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 :)

t0.95onnex

hyperprimonnex

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 

095atbar

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

debbybw

debby feet

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)

35t0.95inbox

35t95side

35t95front

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

onthex-e1

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.

35t1.4front

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″

351.4bar

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“Goodbyes”

351.4air

 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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Feb 282012
 

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

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

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

The SLR Magic 50 T0.95 LM Hyperprime

Voigtlander 50 f/1.1 Nokton on M9

 

IN THE HAND

The SLR Magic…

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

The Voigtlander Nokton

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

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

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BOKEH

The SLR Magic…

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

The Voigtlander Nokton…

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

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

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SHARPNESS WIDE OPEN or CLOSE TO IT

The SLR Magic…

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

The Voigtlander Nokton…

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

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

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SHARPNESS STOPPED DOWN

The SLR Magic…

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

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

The Voigtlander Nokton…

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

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BARREL DISTORTION

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

The SLR Magic…

The Voigtlander Nokton…

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

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COST

SLR Magic…$4388

Voigtlander Nokton f/1.1 – $1049

Winner – Voigtlander Nokton 50 1.1

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CLOSE FOCUS 

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

SLR Magic…

Voigtlander Nokton…

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

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

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

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

The Voigtlander lens is available now from B&H Photo

The SLR Magic lens will be available September 2012

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

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

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

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Jan 302012
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

and one of his street shots as well…

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAST FACTS and why this lens is pretty exciting:

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

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

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

Jan 302012
 

SLR Magic REALLY IS Magical…the LM 50 T0.95 ROCKS

WOW! So today was the last day of the workshop in Los Angeles and I have to say that this was the most amazing workshop to date. It was a jammed packed weekend with lots of cool guest speakers, many amazing passionate attendees and lots of shooting in the studio and on the street.

Today we had an education when uber talented Elizabeth Wang Lee gave us a detailed and thorough talk on street photography. This was an amazing presentation and we all learned from her detailed explanations and samples. THANK YOU ELIZABETH!

Actor/Comedian Jeff Garlin also popped in to deliver a hilarious talk on street shooting, and at the same time informed us all that he is producing a documentary on Chicago street photograoher Vivian Maier. So cool! Jeff was a RIOT and everyone had a blast, so THANK YOU JEFF!

Me and Jeff, Shot with the iPhone 4s and the Tadaa app!

and of course, more of THE SLR MAGIC MAGICAL EXPERIENCE

Andrew from SLR Magic was with us yet again and he gave everyone a chance to shoot with the new 50 LM T0.95 Hyperprime Leica M mount lens. I will put this out there right now…THIS LENS IS THE REAL DEAL FOLKS. Flat out AMAZING. It is not just me saying this, but everyone who shot with it this weekend was ready to plunk down their cash for this lens NOW. I am hoping to post many samples from everyone who shot with it soon, not just my samples. Samples from the NEX system look amazing as well so stay tuned for those…

I will also be shooting with this lens for the next few months so I can give it a thorough testing and review. I was able to bring home a special “stealth” edition of the lens which means it has a BLACK ring instead of the day glow green :) YES! (this black ring will be an option when ordering, and the ring you see below is not the final production ring)

All I can say now is that this lens blows away (yes, strong words but true) the Voigtlander 50 1.1 and is on par with the Leica Noctilux ASPH with some of the workshop attendees preferring the rendering of the Hyperprime. My feeling is that it is just as sharp at equal apertures but the Hyperprime gives a teeny but more of a classical look, but at the same time it is mixed with the sharpness of the Noctilux ASPH. The look you prefer will be up to YOU.

From what myself and many others have seen this weekend, this lens is a real giant killer in regards to image quality. Wow. There are differences but they are slight. The bokeh is “fatter” with the SLR Magic due to the larger rear element. The SLR Magic also focuses to .7 meters compared to 1 meter of the Noctilux ASPH and yes, the Hyperprime appears to have much less CA than the $11k Leica.

The Hyperprime is a 12 element non aspherical lens.

Shot wide open at T0.95 – look at the 3D effect – straight from camera – M9-P – and shot through a coffee shop window Sunday morning while buying coffee for the group. 

Like the Noctilux, this lens is a BEAST, even more of a beast than the Noctilux f/0.95. In reality, the Hyperprime is actually faster than f/0.95 so it appears this will now be the fastest lens for 35mm in production. How amazing is that?

In build, I am sure the Leica is built better but the SLR Magic is built just as solid, and is slightly heavier and larger. It is a solid lens and nothing like the old Noktor Hyperprime that I was NOT a fan of.

THIS IS NOT THE $1000 M4/3 or NEX NOKTOR LENS RELEASED 1-2 YEARS AGO!!!

This is NOT the old Noktor lens. PERIOD! So many people are confusing this with the old $1000 lens and this is an all new, built from the ground up LEICA M mount lens. It is insanely better, larger, beefier and with superb quality glass and construction.

In fact, over the past 9-10 months SLR Magic has been sending me samples from prototypes for this new M mount lens and I have been telling them “NOT GOOD ENOUGH, I WOULDN’T BUY IT”  - so they kept re-designing and finally they ended up with what we have here today. The only question you and many others have now is…how can I  get one?

BELOW: Shot by Ashwin Rao at T0.95

SLR Magic has some cool touches up their sleeve that I won’t spill the beans on just yet but they plan on officially releasing the lens in September. A long way off but there will be a few testers of the lens until then to make sure it is solid, dependable, and high in performance. The 1st ones to get a crack at the lens were those who attended the LA Workshop so hopefully this lens will make it to a few more shooters soon for more real world tests.

HOW MUCH WILL THIS LENS COST?

SLR Magic has not announced pricing yet but I do expect it (of course) to be MUCH less  than the Leica Noctilux ASPH which now comes in at $11k. At the same time, I do not expect this to be some $1000-1500 lens either, as it is a specialty lens that will be hand made and calibrated, not mass produced. It is not constructed of cheap parts and the lens oozes quality when you hold it.

Many at the workshop who held it, and shot with it were guessing and afraid this lens would come in at $5500-$6k (goes to show what others who used it thought of the quality) but my guess is that it will come in lower than that. Hopefully we will see pricing soon. No one knows at this point so it is all speculation. All I know is  that if I had a choice of buying this or the Noctilux but could save something like $7,000 by buying this lens, I would. End of story. Of course we all want and dream of the Leica but for those of us who do not have $11k in our lens funds, something like this would make an excellent alternative.

The sharpness wide open is INSANE – Click image for larger view and full 100% crop at 0.95

It appears Andrew and all of those at SLR Magic are very proud of what they have created and I am glad I had a hand to get it to where it is today in the quality department. It is a lens they should be EXTREMELY PROUD of and if the build quality and dependability hold up over the next few months I am going to say that this is indeed a GIANT KILLER of a lens. But you won’t have to take my word for it, there should a few others writing about this lens soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

More to come…but for now a few more shots from this lens and the M9-P. I chose these simple shots because I feel it shows the many qualities of the lens. Enjoy!

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This was AT NIGHT and it was pretty dark. No flash required :) And all three of these guys wanted the Hyperprime and tried to give Andrew their order already. You can see Judd (far right) using one on his NEX-5n. Imagine the video capabilities of this lens…

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Smooth, silky but oh so sharp (click image for larger version)

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3D glasses not required :)

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The depth of field is insanely shallow at T0.95

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and one for fun…1st shot is with the Hyperprime at 1.4 in near darkness (hotel bar late night) and the 2nd is from the Leica 50 1.4 Summilux ASPH at 1.4. Bokeh is a little different here…”fatter” as some would call it.

CLICK EACH IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE 18MP FILE – STRAIGHT FROM CAMERA – ISO 1250 – LATE NIGHT LOW LIGHT SAMPLES

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