Thursday, 6 December 2012
Time for the next instalment of the SLR Magic 35mm review!
I used this lens quite a lot yesterday and once again I was pleased with the images I got. I have started to realise the lens has two personalities in a way, when the lens is wide open you can coax the type of flare from it that is fitting of a blog entitled lens porn, In my humble opinion it's some of the most awesome looking flare I've ever seen and the really great thing is you can eliminate it quickly by stopping down just a TINY amount, I'm talking before you even get to T2, it's like having a switch for the flare.
Taken at T1.4
There's some aspects of shooting wide open such as the flare and purple fringing that are somewhat "lo fi" but on the other hand I find the lens to be reasonably sharp at this setting and consistent across the frame, I would have expected the resolution at T1.4 to drop off severely towards the edges but it doesn't. The bokeh wide open is very nice too, it's mostly relatively neutral apart from some types of light sources such as xmas decorations where the light discs have an outline effect which I find quite cool but most of the time the bokeh is just nice and smooth.
The following shots are taken at T1.4
The sharpness gradually increases as you stop down and by T2.8 things are already bitingly sharp, certainly enough to provoke some moire here and there with my Sony NEX-5n which is usually a clear sign of high resolution.
The more I use this lens the more I like it, when it's wide open you can use the shallow depth of field and crazy flare to get some funky looking effects but that's not to say it can't be used seriously wide open, with some care you can get shots from the lens that belie it's relatively modest price tag. Don't forget this lens with it's T1.4 maximum aperture will be available for around $349 with a $50 rebate and additionally owners of the SLR Magic 35mm F/1.7 will be able to trade there lens in and get an additional $90 discount. Consider that a Zeiss 35mm F/1.4 will set you back $1800 or a Leica Summilux $5000 and you begin to realise how reasonably priced this lens is, obviously the SLR Magic isn't going to be as good optically, to claim that would be foolish but proportionately I would have to say it offers much better value.
First shot taken at T2.8, the rest taken at T1.4
You can now find the final part of this review here
Monday, 3 December 2012
I have to say I was immediately impressed as soon as I handled the lens, it's reassuringly heavy and solid, it's made of metal and it feels substantial and well made. The (stepless) aperture and focus rings are both smooth and well damped contributing to the impression of quality. Both the focus and aperture rings are geared for easy use with a follow focus, this is a nice touch for movie makers! One major bonus for those familiar with using old preset legacy lenses will be the fact that the number of aperture blades reaches into two figure territory, that means smooth circular highlight bokeh even when the lens is stopped down, that's a very unusual feature on new lenses nowadays but one that can be very useful creatively. Overall the construction and appearance of this lens are very much old school and that can only be a good thing because we all know they used to build lenses better back in the day!
In terms of image quality what I have seen so far impresses me, even wide open sharpness appears to be more than usable and that goes right to the edges of the frame, there seems to be a little less contrast at maximum aperture but this can very easily be restored in software and it can be beneficial when making video on lower end cameras as it can help to improve gradients when you're battling with a limited codec.
This lens is very much usable wide open and that's important because people tend to buy a fast aperture lens with the intention of using them wide open and so far the lens really does not disappoint in this department.
The bokeh I have seen so far appears to be very smooth for the most part with highlights being a bit more distinctive but not in a bad way, taste in bokeh is a subjective matter but for me this lens really delivers and gives a very cinematic look. I am looking forward to experimenting more.
Here are some shots I took today whilst I was familiarising myself with the lens, they are all taken with the lens wide open and I used the black and white mode built in to the Sony NEX-5n:
Click here for part two of the review!
Click here for part three of the review!
Friday, 2 November 2012
This lens is the first of the Cosina manufactured versions, a fact that attracted scorn at the time but of course once the truly astonishing APO-Lanthar 125mm f/2.5 SL came along, possibly one of the greatest lenses ever made, nobody questioned Cosina again.
I love this lens, it's not the fastest but not too slow either, it performs beautifully from wide open and has fantastically smooth bokeh. There's just something about the way it renders that I love, it certainly seems to produce a subtle 3d effect a lot of the time.
The build quality is also excellent and the focus ring has just the right amount of damping. This lens can be had for relatively little money so I think it represents something of a bargain.
Monday, 13 August 2012
So did I mention I tried two copies of the canon 15-85mm in my seemingly never ending quest for a standard zoom lens that doesn't suck? Well I did and they both sucked, they were both decentered and on different edges of the picture too, maybe I should have tried a third?
I then tried a Sigma 17-50mm OS and guess what? The left side of the image is soft! I GIVE UP!!!!!! it was too short notice to send it back so I had to take it to this years Bristol Balloon fiesta and make do, SOME of the shots were relatively sharp across the frame at f/7.1 but even then it was hit and miss, I really wanted to stick to F/5.6 or ideally F/4 so I could use a CPL and stay to ISO 100 and still get decent shutter speeds because of my ridiculously shaky hands!
What a shame, the lens was good otherwise, it's very similar to my Sigma 18-50mm (which ISN'T decentered but DOES front focus by a huge margin) The build is great, the OS appears to work well, the usual warm Sigma colours are there and the bokeh is great for a zoom lens. Some reviews claim the lens has poor edge sharpness but on the side my lens was working properly I found the edge was very sharp by f/5.6 at the wide end and was pretty sharp wide open at the long end, if only the story was the same at the other side of the picture!
I will have to try getting a replacement or a warranty repair at least once so I will report back with my findings, I'm not holding my breath!
Anyway, here are some photos from the balloon fiesta, taken with a combination of Canon 60D and aforementioned Sigma lens as well as they Sony nex-5n and the Samyang 8mm and Fujian 35mm lenses:
a quickr pickr post
Monday, 23 July 2012
Well it seems Canon believe we are all rich judging by the price of the new mirrorless camera, at $800 it has to be said it's a little steep for an entry level model. Perhaps more disturbing is the 18-55mm kit lens which will weigh in at $300!
These prices are sure to come down in time but even so Canon seem to be going crazy with their prices recently, the MKII version of the 24-70 and the new 28mm and 24mm primes are more examples of this.
Saturday, 21 July 2012
For several years now Samyang have been making some very decent manual focus lenses that boast image quality to rival OEM brands at a fraction of the cost. The lenses obviously lack autofocusing but otherwise have proven to be impressive in terms of image and build quality.
The lenses have been sold under numerous brand names such as Rokinon/Vivitar/Polar/Bower/Opteka/Falcon as well as Samyang.
This review will concentrate on is the Samyang 8mm f/3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fish-eye, I purchased this lens after hearing almost unanimous praise being heaped upon it so the question is does it live up to the hype?
Build quality and finish:
The lens is very well made overall, there's a lot of metal and all surfaces have that nice textured effect which feels more tactile and looks better than plain smooth plastic and paint. The lens has a nice damped focus ring and the aperture ring clicks satisfyingly just like the old days, the lens is very much from the old school when it comes to build quality and that is definitely a plus point. The only niggle I had was that the finish on the edge of the built in lens hood was slightly rough which was at odds with the rest of the lens but overall it looks and feels solid, reliable and dependable.
The image quality is fantastic overall, centre resolution is great from wide open and at f/5.6-f/11 the edges are very sharp too especially for a fisheye lens. The lens gives nice punchy contrasty images with good colour saturation which I have come to expect from Samyang as even their less glamorous 80's lenses always give nice colour as does the 18-28mm zoom from the 90's. Flare resistance is pretty good even with the sun in the frame sometimes and is noticeably better than some of this lenses rivals.
The elements inside the lens appear to be perfectly centred with images showing consistent sharpness across the frame.
The only true weakness of this lens for me is chromatic aberration which can become very noticeable towards the edges of the image however I must say it seems to be very easy to correct with software, Capture One for example does a pretty much perfect job of removing it with just one click which was a great relief as it is the only real law with this lens.
Overall the image quality is impressive and the lens definitely punches above it's weight and even exceeds the quality of some of it's rivals in terms of edge sharpness and flare resistance.
I think the lens is fantastic, the image quality is superb, especially for a lens of it's type. The build quality and handling are also impressive especially for the price! The only two real drawbacks can be overcome almost completely, firstly the chromatic aberration can be combated very successfully in software and secondly the lack of autofocus is almost a non issue! When the lens is set to f/5.6 or smaller the extremely wide focal length means that hyperfocal focusing will ensure everything from a few feet to infinity is in focus, just set the focus ring to 2m and for most scenes you'll never have to touch it again!
I fully recommend this lens!
This lens was tested on a Canon EOS 60D
Friday, 20 July 2012
Update: I see a lot of people are already calling for the public execution of this camera before it is even released! Calm down! This is the very first model and is no doubt intended to have a broad appeal. Obviously it is somewhat simplistic in terms of specs but it is almost inevitable that a more advanced model will be released later on, it looks like a decent enough camera to me, I think it looks neat and minimalist and while it may not be oozing with features you can be sure the image quality will be on a decent level.
My Sony NEX-5N doesn't have a built in viewfinder or a command dial or a built in flash but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best mirrorless cameras on the market and that's thanks in no small part to the astonishingly good image quality.
Only time will tell how good the camera is but knowing Canon it won't be anything less than decent and that lens looks very interesting, take note Sony! There is an official Canon event on monday that could well be the official announcement of this camera and the new system!
- ► July (3)