always been revered so I expect they are pretty darn good. Canon's 45mm TSE and 90mm TSE are a bit long in the tooth and neither allow independent rotation of both tilt and shift which the Schneider lenses do. For product photography these would be amazing.
My understanding is that the macro lens is available now and the 55mm and 28mm fairly shortly. I'd assume at some point we will see Leica versions of those other two lenses pop up for the S-System as well then. Gorgeous looking optics for the specialists out there.
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