I had the opportunity to rent the Canon TS-E 90mm ƒ/2.8 from BorrowLenses for about two weeks, and wanted to do some quick, “non-scientific actual working conditions” focus testing with it. It’s a manual focus lens so the issue isn’t about auto-focus—it was strictly an issue of if I’m satisfied with the focus quality. And (spoiler alert!) it does a good job for how I use my camera and lenses.

I’m pretty picky about my focus when it comes to photographing food, and I’m also considering buying this lens so I wanted to make sure that if I do buy it then I get something I’ll be happy with. So, just before doing a food setup in my living room I set up the camera on a sturdy tripod and photographed this lens cap at ƒ/2.8, ƒ/4 and ƒ/5.6. I like to have shallow DOF in my food photos, and I’ll often set the aperture to ƒ/4 or ƒ/5.6 when using my 70-200mm lens.

At ƒ/2.8 the focus is really soft, but I find that this is pretty common in any non “L” Canon lens (and, in my experience, L-glass tends to be a bit softer at its widest aperture). It gets better at ƒ/4, and I really like it at ƒ/5.6. If (when) I purchase this lens I’ll probably be photographing at ƒ/5.6 anyways, since that’s what I do a lot of my food photography at when using my Canon 70-200 ƒ/4L IS lens.

Another thing is that at the wider aperture (ƒ/2.8) the CA (chromatic aberration) is pretty significant. It’s still visible at ƒ/5.6, but not nearly as bad. Either way it’s an easy fix in Photoshop, but it’s always nice when there’s not much editing involved.

In a nutshell I really like this lens, not only because of the focus quality. I’ll be posting again soon on the blog about some of the other cool features of a tilt-shift with food and portrait work.

A big thanks to BorrowLenses for the complimentary lens rental. If you’re considering renting gear, or buying gear and want to check it out first (like I did) then I highly recommend checking out their website: BorrowLenses.com