The SLR Magic 11mm f/1.4 Toy Lens review for Micro 4/3 – Feeling Groovy!
As tested on the Olympus E-P3
Yes! Another super cool, funky, and somewhat inexpensive (in todays lens world) toy lens to review! I always seem to love these little guys for three reasons.
1. The size is tiny.
2. They are always pretty affordable.
3. The unique results they give are always fun.
I have reviewed two lenses like this in the past, one of which was the 26mm 1.4 for micro 4/3. With that lens you basically had a 50mm 1.4 lens that was tiny, cheap in cost (and build), and gave crazy swirly bokeh. I loved it for what it was, an artistic lens that I would not want to use every day, but on those occasions when I wanted something fun and different out came that SLR Magic Toy Lens.
Enter the new 11mm 1.4 lens, a $169 lens that will give you some interesting results on your micro 4/3 camera. It’s a w-i-d-e angle lens, giving Micro 4/3 owners a 22mm equivalent but for those looking for or expecting this lens to be sharp or “correct, thing again. Some of you may think this lens can be compared to the Olympus 12mm f/2 masterpiece and I did indeed just see a review attempting to do so which in my opinion, is a little silly as these two lenses are as different as peanut butter and jelly!
This lens is a totally different animal than the Olympus 12mm. Why? Well, the Olympus will give you a 24mm equivilant, sharp corner to corner even when wide open at f/2 with crisp contrast and punchy color. This “Toy Lens” is quite the opposite. This lens is made for FUN more or less though you can get some very cool artistic results with it much like if you were shooting a Holga type of camera. This is why SLR Magic called it a “Toy Lens” as it will give you crazy vignetting, dreamy qualities, and cool effects. After using it for a few shots you will indeed be “Feeling Groovy” as it seems to have that effect but realize this lens will vignette like crazy so you have to be in to that look.
This is not a bad thing, as it is intended for those who like “funky”..which I do on certain occasions! Just wanted to make sure you all knew what this lens was all about before you see the samples below.
The only way to shoot this lens is wide open in my opinion! You can stop it down all the way to f/16 but why? This lens is meant for funky artsy results! The image below of my old dog was shot at 1.4 in 6:6 mode on the way cool E-P3
My 1st impressions of the 11mm Toy Lens
When the lens arrived my first thoughts were “WOW, this lens is TINY!!”! This lens is so small and light it may be a but tough to focus if you have large hands or fingers, luckily I do not. Also, it is so wide that if any of your fingers get near the front of the lens your finger will show up in your pic! SLR Magic packages a bunch of multi colored rubber rings with the lens that you attach to give you a grip for the focus ring and aperture ring. You will need them and the cool thing is you can choose your own color. I liked the white, the red, and the blue best but you can also choose yellow, pink, green and orange. Pretty fun.
When I attached it to the camera I immediately ran to my backyard to fire some test shots off. As always, you can click any image for larger version!
Notice I shot these test shots in 6:6 or 1:1 mode. There is a reason for that. If you set the camera to 4:3 or anything wider than 6:6 square format, this lens vignettes heavily as the lens does not cover the entire sensor. Some my like the vignette look but me, I preferred to shoot this lens in square format as most of the vignetting is cropped out. Plus, shooting square format with this kind of dreamy rendering is pretty cool, classic and fun. A break from the norm. As you can see the corners still have the vignette and swirl, even in 6:6 but this is what gives off that super cool retro groovy vibe 🙂
What SLR Magic says about this lens, their words:
Toy Lens uses multi coated glass optics and features a high quality alloy lens mount. In other words, don’t mistake it as some cheap plastic crap!)
The lens is in native Micro Four Thirds lens mount and will work directly on your camera without the need of any adapters/converters. Toy Lens is built with the digital toy user in mind. It is a special effects lens that is meant to capture impressionistic images. Dreamy, color twist, and noticeable vignette.
The lens is great for creative photography. We occasionally receive questions about how this lens differ from the kit lens. Field of view (FOV) becomes 22mm on the micro four thirds camera. This is the normal focal length in 35mm photography and is great for use in proper framing for a shot which may be difficult to master with the kit lens of your camera. Toy Lens was designed to bring more fun to your photography.
The lens is a fully manual lens and it is a great lens for creative photographers who would like to take artistic photos with a shallow Depth of Field. It is easy to use.
SETUP GUIDE & TIPS
Manual focus is easily achieved by the assistance of x10 zoom of Live View. Users are advised to use Aperture priority (A mode) with this lens. Lumix users would have to select “no lens mode” under custom preferences when using this lens. More advanced users may use Manual mode (M mode) when using this lens for creative opportunities. It is also recommended to shoot in M mode when either the internal or external flash is used as TTL metering is not enabled in Aperture priority mode.
All of our lens come with a simple but comprehensive guide. We suggest you give it a brief look before you ask if our lens is not working. However, if it is missing, too small to read, or you are not bothered to read you can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Using the lens
This lens is pretty easy to use. When I used it I chose not to use the LCD magnification as on the Olympus E-P3 the OLED display is so sharp and clean I can easily manually focus without zooming in. Also, I found that you really do not need to get this lens perfectly in focus. It is so soft and dreamy that if you are slightly off it will not really be a deal breaker. With that said, if you do manage to perfectly focus the lens, it can be pretty sharp.
Quickly focused on my windshield…
and on the road ahead..
and not so sharp when you are shooting in no light at 1/6s!
This is a simple lens and there is not really too much I can say about this lens. It’s small, it’s light, it’s affordable, and it gives a unique dreamy draw appearance to your photos. The distortion is indeed there but for a lens of this cost and size, it’s not bad at all. Again, this lens is not going to be anything like the Olympus 12mm f/2. Not in sharpness, not in contrast or in build. Nope, this little toy lens is something entirely different and I have to say, I really enjoy the feel I get from it but it is not an everyday kind of lens nor is it an “only lens” unless you are going for a certain look or theme for a project.
I like it enough that I will keep it in my bag along with the Olympus 12mm for those moments when I want to capture more “feeling” or “grooviness” or “dreaminess”.
Oh, and for those wondering, and for the fun of it, here is a quick side by side of this lens vs the Olympus 12mm lens, both in 4:3 mode:
For $169 you get a cool tiny lens that will give you some heavy vignetting and a little bit of that “classic-holga-type-thing” going on. You will get some distortion that turns your subject into a sort of round swirl (see the background on the 11mm shot). The Olympus 12mm is $799, so it is quite expensive but as you can see, when you shoot the Olympus you get a pretty clean shot with minimal distortion. LIke i said at the top, these two lenses are not even close so should not be compared. They each serve a different purpouse which is why I showed the side by side shot.
The Bottom Line
The SLR Magic 11mm 1.4 lens continues their “Toy Lens” line and keeps the same flavor as their previous 26mm 1.4 lens. The lens is small, light, has a metal mount, and focuses quickly and easily. If you buy this lens, do not expect perfection, straight lines, or super sharp images. Instead, expect some cool “SLR Magic” funkiness and you will be quite happy. At $169, it’s a cheap wide angle solution for your Micro 4/3 camera that will fit in any bag, or even your pocket! I have to admit though that I personally prefer the 26 1.4 lens over this one just due to the heavy vignetting of the 11mm but am happy to own both. I really only spent 2-3 days with this lens before writing the review as the lens is simple and it is what it is but if any of you have any requests or want to see something specific done with this lens, leave me a comment and I will try my best to add it to this review.
You can buy the 11mm f/1.4 lens direct from SLR Magic through E-Bay. Also, don’t miss my older review of their 26 1.4 lens HERE.
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