Dec 142013
 

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PRESS RELEASE

NEW: The SLR Magic 17mm T1.6

SLR Magic expands its micro four thirds lineup with new wide angle lens

Hong Kong, China (December 13, 2013) – SLR Magic expands the micro four thirds lens lineup with the new SLR Magic 17mm T1.6 wide angle lens. With this latest addition, the portfolio of lenses for the micro four thirds system is now comprised of seven focal lengths.

The field of view of this new lens corresponds to a 34mm lens in 35mm format and this fast wide angle of view opens up many new creative composition opportunities, particularly in the fields of interior, architectural and landscape cinematography and photography. Additionally, a fast max aperture of T1.6 makes the SLR Magic 17mm T1.6 ideal for available-light photography.

We place our highest priority in the development on our lenses to fulfill the demands of professional cinematographers and photographers. The design and build of the SLR Magic 17mm T1.6 is solid and reliable.

The SLR Magic 17mm T1.6 will be available from authorized SLR Magic dealers starting end of December 2013.

I have this lens in hand and will be doing a full review in the next week or two! Stay tuned, so far so good!

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Technical Data

SLR Magic 17mm T1.6

Lens Type:

Fast wide-angle lens

Compatible Cameras:

All micro four thirds mount cameras

Optical Design:

12 elements in 10 groups

Distance Settings:

Distance range: 0.17m to ∞, combined scale meter/feet

Aperture:

Manually controlled diaphragm, 10 aperture blades , Lowest value 16

Bayonet:

micro four thirds

Filter Mount:

Internal thread for 52mm filter; filter mount does not rotate.

Surface Finish:

Black anodized

Dimensions:

Length to bayonet mount:

approx. 78.65mm (approx. 3.10in)

Largest diameter:

approx. 56.3mm (approx. 2.21in)

Weight:

approx. 340g (approx. 12oz)

Andrew Chan

Product Manager

 

Jun 032013
 

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SLR Magic 35mm f/1.4: Is it Magical?

a mixed bag of tricks, with an outstanding prestige…

by Amy Medina

Since I’ve been considering buying the new SLR Magic 23mm f/1.7 for my Fuji XE1, Steve was kind enough to lend me his 35mm f/1.4 to try out for a week or so to see how I got along with it. I was excited when it arrived, and quickly got it out of the packaging and onto my camera, where it would live permanently for over a week.

The lens itself feels like it’s made well. It has a bit of heft to it, and I liked the size on the Fuji XE1; Not too fat, and a bit longer than the Fuji 35mm lens. It’s made of metal, and balances well on the camera, with a little bit of weight behind it, to give it a sturdy feel, not like a lens that will fall apart or easily break.

I’m not a fan of the screw-on lens cap. Not even a little bit. It’s annoying and impractical. Of course, because this wasn’t my own lens, I kept the lens cap on when not in use, but I can tell you, if I were to purchase one, that would not be the case. The lens cap would likely come off in the morning and not return to its home until the end of the day, when all photography is complete. Screwing the darn thing on and off is just a pain in the neck, so I’d likely end up spending a few dollars to find a cheap snap-on one that fits properly.

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Other than the cheaper CCTV lenses I’ve used on my Olympus camera, this was my first time using a lens that had a smooth rotating aperture dial, without click-stops. This was another aspect of the SLR Magic I didn’t like much, because setting the f-stop blind is nearly impossible to do. I also found it was too easy to knock it or accidentally rotate it off the setting you want, because it doesn’t stay put with the help of a click-stop. It theory, I would have considered this a minor annoyance, and one that wouldn’t prevent me from buying the lens — but in real-world practice, I found I accidentally moved it more than I would have liked.

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The focusing of the SLR Magic 35mm is something that made me wonder if I was going crazy. I realize, focusing at f/1.4 is not always easy, and the slightest self-movement can cause you to find your subject with less than ideal focus. However, there were times with this lens that I was convinced I had not moved, but the focus still “fell out” of its position. It is not sharp edge-to-edge, and where in the finder you have your focus point seems to be more important with this lens that with other f/1.4s. I’m a focus-recompose shooter, but I got along better with the SLR Magic when I composed first, and then moved the Fuji XE1′s focus point to my subject prior to attempting to focus, rather than leaving it in the center and then recomposing the shot after focusing.

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The focus pull itself was a little wishy-washy for my taste… I like a stiffer focusing ring than the SLR Magic 35mm provides. It’s really just a bit loose feeling, especially when critical focus wide-open seems to “float out” too easily (or is that just me going crazy again?)… I do shoot with quite a few lenses that are anywhere from f/1.4 to f/2 wide open, and I’ve never had this problem with any of them, but maybe I’m a bit spoiled shooting with a lot of M-Glass.

All that said, it sounds like overall I wasn’t happy with this lens… but that surprisingly isn’t the case. While its form was good, and it’s function sometimes argued with me, the fact-of-the-matter is that I really enjoyed the character of the files this lens was capable of producing. Focus fall-off was often dramatic, and the bokeh was smooth and pleasing. I was rarely disappointed with the photos I took using this lens, even if I sometimes felt it took a little extra shooting time to get the end result. The looks of the photos produced using the SLR Magic 35mm seemed unique and full of character… qualities I absolutely adore in a lens, because ultimately it’s really all about the photos themselves, right?

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An interesting aspect of this lens, unlike a lot of M-Glass, is that the closest focusing distance is less than a foot, which allows for a little more creative freedom doing close-up shots of subjects. Funny, because I’m so used to shoot with M-Glass, that I often don’t think to even try to focus closer than 2-3 feet, and ended up discovering it purely by accident one afternoon at the beach (see the bamboo shot below). LOL!

Other than the crazy “drifting” I mentioned above, I really didn’t find it difficult to manually focus this lens on the Fuji body… but I will add a disclaimer to that by saying that I’ve been using manual glass so much on my Fuji, that I’ve gotten quite good at manual focusing overall. I’d still welcome focus peaking on the body, but the “jaggies” are often good enough (and those of you familiar with the X-Series body and manual focusing probably already know what I’m talking about).

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And, at the end of my time with this little magical 35, the thought of having to ship the lens back to Steve was downright depressing. It arrived to me in the midst of some dental issues, and my time with it was bounced between dental appointments and some down-time after having a tooth pulled. However, it’s arrival timing was good because it provided me with a point of pleasure in the middle of it all. When it was time to send it back, I felt like it had become my friend, so I had to pack her up quickly, as if pulling off a bandaid.

So even with all my complaints, I still feel in love… or at least strong like, with the SLR Magic 35mm f/1.4. When work is more steady and I’m not scraping together pennies to buy gear more suited to freelance work, I’ll be putting some aside for its 23mm cousin, because I think in the end, we’ll get along just fine. If I wasn’t currently and unfortunately unemployed, I’d likely buy both the 23mm and 35mm!

Jan 302013
 

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The SLR Magic 35 T 1.4 Lens on the Fuji X-E1

by Steve Huff

SLR Magic. Fuji. One new brand on the scene with some new and different but very cool lenses and the other a well-known and respected brand who has been kicking some serious booty these last 2-3 years with a comeback of sorts and a new line of digital cameras that are arguably the best yet in the history of the company (for digital). Of course I am speaking about Fuji, a brand I actually have a ton of love for. Back in the “old days” I owned ALL of their digital and even a few film cameras. The S1 Pro, S2 pro, skipped the S3 and owned and adored the S5 Pro during a time in my life when all I seemed to do was take photographs all day long. I would head out for a drive or hike, S5 in hand and escape my daily stress by pressing the shutter button.

That S5 Pro rocked with amazing colors and quality. The body which was based on a Nikon D200 was slow when compared to the Nikon counterpart but I did not care back then because of the choices that were available in digital, for me, the S5 was it. But not everyone loved the S5. Many Nikon guys would trash it and say it was garbage and why would you spend more on the S5 than a new D200 and then D300?

Well, to those who owned the S5, we all knew what it was all about and loved it for its charm.

The last Fuji digital DSLR, the S5 Pro – I owned it and loved it because at the time there was not much else out there, unlike today where we have a multitude of options in the digital camera world. 

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But this post is not for me to sit here and reminisce about the S5 Pro as it has been gone for a few years now. After Fuji stopped the S5 Pro the word was they would no longer be producing any DSLR’s but at the time, little did we know what they had in store.

Today we have the X100, upcoming X100s and the X “bodies” the X-Pro 1 and the X-E1. To those who have read this site for a while you know that I have criticized the X-Pro 1 for its AF flaws as well as the 35 1.4 lens. As beautiful as the 35 1.4 can be, for me it has underperformed in the usability dept (in lower light) when compared to other cameras. Does this mean I am trashing the Fuji X-Pro 1? HELL NO! If you read my review of that camera I praised it for its image quality and again when I used it on “The Cruise” I praised it some more. But even with those praises I can not sit here and lie and tell everyone that the AF rocks in lower light, because it does not. So to those who are sending me hate mail and comments saying I do not know what I am talking about, think again. Because I do. I am not insulting your camera, I am evaluating it so please do not take offense if I point out the weaknesses of it. I do this with all cameras just as I did with the NEX series AF issues or the Leica RF issues, etc.

I have a long history with Fuji digital cameras and have owned and shot with them all. Like I have said in the past, the X100 is one of my all time favorite digital cameras EVER. To me, that is the perfect Fuji digital right now and the X100s will be even better because it should have accurate and speedy AF. Finally. Fuji knows they are not the best in the AF dept and it is awesome to see them stepping it up to improve upon it. I expect the X-Pro 2 to rock it in all areas and this is when we will see the usability match the IQ. My crystal ball says so :)

So with that out-of-the-way and me stating clearly that I LOVE FUJI and when it is ON it is ON! The color, snap and overall feel of the Fuji JPEGS rock, even for simple snapshots:

The X-E1 and Fuji 35 1.4 in good light rocks :) OOC JPEG.

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With that,  let me get to this SLR Magic review :)

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The SLR Magic $279 35 T 1.4 Lens on the X-E1

1st, my thoughts on the Fuji X-E1 in a super quick  “shortest review ever”

The X-E1 and 35 T 1.4

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The Fuji X-E1 has been out for a while now and it has been reviewed to death. Amy Medina has also written about the X-E1 on this very site, and she LOVES her X-E1. You can read her review HERE. As for me, I will not be really reviewing the X-E1 in a big huge review as it is pretty much similar to the X-Pro 1, just smaller and more compact and without the OVF (optical view finder). The X-E1 has an electronic viewfinder and for that I say HALLELUJAH! That is one area that Fuji really “gets”. With Sony skipping the EVF in the beautiful RX1 at $2799 we have Fuji including one in their $999 X-E1 body. Viewfinders rock no way around it which is why I have the external on my RX1. There is nothing worse than being in full sun trying to hold out the camera in front of you to frame the shot and being blinded by the sun rays.

So the X-E1 wins in its design with the built-in EVF, square retro style shape and easy controls. The camera has some quirks though like AF missing at times (with some lenses), and the overexposure issue in which most people solve by shooting with some EV comp dialed in. But why should we have to do this?

In comparison to the X-Pro 1 I prefer the X-E1. It has a nicer size, and for my hands, it feels better in my hands. It has the same IQ as the Pro-1 as it shares the same exact sensor. I still prefer the older X100 for my tastes but for those who want interchangeable lens capability this is where it is at in the Fuji X line. Unless you really want that hybrid OVF/EVF in the Pro 1, this is the one to get and you save money as well.

Overall the X-E1 is a winner as for the price you can get some deliciously amazing IQ and for me, it is the color that really makes it with Fuji. The OOC JPEGS using Velvia simply knock it out of the park with their rich Fuji like colors. The IQ from the Fuji, when it nails it is astounding. I have seen some amazing pro work done on these Fuji bodies and it excels in the studio as well. Give this body good light and it will reward you with rich images and that Fuji color and look.

In any case, I have had an X-E1 on hand for a few weeks along with the Fuji 35 1.4 and the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4. I have also had the kit 18-55 Zoom, which has been great to AF BTW. Much quicker than the somewhat slow 35 1.4 . But this review will focus on the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4 lens which comes in at $279 direct from SLR Magic. Sort of a “budget” lens for a fast 35 but it is not perfect! Read on for the details…

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The Build

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The build of the SLR Magic lens seems VERY good. When you take it out of the nice box you will be pleased at the heft, solidity and smoothness of the lens. It feels like a $700 lens as it appears solid as a rock and when you think “I paid less than $300″ you feel it is well worth the cost just on looks and build alone. Also, just to mention, I have heard from a reader who purchased this lens and his had some wobble or slop that he said caused the focus to not be accurate. I tested my lens for this and have not seen this issue. My score for build: 8 out of 10 when you consider the cost of this lens.

See the video below of this lens next to the Fuji 35 1.4:

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The Feel

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The feel of the lens is nice. Smooth to manually focus and with a clickless aperture. This is a “cine” lens by design so no clicks when you change the aperture. I like it and it is the same with mostly all SLR Magic lenses. The lens feels nice on the camera and in the hand. Hard to imagine you are using a lens that costs under $300 when you are shooting with it. BUT when you use the focus ring you do hear some slight noise as in, it is not silky smooth like you will get with premium manual lenses. Score for FEEL: 7 out of 10.

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The Image Quality

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Again, a mixed bag. Some shots blew me away and some left me wondering what went wrong. Focusing the lens at 1.4 is TOUGH. Without focus peaking on the Fuji it can be a chore to nail the AF with any kind of speed. When I look through the EVF and focus I can clearly see when I am in focus but when I fire off the shot and look at the image on my computer screen I see that I am NOT in focus. 1st I though the lens was just soft wide open but take a look at the image below which was shot wide open..bitingly sharp:

click image for larger – this was shot at 1.4 with the X-E1 and Fuji 35 T 1.4! Amazing color and detail. 

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So while some of my shots were really sharp, some were a little off due to me missing the focus ever so slightly. I found that if I stopped down to f/2 all was cured and all shots were much easier to focus. So if you buy this lens I would consider it an “f/2″ lens because if you want to nail focus 99% of the time this is where you will need to shoot it. I am happy with that :) One thing with the IQ is that the color is a bit warmer than what you get from the Fuji 35 1.4. I used to call this “dirty” as I have seen in some lower cost lenses. It is not huge but in the Fuji vs SLR Magic test below you will see what I mean.

Score for IQ: 7 out of 10.

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Bokeh Quality

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SLR Magic told me that this lens is not about sharpness or detail but more about pleasing Bokeh.  This lens was designed to give you good results in all areas but especially with very smooth Bokeh. In regards to detail, it is a huge step up from their Toy Lenses, but a step down from their premium Hyperprime series. Again, for $279 this lens seems like a winner to me as long as you are not out to capture crazy detail wide open :) As for what they told me about Bokeh, YOU be the judge. I think it looks great but everyone has their own onions as to what makes for gorgeous out of focus qualities. My Bokeh score: 7.5 out of 10 as I have seen much worse but have also seen better.

The images below were all shot around f/1.4 to f/2 – click them for larger views. The last one was at 1.4 and you can see the softness or misfocus. Focusing wide open is a challenge. 

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What about the Fuji 35 1.4 vs the SLR Magic T 1.4?

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Well, these lenses are amazingly different from each other. One is auto focus, very sharp and crisp and is made by Fuji. The other is manual focus, a bit soft wide open and is made by SLR Magic. One is $599 and one is $279. When choosing between these two lenses you have to think to yourself what you want from a lens. If you want AF capabilities, go with the Fuji. If you want superior sharpness, go with the Fuji. If you want a hefty build, manual focus, slightly softer results wide open and to pay more than $330 less, go with the SLR Magic.

The SLR Magic will give you a less perfect view of the world, the Fuji, a more perfect and crisp view. The Fuji can POP. Think of the Fuji like a new 4K HD TV set and the SLR Magic like a 1080P set. :)

But to some, that statement will not be enough. Nope, you want to SEE the difference. Since I have both lenses here I decided to do a quick and simple test and will put the full OCC shots below in JPEG (since Adobe is not compatible with the RAW files of the Fuji and I use Adobe)

Take a look at the images below and click each one for full size. The 1st one is with the Fuji 35 1.4 and  the 2nd is with the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4.

1st up, the SLR Magic OOC JPEG at f/2.8 – notice the color differences between it and the Fuji lens – both at 1/4000s

Click image for the full size OOC file

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Fuji is sharper as you can see below in the Fuji shot at f/2.8 and 1/4000.  Click it for full size OOC JPEG

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Which do YOU prefer? Remember the SLR Magic is all manual and comes in at $279 right now. The Fuji is $599 or about $330 more expensive. The Fuji is indeed sharper and crisper, no question there.

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My final word on the SLR Magic 35 T 1.4 Lens for the Fuji X mount

When Andrew from SLR Magic emailed me and warned me that this lens is not designed for sharpness I was a little worried. I figured they just bumped up the price of their toy lenses to make more profit but I was wrong. When the lens arrived I saw that it was a very well made lens that appeared to be built well above its price point. When I started shooting it I saw what he meant as it could be soft at 1.4 but at the same time, I have also gotten sharp results with it which leads me to believe it is just my focus error. By f/2 this lens is sharp  and if you take your time and focus critically you can come away with some nice looking results.

The Bokeh quality is very nice and overall when you add in the way this lens draws, with a soft fat brush instead of a thin detail brush, you will then see what this lens is about. SLR Magic has been releasing some very interesting lenses lately. The Hyperprime 35 T 0.95 and now this little low-cost wonder, the 35 T 1.4. If the image quality you see here appeals to you then you will probably enjoy the hell out of this lens.

If it is crispness and sharpness you want though, I suggest the Fuji 35 1.4 as it can provide plenty of pop and detail. For the $279 intro price this SLR Magic lens is tough to beat. As usual with SLR Magic offerings, I really enjoy it and if I decide to keep an X-E1 around, this would be in my collection of glass.

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Where To buy the SLR Magic 35 1.4

This lens can be ordered direct from SLR Magic by emailing them at [email protected]  - Andrew has told me a new website is coming, and I sure hope so. Would make it much easier to buy these lenses :)

Where to buy the Fuji X-E1 and 35 1.4?

I shop at B&H photo for my Non Leica needs and they have the Fuji X-E1 body HERE. They also sell the 35 1.4 lens HERE and the kit with 18-55 Zoom HERE.  The kit zoom is really good BTW. Much faster to AF than the 35.

More images from the lens below. As always, click on them for larger views :) EXIF is embedded in all of them as well but seeing that this lens does not record aperture to the camera this number may be off. As always, thanks for reading!

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Jan 282013
 

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USER REPORT: Seeing Hong Kong in Black & White with SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 Cine Lens with Fujifilm X Pro 1

By Wilson Chong

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew Chan of SLR Magic to lend me the Prototype SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 Cine Lens in M Mount for testing.

I am sure many of you have read what Steve already said about this lens and I won’t repeat this here. However, I will tell you what I think about this lens and this time I am using my Fujifilm X Pro 1.

The first thing I find about this lens is that it is huge and quite heavy (however, not as heavy as the Leica version) but still after two hours of shooting your arm and wrist will feel tired. I like the metal feel and the grip for the focus and aperture. As this is a CINE lens, for many of us, the first time I shot with it, I always turn the aperture ring instead of the focusing right (I was thinking… why I am not focusing and why my eyes are failing me?? Or is there anything wrong with my EVF?). Anyway, I think your mind can easily adjust to that after a couple of shots (mostly failed as my brain is slow to learn).

The next thing I notice is due to the design of this lens, if you want to shot it wide open like me during the day, you need an ND filter. However, for a lazy guy like me, I would opt for a Variable ND Fader to adjust how many stops to fade I want for each shot instead of keep changing different filters as the day progresses. If you mount the Variable ND Fader directly, the images will front focus due to the design of the built-in lens hood. At first I thought why I cannot focus to infinity but this problem disappeared when I shot at night without the ND Fader and wah-la, infinity focus has returned….The lens should be used with the optional SLR Magic 62-77 Ring for use with Variable ND faders. If regular 62mm filters or ND faders are used the lens works normally.

As the lens is a pre-production lens the optional parts are not out yet and this was fixed by a simple solution when I met up with Andrew. He gave me a 62-62 double Male -Male coupling Ring Adapter anyone can find from eBay to not restrict the movement of the lens when used with s Variable ND filter.

When I was shooting with the X Pro 1, the experience is definitely better than using the Leica M. Without EVF, Rangefinder coupling is very difficult to see in the darkness. The focusing ring is very fast and smooth so it makes focusing fast without that slow movement you get with huge lenses. I would rank the overall shooting experience up high.

The lens certainly has a very cinematic feel to the photos and also quite stealthy when I shot at night. Shooting with the EVF certainly helps with your focusing and give you the confidence for each shot. I suspect the new M with EVF would give you the same experience as well, especially those who are novice to rangefinder. Although the technological breakthrough makes life easier, you lose something as well. The joy of using a rangefinder, and the skill of focusing. If the new M has a built-in night vision viewfinder for night shot instead of the external EVF, I am sure a lot of old-school/die-hard RF fans would applaud Leica (if Leica did, you know I am the first one who suggested it! Ha!).

I used both Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro 2 for some of the photos I shot and for some, just Lightroom (maybe I over did it in Silver Efex Pro 2?). Anyway, I like the result of both and I find the lens very capable of getting all these details and mind you the X Pro 1 sensor is very good indeed as well. I always think the X Pro 1 is the poor’s man Leica but it deserves a place in its own right. The shooting experience with the X Pro 1 using the OVF and EVF is unique and makes you think like you using a Rangefinder but again give you the best of both worlds.

I have no doubt this lens will give you stunning shots, lots of details, virtually no distortion (as far as I can see with my eyes) and a joy to use. It is already in my must buy list for 2013 and I have no intention of returning the prototype to Andrew unless he give me a production version of this lens in return. I hope he can use the improvements on this lens into the second version of the Leica mount HyperPrime 50mm T0.95 (unfortunately, I don’t think they will do another RF version again anytime soon).

Compared with other similar lens, this lens certainly stands out from the crowd and the bokeh of this lens is beautiful, unique , and gives the 3 dimensional trip. Of which this unique character I only find that when I shot with the Helios 85mm F1.5 FSU lens but this lens is not soft and sharp all round. This lens is a heavy contender to the must buy fast lens in the ASPH lens category. The glass is well made and solid. The only thing I can think as a fault it is the weight of this thing but this can be easily forgiven with the sharp, 3D and lovely bokeh it creates. If you like fast lens and something unique and special, I would certainly recommend you this lens.

All photos below are shot wide open with ND Fader during the day and without during the night. My Flickr is http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilson888

Click images for LARGE size

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Jan 092013
 

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The SLR Magic 35mm T 0.95 Hyperprime Lens Review – PART 1

A superfast lens for your mirrorless camera!

As I sit here looking over the images I snapped from the NEX-6 and this SLR Magic 35 T 0.95 I am pretty damn pleased with what this lens puts out. I also am sitting here thinking it is a shame that more mirrorless shooters will not experience this lens because they can not get past the “SLR Magic” name or the fact that it is (hand-made) in Hong Kong. I have been shooting with SLR Magic lenses since they 1st put out their little toy lenses 2-3 years ago and have never had an issue with any of them. Their toy lenses are cheap and great fun but their serious lenses are just that, serious. It seems though that as time marches on that SLR Magic is getting more serious themselves and not letting anything stop them from building quality lenses. (But please SLR Magic – new website please)!

Wide Open at night

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I have been using this T 0.95 35mm lens for a little while now and when it was 1st attached to the NEX-6 I was a little freaked about the size and heft of it as it is pretty massive. But even with its solid build and feel and larger size, it is still smaller than DSLR lenses from Nikon and Canon and provides a unique and beautiful look that I can not get with any of the standard Sony lenses on the NEX. In fact, the rendering of this lens is pretty damn special with melty smooth bokeh and all of the speed you will ever need.

For another great review of this lens check out this LINK. It has some cool comparisons and shows what this lens can do in the night time world :) Superb!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8bRA5yXMFM&hl=en_US&version=3&rel=0]Let’s Get Hyper!

This is a “HYPERPRIME” lens from SLR Magic which in basic terms means that it is their “creme of the crop”..the best they offer. It is up there with the $4900 50 T 0.95 Leica Mount but this is a 35mm T 0.95 coming in at just about $1300. The lens is sharp, the lens puts out amazing color and as usual, super (but smooth) POP. The cool thing is that this lens is for almost all mirrorless systems. NEX, Fuji X, Micro 4/3 and Canon EOS-M. Buy one lens, use it on any of these systems (with adapters).

I opted for the NEX version as I am quite fond of the Sony NEX line of cameras lately. They have been workhorses and giving me no issues in operation or use. When using manual glass like the SLR Magic 35 T 0.95 on a NEX it is a very nice experience though the 1st hour or so you will be wondering about the large lens on the small body.

Smooth Operator – wide open at T0.95 – click for larger

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First things first. This is an APS-H lens and is NOT full frame. It is not compatible with the Leica M even though the all metal mount is a Leica M mount! Why make an M mount lens when it can not even be used on a Leica M? Well, for starters, Leica M mount lenses are able to be used on almost any mirrorless camera with an adapter. If this was made as an E mount it would not be as “universal” as making it an M mount. By making it an M  mount all you need to do is tell SLR Magic what system you want to use it for and when they ship it you will get the adapter you need for your specific camera brand. You can also buy Leica M to Fuji X adapters, or Micro 4/3, Sony NEX E mount or EOS-M. Just switch the adapters to your camera and shoot away.

I am about to write about MY experience with this lens. Not everyone will like what I say (especially the SLR Magic haters) but I only write the facts, and I only write about products I really like. So right off the bat you will know that I like this lens because here I am, writing about it. :) I also post images to back up what I say, and this will be no exception.

As it is shipped. Nice protective box with adapter of your choice.

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When used on the Sony NEX system this is a unique lens as there is nothing else like it from Sony (in Native E mount) that can compare to this. This is a T 0.95 lens, which is probably equal to a F 0.92 lens making it (one of) the worlds fastest production 35mm lens. There is another lens like this one though and it is made by another company. This is NOT that lens. This is a lens unique to SLR magic and not a rebranded lens. Period.

I remember when the Leica Noctilux 0.95 was released and everyone freaked out at the speed (and price). Now SLR Magic has TWO T 0.95 lenses and both are fantastic but this one, the 35mm, is special because it is much cheaper than the full frame 50 T 0.95 yet offers the same qualities, and in a 35mm lens which will give APS-C mirrorless shooters their super fast 50mm equivalent. It is also considered a “CINE” lens which is why it has “T stops” instead of “F stops”. There are no clicks with the aperture dial, instead it is just a smooth silent turn.

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With all of this in mind some of you will know that there is competition for this lens from Voigtlander in the same price range. The Voigtlander 35 f/1.2 II is available in M mount and is a full frame lens yet it comes in at around $1300, the same price as this SLR Magic. I have shot with both and you can see my Voigtlander 35 1.2 II review HERE. I enjoyed that lens quite a bit on the M9 and while it is softer than Leica glass it provided a unique character that did not come with the Leica glass. This SLR Magic lens is sort of the same way except I much prefer the Bokeh from the SLR Magic. It is buttery smooth and melts away in an organic and beautiful way and by T 1.4 the lens is sharp as a tac beating the Voigtlander IMO.

ORGANIC BOKEH. This lens has it and it is beautiful. (Yes, I focused on the watch). 

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The color pops and shows you what great glass can do for APS-C sensors  - This was shot at T 1.4

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Let’s talk about SIZE

You know what they say, “size doesn’t matter”..or does it? 

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Make no mistake, this is a serious chunk of glass. When holding it you get the feeling it should cost about $2400 instead of $1300. It is large, heavy and packs in some serious glass inside the lens barrel. The reason this lens is so large is due to the SPEED of the lens, T 0.95 as well as using quality glass and the fact it is APS-H (larger than APS-C).

So right off the bat this is not a lens for those looking to keep their mirrorless cameras small and compact. At the same time, this lens may balance better on something like an X-Pro 1 over a NEX-5R. In this installment, part 1 of my review, I will be going over my initial impressions of the lens on the NEX-6. Later I will be testing it on the Fuji X-E1 as well (Waiting on the correct adapter) and will be giving more of my thoughts on it after extended use. For now let’s talk about size again. It is large and feels like it weighs about as much as a Leica 50 Noctilux. After shooting it for a couple of days strapped around me I really did not notice the weight though. This usually happens when you shoot with a combo for a while as you get used to the size and weight.

But again, if it is small and light you are seeking this is not your lens. If you want that special creamy quality and shallow DOF shots that rival full frame results from your APS sensor then this is your guy. This is a “creative” lens but can also be a very sharp performing lens as well. I found the low light capabilities when on the NEX-6 were fantastic. Shooting at night was not a problem at all and using focus peaking on the NEX helped me to nail the focus, even wide open.

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Speaking of focus…

This lens can be a bear to focus when shooting wide open. At T 0.95 the DOF is so shallow that using an LCD or EVF  to focus can be problematic at times. Focus peaking helps but it was hit or miss for me until I racked up about 50 shots or so and got used to how the peaking was working at T0.95. I can imagine on cameras without peaking (such as the Fuji X-Pro 1) it will be even tougher to nail focus (and slower). On the NEX system it was pretty easy and after the learning curve I never missed a shot due to mis-focusing. Just be aware if you do go for this lens it will take a few shots to get used to it but once you do you can get sharp shots in almost any lighting condition while maintaining lower ISO’s and you will also be rewarded with super smooth Bokeh and pop.

Out at night…

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Full size real worlds images:

So how sharp is this lens? Well, it can be very sharp or it can be very soft. Depends on if you are shooting wide open and if you nail focus 100%. Below are a few full size images you can click on to download. These were shot wide open at T 0.95!

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For the images above being shot at an equivalent of about f/0.9 they are pretty damn impressive. In the past most super fast lenses were super soft at wide open apertures. It was not until Leica came out with their f/0.95 Noctilux that the rules were bent. Now SLR Magic has seemingly bent the rules even further. While this is not a lens that ranks up there with the detail and sharpness of a Leica 35 1.4 Summilux FLE it is indeed coming close to delivering Leica Noctilux performance with possibly even smoother Bokeh. This lens has a character all of its own and while some may like it, some may love it and others will dismiss it due to the name on the lens ring, one thing is certain. This is a quality built lens with quality glass. Anyone wanting a super-duper fast lens for their Mirrorless system should take a look at this lens. If you are a Bokeh addict and love that creaminess that comes along with shooting wide open and you love 3D separation and pop then this one may be up your alley.

BUT if you do not need the fast aperture of T 0.95 then you do not need this lens. This lens is for Bokeh and speed junkies (lens speed, not the drug) and for that it is fantastic. 

Just remember that this is a heavy and large lens but it is not overwhelmingly huge. It is large and well made, period. It delivers but it can give you some challenge with focusing until you get used to how it works with your camera body. Wether you own a Sony NEX, Micro 4/3, Fuji X or even EOS-M this is a lens that will work with them all. I have lots more shooting to do with this lens and in part 2 I will have more examples from the NEX as well as some Fuji X samples and a video sample.

BTW, using the lens is nice. The focus ring is smooth as is the aperture dial. The lens ships with an all metal front ad rear cap. Little extras that are very nice to have though the screw in lens cap can be a pain sometimes.

Overall, this lens is a great quality hunk O glass for about $1300. It will start shipping in February 2013 from SLR Magic. If you have questions you can e-mail them directly at [email protected]

I will post more from this lens soon but before that I will have my Fuji X-E1 review up using the Kit Zoom and new 35 T 1.4 from SLR Magic. Stay tuned! 

A few more from the SLR Magic HyperPrime 35 T 0.95 on the Sony NEX-6 

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HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

PLEASE Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site (and the cost these days to keep it going is pretty damn high), so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at Amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :) More info is here on how you can help even if you are NOT in the USA as I have Amazon links to GermanyUnited Kingdom and Canada as well!

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter, my facebook fan page and now GOOGLE +!

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Dec 292012
 

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Gorgeous new SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 and 35 T1.4 arrives for testing!

The “Noctlux” for your APS-C Mirrorless

The 35 T 0.95 Hyperprime ASP-H M mount Lens

So..you want a super fast, super sharp, super built, super bokeh 50mm equivalent cream machine for your Sony NEX, Fuji X or EOS-M camera? How about a 70mm equivalent for your Micro 4/3?  Want one for each system without having to buy three different lenses? I know I do..and such a lens has just arrived to the Huff Household. Yep,  UPS arrived yesterday with a huge box from SLR Magic and what the box held were two lenses I have been excited to review for a few weeks now. One of them is the premium 35mm APS-H Hyperprime (their premium quality line of lenses)  and I have to say that it is a BEAUTY.

It’s large, hefty, built like a solid brick and is a damn nice T0.95 lens, which in F stop land means about f/0.92! This is the 50mm equivalent 0.95 lens for APS-C mirrorless camera shooters! Almost Like having a Noctilux for your Fuji X or NEX, speed wise anyway :)

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This is an all manual lens designed for ALL of the popular mirrorless systems. You can shoot this one lens  on the NEX system, Fuji X system, EOS-M or Micro 4/3 system. How so you ask? Well, when ordering you just choose which system you want to use it with but the beauty of it all is that if you own 2 or 3 or all of these systems you only need ONE lens and it will be compatible with all of your cameras using an adapter.

This lens is actually an M mount design but not to be used on an M camera. Instead SLR Magic made it in the M mount because so many adapters are made for this mount. So this one lens can be used on almost any mirrorless system with an adapter. This was a great move IMO. For example, if I have a Fuji X camera and an OM-D and a NEX-6 or 7, this one lens can be shot on all of them. Awesome.

One thing I found while doing test shots is that even with focus peaking set to on with the NEX-6 this lens is a beast to focus correctly when shooting wide open. It has a massively razor thin level of DOF at T0.95 so your focus has to be pinpoint precise or else the images will be slightly soft at the focus point if you miss.

A quick OOC JPEG at T 0.95 and the Sony NEX-6  - remember this is wide open at T0.95 

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The particular lens that was sent to me was shipped with the Sony E Mount adapter so I will be testing it on the NEX-6 (see 1st three OOC JPEGS above) and then later the Fuji X system as soon as I get an adapter for it. It appears the Fuji adapter will not work correctly but there are some that will and SLR Magic will be shipping them with their own Fuji adapter that will work just fine.

Out of the box, this lens looks pretty bad ass but I can not speak enough about how large it is. IT IS LARGE. So if you are hoping for something small this is not your lens. If you want super quality Bokeh and image quality it just might be your lens. The packaging is solid this time around with the lens and adapter encased in solid foam so there is no chance of shipping damage (unless the UPS guys decide to play soccer with it). I am excited to review this one.

A couple of B&W JPEGS with the NEX-6 wide open at T0.95

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This 35mm T0.95 APS-H Hyperprime  lens will be selling for $1349 starting in February 2013 from SLR Magic and that is a decent price considering their 50 T0.95 for M mount was nearing the $5k mark (this was mainly due to the RF coupling and it being a full frame lens). In the same price range as this lens is the Voigtlander 35 1.4 in M mount. Many use that lens as their fast 35 on their mirrorless systems and love it but from what I have seen, this lens just may surpasses that one in Image Quality and Bokeh when used on mirrorless cameras. The only negative is that you can use the Voigtlander on an M camera as it is a full frame lens. Again, This SLR Magic is NOT full frame so while it has an M mount, it is not compatible with M cameras.

The soon to be released SLR Magic 35 T0.95 HYPERPRIME premium lens. (all product shots with Sony RX1)

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For those of you who have seen my review on the previous SLR Magic hyper prime, the 50 T0.95 for Leica M mount you may remember that I loved it and declared it to be just about equal to the Leica Noctilux f0.95 in image quality (in real world use) and I preferred the Bokeh of the SLR Magic. The construction of the Leica Noctilux is better (as is the resale value) but for all out IQ the HyperPrime was amazing. I never had one issue with it on my Leica M9-P or the Monochrom. It was large and heavy but it packed some serious glass. Unfortunately, as far as I know this lens is no longer shipping in the USA (the 50 T0.95) so if you managed to snag one, you have a rare lens in your collection :)

This new 35 T/0.95 seems to have rock solid construction and design, is much less expensive with maybe even better build quality and is a T0.95 35mm which will be like a T0.95 50mm on APS-C mirror-less cameras. Finally a fast and exotic 50mm for your APS-C. BUT, can it deliver the goods? I am not sure yet as I just got it so I will be shooting it in Vegas next week to give it a workout.

I will not know anything until I thoroughly use it but from the looks and feel it is impressive. This lens will come in at $1349 and will be available from SLR Magic starting February 2013. They are also offering $100 off for early buyers so keep an eye out here for info.

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The SLR Magic 35 T1.4 for APS-C

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SLR Magic also sent me their new 35 T1.4 lens to test out on the Fuji X-E1 and this lens is coming in at only $349. It is a budget lens but it certainly does not look or feel like one. This lens is also available for all other mirrorless systems but will come in whatever mount you order it in. The one that I was sent is for Fuji X and for a $349 lens this is one hell of a well built lens. Metal construction with the weight of a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH. This is no cheap toy lens in the construction department and the packaging is just as nice as the Hyperprime lens.

Andrew from SLR Magic told me they have tweaked their packaging and it shows.

This lens is not up to par with the T0.95 Hyperprime in the IQ department but it is not designed to be. This $349 lens is built for Bokeh it seems as it delivers a rich and creamy out of focus rendering with bit of softness to the images when shot at 1.4 wide open. The lens seems to sharpen up by 2.8 but even wide open will give you a soft etheral look.

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What is nice about this lens is the build and the fact that you can order it NOW in any mount you want. This is what SLR Magic told me about the availability of this lens:

“The 35mm T1.4 is available now. We have it for X mount, E mount, EF-M mount, and mFT mount. It is not up on our website or eBay yet but people can already order by emailing us at [email protected] to get it before it is up on our website. We have already sold a bunch for the mFT version”.

So you can order  this lens now if you desire and what is even better is that if you bought one of their older 35 1.7 toy lenses you can trade it in for a $90 credit towards this new lens (which is a much nicer lens than the toy lens in build and IQ). Also, if you order by Feb 2013 you can take $70 off of the price:

“We have two programs

A) Owners of the SLR Magic 35mm f/1.7 can ship their lens back to Hong Kong for trade-in at $90 value to upgrade.

B) If bought by Feb 2012 from us we have a $70 promotional rebate program.”

So if you buy this lens by Feb 2013 it will come in at only $279. Great buy for any mirrorless camera system if you want great Bokeh and a unique quality. This lens is not a pin sharp lens when used at 1.4 or f/2. It sharpens up by F2.8. I will be reviewing this lens as well with the Fuji X-E1 so stay tuned!

A couple of OOC JPEGS to show Bokeh Quality and expected sharpness at 1.4

“Best Beer in the world Part 2″

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“Goodbyes”

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 Remember that this is an all manual lens so you will have to manually focus and manually set Aperture on the lens barrel. Much like using a Leica M lens on your mirrorless camera. Both of these new lenses also have clickless aperture rings as they are “Cine” lenses which happen to be great for videos as well.

So if you want to order this 35 T 1.4 lens for your system you can e-mail SLR Magic for details at [email protected]. My full reviews will be coming soon on both of these.

 

HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

PLEASE Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site (and the cost these days to keep it going is pretty damn high), so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at Amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :) More info is here on how you can help even if you are NOT in the USA as I have Amazon links to GermanyUnited Kingdom and Canada as well!

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter, my facebook fan page and now GOOGLE +!

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Aug 172012
 

Video: The Sony RX100 Protective Case, OM-D With Leica Summilux and SLR Magic’s Bokehmorphic!

Hello to all! Welcome and happy Friday! Yep, it’s Friday already…damn! This week has flown by!! Today I put up a video showing the new Sony RX100 Protective case, the one from Sony, and it is a beautiful case that protects the camera well, is made for a perfect glove like fit and does not hamper on the use of the camera like some cases do. This is NOT a leather case and comes in at $89, which is a bit on the high side but there is no mistake that this is a gorgeous case for your RX100. I leave mine in it at all times and when I take it with me now I just sling it around my shoulder. Perfect vacation camera and case!

I continue to be impressed with this little guy – the speed, the IQ, the color, the video..all great and I find it easily beats ANY of the Canon S series compacts. Easily.

Take a look at the video below where you can see the case with the camera in it. I also added some other things such as the OM-D with that beautiful 50 Summilux lens and the SLR Magic Bokehmorphic lens on the NEX-7. I will be reviewing this lens soon!!

You can buy this case at Amazon HERE

B&H Photo also sells it HERE

May 222012
 

SLR Magic Raises the price of the T0.95 Hyperprime Leica mount to $4995

Due to lens productions costs industry wide, SLR Magic has just raised the price of their 50mm T0.95 Hyperprime lens to $4995. I asked Andrew, head honcho over at SLR Magic why this was and he stated it was all due to cost of materials going up. Sony told me this as well as Leica so it is a true statement. SLR Magic sold out of the initial pre-order batch of this lens and there is now a 7-9 month wait for one after you order. This lens is amazing but if you order one, be sure that your camera is calibrated perfectly, just as you would need with a Noctilux. When your body is spot on, this lens is razor-sharp at all apertures. You can see my review HERE as well as some shots with this lens on an M6 HERE. I also used it with the Leica Monochrom HERE.

This lens is razor sharp, even wide open (which equates to f/0.92) – shot on Leica Monochrom

You can order this lens for Leica mount only and it comes in two versions. One that is RF coupled at $4995 (this allows you to focus using the rangefinder) and one that is not RF coupled (for use with adapters on NEX, Micro 4/3, etc). The price of the NON RF version is $2995. They do sell a Hyperprime for Sony NEX and Micro 4/3 but this is a totally different lens and not in the same league as the Leica M version.

Mar 122012
 

Shooting wide open in the sunlight with fast glass

So you went out and bought that Leica Noctilux ASPH or SLR Magic Hyperprime T0.95 for your Leica M8 or M9 and you are one of those who want to shoot the lens how it is meant to be shot…WIDE OPEN! Yes, lenses like the Noctilux ASPH are meant to be shot WIDE OPEN and do not let anyone else tell you otherwise! Why else would we spend many thousands of dollars for a 0.95 lens? Well, we wouldn’t! This is also why these types of lenses are generally not meant for every day use. There are better lenses to use stopped down due to the weight and size of these super lenses so when we use one of these masterpieces of lens designs we WANT that 0.95 aperture!

The problem is that many of us who own these expensive but unique lenses realized that we can’t shoot in daylight when the lenses are wide open! I live in AZ and Here in Phoenix it is crazy tough when the sun is blazing down. Even at the base ISO of 160 with the M9 I would normally have to stop down to F/4 or f/5.6 just to shoot the lens, which means if I want that 3D look, that creamy shallowness, and signature look then I am out of luck…UNLESS I buy an ND filter.

I am sure that the majority of you know what an ND filter is but just in case you do not, an ND filter is simply a glass filter you attach to the front of your lens that will block most of the light from coming into your camera and hitting your sensor, allowing you to shoot wide open at slower shutter speeds even in full harsh sunlight.

For lenses like the Noctilux and SLR Magic I would recommend (and I own) a high quality filter such as the B&W 1.8 64X multi coated ND filter. The Noctilux takes a 60mm filter and the SLR magic takes a 62mm filter.  With this filter attached you can set the lens to 0.95 and shoot away, even at high noon in the harshest of sun. When the light goes down you simply take off the filter. I tested out my ND filter at the renaissance fair this past weekend and it worked out great. Usually I would shoot something like a 50 1.4 or 90 f/2.5 at these types of events but I decided to see how the ND filter would handle shooting at 0.95 all day long.

I found minimal vignetting and that crazy cool 3D effect you can get when shooting in the sun at 0.95. I found out the same thing as Ashwin Rao when he shot the Noctilux wide open using an ND filter but I used the SLR Magic T0.95 Hyperprime, and I was wowed by the performance yet again from this lens. If you have ultra fast glass for your 1/4000th second Leica M9, think about picking up an ND filter for daytime use. Not only can you get some unique and beautiful images, you can also have some fun with it.

All images below were shot with the M9 and SLR Magic Hyperprime T0.95 LM lens. Some out of cam JPEGS and a few from RAW. Without the filter, I would not have gotten this “look” which many love and many hate.

Speaking of the SLR Magic…after shooting more with the lens I have to say that it is indeed just as good (if not better) in IQ than the Leica Noctilux ASPH. This lens has a sharpness and 3D pop that is absolutely incredible. Never a focus problem, never un-sharp, and NO CA in any of the shots I took this weekend. Amazing. It certainly is not inferior to the Leica and I think many of you saw that as well since SLR Magic sold out of their 1st run of this lens in a matter of hours last week. The only issue with this lens AND the Leica is that the depth of field is EXTREMELY shallow when wide open. You can see the effects of this in some of the images below. Even with that, it is great to have a lens like this in your arsenal, even if they are insanely expensive. Enjoy!

Click the images for larger, sharper and better 1800 pixel wide versions

Mar 022012
 

Pre-Order the new SLR Magic T0.95 Hyperprime LM (Leica Mount) Lens Now!

Just heard from SLR Magic and they have just now opened up pre-orders for their Leica Mount 50 T0.95 Lens. As stated previously, the cost for this lens is $4288 if you want the Leica RF Coupled Version. What does this mean? If you buy this lens and ever have plans of using it on an M mount rangefinder camera like any film M or any digital M or even an Epson RD1 then you NEED the coupled version. This will allow you to focus the lens using the RF patch.

If you plan on using it only on a NON M body like a Sony NEX, Micro 4/3 or Roch GXR with M mount then you do NOT need an RF coupled version and this can save you $1,288 because the NON coupled CINE version is $2988.

You can pre-order that lens and even their much sought after 12mm f/1.6 for micro 4/3.

Seems the 50 T0.95 lenses will be shipping starting June-September and the 12mm 1.6 in April. You can click HERE to order.

Also note that you can choose between a green ring or black ring! Awesome.

My continuing review of the 50 LM T0.95 can be seen here and the 12mm f/1.6 review is HERE.

BTW, the photos in the image below at the SLR Magic website are NOT of the LM T0.95 lens but the Micro 4/3 hyper prime.

 

UPDATE MARCH 3rd 2012 – Due to the large amount of pre-orders SLR Magic has taken down the Leica M coupled version of the lens. The Non coupled is still available for pre-order. 

Feb 282012
 

Quick Comparison: SLR Magic 50 T0.95 vs Voigtlander 50 f/1.1 on the Leica M9

So today I received in the mail, courtesy of LensRentals.com (they rent almost ALL Leica glass and cameras), a Voigtlander 50 f/1.1 Nokton. My main goal was to test it out and compare it to the premo offering from SLR Magic, their king of the hill 50 LM T0.95 Lens. Many of you have e-mailed me asking me why this new SLR Magic lens is so expensive and “why wouldn’t someone just buy the Voigtlander 1.1 which comes in at $1100″? So I was curious to see myself how the lenses would stack up. In the coming weeks I will be doing a side by side comparison with the Leica Noctilux ASPH as well. Should be fun :)

I knew even before I received the Voigtlander that the build quality would easily go to the SLR MAGIC because I reviewed the Voigtlander a while ago HERE and it was a very lightweight somewhat hollow feeling lens compared to the Leica Noctilux F/1 I compared it against at the time.

The SLR Magic 50 T0.95 LM Hyperprime

Voigtlander 50 f/1.1 Nokton on M9

 

IN THE HAND

The SLR Magic…

In the hand the SLR Magic feels every bit as solid as the Leica $11,000 50 Noctilux ASPH. Period. I’ve been using this lens for weeks now and have not had one issue. The build is solid, the slide out hood is nice and overall the lens has a feeling of quality. BUT this is a $4300 lens and the Voigtlander is $1100. BIG difference so I would expect the build quality to be superior, and it certainly is. It is also now the fastest 35mm lens made today, taking that title from Leica (SLR Magic is an f/0.92) so with its Leica like build AND performance AND three-year warranty, the cost seems to be about right if not a tad high (though I wish it could have been $3500). BTW, this has a click less aperture ring which I did not care for at 1st but have since found it to be pretty nice. It’s smooth and solid at the same time and have had no issues with it going out of the desired spot. For video, this is a blessing as you can change aperture without clicks. Focusing is super smooth on my copy of the lens.

The Voigtlander Nokton

The Nokton is also nice, and you have to remember that the price is a tad over $3000 LESS than the SLR Magic lens so the build seems cheaper as the lens is much lighter. I also think the SLR Magic uses higher quality glass. When shooting with the Nokton though, it is easier to focus due to the knurled focusing ring though the feeling of the focus is rougher than the SLR Magic. I mentioned to SLR Magic I would have preferred a knurled ring but maybe they wanted their lens to look more like the Leica. Who knows. The Nokton is lighter so is easier to carry on the camera and the lens also has a more vintage look/design. So which you prefer is up to you.

My winner for build and feel – SLR Magic Hyperprime LM T0.95 (but Voigtlander is lighter)

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BOKEH

The SLR Magic…

The SLR Magic 50 T0.95 LM lens has BEAUTIFUL bokeh. I mean, it meets or exceeds the Leica 50 Noctilux ASPH in this department, at least that is my opinion after extensively shooting both. The out of focus renderings are buttery smooth with no business or headache inducing harshness. You can see many examples of this in my rolling review but below is a sample shot today in my yard to test this and below that will be a sample from the Voigtlander. The sample below was shot at t/1.1-ish – click it to make it bigger.

The Voigtlander Nokton…

The Nokton 1.1 is a fast and much less expensive alternative to Leica lenses but it’s string point is NOT the bokeh quality. The Bokeh from this lens is a bit harsh when compared to premium Leica lenses and to many, this is a reason to NOT go for this lens. Then again, others are perfectly happy with it. As mentioned, it is much less expensive than a Leica counterpart. :)

My winner in the bokeh dept – SLR Magic Hyperprime 50 LM T0.95

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SHARPNESS WIDE OPEN or CLOSE TO IT

The SLR Magic…

The SLR Magic lens is SHARP, even wide open at T0.95 it is as sharp if not sharper than the Leica $11k beast. Due to the sharpness, super micro contrast and smooth Bokeh, this lens has the capability to pump out a nice 3D effect as well. Below is a shot at T0.95, wide open for this lens.

The Voigtlander Nokton…

The Nokton is a bit softer wide open at its widest aperture of f/1.1 but the rendering is also a bit flatter than the SLR Magic lens and with its busier bokeh it doesn’t have that same “wow” effect that the SLR Magic lens has. Still, it seems to perform great for the price of the lens. These days $1100 is cheap for a Leica mount lens :)

My winner for sharpness wide open – SLR Magic Hyperprime 50 LM T0.95

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SHARPNESS STOPPED DOWN

The SLR Magic…

I will let the pictures do the talking but it is obvious who is sharper. Not sure if the Voigtlander was suffering from focus shift or if it is just not pin sharp. All shots were tripod mounted.

You must click each image to see a larger version and true 100% crop!

The Voigtlander Nokton…

My winner for sharpness stopped down – SLR Magic Hyperprime 50 LM T0.95

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BARREL DISTORTION

I know from using it that the SLR Magic has some barrel distortion so I was curious to see how the Voigtlander stacked up here. It appears the Voigtlander has less from this sample. You can see this distortion when you shoot straight lines. This was shot on a tripod with both lenses and both lenses were set to 1.1. Distance was about 1m. Click images for larger views and true 100% crops.

The SLR Magic…

The Voigtlander Nokton…

My winner for distortion – Voigtlander Nokton 50 f/1.1 – It has less than the SLR Magic.

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COST

SLR Magic…$4388

Voigtlander Nokton f/1.1 – $1049

Winner – Voigtlander Nokton 50 1.1

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CLOSE FOCUS 

The SLR Magic focuses down to .7 meters, the same as a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH. The Voigtlander only focuses to 1m, like the Leica Noctilux so the advantage is clearly with the SLR Magic. Below is an example image shot at the closest focus distance of each lens.

SLR Magic…

Voigtlander Nokton…

My winner for close focus – SLR Magic because it focuses closer.

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Botton Line Conclusion and the winner – The SLR Magic 50 LM T0.95

Well I have no doubts, the SLR Magic lens is indeed the better lens here, and I prefer it by quite a bit. From it’s 3D rendering, buttery smooth bokeh, tank like build, .7 meter close focus, and smooth easy to focus operation it is easily the better lens when compared to the Voigtalnder Nokton. It is also sharper than the Voigtlander Nokton wide open AND stopped down and distortion wise, the Nokton edges out the pricier Hyperprime but even so,  SLR Magic does a bit better in the corners when it comes to sharpness. So the big question comes down to money. Do you want to spend $3000 more for the SLR Magic? That is in no way cheap but the lens is one that should last a lifetime and it is in fact comparable to the Leica Noctilux ASPH in its rendering, detail and even color. It is now the world’s fastest lens for 35mm in production and speed always costs big bucks, especially when it is associated with quality.

The Voigtlander Nokton is a good lens if you don’t mind somewhat busy bokeh at times, less sharpness wide open (which hinders the 3D effect a bit), lighter construction (which can be a blessing) and farther minimum focus distance. After using both it would be hard for me to go back to the Nokton after using the SLR magic simply due to it just doesn’t have that same MOJO, and I am a fan of super MOJO :)

The Voigtlander lens is available now from B&H Photo

The SLR Magic lens will be available September 2012

When I do the Leica Noctilux ASPH head to head it will have many more samples and tests including tests for CA, a portrait test, and more extensive sharpness and distortion tests. Cant wait!

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ALL I ASK! HELP ME TO KEEP THIS SITE GOING AND GROWING!! IT’S EASY TO HELP OUT & I CAN USE ALL THE HELP I CAN GET!

Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Even if  you buy baby food, napkins or toothpicks at amazon it helps this site, and you do not pay anything extra by using the links here. Again, you pay nothing extra by using my links, it is just a way to help support this site, so again, I thank you in advance :)

If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page and Google +  page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader!

Feb 112012
 

 

TGIF! It’s Friday night and I am home in my quiet house relaxing with my old dog Scrubby. He is snoozing away on the floor next to my chair and the house is dark. I just watched TV for the past hours so I figured I would sit down and look over some snaps I shot today with the M9P, which is a camera I seem to never tire of. I may shelf it for a month or two but I always come back to it and am always enamored by its beauty, form and output. Yep, I love my M9 even after almost three years since its debut.

So what did I do today? I did not go out for photos. In fact, it was a boring old day for me here in sunny AZ. The weather was great at almost 80 degrees and sunny but I simply had nothing to do, and nothing to shoot! My fiancé is in Chicago, my best friend was working, my son was with his Mother and there was basically nothing to do after my work on the site was done today.

So after updating the site this morning I wandered around my backyard, and snapped away with my beautiful Chrome M9-P (see my updated gear page). In the image above you can see the HUGE SLR Magic lens attached and I have been shooting with this lens every chance I get..just waiting for something to go wrong..I mean, this is NOT a Leica lens. It is a lens from SLR Magic! It CAN’T be good, right? Well, that is what many think anyway.

The fact is that this is a GREAT lens. If it didn’t have the barrel distortion it would be every bit as good as the Leica Noctilux ASPH f/0.95 in it’s IQ. Still, the distortion is easily fixed but it never gets PERFECT like the Nocti. At $7k cheaper though, it is to be expected and besides, who shoots architecture with a lens like this anyway?

The fact remains though that this is a lens I never thought I would see anyone else make. It IS the FASTEST 35mm lens in production today even though it is not available until September, and  that in itself is quite the feat. Andrew from SLR Magic said the day after I posted the pricing info and his shops street address in Hong Kong he had a few visitors the next morning who saw the lens on this site. They all wanted to buy one then and there and one guy wanted TWO. Andrew found one thing interesting. All of these guys already had the Noctilux ASPH! Pretty interesting!

With their low production volume I seriously think they will sell every one they can make, even at the $4288 price tag. Also some have e-mailed me asking this question and no, I am not getting paid money to talk about this lens or write about it. SLR Magic is not even a site sponsor anymore though I keep up their little ad box on the right because I believe in what they are doing, and after meeting Andrew, I know they are passionate and really care about what they are doing. These words are just my real experience with this lens, and if there are any negative things that pop up you can be sure I will write about them. With that said, here are a few more shots from the lens with the M9P. Just snaps, nothing serious. They do show the character of the lens though.

One from the SLR Magic at T/2 – converted to B&W with some PP – click for larger. Sharpness is NOT an issue with this lens at any aperture I have tested it with. 

Another at T/2 – This is usually a bokeh torture test!

How about T/5.6 (I wish this lens was rated in F stops instead of T stops)  - click it for 100% crop!

The image below is interesting because the room was actually fairly dark. There was no window light, it was indoors and shot wide open. I was curious to see how sharp it would be, and this was 1/60th of a second. You can not get this look with a Voigtlander 1.1, or even a Lux ASPH 1.4 as the Bokeh would be totally different as would the rendering. This is the equivalent of f/0.92 and it comes into play when you have no light. :)

Soon I will be doing some side by side comparisons with this lens and others, so stay tuned for that. BUT they will be added to the review HERE. 

Other things coming up..

This weekend: Crazy Comparison: Nikon V1 vs Panasonic GX1

Really not so crazy I guess but I am curious myself so I may post this one over the weekend. Full size files, crops, color, noise…JUST for FUN and because I have both cameras here. I have the X zoom for the GX1 on loan along with the camera so should be interesting. Zoom against Zoom :)

I will also be getting my own NEX-7 in the next week or two (I hope) so I’ll be shooting more with that, and trying out the SLR Magic lens with it as well. Photo and Video.

I also have more guest articles and user reports on the way, so check back daily! BTW, I checked my stats today and this website has had over 21,000,000 views in less than 2 1/2 years and 2 million of those was in January alone! WOW!! THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO VISIT HERE EVERY DAY!!! I truly appreciate each and every one of you!

I have a feeling things will get nuts around here in April when all of these new cameras start shipping and even more news leaks out. Gonna be a crazy year for us all!

Feb 082012
 

Price of the SLR Magic 50 T0.95 LM (Leica Mount) Hyperprime Announced

After all of the guessing and wondering what this new Leica mount T0.95 monster lens will cost, I was informed today by Andrew from SLR Magic that the official price of this lens will be $4288 US dollars. Higher than some thought, and lower than others thought. About $300 more than I thought. As many of you know, I have been reviewing this lens in a “rolling review” and updating is as I go along and use it. I have now shot with this lens on three M9 bodies, including two M9P’s and on each the lens has performed flawlessly. No focus issues, no problems.

What does the $4288 get you? Well, for starters it gets you as close to a Leica Noctilux ASPH f/0.95 as you can get and for about $6700 less. You get a hand-built, hand calibrated lens that is on par with the Leica in weight and feel but no, you will not get a red dot.

This is a T0.95 lens so the widest aperture is equal to f/0.92.

Some more facts about the lens…

  • It is faster than a Leica Noctilux ASPH so technically, this is the fastest 35mm lens in production today.
  • It is slightly larger and weights slightly more than the Leica Noctilux ASPH
  • It will focus as close as .7 meters with very sharp and accurate results. There is no floating element in the SLR magic and it is NOT Aspherical. The Leica focuses to 1 meter but has a floating element and ASPH glass.
  • The lens is sharp wide open, and share stepped down. To date, I have not discovered any focus shift in my use of the lens (though further testing is coming)
  • The lens will be rangefinder coupled of course, and SLR Magic is also creating a CINE version without RF coupling for $2988, for use on NEX, Micro 4/3, etc.
  • The lens is hand assembled in Hong Kong by SLR Magic. Production will be limited. Not mass-produced.
  • SLR Magic is including a 3 year warranty with the lens.
  • You can order the lens with a black or green ring for the front, so black IS NOW an option.
  • Lens will be available to order in September 2012.
  • If anyone is in Hong Kong and wants to see the lens, you can visit the SLR Magic shop at — Shop 316, 47-51 Shan Tung Street, Sim City, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong

You can read and keep up with my review HERE and I will be adding to it weekly. So far the only negative I see with this lens when compared to the $11k Leica is this lens has barrel distortion. If shooting straight lines up close, you will see this distortion. It can easily be fixed in 2 seconds but it is there. There will be samples showing this added to my review soon.

Below are a few newer samples I added to the review this week…

1st one, wide open at T0.95 (f0.92) – just to test wide open performance. 

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This was shot at f4 or f5.6…cant remember! But either way it is sharp :) Click image for larger and 100% crop

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Shot at T1.4

Feb 042012
 

UPDATE: Lots of nonsense has been spread about this lens on the internet due to one person’s comments and one persons lens. I have never had ONE issues with this lens and I found it to be solid, well made, beautiful and to render even better than the $11k Leica Noctilux (for my tastes) all for less than half the cost. The claims that were made were uncalled for as Andrew from SLR Magic is one of the nicest guys I have met in recent years as well as one of the most helpful and generous. The SLR Magic Hyperprime is now shipping with full production versions of the lens in full production packaging. It comes with a great warranty and is a solid great performing lens. Again, my experience with it has been nothing but positive and in some cases amazing. I am not the type of guy who says “It’s only Leica for my M”  as there is tons of GREAT glass out there besides Leica. Whatever works I always say and this lens just “works”. 

Thanks again to Andrew for all he has done for everyone AND even releasing this lens which no one else had the balls to do.

The SLR Magic Hyperprime 50 LM T0.95 Lens Rolling Review…let’s get it started

With all of the hype and craziness this lens has been causing since the Los Angeles workshop I decided to start writing a rolling review for the SLR Magic Hyperprime 50 T0.95 LM lens. Basically this means I will be adding to this review, right here on this page instead of making posts every day about it. As I get new images and new thoughts I will add them here. Almost like a diary of my use with the lens over the next few months as I put it through its paces before its official release.

I am lucky to have one with me for the next few months (a black stealth edition no less) so I can test it, use it, abuse it and put it through its paces. One thing to note..this is a taste of what is to come of this lens. SLR Magic is still tweaking and improving on the lens and if I run into any issues they will fix them before going into production. They are already making a couple of improvements before shipping lenses out to the workshop attendees who agreed to be volunteers for lens testing as well. Yes, the lucky ones who were at the workshop had 1st crack :)

I already know that the image quality holds up extremely well to the $11,000 Leica Noctilux ASPH. In fact, I may prefer the rendering from this lens over the Leica, and that right there is saying a lot. Actually, now that I read that back, that is HUGE. My curiosities with the Hyperprime is to see if the build quality holds up. By the look and feel, it feels like a solid tank but you never know. Not everyone associates SLR Magic with high quality but it appears with this and their 12mm Hyperprime they have decided to go with quality, and I welcome it.

BTW, for reference you can see my Leica Noctilux ASPH review HERE that was done when the lens was first released.

If you did not see the posts I have already made about this SLR Magic lens you can see those HERE, HERE, HERE,  HERE and finally HERE.

A Brief History Of This Lens

Probably close to a year ago I heard from SLR Magic and they told me they were designing a new Leica M mount lens from the ground up. A 50mm f/0.95 lens for the Leica M mount. This was not going to be a copy of their old Hyperprime that they sell for the M4/3 mount and NEX mount. Those lenses are nice, but not “amazing” because they are soft and glowy when wide open. They are also smallish but at the same time very well built and made. Still, SLR Magic wanted to create something special that more Leica M shooters could afford. A lens much like the Leica Noctilux but at a more reasonable price.

After they mentioned their ideas they started sending me pictures of prototypes that looked great. The lens started out semi small (smaller than a Leica Noctilux ASPH) and beefy. But the images that they were happy with that they snapped with the M9 and their lens, I was not so happy with. I told them if they were going to do a lens like this, they needed to do it right. I mean, Leica users shoot with Leica for quality. We do not want to spend money on crappy or overly soft lenses. If a lens has a .95 aperture, then we want to be able to use it at that aperture! As it was at that time, the lens they were creating was really good, but it did not have any magic to it in the image quality dept. They built the lens and it was built like a tank. Solid, smooth and heavy. BUT the lens vignetted strongly and wide open it lacked sharpness and contrast. The color was a bit dull as well and I told them that I would not buy that lens for what they would have to charge for it.

They decided to go back to the drawing board, keeping me in the loop with samples, prototype images, etc. Then one day I received a couple of shots, that to me, looked pretty damn close to the $11,000 Leica. I asked them to send me a lens as soon as they could and a month or two later they did just that. When it arrived I immediately made a quick post on it as I found it very impressive. The build, the feel, the heft… it was all LEICA LIKE. It was performing scary close to the $11,000 Noctilux ASPH. Yes, the lens that has up to a year waiting list and is almost impossible to find used. If you do find one used the prices are usually jacked up to $13k. Crazy. $13,000 for a lens.

Once I saw the quality I immediately sent SLR Magic an e-mail telling them that this is a lens they should be extremely proud of. The only negatives I found with the lens was that it had some evident barrel distortion and that damn green ring on the front. I mean, the green ring looks pretty cool on my SLR Magic 12mm 1.6 for Micro 4/3 mount but on a lens of this caliber…well, it deserved a black ring! Other than that I found the lens to be pretty damn amazing even though it was one of only 6 in existence and basically still a prototype. The lens ring is even stamped with the word “concept”. With the LA Workshop approaching, Andrew from SLR Magic decided to join us and fly down with all 6 lenses. This way, you guys wouldn’t have to take my word for it but you could see what other shooters came away with who were able to shoot with the lens. If it was a bad lens, they would say so as most of these guys love their Leica lenses. I even told Andrew we could do a Noctilux/Hyperprime shootout and he welcomed it. Shows he has confidence in their design. I will in fact be doing that shootout soon so we can see just how much difference there is with sharpness, flare, bokeh, and build.

The Lens In Use  - from me and others

If you have been reading my blog posts on this lens then you know that the lens was a huge hit in Los Angeles. There were quite a few guys trying to give Andrew the cash for the lens because we all saw it the same way. The SLR Magic Hyperprime is a well built, well made, nicely engineered hunk of glass. It is not cheap and it is not a toy. In fact, it is quite the opposite of what most people thought it would be. The lens is not perfect due to the barrel distortion but it is pretty close to the Leica $11k monster. In some ways it is BETTER than the Leica, and in others it is a bit weaker.

The ways this lens is better is that it will be coming in at many thousands of dollars less than the Leica. I do not know a price but if I had to guess I would say it will run about $3500-$4000 (The price has now been announced at $4288.00 US). Others at the workshop were thinking it would be $5500. No one knows yet but if you are someone who is into the whole Noctilux ASPH lens look, then saving $7000 or so and picking this lens up would be a pretty sweet option because the Hyperprime can focus closer, is actually faster at f/0.92 and has the same great color and sharpness as the Noctilux. The areas that are weaker is that this lens has distortion (barrel) so shooting straight lines up close will reveal this. Then again, we do not buy a lens like this for architecture. It is also longer and a little but heavier though when holding both in each hand, they feel about the same. No dount about it, this is a specialty lens, and for speed and special effect freaks. Not everyone’s cup of tea. BUT for Bokeh lovers, this lens is the creamiest 50mm lens ever made for 35mm. Click the images below for larger and sharper views…

As I sat there last weekend at the workshop looking over shots with this lens as well as the Leica Noctilux I was thinking “WOW…pretty amazing that a small company such as SLR Magic were the ones to create something like this”. This lens is serious competition to the Leica, and I am not exaggerating. Here is a comment from Bill Fulcher who shot with the Hyperprime at my LA Workshop:

” Shot both and saw many images with both last weekend. The Hyper is at least as sharp at all apertures as the 0.95 Noct. The Noct has slightly better ergonomics for still shooters and is more compact. It is also backed by Leica. The Hyper has slightly better IQ, focuses closer, is much better for video and is a skosh faster. It will also be a lot less expensive. All around the pre-production Hyper impresses me as the superior lens. But I wouldn’t really argue the point if someone heavily values the areas where the Noct has the edge. Best, Bill”

So if you do not care about the name, and the slightly larger build you could save thousands of dollars by going with the HyperPrime. If the Leica name, backing and reputation is worth up to $7k then go for it. It’s all personal pref but as for performance, this lens is just about equal to the mighty Leica in regards to sharpness, and as for Bokeh it is even more creamy. Color is about the same as is the contrast.

Andrew told us that some of the lens elements come from Germany and other China. The lens is assembled in Hong Kong by hand and will NOT be able to be mass-produced due to the tight tolerances and calibration required. The 6 samples at the workshop had no issues focusing, which I found to be pretty amazing as I have had Noctilux’s that were all over the place. Not sure how they managed to pull off what Leica can never seem to do reliably. Then again, there were actually only 4 RF coupled versions there and they were each the 1st lenses made so I am sure special care went into them. I was told that each lens made will have that same special care in regards to build and calibration. I can say that Andrew was a fascinating and very passionate guy and he was truly excited about this product.

SLR Magic? Green Rings?

So who the hell is SLR Magic and why the hell are they called SLR Magic when they do not make ANY SLR products? I wondered the same thing so I asked Andrew when they started and how. SLR Magic are based in Hong Kong and started up 6 years ago making adapters for cameras and SLR lenses. They also started selling hand-made leather straps and other fun products. Soon they started the toy lenses that came in for great prices and provided fun results. They decided to start building lenses from the ground up and released a couple of NEX lenses and the fantastic 12mm 1.6 for Micro 4/3 that I LOVED. When they started telling me about this lens and showing me versions with green rings I asked for a black ring and suggested that for a Leica mount lens they may want to sell it with black instead of neon green. At the workshop mostly wanted black, but a couple liked  the green. After much thought Andrew decided on selling a “stealth” edition with some other goodies possibly to be included. Ahhhhh…much better :)

 

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Who needs a lens Like this?

The easy answer? No one really NEEDS a lens like this. Just like no one NEEDS a Leica Noctilux ASPH. Lenses like this are purchased with the heart because they are special..they are unique..they can give a look like no other lens and it’s also super fast for this nights you want to shoot in the dark. I used the Leica Noctilux last year on tour with Seal and came away with some great stuff. I made his new album cover as well. All with the Noctilux. Lenses like this are very useful and can provide results that help separate you from the crowd but it is also very easy to get carried away with the shallow depth of field. Use it wisely and lenses like this can deliver magical results. Overuse it and it gets gimmicky. It is also NOT an everyday lens due to the weight and size, but for those times you want some magic injected into your photos a lens like this or the Leica will give it to you in mass quantities.

Some readers were commenting how this lens has no real use, but I disagree. It was a lens just like this Hyperprime (The Leica Noctilux ASPH) that gave me this shot and made me some much-needed money in 2011. These lenses do have their place and I enjoy having a super fast special effect lens on hand and in my stable.

QUICK comparison with the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH at 1.4

Below are two straight from camera shots. The 1st from the SLR Magic at T1.4 and the 2nd from the Leica 50 Lux ASPH at f/1.4 – Click each image for the full size 18PMP file. What do you think?

New Sample Images – Full size and crops – and shooting stopped down…

More updates! The images below are all out of camera (from RAW) images using the SLR Magic lens. The T stop is written on the image and you must click each image to see the full size file. Check out how sharp it is when stopped down! This lens is simply amazing and I am loving shooting with it. I took some personal shots and it was  the only lens I shot with while in Sedona AZ for the weekend.

The 1st shot is at T/2 which is more like f/1.8. Click image for the full size and check out the blue duster, which is where I focused. Wow. 

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Below is a full size out of cam shot at T/4…click image to see the full size!

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Another at T/4  - not full size but you can click for larger

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Wide open at .7 meters…

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At f/5.6 this lens is just as razor sharp as it is at any aperture – click image for large size with 100% crop embedded

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Love the rendering wide open…

The price of this lens… $4,288.00 – It is NOT cheap!

SLR Magic has announced that this lens will come in at $4,288.00 US. Quite a hefty amount of cash outlay for a lens made by SLR Magic. But, they are not mass producing this lens, and each one will be hand assembled and calibrated for rangefinder use. For a Leica M mount that has the build, feel and IQ of the $11k Leica, the price of this lens is fair. BUT at this price point you have to start to think a little. Would you prefer a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH at $4k? It’s smaller..and a Leica. But, it is not f/0.92. Speed is expensive, just take a look at the Noctilux. IMO, this lens is better than the Noctilux F1, better than the Voigtlander 50 1.1 and just about equal to the Leica $11k Nocti. Just about but not quite. So at $4288 vs $11,000, one can now have an alternative to spending that huge sum of cash for a lens like this. Since this lens is hand made and assembled, SLR Magic can only produce 10 of these per month. So, I expect they will sell them all. I also expect they will fetch a good price used as well.

SLR Magic is giving a 3 year warranty with this lens and it will be available in September 2012, after Photokina. 

More samples…all wide open

Shooting this lens on a Sony NEX-5n – IN THE DARK!

When I held my Los Angeles workshop in January, Andrew from SLR Magic brought along 6 copies of this lens for all to try. We had 30+ attendees in all shooting and trying out the lens, well, most of them did. One guy, Judd Weiss had a Sony NEX-5n and was a newbie to photography. He told me the week before he learned what “Aperture” meant, lol. Great great guy though and he was able to take the SLR Magic lens, attached to his NEX-5n to a party on Saturday night to test it out. He told me that all of the photos below were shot in “near dark” conditions but the lens sucked in the light and made them appear brighter than it was. IN fact, I remember him being pretty excited by the fact that even though the room was dark, the images make it look like there was light.

He shot all of the images below wide open at T0.95 and still appears he needed faster shutter speeds, but here are a few examples from Judd in a situation where the large aperture made a difference.  When shooting in dark conditions such as this, no lens will give you razor sharp details because you are shooting in the dark at low shutter speeds and high ISO. But using a slow lens and no flash is impossible so sometimes you need the speed if this is the style you want to go after. You can visit Judd’s blog HERE.

ALL shots below were taken by Judd Weiss with his Sony NEX-5n and the SLR Magic Hyperprime WIDE OPEN, IN NEAR dark conditions!

The Barrel Distortion – How bad is it?

Many of you guys have been asking me to update this with some examples showing the barrel distortion I have been talking about. It has not really been noticeable in the images posted so far but it is there and it is EASILY seen when you shoot up close to straight lines. The closer you get to straight lines, the more pronounced the “barrel” effect will be. This is about the only area where the Leica Noctilux ASPH beats out the SLR Magic. The distortion is disapointing but out of 500 shots or so with this lens, I have noticed it maybe 6 times. It is fixable in Photoshop but even then it is not perfect. I never noticed ANY barrel distortion with the Leica Noctilux ASPH but the question is…can you deal with this fault if you are saving $7000?

This lens has a fantastic 3D effect and is sharp as a tac wide open but get up close to straight lines and you will see distortion. The middle of the image pops out while the sides get sucked in. If you do note shoot any lines, you will most likely never notice it. But it IS there.

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A quick and dirty attempt to fix using photoshop during the RAW conversion – took about 2 seconds. 

So seeing that is is pretty much fixable, we have to ask ourselves what we shoot and what we would shoot with this lens. IT IS NOT a lens for architecture that is for sure. So far, this is the only negative I have found in comparison with the Leica 0.95.

UPDATE – February 19th 2012 – More images

Took this lens with me to a tattoo convention today but I was mainly shooting the Leica 75 Summilux. I did snap off a couple shots wide open though and MAN OH MAN, this lens performed flawlessly. I am convinced it is SHARPER wide open that the Noctilux ASPH! Again, no focus issues, no focus shift, it perfumes up close, mid distance and far distance. I continue to be more and more impressed with this lens. It seems to have the sharpness (or more of it) than the $11k Noctilux ASPH but with a bit more 3D pop and even better bokeh..oh and less CA. See the lamp below? The Nocti would have had purple fringing there :)

The 1st image below is wide open – focus on tattoo artist – THIS is one hell of a lens!  - Click the pic for larger – all other images below the 1st were also at T0.95!

UPDATE Feb 22nd 2012 – Some notes from SLR Magic on this lens to clear up some confusion

I heard from Andrew at SLR Magic today and he mentioned a few things about this lens that he wanted me to pass along. Here is what he said:

1) The CINE and LM version are different mechanically. The LM version is a mechanically different version in both mechanical design and materials for RF coupling compatibility. The only thing that is the same about the two is the optical design. Differences in materials, mechanical parts, and labor involved to calibrate the lens is the cause of the price difference. If used on a mirrorless camera with an adapter the two versions will look the same optically.

2) The lens is designed to be a professional cinema lens. What this means is that the lens does not have breathing, no focus shift, and calibrated in T stops. Breathing is when focusing will cause the angle of view to change while focusing. This is common for many lenses. Focus shift is when focal point is shifted as a lens is stopped down. This is very obvious when seen through video with the lens. T stop is the true stop of the lens so that when filmmakers switch between lenses there will be no jump in brightness. With a regular lens F stop is calculated and not measured so it will be different across lenses even from the same brand. Lastly is the stepless round aperture blades. This means you get to have everything else in between. Could help when using A mode and looking at the desired shutter speed. A bless for some and a nightmare for some.

The fact that it is a cinema lens does NOT mean it is a cheap video lens as many think. There are a lot of requirements to a good cinema lens. Lenses designed to Cinema specs can easily sell for 30-40K a piece!

What he said about focus shift and lens production…

3) Focus shift is not killing our production rate. Focus shift depends on optical design and we do not have issues with focus shift. The part where I mentioned we switch out for elements by dissembling and assembling the lens all over again is to make sure ALL copies of the T0.95 lens performs with superior optical quality (sharpness and centering). This limits our production rate for all lenses. We do not ship sub par T0.95 lenses so the answer is YES. The prototypes are hand picked. This hand picking process will also apply to every T0.95 lens that ships.

 

UPDATE: Feb 27th 2012 – The Leica Noctilux ASPH vs the SLR Magic LM on a Sony NEX-7

Ok guys, this was an image that someone took in SLR Magics shop in Hong Kong. A Sony NEX-7 was used and each lens was wide open – below are the full size images, out of camera, no PP, no tweaks, etc. Click the images for the full size 24MP files! What do YOU see? Notice one seems more zoomed in that the other? That is because the Noctilux is in reality a 52mm lens and the SLR Magic is a true 50.

 

UPDATE: The Sony NEX-7 with the Hyperprime 50 T0.95

I was out and about shooting the NEX-7 with an ALL NEW Leica to NEX adapter made by SLR Magic and was very happy with the results. Also, keep an eye here for news on this adapter because it is very unique. It is an adapter that you can twist and make the minimum focus distance of the M lenses disappear. You can focus super close now with your M lenses on the NEX system, so this is really cool. The adapter is not ready for sale just yet but seems to work very well. Check out the images below of the lens on the Sony NEX.

On the NEX-7 and super close focusing using this all new adapter. 

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Look at the rich colors and depth…this is wide open with an ND filter. T0.95

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Again, wide open…click any of these images for larger versions! – ISO 640

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T0.95 at ISO 1600 on the nEX-7

Shooting this lens on the NEX-7 was super easy. The focus peaking allowed me to focus quickly and accurately, even when wide open. The one negative about this setup though is that the lens is so front heavy on the NEX body. It is almost borderline ridiculous but with this lens on the camera be sure and hold it by the lens, not the camera body. I plan on shooting this bad boy much more on the NEX-7 as I am really liking what I see. I mean, it’s almost up there with the M9 files except they are not full frame so we get a bit of a different look. If you missed my NEX-7 review, be sure and take a look here.

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Jan 302012
 

The workshop attendees shoot the SLR Magic 50 LM T0.95 Hyperprime on the M9 and NEX-5n

Since I am now back home at my desk I can go over more images that were shot at the workshop using the new SLR Magic lens. These were shot by me and a few others at the workshop, credits will be before the photos…enjoy! Oh, and just for fun I threw in a shot taken with the 50 Noctilux ASPH. Which one is it? Check out the two from Jay Bartlett below and see the difference. ALL shots below are wide open and the title shot above of Max was taken by Ashwin Rao with the 85 Zeiss Sonnar on his M9. 

First, A few more snaps of the gang from me.

Stephen, the resident male model of the workshop shot at 0.95 – click image for larger and sharper view

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Below: Andrew from SLR Magic talking with Max on Sunday during our Lunch at El Cholo

…and speaking of Max Klimov, he shot some GORGEOUS shots with the Hyperprime – look at the rendering of the model shots

and one of his street shots as well…

Jay Bartlett took these at 0.95  - but one is from the Noctilux ASPH – one from the SLR Magic! Which is which? I can tell…can you?

BELOW: Ashwin Rao snapped this amazing shot while we ate dinner at the Yardhouse on Saturday night. It was DARK!

BELOW: Dave Grady tried his hand with the Hyperprime on the M9  - The 2nd shot has some CA (which the Noct ASPH has as well)

BELOW: Judd Weiss tried the Hyperprime on his NEX-5n

BELOW: Our awesome host, Todd Hatakeyama shot the next couple with the Hyperprime and his M9

I will be shooting with the lens for a few weeks/months and will be posting a full review down the road with many images, full size and comparisons with other lenses. I plan on flying down to Seattle to hang with Ashwin and do a thorough shoot out between this one and the Leica Noctilux ASPH. We may be able to even throw in the Voigtlander Nokton 1.1 in the mix as well. Should be a blast. Also look for a post this week with a wrap up on the LA Workshop including everyones fave images from the weekend. As for the SLR Magic hyperprime, it is a special lens and I am eagerly awaiting pricing info. When I find out, I will post the news here.

FAST FACTS and why this lens is pretty exciting:

The SLR Magic 50 LM (Leica Mount) T0.95 Lens has 12 Lens Elements, 12 aperture blades and focuses to .7 meters (also the equivalent of an f/0.92 aperture at T0.95)

The Voigtlander 50 f/1.1 Nokton has 7 Lens Elements, 10 aperture blades and focuses to 1 meter

The Leica Noctilux ASPH has 8 elements, 9 aperture blades and focuses to 1 meter

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