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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Review: Fujian 35mm F/1.7 C-Mount CCTV Lens



This now famous lens is a very cheap and basic CCTV lens that can be bought for very little on ebay and with an adapter can be fitted to Micro 4/3 and Sony NEX cameras among others. It's unusual for a CCTV lens in that it casts an image large to cover the APS-C sensor in the Sony NEX although originally it was intended to work with much smaller sensors hence the "interesting" rendering around the edge of the frame.

The obvious appeal of this lens is a combination of the cheap price, the fast maximum aperture and the fact that even in a world where adapting manual focus lenses has become popular it's still something a bit different!

A modified version of this design is sold by SLR Magic and I once wrote a blog entry criticizing SLR Magic because like many I assumed the lens was simply plucked off the mass production line and sold at a huge mark up however after speaking to Andrew at SLR Magic it was explained to me that some changes are made to the lens both cosmetically and optically so whilst this lens and the SLR Magic version share the same ancestry the SLR Magic version is, in theory, a superior lens so the results of this review do not apply to the SLR Magic lens.

How this lens compares to the SLR Magic version in terms of image quality I do not know and some people claim to see no tangible difference but if you want to avoid the risks of poor quality control it might be a better choice as a "luxury" version and of course it also has a native mount fitted from the factory so you won't have to endure the hassle and even potential risks of buying an adapter. If this sounds appealing to you then I would suggest you buy the SLR Magic version. If, on the other hand you get a kick out of doing things as cheaply as possible you may be interested in buying the basic Fujian version!











Build quality and finish:

Well it starts off well in as much as the lens is made from metal but it's not very well finished and the rubber grips for the focus and aperture rings are terrible. The focus ring is somewhat gritty and the aperture ring tends to stick if you turn it hard against the internal stop. If this was an expensive lens I would be disappointed but it's not an expensive lens by a long shot and when the price is put into consideration it's not that bad, the finish is poor but it's a fairly solid lump of metal so I'm not going to be too hard on it!


Image Quality:

Interesting is the operative word with this lens, you are initially greeted with a tiny circle of sharpness in the centre of the frame that just refuses to grow no matter how much you close the aperture! The sharp part gets sharper on stopping down but does not increase across the frame! There's a very extreme case of field curvature going on which tricks some people into thinking the lens cannot be focused on objects towards the edges of the frame when it can, it's just that the field curvature is so bad that you simply cannot have the centre and edge of the frame in the same plane of focus no matter what! Even when taking a photo of a brick wall you cannot have uniform sharpness across the frame at any aperture, this is related to the fact that the lens was only designed to give a flat plane of focus on sensors much much smaller than those in digital cameras.

Does this mean it's a bad lens to use? Not at all! I have an absolute wail of a time using this lens, it's so fun and quirky and the images are full of character, the colours are very saturated, fringing is surprisingly low all things considered and the bokeh is actually quite smooth apart from highlights which can look busy but I like the look a lot, it works great with out of focus city lights etc. The lack of sharpness across the frame can often give the impression of a lens with an even faster aperture and make the depth of field look really paper thin! This is probably one of the cheapest lenses I own but might very well be the most fun to use! I thought I would get bored of the quirkiness eventually but I still enjoy taking the lens out for a spin, it just seems to get the creative juices flowing!

All the pros and cons apply equally to making video as they do taking still photos.



Conclusion?:

What this lens lacks in build quality and optical consistency it more than makes up for in terms of being fun and interesting to use, for the money it's an absolute blast and I can't help but recommend it! And if you want the same thing but with better quality then you know where you can get it!

64 comments:

Rano said... Best Blogger Tips

Awesome shots these lenses are made the pics in real, I love the color rendering but it looks too blurry at the corners.

Raul Reynoso said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi! Great review, I got this lense at a crazy price with NEX adapter included and it surprised me big time!, even with the aperture at a high number, the blades create an interesting effect on the subject!

hadleyuk said... Best Blogger Tips

i must have a bad copy because I can land more focus point even with NEX MF assist on. Any ideas? Thanks

hadleyuk said... Best Blogger Tips

Sorry, CANNOT land a focus point.

D said... Best Blogger Tips

@hadleyuk

It can be a tough lens to focus and some of them are not sharp even in the centre due to manufacturing inconsistencies but one thing I have noticed is that there is a delay between moving the focus ring and the focusing mechanism responding so while with most manual lenses I turn the focus ring back and forth to determine the sharpest point I find with this lens it's better to just turn the ring slowly until you think it looks sharpest and not go back and forth if that makes any sense?

rouju said... Best Blogger Tips

I was sold. I'm gonna try one myself bro. Thanks a lot

Luc Moreau said... Best Blogger Tips

Awesome! I'll have to buy this one soon then save money for a decently sharp & fast portrait telephoto. Then when I have both I might still use the CCTV one for portraits or other shallow DOF subjects because of the mood it creates and the corner blurriness. I have a PEN though, with a smaller sensor so corners might turn out looking slightly sharper?

Veggienator said... Best Blogger Tips

my focus ring only lets me focus to things about 2 feet away and closer...why?!

Madog said... Best Blogger Tips

Some copies of this lens ship with a tiny little macro tube sort of thing, make sure that it isn't screwed in to your lens between the lens and the adapter. Mine came with it separate, but when I screwed it on, I couldn't focus further than a few feet.

duongly said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks to Madog!

As he said, it's the tube that is screwed on the lens. Take it off and place it between the adapter and the case, not between the lens and the adapter.

I couldn't land a focus point and now, it works like magic!

D said... Best Blogger Tips

@duongly

Glad to hear you got it sorted, I was going to suggest the same thing but madog beat me to it!

Chepy Chaplint said... Best Blogger Tips

Is it possible to use this lens to canon EOS 600D ..
Thxs

D said... Best Blogger Tips

@Chepy Chaplint

You need a mirrorless camera to use this lens properly, if you adapted it to fit a DSLR it would just be way too far from the sensor and would only work for extreme close ups because it would be like using an extension tube.

Get a nice used Panasonic G1 dirt cheap now and will allow you to use all manner of manual focus lenses!

Or maybe an Olympus pen EP-1 or Sony NEX-3

Luis Alexander Ardon said... Best Blogger Tips

I´m selling my Fujinon f1.7/35mm check out the link on ebay:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=131110500078&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT

Luis Alexander Ardon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Luc Moreau


I´m selling my Fujinon f1.7/35mm on ebay check it out:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=131110500078&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT

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Sheryl Lim said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi may I know how i can focus to infinity with this lens? I can't seem to focus at all. I can only focus on objects about 1ft away.

D said... Best Blogger Tips

@Sheryl Lim

What camera are you using? And check the lens hasn't got a macro ring screwed onto the bottom, some sellers supply them with this ring so you can take close up photos but it prevents infinity focus so should be left off unless you're doing macro work.

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