© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Advances in nanoscale magnetism increasingly require characterization tools providing detailed descriptions of magnetic configurations. Magnetic transmission X-ray microscopy produces element specific magnetic domain images with nanometric lateral resolution in films up to ∼100 nm thick. Here we present an imaging method using the angular dependence of magnetic contrast in a series of high resolution transmission X-ray microscopy images to obtain quantitative descriptions of the magnetization (canting angles relative to surface normal and sense). This method is applied to 55-120 nm thick ferromagnetic NdCo 5 layers (canting angles between 65° and 22°), and to a NdCo 5 film covered with permalloy. Interestingly, permalloy induces a 43° rotation of Co magnetization towards surface normal. Our method allows identifying complex topological defects (merons or 1/2 skyrmions) in a NdCo 5 film that are only partially replicated by the permalloy overlayer. These results open possibilities for the characterization of deeply buried magnetic topological defects, nanostructures and devices.