Sep 132014
 

PRESS RELEASE: THE SLR Magic APO-HyperPrime CINE 50mm T2.1

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Hong Kong, China (September 12, 2014) – SLR Magic will present a new CINE lens to the public from the APO-HyperPrime lens family in the upcoming Photokina 2014 fair in Cologne at the SLR Magic booth (Hall 5.1, L-011). The SLR Magic APO-HyperPrime CINE 50mm T2.1 is the first lens of the family. It achieves outstanding images under challenging lighting conditions. When taking pictures with many image-dominant, open light sources, it is common for correction defects to show up. Because the SLR Magic APO-HyperPrime CINE 50mm T2.1 is an apochromatic (APO) lens, longitudinal chromatic aberrations are corrected by its unique optical design and special selection of optical elements. The color defects are therefore significantly lower than the defined limits. Bright/dark transitions in the image, and especially highlights, are rendered with no colorful artifacts.

Thanks to the low level of longitudinal chromatic aberration, there are no visible aberrations. So an illuminated portrait scene by night with many light sources in front of and behind the actual focal plane appears close to reality, without displaying complementary, color contrast edges. The excellent performance delivered by the SLR Magic APO-HyperPrime CINE 50mm T2.1 is consistent for all shooting distances. Its high performance with an open aperture also makes this lens a good choice for close-ups or portraits. The SLR Magic APO-HyperPrime CINE 50mm T2.1 takes full advantage of modern high-resolution 4K camera sensors as support for 6K sensor size, resulting in impressive resolution in the images, even for the finest detail.

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The lens has a completely new optical and mechanical design, which was developed taking into account the special and increasing requirements of high-resolution cameras. The APO-HyperPrime CINE lens series comes standard in PL mount and can be easily adapted to numerous camera systems with the optional PL-mFT adapter, PL-E adapter, and EF mount conversion adapter. The lenses feature standard focus rotation angle of 300 degrees and uniform measurements. This combination makes the lenses ideally suited for every demand on the film set. All APO-HyperPrime CINE lenses have an attachment of any standard follow-focus system.

As a continued dedication to anamorphic lenses, some of the lenses in the APO-HyperPrime CINE lens family would be compatible with the SLR Magic Anamorphot adapter.

SLR Magic plans to exhibit the first lens of its PL cinema series at the Photokina 2014 fair. The SLR Magic stand would be in (Hall 5.1, No. L-011) during the fair, which is to be held in Cologne from 16th to 21st of September 2014.

SLR Magic will start shipping the APO-HyperPrime CINE 50mm T2.1 in 2015.

You can visit the SLR Magic web site HERE, or you can check out their E-Bay shop HERE

Technical Data

Lens Mount: PL-mount
Focal Length: 50 mm
Aperture: T2.1 to 22
Close Focus: 2’
Image Circle: 44 mm (full-frame)
Lens Gears: Focus: 0.8 pitch, 122 tooth
Iris: 0.8 pitch, 103 tooth
Total Length: 94mm
Front Lens Diameter: 95mm (For Matte Box)
Filter Thread: 62mm
Weight: 1.1 kg

Optional Accessories

SLR Magic Anamorphot 1,33x – 50
SLR Magic PL-mFT adapter
SLR Magic PL-E adapter
SLR Magic EF mount (requires professional installation)

Sep 092014
 

New Lens Tuesday! SLR Magic 10mm T 2.1 in the house!

Just arrived, the new SLR Magic Hyperprime 10mm T 2.1 for Micro 4/3! The lens feels much nicer than I thought it would and it came with a serious looking variable ND filter in the 77mm filter size. I will have a review up soon for this guy using an Olympus E-M10. While superb for video as shown in other videos online, I will be looking at it from a photographers standpoint. I am guessing the review will be up within 2 weeks.

You can read more about the SLR Magic 10mm T 2.1 HERE. The price of this lens is $799 and is part of the premium Hyperprime line. In the hand it feels like a $1500 lens, in use not sure yet but my review will tell the tale.

It will be available for pre-order SOON at B&H Photo. 

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Sep 042014
 

PRESS RELEASE

NEW: THE SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 10mm T2.1 and SLR Magic 77 ND 0.4-ND 1.8 filter

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

SLRM1021_frontHong Kong, China (September 3, 2014) – SLR Magic expands the micro four thirds lens lineup with the new SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 10mm T2.1 wide angle lens. With this latest addition, the portfolio of lenses for the micro four thirds system is now comprised of thirteen focal lengths. The product will be officially introduced during upcoming Photokina 2014 fair in Cologne.

The field of view of this new HyperPrime Lens corresponds to a 20mm 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 T2.1 makes the SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 10mm T2.1 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 HyperPrime CINE 10mm T2.1 is solid and reliable.

The SLR Magic 77 ND 0.4-ND 1.8 filter is a solid variable neutral density filter providing a reduction of about 1.3 to 6 stops. The 0.4 to 1.8 density creates a darkening of the entire image, allowing you to photograph with a wider aperture or slower shutter speed than normally required. The degree of density is easily controlled by rotating the front filter ring via the non-removable lever. By slowing your exposure time you are able to control depth of field and convey movement more easily. Both filter substrates are combined into one filter ring, this filter is low profile and helps to eliminate vignetting on most lenses. The front filter ring diameter is 86mm in diameter, further helping to reduce vignetting, on wide angles lenses such as the SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 10mm T2.1 lens.

The SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 10mm T2.1 (MSRP: $799 US) and SLR Magic 77 ND 0.4-ND 1.8 filter (MSRP: $179 US) will be available from authorized SLR Magic dealers starting end of October 2014.

The SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 10mm T2.1 will be first presented at Photokina 2014 fair. The SLR Magic stand would be in (No. L-011, Hall 5.1) during the fairs which are to be held in Cologne from 16th to 21st of September 2014. For all those who want to visit Photokina 2014 fairs.

SLR Magic is currently looking for volunteers to test this lens at a special price. If interested:

Send an email to [email protected] with the subject “SLR Magic 10mm T2.1 volunteer”.
Include sample videos/photos or link to photo/video reviews you have done in the past.

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Technical Data

SLR Magic HyperPrime CINE 10mm T2.1

Lens Type:

Fast wide-angle lens

Compatible Cameras:

All micro four thirds mount cameras

Optical Design:

13 elements in 11 groups

Distance Settings:

Distance range: 0.20m to ∞, combined scale meter/feet

Aperture:

Manually controlled diaphragm, 11 aperture blades , Lowest value 16

Bayonet:

micro four thirds

Filter Mount:

Internal thread for 77mm filter; filter mount does not rotate.

Surface Finish:

Black anodized

Dimensions:

Length to bayonet mount:

approx. 79.45mm (approx. 3.12in)

Largest diameter:

approx. 80.00mm (approx. 3.14in)

Weight:

approx. 420g (approx. 14.8oz)

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SLR Magic 77 ND 0.4-ND 1.8

Type:

Variable density

Size:

77 mm

Filter Factor:

0.4 – 1.8 (1.3 – 6 stops)

Front Filter Thread Size:

86mm

May 012014
 

The NEW SLR Magic Anamorphot “add on’”Lens with SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 Cine Lens and Olympus OMD EM-1

by Wilson Chong

This article was originally written in Christmas last year in anticipating the launch of the new SLR Magic Anamorphot Lens. However, some delay in sending to you this belated review. All shots were taken last year before Christmas.

First of all thank you for Andrew for lending the new SLR Magic Anamorphot Lens for me to try out. Secondly, I also thank you for Steve and Brandon for posting my user experience on this lens.

So, what the hell is “Anamorphot” or “Anamorphic” lens? This was way ahead of me but according to what I can understood how from Andrew over a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop, it was cinematography technique which basically squeeze everything into the 35mm format but you have to correct it to the right aspect ratio before screening it…. huh? He was getting way too technical for me and I have no idea what he was talking about but I would love to try it out this new lens.

Here is bascially what Anamorphic format means according to Wiki.

My review purely as a user with little technical background.

I first thought Andrew was going to give me some special lens but suddenly a straight clip on lens appeared in front of me, It is a kind of add-on lens which you can put it over your existing lens. This makes we wonder, will it hold? Yes, it does and very solid too!

Since, I will be shooting this with my new OMD EM-1, but using the SLR Magic Hyperprime 35mm T0.95 Cine Lens. Now, I mounted it on my proud OMD EM-1, I wonder how this thing do on photos and vidoes.

For my previous review on the 35mm Hyperprime T0.95 cine lens, please click HERE.

Now, I must admit, I am no video shooter. In fact, I probably made so many mistakes in my shooting that I will fail my class (if I am a Videography student). However, I am eager to show you what I shot is because this thing actually make me to shot films and make me do some editing (even I have not done it before). Here is one of my test film shot in Mongkok, Hong Kong:

(Note: I am not too bothered with the aspect ratio because it does give you a 60s/70s retro feel to it. However, I guess occasional use is fine)

The second time, I have edited a couple of shots I and made this short film:

However, I must give kudos to this video using SLR Magic Anamorphot Lens called RELIEF (an excellent watch!):

Back to shooting using the new Anamorphot Lens. Since the Anamorphot Lens is very much depends on what the other lens you use, hence, you have to be careful to select the right one for your own use. As many of you may know, the 35mm Hyperprime T0.95 Cine Lens is a very contrasty lens and great for black and white shots. Shooting it with new Anamorphot lens also give you this unique characteristics.

The handling of new Anamorphot Lens together with the 35 Hyperprime and the new OMD EM-1 is surprising good. Mind you, I have got the hand grip add-on so that I have the pressure point at the bottom of my hand to hold up the camera and both lenses. Of course, when mounted the lens to the OMD, it looks like having a huge lens wandering around with you. Is heavy and definitely not discreet either.

Set aside the ergonomics, the focusing on both lens is rather simple, once you have the right setting on the Anamorphot lens, you don’t need to do much. The focusing is mainly on the 35mm Hyperprime lens. Of course, one of the main advantage of having the OMD EM1 is the anti-shock capabilities. The lens performs good and well up to my expectation. Once you are used to the set up, both lenses become one and I do not feel any immediate danger of the Anamorphot Lens being fall off or loosen during my filming.

The photos are great and with the new OMD EM1, it is surely, one of the best M4/3 camera available (although I got the new Df later with no Video Mode). I am sure it will satisfy fans who like to add some cinematic feel and also the opportunity to take advantage using other lens for the other moods. In short, the possibilities are endless.

please visit my flickr page

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Anyway, I would thank you Steve and Brandon for posting my submission and wish you all the best! Looking forward to your reviews, reports and thoughts on photography!

Best regards,
Wilson Chong

 

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

 

Mar 082013
 

The Sony NEX F3 and SLR Magic Hyperprime 23 1.7 by Vernon Lim

I do not consider myself as being anywhere near a pro-photographer. Only two years back, I was still using a regular point-and-shoot. However, during one of my holidays in Taiwan at the end of 2011 with my girlfriend, I started wanting better shots after reviewing the photos I took, especially in low-light conditions.

I did a bit of research before deciding on Sony’s Nex-C3. I enjoyed using the camera so much that when I (sadly) misplaced it back August 2012, I immediately purchased Sony’s Nex-F3 as a replacement.

As is (probably) the usual story, whilst I was happy initially with Sony’s kit lenses, I began finding the lenses lacking in portrait-taking capabilities. Don’t get me wrong, Sony’s 16mm is pretty decent and very wide-angled, but I’m quite a sucker for bokeh and the F2.8 Aperture just didn’t produce enough of it.

I started looking around for cheap alternatives since I had a limited budget, and found SLR Magic’s range of 35mm toy lenses. I bought the 35mm f1.7 and the lens taught me a lot about manual focusing (which is really pretty easy with Sony’s focus peaking), but I personally found the effective 52.5mm FoV somewhat narrow.

Unfortunately, Sony’s wide-angle E-Mount prime (the Zeiss 24mm) retails at a rather ridiculous price here in Singapore (and probably everywhere else?), so that would never work for me. When SLR Magic launched their 35mm F1.4 late last year, I seriously considered trading up. Unfortunately, budget constraints prevented me from doing so, since I knew I would really want SLR Magic’s 23mm F1.7 which would eventually be launched as well.

When I emailed SLR Magic to discuss trading in my toy lens, they found out that I was heading off to Taiwan again in April this year for a wedding photography session with my fiancé, and the crew very nicely allowed me to purchase one of their 23mm F1.7 lenses pre-launch.

I was very pleased with SLR Magic’s offer, and took it up immediately. I have to say I am very happy with the new lens. This second-generation 23mm F1.7 is built very well, and has solidly-manufactured and smooth focusing and aperture rings. Photos taken are certainly way better than SLR Magic’s toy lenses, and I’ve not removed this lens from my Nex-F3 ever since I received it in my mailbox (shipping from Hong Kong to Singapore was a very quick affair too). I’d be happy to share some of the photos I’ve taken with you.

Note: All of the following shots were taken wide open at F1.7.

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The above 2 shots were taken quite close to the lens’ minimum focusing distance of 15cm. Such a short distance does offer a fair mimicry of macro photography, though I guess it probably can’t replace a real macro lens.

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Since I had the pleasure of using this lens during the Chinese New Year period, I managed to take this when I was being served one of usual local customary dishes during the festive period. This was snapped (rather luckily) as the final crackers were falling onto our appetizer.

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Night landscape photography still proved somewhat of a challenge, as I don’t bring a tripod around very often. Having a pair of rather shaky hands, I either have to get lucky whilst in Aperture-priority mode, or move to Shutter-priority and set a shutter speed of 1/30 sec or faster. The above two photos were taken at Clarke Quay and Collyer Quay respectively.

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On the rare occasion that I get to pig out (no pun intended), I would naturally bring along my Nex-F3. Food photography is a bit tricky wide-open, and I’m still learning how to take good photos with food.

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Lastly, here’s a photo of my fiancé and I. With the F3’s flip-up screen, self-portraits are really easy, especially with the wide-angle 35mm-equivalent FoV.

To summarize, this has been a really great lens to match the Sony Nex-F3. Considering its price and Sony’s rather limited selection of lenses, it is really well-built and produces excellent photos in my opinion. Also, together with Sony’s focus-peaking, manual focusing isn’t too difficult and with practice, it really becomes easy and natural to focus quickly.

I’d also like to thank Andrew at SLR Magic for letting me get my hands on this great lens before its official launch, and for his company’s excellent service levels.

Best Regards,

Vernon Lim

 

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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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!

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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.

 

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Sep 152012
 

Looks like SLR Magic is re-releasing the 23 1.7 but this time for NEX mount as well as the Fuji X mount and Micro 4/3. This fast prime will be a challenger to the Zeiss 24 1.8 at a much better price. They will also be showing some ultra fast T0.95 lenses so keep an eye on those. Here is the release direct from SLR Magic:

PRESS RELEASE

Hong Kong, September 15th, 2012.

During Photokina 2012 in Cologne,

Germany (September 18-23), SLR Magic will present attractive new CINE

products as well as its Toy Lenses, all of the highest technical

quality. Among them, will be a new SLR Magic CINE 35mm T1.4 lens in

stores by the end of 2012. SLR Magic would like to invite all

participants of Photokina fair held in Cologne to visit our stand in

Hall 3.1 B059.

 

SLR Magic will present its entire range of camera lenses, cine lenses,

spotting scopes, and camera accessories during Photokina.

 

A major attraction is a high-performance mirrorless format cine lens

with manual focus. With a focal length of 35mm and aperture of T1.4,

this lens joins the family of cine lenses designed for demanding

users. The reason why the 35mm T1.4 lens is not in the HyperPrime

series is because T1.4 is not the fastest speed we can design for this

35mm lens.

 

Ever since the release of the HyperPrime CINE 12mm T1.6 lens,

cinematographers have been requesting for a set of HyperPrime CINE

lenses. In addition to our new CINE 35mm T1.4 lens, we will also

showcase our 25mm T0.95 (MSRP: US $649) in mFT and 35mm T0.95 (MSRP:

US $1,249) in mFT, X-mount and E-mount concept lenses that are based

on the optical design of the HyperPrime CINE 50mm T0.95 lens.

 

Due to difficulty to source a particular material to manufacture the

HyperPrime 23mm F1.7 for E-mount announced on December 8th 2011 it was

discontinued within 3 months of launch. During this time, we have

re-designed the lens, increasing image quality across the frame yet

keeping the lens size and price similar to the original. The new

design also supports mFT and X mount cameras.

 

All details concerning the optical type and physical size of the lens

will be published at a later date. The SLR Magic CINE 35mm T1.4 lens

in mFT, X-mount and E-mount (MSRP: US $279) will be introduced for

sale in December 2012. The SLR Magic HyperPrime 23mm F1.7 (MSRP: US

$399) in mFT, X-mount and E-mount will be introduced for sale in

February 2013.

 

SLR Magic CINE 35mm f/1.4

Mount : mFT mount / E mount (NEX-VG900 is not compatible) / X mount /

Black Magic Cinema Camera mFT mount

Focal Length (35mm equivalent) : 70mm[mFT] 52mm[E] 52mm[X]

80mm[Black Magic mFT]

Minimum Focus Distance : 0.3m

Maximum Aperture : T1.4

Minimum Aperture: :T16

Optical Design : 8 elements, 8 groups (4 x Tantalum)

Lens Length : 70.3mm

Lens Weight : 370g

Filter Thread Diameter: 52mm

 

SLR Magic HyperPrime 23mm F1.7

Mount : mFT mount / E mount (NEX-VG900 is not compatible) / X mount /

Black Magic Cinema Camera mFT mount

Focal Length (35mm equivalent) : 46mm[mFT] 35mm[E] 35mm[X]

52mm[Black Magic mFT]

Maximum Aperture : F1.7

Minimum Aperture : F22

Optical Design : 9 elements, 8 groups (4 x Tantalum)

Lens Length : 61.3 mm

Lens Weight : 265g

Filter Thread Diameter: 49mm

 

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

Jun 112012
 

My New Glass Paintbrush – The SLR Magic 50 f/0.85 for Sony NEX – By Keith Lickteig • www.ScutFish.com

I’ve recently been spending a lot more time in Hong Kong where I have no plane to fly, no hangar to maintain, no giant smoker to sacrifice many tasty chickens upon. There’s few house chores, no gardening, no Jeep to crush shopping carts and sea shells with. I can work, do paper work, make calls, cry about money, but concentrating on nothing but work has truly made Jack a very dull boy. It’s time for a few healthy new hobbies.

What is there to do? It’s another day in Hong Kong with my beautiful Donna who flies me around the globe almost weekly. This alone is incredible. There’s so much to see and share with my family and friends back in the US and UK but the iPhone being my favorite camera doesn’t always cut it. So why not explore proper photography? Hong Kong must be the capital of camera ownership and sales. You can’t walk a minute in any public space without seeing a camera, a camera ad, a camera shop, being in someone else’s photo, or seeing my favorite, the ubiquitous “no photo” sign. The “no photo” sign is everywhere in Hong Kong and China. Heaven forbid someone should take a photo and steal a shops ideas of what are likely pirated goods.

Donna has always been a bit of a photography buff. By that I don’t mean she likes photography in the nude (a man can dream can’t he). Just that she enjoys old cameras and taking pictures, especially with film or mildly unusual formats. She’s helped fund a minute portion of the Impossible Projects instant film redevelopment and did they ever get the marketing name right on that one. It truly is just about “impossible”. She has a few fancy DSLRs with some type of fat fancy lenses that people on the street seem to ‘ooh and ah’ over, but her favorite digital is a small Ricoh point-and-shoot that has a lovely native square format. Of course I mentioned her antique Polaroid which I thought was going to be the coolest thing since, well, the last time I saw a real instant Polaroid in 1979. The black-and-white films currently available give mildly usable results when they don’t get stuck in the cartridge, but the color film is just pure crap. It’s my fault for getting her started on that one. I should have listened to the companies most honest marketing as it was never sold as the “Works Perfect Project”.

One of Donna’s latest acquisition is another giant anvil of a camera made by Fuji that uses near full format film of some sort, 6×6 maybe or something of the nature. Perhaps it is 120mm film judging by the pile of film rolls next to me all with the number 120 plastered on the canisters. Although a very nice camera that takes incredible photos, it’s not what I would say is a great journeying machine. It actually draws more attention than the average DSLR with a monster telephoto cannon of a lens. Whenever she takes it out for a photo people turn and look at her as it seems she’s replaced her head with a giant brick shaped camera. Really, it’s that big … the camera. She’s also begun playing with a few very old Rolleiflex twin lens cameras but we have no results from these as yet. I thought they would make really interesting bookends and had no idea anyone would bother using them. As it turns out the Rolleiflex’s are worth a pretty penny too. I’d have never guessed it by the number of them I see in the dusty old shops around town.

So now it’s my turn to get into the photo game. It’s something Donna and I can participate in together, and it will give me a much-needed mental escape from work. I read a good bit on the web and develop an interest in the smaller interchangeable lens cameras that seem to be really fueling a portion of the market. As we travel an insane amount I want to travel light. I want to be able to use little more than an iPad to edit and publish and would enjoy a camera that weighed-in a little less than Donnas Hubble like instruments (which was 24,000 lbs before it left earth). In the following days while Donna and I are on walkabout we step into a few shops and have a look at the makes and models available. Of all the incredible offerings we come across a little Sony number that seems to have really made quite a “Huff” on the web. It could hardly be any smaller, it supports assorted lenses, and oddly has the same sensor as one of Donna’s monster DSLRs. After a bit of Cantonese debate and haggling Donna hands over her debit card and it’s ours. Notice I said “her” debit card. Women’s liberation is marvelous gentlemen. I highly recommend we sit back and enjoy!

A few days go by with the new little camera and I’m enjoying taking photos while doing my best to not use the talented and more accurate automated modes. However, as hard as I try it’s just not all that exciting. The kit lenses perform very well and make it incredibly easy to capture what was in front of me, but essentially that is all they do, capture what I had no problem remembering in the first place. It quickly becomes time to step it up. It is after all an interchangeable lens machine, there must be options. Time to try out something else.

A quick comment regarding Sony menus (or any camera make for that matter) as I’ve read such horrible things about them. I’m guessing there are only so many buttons and options that can be fit into one square inch. Upon spending a mere six minutes with the cameras user manual I was able to place eight options of my choosing at my finger tips, with all now being less than two “clicks” away. Amazing. I didn’t have to rely on what a Sony engineer deemed to be the best workflow for me, I could choose my own. It was easy and no fuss at all, with no more need to click-through lists of menu options.

Off we go back to the shops to search out a lens that’s more interesting for the little cam. There aren’t many native options until we come across a Zeiss that was very well reviewed and apparently quite “fast”, whatever that meant. Apparently it wasn’t fast enough to get away so we took it home, plugged it in, and headed off to Thailand the very day. Why not?

The Zeiss performed remarkably well. The Zeiss focus was quite fast and the results were for the most part quite bright, colorful, and perfect. Almost too perfect. Perfect to the point of being clinical. I’ve had enough of clinics and “clinical” for one lifetime so upon returning to Hong Kong Donna and I visited more shops and started trying out filters, polarizers, super quasar numerator electron fluctuations among other devices. Again the results improved markedly and now every single pixel was in its exact and proper place, dimension, and hue. All with almost no effort on my part. Lovely, except of all the great works of art I’ve been so fortunate to behold, not one do I ever remember at a pixel level. Donna and I once climbed to the upper rotunda of the Basilica of St. Peters where I didn’t use just my eyes. Trembling, I put my hand against the gorgeous mosaic walls as I walked along and felt more than six-hundred years of history, passion, enlightenment, and sacrifice flown beneath my finger tips. To this day I cannot believe we were given access to such places. Amazingly we had little choice but to touch the mosaics as to step more than a few feet away would have us perched on a ledge with almost 300 feet between our feet and the floor below. It’s was an amazing experience. Grazie Papa!

In order to share my travel photos and journal with friends and family, and being one of a handful of people on the planet not using Facebook, I began studying WordPress and learned how to build a scratch website. After about a week I could load photos into my iPhone and iPad, edit, and publish to my newly created site without ever touching a desktop. Perfect, now I never have to leave my hammock.

As much fun as I was having with my new camera and lenses, there was still much missing. I was able to frame and capture moments to share beautifully, but without a little editing they lacked punch, life, or any character at all. There are times when I enjoy playing with a photo, and other times where I feel it’s important for the moment to speak for itself. No editing, no in camera processing. Just available light, a subject, and the moment. I had no idea how as a novice I could learn to capture such magic in a photo but articles across the web spoke of such things being possible.

Enter the “magic”. Although here in Hong Kong they say “Enter the Dragon”. I had been browsing the web more than ever before, reading about photography, available kit, techniques, reviews and such. Heaven knows there’s nothing worth while on television and I haven’t watched any form of televised news media in more than eight years (hence my great smile and cheerful demeanor). I began discovering images and write-ups of vintage lenses being adapted to smaller cameras like the Sony I’ve been studying. However, I was certain there was no way I’d get positive results from a fully manual lens with my novice skill level. I’m only a few weeks into this. The concept kept eating at me and I continued scouring the web for more information.

While back at work in the States I read a very “Huffed” up article about a company from Hong Kong of all places making native Sony mount lenses that seemed oddly interesting. The lenses were fully manual, very “fast” (that word again), and the demonstrated photos looked really interesting. Over the past weeks Donna and I had become really good at shopping for new camera kit and I knew there wasn’t a lens yet that was “fast” enough to out run me. Immediately upon returning to Hong Kong Donna and I headed out to find the sorcerers shop that made this magical lens. Of course after a hot shower and long nap, Orlando to Hong Kong is a long 24 hours in a seat.

Not long after beginning our search, Donna and I had discovered a handful of shops that carried or could source the lens. (I told you we are really good at the shopping part.) Wandering further we discovered one of the smallest shops in the entire arcade where there they sat, many different well sampled models of the much “Huffed” SLR Magic lenses. After a bit of Canton small talk with the shop owner and many “oohs and ah’s” over his beautiful baby (a real baby not the lens) I was ready to snap on SLR Magic and give it a whirl. I stepped into the hall, switched the cam to on, opened the aperture thingy (making the hole bigger), twisted the focus ring and finally began to grin. “This is absolutely amazing” is all I was thinking. I pointed at any and every thing playing with the dials while letting a kaleidoscope of imagery appear before my eyes. This went on for nearly ten minutes before Donna stepped into the hall and reminded me there was a button on the upper part of the device I was holding that when pressed would cause the images to be captured for later viewing. “Oh, that’s right” I exclaimed rather excitedly. I was having too much fun discovering aperture to remember anything else. I played around for many more minutes and checked out the other SLR Magic offerings. Then Donna asked me, “well honey, are you going to get it?” to which I replied, “Captain Donna (it sometimes helps if I call her captain), make it so!” And yet another lens came home to play.

The next day we of course departed for another adventure with new photo kit in tow. Well, Donna’s kit was in tow, mine easily fit in my shoulder bag. We headed out that night snapping away. The new SLR Magic lens was so cool, and amazing, and really just too much fun to put down. Even for a complete novice as myself there was so much to enjoy. Rather quickly I stopped thinking of it as a mere lens but more of a giant wet paintbrush. The effects, colors, drama one could create was endless. Do I want to capture a single subject, if so, just spin the dial. Do I want the world to appear, spin the other way. Make something glow, turn it a little more. Or how about miss the moment and shot all together in a giant swirling blur, way too easy. Walking down a very dimly lit street I eventually discovered this little dragon could see in the dark, at low ISO, and fast shutter speeds. This was the moment I finally comprehended what a fast lens was, while all this time I had thought I was so young and spritely. What was there not to love about this little lens. I recalled an article I read from a “Rockwell” engineer or photographer. He lambasted the SLR Magic company for even thinking of developing such a lens. According to the article, the author had never even laid his hands on the product, met the company founder or development team, yet found little to like about the company or product. Now that sounds like a magical review and talent to boot. Think of the money saved by reviewing without ever touching. What an amazing business plan.

With camera and lens in hand, I soon began to chat with other photographers on the street that would curiously check out my new kit as both my camera body and lenses were not easy to find on shop shelves at the time. l even became bold enough to take my gear into camera shops along my way and show it off to shop owners and their most curious customers. I’d let their customers try it out and watch them grin just as I did. Then I’d loudly say “talk to Mr. Lee (reading off the shop keeps name badge as if we were old friends), he can find you one I’m certain”. Meanwhile the shop manager hurriedly began researching on his smart phone. Salesmen are fun to play with. Especially in China.

Sitting in a cafe looking at the evenings photos I was questioned by a fella named Gary Tyson who claimed to know a thing or two about how cameras worked. He also mentioned he too was enjoying the Leica version of the same lens which is really not the same at all. The M-mount SLR Magic is a whole new barrel of a beast. Gary shared some of his remarkable photos and commented that there was a bit of “controversy” surrounding the SLR Magic lenses and brand. Once again I thought back to that “Rockwell” fella and so many forum comments from people bashing products that they had never seen, touched, explored, or even attempted to understand. Often only due to product price. It is then that I realized many “forums” can be as bad as news media outlets and not nearly as valuable as parting ones hind quarters from the couch, while getting out and exploring for oneself.

After two months with my SLR Magic I have thoroughly enjoyed every challenging minute with the lens. I don’t seem to care if the company stole the concept from a Happy Meal, painted it pink, and marked it up 500%. The fact is, whatever they did, they built it, they built it well, and made it available for me to purchase, saving me the trouble of building my own. It fits my camera (amazingly as a native lens), it functions beautifully for my tastes and needs, and I thoroughly enjoy the challenge and results. And if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to buy it. If it was too expensive I could have easily chose something else. Fortunately I don’t live in a one size, one price fits all world. If I wasn’t happy with the available product I’m free to search out other offerings. Free markets are amazing. What’s more amazing is how fast products like this are selling in Asia. High-end products of all genres are selling like hot cakes. I’ve recently watched people buy watches that were more than $60,000 usd. Things in these price ranges are flying out of shop doors. To many in this part of the world a $5000 camera body or even a $10000 lens is a mere toy. Something just to have because someone said it was good or “the best”. It’s likely it will rarely be used if ever to the degree of its design. I see it in aviation all the time. People spending hundreds of thousands on aircraft and sometimes millions just to have a spare or say they have “one of those” too. It’s very interesting to witness what motivates different people to spend.

To me texture and grain in a photograph are character. They are the flavor and smell of one-dimensional world.

So now I have a few new paintbrushes to choose from, and I’ve got an entire planet before me to explore along with my great partner in crime. Donna and I are having way too much fun searching out places to shoot. I recently spent more than five hours climbing the back halls, stairwells, and alleyways of one Hong Kong’s most notorious buildings. I observed all facets of life, vice, and underground activities. I met drug dealers, tailors, cooks, traders, you name it. I did my best to capture photos of it all with less than a handful being anything exciting or even remotely sharable. All poor photos due strictly to my lack of skill. The best part is that bodged photos no longer bother me. I’ll happily pack up my iPad, all my new paintbrushes, and head out for another adventure. Each time I try I learn a little more and my technique improves. I get better at choosing my settings, learn to focus faster, and are really learning how to work an area to compose the best shot while not disturbing my subjects. When I get a great shot it really makes me smile and I want to share the moment with my friends. When I don’t, I’m happy to have had the chance.

So where to go next? We never really know. Today we are in Japan and I’m certain our next destination will be as equally exciting. Maybe there will be something worth photographing, or maybe we’ll find one of those stunning spots better quietly enjoyed and remembered within the greatest canvas one has. Wherever Donna and go I know we’ll make the most of it. But perhaps a little more shopping first. I heard something about some “Voigtlander” people I really must explore.

Manual lenses like those from SLR Magic and Voigtlander are turning out to be a real treat for me personally. I enjoy how they help me get more involved with the moment I’m trying to capture. They are in no way easy lenses for a novice to use but that’s all part of the fun and enjoyment of the equipment. Day or night the wide aperture coupled with the appropriate filters and patience makes for great adventure.

Above my bright yellow airplane looked equally interesting in black and white and the old Buick below turned out much too sharp so I had to muck it up a bit. Both taken with the SLR Magic in very strong daylight.

Wide open the SLR Magic delivers great results in very dim light. Days after picking up the lens, George was more than happy to pose quietly for my practice as we waited for our whiskeys to come up to the perfect sipping temperature. Further below Trish tries to hide her cute, tiny, very round cheeks from a shot. The picture here is actually life-size, she’s super cute and tiny.

Although the new paintbrushes I have are more than capable of capturing beautifully clean photographs, it’s still a lot of fun to mess around with the results on iPad with a few editing apps.

Once again practicing wide open is a lot of fun. If I had only remembered that thing called ISO taking this photo would have been so much easier. By raising it I could have had a much cleaner shot without the motion blur and didn’t even recall the option until hours later. It’s of no worry, I’ll just have to head back to Dubai and get a few more shots of my friend Dave.

Shooting through grease splattered glass around the corpses of many fried fowl was a bit of a challenge. But patience gave me interesting results in a great part of town.

I could have spent hours taking photos in this tiny little work shop. It’s located on one of the lower floors of one of Hong Kong’s less than desirable buildings. If you didn’t know it was there you’d never believe it existed. I’m told that most of their customers don’t want to physically visit their shop, but I personally love it. It has great character. Past the double security doors in a room a room only a few meters long and wide, they are turning out some of the highest quality and renowned custom jewelry in the region. The shop has been here since the 1960s I’m guessing and the shop owner was more than happy to let me take photos of the jewelers working away at their work benches. After all, I’m a very good customer. Women’s liberation seems to be a two-way street … Damn.

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.

May 112012
 

My one hour  with the new Leica Monochrome by Steve Huff

Hello and here I am once again writing from my hotel room in Berlin. I just ordered room service as it is pouring rain outside and I just returned from an hour long walk Sean Reid who e-mailed me this afternoon asking if I would like to use the M Monochrome that he has with him since I did not get a chance to shoot one at all from Leica. Very cool of him. He did already post a review of the M Monochrome and the X2 at his subscription site if you would like to check it out. So I thank Sean for letting me use the camera for an hour or so. Without that, I would not even have been able to really check it out at all.

1st, MY thoughts on this Leica event and how I would have done it differently

I have to first thank Leica for inviting me to this event. I was invited to the 09/09/09 event but could not make it out that time but I always said that when they announce their next set of cameras, I AM THERE! So I was excited to be here and enjoy the whole “Leica-ness” of it all. As we all knew from the rumors there was a dedicated  black & white camera coming from Leica and possibly an X2. Both of these things were indeed true.

No WiFi at the event

When I arrived to the event I walked in and was asked for my invitation (glad I didn’t forget it)! After handing it over I entered the building and noticed that there were MANY people there. It was a packed house, full of suits, dresses, and a few people I recognized. After talking with a few of the Leica people I made my way to the stage area and had a seat. I pulled out my laptop as I assumed there would be wifi there for the bloggers and press that were in attendance. NOPE.

If this were MY event, I would have wifi setup. No questions about it. The fact is there were many of the big players here and it would seem that Leica would want the press and live coverage. I was all set to do live blogging and was disappointed to find out that would not be possible. Sure I could have paid for some sort of card but I was told there would be wireless there so I didn’t.

No cameras to try out at the event

If this were my event, or if I were in charge of it I would have made sure to have a few cameras to pass around to the blogger guys/girls. The thing Leica wants and needs is coverage of these new cameras. I would have handed out one to every major blogging person and said “use it for the day tomorrow”. That would have been great. We would have all been able to shoot with it, evaluate it and write about it. But no cameras were to be found. I was able to stare at them through a glass case though and did eventually get to fire off 4 shots with Jonathan Slacks camera he has been testing. I shot 4 shots only because I wanted to take a quick look and Jono kindly handed over the camera. (Thanks Jono, his photos from the Monochrom can be seen here)!

No real WOW factor

I hate to say it as I love Leica and the guys that work there but I have to say the event was a bit on the dull and lackluster side. Sure there were drinks, food and people to mingle with but the overall presentations were lacking. Not a big deal but I remember a few occasions yawning as it dragged on and on it seems. We were all there for the announcements and the way they were announced was also a bit on the dull side.

IS Leica HIGH?

OK. I have to mention it. $7200 for a Leica 50 Summicron ASPH APO. I have to admit…when I heard that I was like..”MAN OH MAN..I AM DONE WITH LEICA”! I thought it was ridiculous and borderline insanity to price the new lens like that. I mean, a SUMMICRON for more than the legendary 50 Summilux? Really? We all know how amazing Leica glass is. That is their main claim to fame. The GLASS! But pricing the new lens at $7200 US is really alienating 75% of Leicas new users.

I know for a fact there have been thousands of you who read this site, who are NOT rich, who went out and bought an M9 even though they really could not justify or afford it. Many of us, myself included, stretched our budgets to be able to purchase the camera and one or two lenses max. Why? Because while we may not have all of the money in the world, we have passion and we want to shoot with what our heart tells us to shoot with. For me, it’s usually Leica.

There were so many new Leica users over the past three years and Leica has been enjoying this success. When they release a lens for $7200 and it is a 50 Summicron ASPH APO..well, I am afraid they just went and priced MANY of us out of the market, which may be what they want.

I know for a fact I will never ever buy the new lens, no matter how good it is. Why? Because the 50 Summilux ASPH is astounding, and cheaper. The old 50 Summicron may have some character flaws to some, but you can buy them used pretty cheap. $7200 to gain some sharpness and micro-contrast?

On the other hand I have a feeling they need lenses like this for their M10 which I think is coming at Photokina. I think the sensor in the M10 will be so high res and so capable of crazy detail that they needed a new lens to showcase it. I also have a feeling many changes are coming with the M10. I have no inside info, Leica tells me nothing… but my crystal ball thinks so.

I get releasing a new lens like this for those that want absolute perfection and beauty. Those who can afford it, and there are many, will buy the lens. I just do not see them selling them in any kind of mass quantity, which again, is probably what they want.

I happen to know the lens is amazingly beautiful in its design, size, and rendering. The samples I have seen from it blew me away. I am just disappointed in the price point as they knocked so many out of the game here.

But I assume they know what they are doing and maybe they just want to go after a specific market for their new cameras and lenses. Either way, I can not deny the fact that the new Monochrome M and the new 50 are gorgeous and this lens may be the best lens they have ever made. I will give them that for sure. I would love to do  full review of it using this new Monochrome so maybe one day I will get to try it out and let you guys know how it is. :)

My one hour with the Leica Monochrome

So as I started this article writing about how I finally managed to spend an hour with the new Leica Monochrome camera I will now talk a little about this camera and my 1st impressions after spending just under an hour with it. The images you see embedded here were all shot with the Monochrome and the SLR Magic 50 T0.95 Hyperprime lens.  Click on any image for a larger view.

So it was raining, it was grey and it was all kinds of dreary but I headed out for an hour with the new Leica Monochrome in Berlin, which is a beautiful gorgeous place to shoot. The people also seem friendly as no one had an issue with me taking their images. Had a great time for that one hour for sure!

It’s just like shooting an M9

The Monochrome is just like shooting an M9 or M9-P except you have no color available. It’s all black and white. Monochrome (that sounds cooler). You can read the techie reviews for the details on the sensor but basically, in real world terminology this sensor will yield better dynamic range and high ISO capabilities over the M9 or M9-P.

If I can be honest, I am strangely attracted to this camera even though it is priced at $8000, the same cost as a Leica M9-P. I remember years ago people on various forums were asking for a dedicated B&W sensor Leica M camera. It made sense right? Leica has always been known for classic B&W photography. So many of us shoot B&W with our M cameras or even shooting B&W film. So why not a dedicated B&W sensor camera? With the Monochrome you get better high ISO and beautiful B&W capabilities.

I know that as soon as I knew this camera was coming, I wanted one. I even came up with an idea to travel for a few weeks and shoot only B&W. Do a huge project. Take my time. Just me and the camera as one. Ahhh, sounds so good huh?

It’s true. B&W has a way of tugging at your soul, your heart, your brain. It’s simple. It’s basic. It’s real. No, it’s not real as in what we see with our eyes but for some reason when I view classic B&W images I can see deeper into the image. It has more emotion and soul. I LOVE B&W. The problem has always been that traditional digital cameras usually sucked with Monochrome imaging. Sure we can use plug ins like Silver Efex Pro or Alien Skin but imagine a simple camera we could have that just allowed us to be pure. To be MONO. Yep, this new Leica allows us to do that and gives us superb IQ, great sharpness, and the ability to capture that real emotion that so many of us love to see.

Shooting B&W takes me back to the time when I had my M6 or M7 around my neck with a roll of Tri-X loaded. For some reason that camera inspired me to get out and capture people on the street. I lost my fears and was motivated to shoot. Holding that Leica Monochrome in my hand, knowing its potential, well, that was enough to motivate me and get me excited to shoot today. It’s a funny thing these Leica cameras. They almost are like some alien life form that sucks you into wanting to shoot. Always happens with an M around my neck.

I walked and I shot and shot and shot, maybe about 75 images total. Not too many really and I knew that I would not get any great shots or amazing artistic images but I knew that shooting this camera for even an hour would let me judge it’s capabilities. Again, it is the same body and menu as an M9 or M9-P with a couple of minor things added. So if you have shot an M before, you will feel right at home shooting the Monochrome. In a way, reviewing this camera is easy as it is only about the images, the tonality and the high ISO performance. Notice in the title image how many tones you can see in the sock. Gorgeous.

$8000!

When I found out this body was $8000 I immediately said “WHAT”??? I mean, many will see this as a crippled M9! No color? Well, those are the people who either are not really into B&W photography or just do not get what this camera is all about. I know for a fact that I can not afford $8000 for this camera, but maybe if I scrimp and save and save some more than maybe I would be able to swing it, though I’d have to sell my M9-P to do so. I am NOT a rich guy :) Yes, this blog gets loads of traffic but that also means much higher costs to run it.

So after my one hour with this lovely camera I asked myself…”would I sell my M9-P to buy an Monochrome”? Well, I wouldn’t want to… but yes I would. Because after viewing my sample images I do see a difference between this output and what comes out of an M9 with conversions. Yes, $8000 is INSANE and much to expensive (it really is) but damn Leica, you always have a way to get to my heart and soul, and I feel that the Leica Monochrome, even at $8000, will eventually become a classic due to its simplicity, design, feel, use, and beautiful output. I do not think they will have a problem selling this one though I also do not think they will sell as many as they did the M9.

When I get more time with this camera I plan on spending MUCH more  time testing it with landscapes, studio portraits, and more street photography as well as some travel stuff. So c’mon Leica, send me one along with the new X2 so I can get started! :)

A few more samples during my one hour with the camera…exif is all embedded. I hope you enjoyed  this quick one hour walk with me :) Also, I have to say that this SLR Magic 50mm t/0.95 Hyperprime is GORGEOUS. Be sure and read all about it HERE. (UPDATE: Funny how there have been NO MORE reports of lens failures of this lens after  the 1-2 who went on the attack? Yep my friends this was a Leica calculated attack on a lens they were afraid of (I know because someone high up told me). I know of many who still own and shoot this lens without issue in focus or build and they all call it a masterpiece in image quality and build. Remember, I had an $11k Noctilux fall apart TWICE while using it professionally. Never did the SLR Magic do this. Think about it for a few…)

BTW, you can now pre order the M Monochrome for $7995 at the following sites:

B&H Photo – M Monochrome Pre-Order, 50 Summicron ASPH APO Pre-Order, Leica X2 Pre-order

PopFlash Photo – they are all on the main page!

Ken Hansen has a list going as well – E-Mail him HERE – he will ship worldwide

and a higher ISO with crop

and an ISO 10,000 – yes, it’s got grain

 

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