Polariser or other filters on Canon 17mm Tilt/Shift

Canon 17mm TS with Cokin X-pro filterholderBecause of the need for a polariser to be used on my 17mm tilt/shift lens and the lack of an industry-made solution, I decided to create my own custom-made filterholder.

Components:
– The largest filterholder there is on the market, the Cokin X-pro.
– A spare lenscap so I could use its bayonet for easy attachment to the lens.
– thick black paper (backgroundpaper) to cover the open space between the holder and trfnal (The Ring Formely Known As Lenscap).

The Cokin X-pro filterholder has a large enough diameter to avoid vignetting (working on full-frame), even when shifting the 17mm to the maximum setting. But, strangely enough, the polariser has a smaller diameter than the holder itself. I’d say that’s a serious design flaw: it means the rim of the filter causes vignetting at maximum shifting… No vignetting problems when using Cokin rectangular filters but I could not find a manufacturer that makes them large enough (130x170mm). Cokin only produces round polarisers…

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44 Responses to Polariser or other filters on Canon 17mm Tilt/Shift

  1. John says:

    Hi Diggi Dan
    I’ve had the same problem as yourself. I was just about to undertake the task of doing a mod to fit a filter on my 17mm tilt shift. You saved me a lot of head scratching, thanks a lot. I’d love to see some other the things you’re shooting with this set up.

    Regards

    John
    packflr@hotmail.com

  2. digidaan says:

    Hi John,

    You’re welcome! Some series where I had to use (and were able to, luckily) the polariser can be seen at
    http://www.DigiDaan.nl/series/1423
    There were lots of reflections because of the all the glass, and I could nicely control it with the polariser.
    And I used the polariser for some of the pictures in the series
    http://www.DigiDaan.nl/series/1415
    Well, and many more series of interiors/buildings that can be found at my website.

    Best,

    Daan

  3. Rubén says:

    Were can I buy these kit?

    Thanks a lot

  4. digidaan says:

    Hi Rubén,

    Depending on where you live I think it’s easiest to Google to find a shop. The Cokin X-pro line is not so common so few shops will have it in stock (a Dutch shop had it in stock so that was easy for me). Your local camerashop can order it of course. Don’t forget the 4-point universal ring, you’ll need that one to attach the holder to the lenscap.
    I got my spare lenscap from Amazon (UK).

    Hope this helps!

    Daan

  5. Rubén says:

    I’m in Spain. Here it is impossible to find adapters Cokin series x-pro.
    I think I have a solution to the problem you mentioned of vignetting with the polarizer filter.
    I send you a link to a website with extremely large filters.

    https://www.schneideroptics.com/ecommerce/CatalogItemDetail.aspx?CID=584&IID=7316

    https://www.schneideroptics.com/ecommerce/CatalogSubCategoryDisplay.aspx?CID=783

    Three more question, to adapt the lenscap just remove the screws?
    Not clear to me by my low level of English, if the 17 mm with 1.4 converter loss of quality? There is vignetting at fully displace 17 with the 1.4 converter
    Thank you very much for your patience and help.
    Greetings from Barcelona

  6. digidaan says:

    Hi Rubén,

    The Schneider filters have indeed large diameters, but I’m afraid that the diameter of the usable surface will be the same or even smaller than the Cokin filter. The Schneider is 122mm: about 5mm will be lost because of the rim (I just measured a 77mm filter, it has a usable area of 72mm). So it will leave 117mm to be used. The inner diameter of the Cokin is 118mm so I’m afraid there won’t be much of a difference. If they would manufacture larger diameters it could work though, but you would have to attach a threaded ring on the X-pro filter holder which can introduce vignetting if the whole package gets too much away of the front element of the TS-E 17mm.
    Very interesting though. Keep me updated if you can figure something out!

    By the way, I saw that Amazon.co.uk has the X-pro holder (and the whole package with circular polariser and a gray grad.) in stock
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cokin-W951-X-Pro-Grad-Cir/dp/B0006ZSQHS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292399248&sr=1-1
    Pretty good price also (310 British Pounds for the package).

    The lenscap can be easlily taken apart by removing the screws.

    With the 1.4 converter on the TS-E17 you do lose some quality, but compared to the TS-E 24mm (MkI) it is still a better performer. I sold my TS-E 24mm knowing that.
    🙂

    There is no vignetting when you use the converter on the 17mm because you only use the center of the lens. Meaning you can use extreme settings, no problems.

    Hope this helps!

    Daan

  7. Rubén says:

    Thanks so much for all the information you give.
    There is also a Schneider 127mm filter. The problem is the price 1850 dollars.
    Returning to the topic of using the 1.4 converter, which converter you use? I have seen reviews of the new version that put it pretty well above the old. perhaps the loss of quality due to that fact.
    One more thing I’d like to ask you. In the images that accompany your article, I could see that, to level the camera you uses a very sophisticated mechanism square. Be possible to know which device is and where I can buy it, I think is the best way to level I’ve ever seen.
    Thanks again for everything
    Greetings,
    Rubén Pérez

  8. digidaan says:

    You’re welcome!
    127mm sounds like the solution, but then again, $1850… Well, I think I can live with a little vignetting.
    😉
    The converter I use is the MkII.
    I’ve also read (and seen) that the TS-E24mm MkII is much better than the MkI. But most of the time 24mm is not enough wideangle for me so I use it seldom. And for those rare occasions the converter will deliver enough quality for me. I’m curious what the results of the new 1,4 converter (MkIII) will be though. I’ll be testing one.
    The head I use on my tripod is the Cube from Arca-Swiss. It’s not cheap but it is indeed the best way to level. Really stress-free levelling, I love it.

    If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

    Best,

    Daan

  9. Rubén says:

    Do not know existing MkIII converter!!
    many thanks for all the information.
    I hope to see new articles of yours, because I find very interesting.

    Best Regards,

    Rubén

  10. christopher hicken says:

    Great solution, which I have seen you have also posted elswhere. My problem is that I need ND filters for the X-Pro and just cant find anywhere. I want to use the 17 for time-lapse, which obviously means dragging the shutter. Any ideas ? I have looked extensively to no avail.

    • digidaan says:

      Hi Christopher,

      Cokin has the 152 (ND2) and the 153 (ND4) in X-pro size. And some gradual ND (ND2 to ND8) filters, but I suppose that’s not what you’re looking for. The 153 (ND4) costs around 60 bucks, so you could also stack a couple of them. Or you could have them custom made, but that will be costly I’m afraid.

      Best,

      Daan

  11. tony says:

    Hi,
    this thread has proven to be very helpfull for my 17mmTSE polarizer problem.
    I wonder is it possible to use formatt 6.6×6.6 polarizer ( http://tinyurl.com/49lqv4h ) with Cokin X holder.

    Thanks,
    Tony

    • digidaan says:

      Hi Tony,

      That’s a nice large one, 165mm diameter! The Cokin-holder has to be modified because the filter is much larger than the holder. But no vignetting problems, that’s for sure!
      The Cokin-X pro filter holder clamps (that hold the filter(s)) can be taken apart easily (couple of screws) so the holder could be ‘custom extended’. I think I’m going to give that one a try, but first I’ll see if I can buy it closer to my home (the price is affordable but shipping to the Netherlands is more than 50 dollars…).
      Good find!

      Best,

      Daan

  12. tony says:

    Thanks Daan! 🙂

    There are other polarizers in that size from different manufacturers (http://tinyurl.com/6blhsfe). Maybe you`ll have better luck in finding some other in Netherlands.
    I do not own Cokin X holder so i don`t quite understand what do you mean by customisation of holder. (cutting maybe??)

    I will be curiously awaiting to see results since I`m in the proces of buying filters.
    I`m also getting RedRockMicro Mattebox for video work (whitch would vignette on 17 for shore) so I don`t quite know if I can justify another filter holder (Cokin).

    I have thought of one more way for filter holding that is more budget friendly:
    http://tinyurl.com/69dofuf + http://tinyurl.com/6z76gtu

    What do you reckon? I don`t have any filters yet so I`m not shure if it would work.

    • digidaan says:

      Hi Tony,

      I found out that Formatt is a British company so they are practically my neighbours.
      🙂
      Another good thing: their website stated that they can deliver filters in custom sizes, so I mailed them with the question what a Cokin X-pro size (130x130mm) circular polariser would cost. That way there’s no modification of the Cokin filter holder needed and other filters from Cokin can still be used. Otherwise the clamps/slots that hold the filters have to be set further apart to create a wider gap for the oversized filter, and that will involve some plywood to extend the base on which the clamps are positioned. If that can be avoided, well, that’s preferrable by me.

      Considering the more budget-friendly solutions you’ll have to keep in mind that for a polariser you’ll need a solution where the filter can rotate freely…

      When I get answers from Formatt I’ll post it here.

      Best,

      Daan

      • tony says:

        I later realized X sistem width is 130mm and height 170. Thought it was other way around.
        Maybe it would be better to try 5x6inch filters like http://tinyurl.com/5u5vo4d.
        It is close to 130mm. But is it close enough? 🙂

        Best,

        Tony

      • digidaan says:

        News from England: Formatt told me their filters are 4mm thick (the B&H specifications page indicated 3mm but that’s unfortunately wrong). So there’s no way to get them into the Cokin X-pro holder because that one only takes 3mm filters… And it seems that most of the pola filters at large sizes (Tiffen, Schneider, etc.) are 4mm thick. Looks like a modification of the X-pro filter holder is unavoidable.

        But before doing that, I mailed Cokin to see if they can come up with a solution. A solution to a problem they created themselves actually, so isn’t it the most logical place? What will they come up with: a rectangular pola or a smaller mount of the filter? I’ll post my findings here.

        And, almost forgot to add, about 5 inch filters: 5 inch will not fit as 5 inch turns out to be 125mm (I always thought an inch was 2,54cm so 5 inch would be 127mm and that would perhaps be just enough).

  13. tony says:

    Hi,
    my calculation was with 2,54. I think it probablly is 127mm. Don`t know why they say it is 125.

    Hope that someone will come up with something to solve this problem. If Canon knew better they would produce holder for 17tse and I`m shure people would pay serious money for it.

    One more question: what are minimum dimensions, in your opinion, for 17tse polarizer that wouldn`t produce serious vignetting? Could 4 x 5.65″ come in consideration?

    Thanks,
    Tony

    • digidaan says:

      Hi Tony,

      Well, when you don’t use the 17mm in the most extreme settings, the Cokin filter will work OK. But to take full advantage of the possibilities of the 17mm one sometimes has to use the most extreme shift settings. I know I do…
      4″ is too small. A round polariser with a glass surface of 125mm (5″, no border/mount) should work when the glass can be placed directly at the ‘base’ of the filter holder. As does the Cokin X164, which has a visible diameter of 118mm. A rectangular filter will have to be at least 127mm otherwise it will fall out of the holder.
      Cokin states their filters are 130mm but the rectangular one I have is 129mm. Hmmmm…

      What the inches/centimeters difference is about, I don’t know. But looking at several sites of filtermanufacturers (Tiffen, Lee, etc), their 4 inches are 100mm and 5 inch is 125mm. And what will their productionmargin be (will a 4 inch filter turn out to be perhaps just 124mm)? Looks like it’s best to try the filter out before buying…
      Assuming the right solution will be a trial and error process I looked for 127mm round filters (with or without mount/thread) but unfortunately I cannot find anything here in the neighbourhood (Amsterdam). Is seems too exotic to have in stock. When the mount of a 127mm filter is small enough it just might fit.

      Canon could surely make some money out of it but Cokin could also (and they are almost there with the X-pro holder). Hopefully they pick it up, like LEE did with a custom holder for the Nikon 14-24mm
      http://www.leefilters.com/camera/products/finder/ref:C4BA0B2B8A73D1/
      but the catch is that LEE thought a polariser would not work: because of the extreme wide angle of the lens the sky would get an uneven look. So no polariser available for that nice holder. They don’t know a polariser is neccesary to get rid of unwanted reflections?

      I’ll keep looking!

      • tony says:

        I see Lee acepts 6×6 filters but cannot find what thicknes they are.
        Maybe that sistem can be used with polarizers from Tiffen, Schneider, etc.

        Could you, please, compare sizes of Nikon 14-24 hood and 17tse cap to see if Lee can be used on 17tse.

  14. digidaan says:

    The Nikon 14-24 has a 98mm wide diameter, so that’s larger than the Canon TS-E 17mm and a bit smaller than the outside diameter of the Canon lens cap. Looks like the Lee SW150 can be made to fit the Canon TS-E17mm.

    The Lee holder will accept 4mm filters I guess: seems to be the standard thickness for filters that large.

    It might be the way for full-shift-freedom. Although I understood that there were some problems with backreflections with the original Lee filterholderdesign and baffles have been added to the package.
    Well, my Cokin-solution does work so I’m not looking into the Lee SW150 that much. If only I could get a bigger pola that will fit the Cokin holder…

  15. tony says:

    I just found http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/products.asp?PT_ID=715
    Lee filters made specialy for Cokin X sistem. Maybe they could make a polarizer if ordered.

  16. digidaan says:

    That sounds good, I’ll ask. What I do know though, is that the estimated delivery of custom Lee filters is 24 weeks. No, not 24 days, 24 WEEKS! Makes you wonder how they make their filters… Or something in the administrative department that can be streamlined?
    Twenty-four weeks!

    I did ask Singh-Ray yesterday (they have several filters in X-pro size) but they do not have polarisers that large. Yet.

  17. tony says:

    I think i`ll go with Cokin to. 🙂 They have 6-10 weeks waiting period at Lee for normal products!! Really makes you wonder… 🙂

    Just to confirm:
    1. You can, with Cokin X, use full shift and tilt with ND or grad but not with polarizer?
    2. With 1.4 teleconverter polarizer presents no problem any more?
    3. Can you use it with other lenses like 24-105 or Zeiss 35 2.0?
    4. Which adapter are you using?
    http://tinyurl.com/4sy34zm or http://tinyurl.com/4lk7ahy
    or it`s a same thing

    Thank you very much!
    Tony

    • digidaan says:

      Hi Tony,

      Some answers:
      1. Yes, full shift and tilt can be used with the X-pro holder on the TS-E 17mm. For portrait orientation you have to make sure that the filter holder clamps are positioned left/right when shifting up/down. The same (keeping the clamps on the short side of the sensor) will go for landscape orientation when shifting left/right. I don’t shift left/right so I always keep the holder with the clamps left/right. Something to keep in mind when using gradual filters. And when using square polarisers (if one can be found that is)… With the Cokin pola (x164) you cannot use very extreme settings.
      2. When you use en 1.4 extender there are no problems because you’ll only use the center portion of the image.
      3. You can mount it on others lenses: just order the adapter rings with the right filter mount for them. I use screw mount polarisers for my other lenses though because I can still use the lenshoods that way (and a lot of the Canon lenses have 77mm as standard).
      4. The http://tinyurl.com/4sy34zm (Cokin CW499 Filter Holder Kit for Nikon 14-24mm Lens) looks a lot like the adapter I use, only mine has 4 screws instead of 8. The http://tinyurl.com/4lk7ahy
      (Cokin X-Pro Universal Adapter Ring) looks like the one I have, only without the screws. Perhaps they needed those for the other picture?
      😉

    • digidaan says:

      It would even be better if a local glass shop could cut a filter round, so the rotating of the filter is easier and to avoid vignetting that could occur when rotating the filter holder.

  18. OPR says:

    Hello:

    May I ask where you were able to find a large enough linear polarizing filter to fit the Cokin home-made holder for the 17mm PC lens?

    • digidaan says:

      Hi,

      I bought the Cokin X-pro holder and Cokin polarizer as a set. The polarizer I have is the X 164 (circular) but Cokin also has a linear version (X 160).

      Best,

      Daan

  19. Bruno Vais says:

    Hi,
    How much can you shift / tilt with the X 164 on? The filter sells in the US for $810 (insane… I know) so before I commit to this I’d like to know what the limitations are..

    Thanks,
    Bruno

    • digidaan says:

      Hi Bruno,

      That’s not a bargain for sure…
      With the polarizer it’s possible to shift (up and down) about 7mm in portrait mode, in landscape mode (also shifting up and down) about 10mm can be done without vignetting. But I sometimes use it to the max because I like to add some vignetting afterwards (depending on the subject I most of the time I just seem to shoot subjects that can use it perfectly. 😉

      Best,

      Daan

  20. Victor Alberto Cornejo says:

    Daan, hi:

    Is that a Zacuto viewee for the Live View screen? If so, how do you like it? I want to order one, but no critics on it. I also found one in China, but not for 3.2 in screens. Thank you, Victor

    • digidaan says:

      Hi Victor,

      It’s the LCDVF from Kinotehnik. Perfect for my needs: light, compact and affordable.

      Best,

      Daan

      • Victor Alberto Cornejo says:

        Daan, hi:

        I’ll look it up. I was thinking on the Zacuto because of the optometry corrections, but it is heavy and expensive. One last thing, if you’re using a 24 TS with a 1.4 X plus a 12 extension tube, what would be the order from the lens down?

        Thank you,

        Victor

      • DigiDaan Fotografie says:

        Hi Victor,

        If the extension tube isn’t needed for creating room so the optics of the extender don’t come in contact with the 24mm (I don’t have a 24mm TS here to check) I’d put the tube on the camera first.

        Best,

        Daan

  21. Daniel says:

    Hello Daan,
    I really like this photo and I was wondering if is it your…If yes, can you tell me how to shot a photo like your? what light did you use, softbox, flash and other…very very thank you, its so important for me!

    Have nice day

    Regard Daniel

    • digidaan says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks, I shot it with two lights, a softbox from above/front for the overall lighting and a spotlight at the left for accent/highlighting. I used the modeling lights as I took the picture with my compact camera (it doesn’t have a flash contact). Grey backgroundpaper, quite simple.

      Best,

      Daan

  22. Hi Dan.
    Thanks so much for all your valuable information. I just ordered the adaptors and some 130 x 130mm Singh Ray ND filters. Looking at the photo of your setup the black paper looks very tidy. but how practical is that in the field. How do you hold it place.

    Also I was looking at the Cokin polarising filter and the rim seems to be smaller. I just sent an email to see if the diameter of the glass is now in effect greater. I’ll let you know if they have. Have you come up with a solution sincere your last posts. I would prefer to go with something than a Cokin Filter TBH and have you found any other companies who produce a polarising filter that fits the x-pro.
    Thanks so much for going to the effort of putting the info out there.

    Cokin are a stange company. The produce this filter system that goes a long way to resolving issues for wide angle lens users. Users who even make DIY modifications to complete the setup. Meanwhile the x-pro gets no opdates on their part. Mind you if you look at their website they’re still stuck in the 80’s! :o)
    Many thanks
    Enda

    • digidaan says:

      Hi Enda,

      For almost 2 years now I’ve been using another system for my TS-E 17mm (I thought I wrote an update here but it’s on another blog as it seems). It’s made by Fotodiox and is called the Wonderpana. Perfect system, allowing full shift and tilt movements without vignetting. Nice build quality (metal). I looked at their site but can’t find the exact package I bought, they have changed the look/construction and the contents (mine had the polarizer included) of the package… But you can look around (www.fotodioxpro.com) for yourself to see what’s available now!

      Best,

      Daan

  23. Hi Daan
    I read a little about that system too. What put me off it is the shear size of the thing. I also wanted to get the Singh Ray 10 stop and 15 stop ND’s. I just looked at some youtube videos and realised that Schneider make some ND’s in the 6.6 x 6.6 inch some although only up to 6 stops. Can you use the polariser and Free Arc system with square ND filters simultaneously with maximum shift without vignetting?

  24. digidaan says:

    That is a nice add-on indeed. And won’t cause vignetting because it extends to the outside of the filter holder (are you listening, Cokin? 😉

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