Canon is preparing to launch the first ever tilt-shift lenses with autofocus: the Canon TS-R 14mm f/4L and Canon TS-R 24mm f/3.5L. According to a new report, they could be announced in late 2021.
The Canon TS-R 24mm f/3.5L would be an RF-mount update of one of the best tilt-shift lenses on the market, the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II, while the Canon TS-R 14mm f/4L would be the widest tilt-shift lens we've ever seen (even wider than the recent Laowa 15mm f/4.5 Zero-D Shift, the first such lens native to the RF mount, though it lacks a tilt facility).
• Read more: Best Canon RF lenses
This isn't the first we've heard of these two new lenses, as they were revealed in the leaked Canon roadmap back in October 2020. At that point their incorporation of autofocus wasn't widely known, but a new report by Canon Rumors reveals that they are set to be the first autofocus TS optics.
"I have reported on the coming tilt-shift lenses for the RF mount, these are apparently going to be the first tilt-shift lenses with autofocus," wrote the site, noting that "these lenses were to come in late 2021."
It should be stressed just how big a technical achievement it would be, to produce a tilt-shift lens with autofocus. These lenses have always been manual focus because AF systems operate and calculate based on a flat focal plane; obviously the ability to tile and shift that plane creates added dimensions, which autofocus technology simply isn't designed to accommodate for.
Indeed, not only do tilt-shift lenses manipulate the focal plane in ways unfriendly to AF calculation, the very physical movement radically changes the amount of light that's transmitted to the image sensor. With the amount of vignetting introduced by extreme tilt and shift, light transmission can be reduced by a couple of stops, which again can interfere with autofocus calculation.
Still, Canon's RF mount and EOS R bodies have conspired to make such things as 600mm and 800mm f/11 lenses not just workable, but wonderful. We can't wait to see if, and how, Canon does indeed tackle this challenge.