Category Archives: lenses

Samyang 24mm and 35mm T1.5 Cine Lenses. Cine lenses for those on a budget.

DSC06476-300x199 Samyang 24mm and 35mm T1.5 Cine Lenses. Cine lenses for those on a budget.
Samyang 24mmT1.5 Cine Lens.

I’ve had one of Samyang’s 14mm f2.8 photo lenses for some time and it really is a fantastic lens. It’s one of my favourites for shooting the Northern Lights as it nice and wide and pretty fast for such a wide lens. In addition it stays nice and sharp even when wide open. When I heard that Samyang were bringing out a range of budget cine lenses with integrated 0.8 mod pitch gears it was music to my ears as I have been looking for some decent cine lenses for a long time, but didn’t want to fork out a small fortune on expensive PL glass.

DSC06470-300x199 Samyang 24mm and 35mm T1.5 Cine Lenses. Cine lenses for those on a budget.
Samyang 35mmT1.5 Cine Lens

Up to now, for my own projects, I have been using a mix of Nikon fit and Canon fit DSLR lenses. Mostly Sigma Nikon fit lenses as these focus the “right” way and have manual aperture rings. For my larger budget commercial projects I then hire in PL glass to suit the project.

The Samyang’s arrived nicely packed in decent looking boxes and each lens comes with a soft carry pouch. There’s the usual petal shaped lens hood and lens caps. The lenses I chose have the Canon EF-S mount, but you can also get them with a Nikon mount. Because they have proper manual iris rings there is no problem using these lenses on cameras like the Sony PMW-F3 where you don’t have electronic iris control.

DSC06475-300x199 Samyang 24mm and 35mm T1.5 Cine Lenses. Cine lenses for those on a budget.
The 24mm Samyang on my F3

Out of the box the lenses really look the part. The black finish is very nice and there is an attractive red metal ring around the camera body giving them a quite classy look. One thing though is that there is a lot of plastic in these lenses. The lens mount is metal and it appears that the core of the lens body is metal, but it appears to be shrouded in plastic. Certainly the iris and focus rings are plastic and front shroud around the lens is plastic, but it does appear to be a good quality plastic. The large amount of plastic does make the lenses feel cheaper than a decent PL mount lens but it’s no worse than the plastic Sony PL mount lenses that cost 8 times as much and you do have to remember that these lenses are really well priced, really, really well priced.

DSC06469-300x199 Samyang 24mm and 35mm T1.5 Cine Lenses. Cine lenses for those on a budget.
F3 and 24mm Samyang

The 0.8 mod pitch gears are nice and proud from the lens body and I had no issues using them with my Genus follow focus controls. There is no click stop on the iris ring as there would be on a conventional DSLR lenses and the movement of the iris ring is very smooth and has just the right amount of resistance for smooth aperture changes during a shot. The iris scale, marked in T-Stops is clear and easy to read and the travel reasonable. You don’t get as much travel as many PL mount lenses, but there is plenty of travel and getting an accurate exposure is easy. Having T-stops is great as you can change lenses and your exposure will remain constant because T-stops are the lenses  f-stop plus any other light losses in the lens, making exposure more accurate and consistent from lens to lens.

35mm-lens-tree-300x168 Samyang 24mm and 35mm T1.5 Cine Lenses. Cine lenses for those on a budget.
Frame grab from the 35mm lens. Click to enlarge.

The focus rings on both the 24mm and 35mm lenses rotate through about 160 degrees. This is a lot compared to most other modern DSLR lenses. My Sigma 20mm f1.8 lens only rotates about 90 degrees and my 24-70mm lens only rotates about 45 degrees. This extra throw on the focus ring really helps with accurate and precise focus and makes these lenses a pleasure to use. The focus scale is in both feet and m. I do find the brown “ft” scale a little hard to see, especially in low light, but this is a minor complaint.

24mm-leaves1-300x168 Samyang 24mm and 35mm T1.5 Cine Lenses. Cine lenses for those on a budget.
Super shallow DoF from the 35mm T1.5 Samyang. Click to enlarge.

So overall these lenses are really nice to use compared to most other DSLR lenses, in fact I would say they are pretty close to many much more expensive PL lenses. But handling is one thing, what about the image quality? Well I wasn’t disappointed. Both lenses perform very well. Edge to edge sharpness is very good, contrast is very good, these lenses produce lovely crisp images with very good neutral colour. I didn’t test them with charts. Instead I used them (and am continuing to use them) on a range of shoots in Hong Kong and the UK and compared them with some of my other lenses out in the field. Image wise the 24mm produces an image very similar to my 20mm Sigma, if anything I feel the Samyang is the sharper of the two, even when wide open.

The 35mm Samyang performs at least as well as my favourite 35mm f1.8 Nikkor. My only small concerns are that the 24mm softens a little at T1.5 (the 35mm also softens a little but not quite as bad) and that both lenses do suffer from a bit more lens flare in some situations than my Nikkor’s. I suspect the coatings used on the Samyang’s may not be quite as good as those on the Nikkor’s but by using a deeper lens hood, matte box or flag to stop strong light sources from shining directly into the lens this flare can easily be controlled or eliminated. If you have a strong light source coming into the lens slightly off axis the lens flare exhibits itself as a slight raising of black levels and as a result a reduction in contrast. Most lenses suffer from some flare and this isn’t a deal breaker provided you are aware of it.

24mm-lens-sharp-300x168 Samyang 24mm and 35mm T1.5 Cine Lenses. Cine lenses for those on a budget.
Lots of crisp detail from the 35mm, even on a dull day.

I really like these lenses. Not just because they are cheap, but because they perform very well and they really handle like baby PL mount lenses. I think you have to see them to believe them because the images are really very sharp. I’d much rather use these than most conventional DSLR lenses on my video cameras. The Samyang 24mm T1.5 is an excellent wide angle lens for video applications. The 35mm is a great “standard” lens and will probably be my “go-to” lens for most shoots. The field of view you get from a 35mm lens on a Super 35mm video camera is very close to our own human field of view, so your shots look very natural and true to life. At T1.5 these are fast lenses so achieving a very shallow depth of field is easy. I probably wouldn’t use the 24mm at T1.5 unless I really needed to, but at T2 the image starts to sharpen up nicely. As well as the 24mm and 35mm lenses Samyang have 8mm T3.8 and a 14mm T3.1mm cine lenses and an 85mm T1.5 lens will be coming at the end of the year. All they really need is to add a 50mm to create a really complete lens set.

Initially I approached Samyang UK and asked for the loan of the 24mm and 35mm lenses for review. After using them I decided to buy them, so now I’m the happy owner of the Samyang 24mm and 35mm Cine lens. All I need to do now is sell of some of my other Canon and Nikon lenses so that I can get the 8, 14 and 85mm Samyang Cine lenses. They also do an interesting 24mm tilt-shift lens!

These are the current prices:
8mm VDSLR Canon / Nikon – £279
14mm VDSLR Canon / Nikon – £329
24mm VDSLR Canon / Nikon – £529
35mm VDSLR Canon / Nikon – £419
85mm VDSLR Canon / Nikon – £299  
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Zunow SWV-E11-16, 11 to 16mm E-Mount Lens Review.

Zunow-11-16-300x237 Zunow SWV-E11-16, 11 to 16mm E-Mount Lens Review.
Zunow SWV-E11 E Mount Cine Lens.

Before I went to Arizona to shoot the monsoon thunderstorms and Grand Canyon I felt that I would need a nice fast wide angle lens to help capture some of the panoramas and vistas that I would see. A little while ago my friends at Alphatron told me about an E-Mount wide angle lens that was soon to be launched. So after a couple of phone calls I managed to secure the loan of one of the SWV-E11-16 cine style E-Mount lenses. Even before opening the box I knew this was something a bit special as the box was pretty heavy, no lightweight plastic lens in this box. On opening the box I was not disappointed. Inside was a very solid looking cine style lens with substantial gears on the focus, zoom and iris rings. This isn’t really a zoom lens, more of a variable focal length lens. The difference between the field of view at 11mm and 16mm isn’t all that great, but it does allow you to vary the framing.

zunow-night-300x210 Zunow SWV-E11-16, 11 to 16mm E-Mount Lens Review.
The Zunow ultra wide lens on my FS700 shooting lightning at night.

As this is an E-Mount lens, not only does it work on the FS100 and FS700 but it also fits on any other E-mount camera such as my NEX5N.

This isn’t a lightweight lens, it is a substantial, beautifully constructed lens that is a real pleasure to use. Compared to a typical DSLR lens the focus ring has a much greater travel which makes accurate focus much easier to achieve. The 0.8 mod gear rings allow the use of standard follow focus systems so no need to use add-on adapters. I can’t stress enough how nice this lens feels to use. But the feel of a lens is only a small part of the story, of course it’s the image performance that is what’s really important and again the Zunow does not disappoint.

DSC04355-300x199 Zunow SWV-E11-16, 11 to 16mm E-Mount Lens Review.
Photo taken with the Zunow lens on my NEX5N. Click on the image to enlarge.

I used it in various light conditions from bright desert sun to after dark. The wide f2.8 aperture makes this quite a fast lens considering it’s wide field of view. Most ultra wide lenses tend not to be as fast as this. When set to 11mm there is some noticeable barrel distortion which is really surprising and it’s not particularly objectionable as you zoom in to 16mm this distortion decreases to very low levels. This is one sharp lens. The images from this lens, both stills and HD video show huge amounts of crisp clear details.

Zunow-grab-tucson-300x168 Zunow SWV-E11-16, 11 to 16mm E-Mount Lens Review.
Frame grab from the FS700 and Zunow lens.

The best performance was from f4, but even fully open a f2.8 the centre of the image remains sharp and with good contrast. There is some slight softening in the corners at very wide apertures but this is not severe and I felt that the lens was perfectly useable even at f2.8 unlike some other wide angle lenses I have used. Colour fringing and chromatic aberrations are well controlled and I didn’t observe anything objectionable.

I really liked using this lens. It has the feel of a high end PL mount lens and performance to match. It looks the part and looks like it will last a very long time. I was very sad to have to hand it back after the shoot. The European distributor, Alphatron, tell me that as well as this E-Mount lens, Zunow are planning on producing PL mount versions as well as  additional similar lenses of different focal lengths.

New Canon C300 and C300PL cameras and 4k lenses.

canon-c300-1024x560 New Canon C300 and C300PL  cameras and 4k lenses.
Canon C300 cameras and PL mount lenses

So, I might be a little late on this announcement as I’m currently working in Taiwan, but yesterday Canon released information on two new video cameras and 4 new zooms plus 3 cinematography prime lenses. The press information from Canon is below. Reading between the lines and picking out some of the key points this is a very significant announcement. The cameras have a new 8.29 mega pixel sensor recording to compact flash cards at 1920 x 1080, 4:2:2 at 50Mb/s. The sensor uses a bayer type pattern, but due to the very large pixel count it has a Red and Blue pixel  for each sample in the 1920×1080 frame as well as two Green pixels. This should lead to very good colorimetry, but is a little odd considering that the camera only has a single HDSDi output, which I assume would just be 1.5G 4:2:2, so much of the 4:4:4 data derived from the sensor goes to waste unless it can output 4:4:4 10 bit over HDMI. The higher pixel count and thus smaller pixels than F3/Alexa could have an impact on dynamic range sensitivity and noise, but until I see some raw footage or get my grubby hands on one, who knows? The Laforet video “Mobius” http://vimeo.com/30215350 has quite a “video” look to it, but that might just be the online compression. The camera has a built in Log Curve that is said to offer improved dynamic range. Clearly Canon have some of the F3 market in their sights.

There are HDMI and HDSDi outputs so recording to an external device to improve image quality should not be an issue, 8 bit, 4:2:2 is a bit of a shame on a camera with a sensor spec like this, at least it’s an improvement over the Sony F3’s 8 bit 4:2:0 at 35MB/s. If your going to use the Log curve then you defiantly want to record to a higher quality, preferably 10 bit codec (I am assuming the HDSDi output is 10 bit). UPDATE: I am reading many reports of the HDSDI out only being 8 bit. I hope this is not the case!!!

It does tick many professional feature boxes with XLR audio in, Genlock and even a sync output. This would make it well suited to 3D applications. It looks kind of like a DSLR and has a removable handgrip, a rear mounted EVF as well as a removable smallish LCD panel. One mistake I think Canon have made is that you have to choose between the EOS lens mount and PL mount versions of the camera. Why could they have not made a camera body with a removable mount that would allow you to choose between PL or DSLR glass without having to change the entire camera body, or use an EOS to PL lens adapter with it’s extra optical elements?

Still I do like the thought of a stripped down EOS mount version (C300) with a nice L series zoom on it for shooting on the road or covert filming. However even the use of the EOS mount is a little strange as there is no provision for Auto Focus or Auto Iris, something that you would have thought would be easy to implement. This is a fully manual camera.  I’d really like auto iris you know, if only for tricky time-lapse sequences. Iris control is on the camera body. According to Andy Shipsides of Abel Cine the iris steps slightly as you adjust it when using EOS lenses, what a shame. Makes PL sound like a better option for serious productions.

Having a s35mm sized sensor and the 50Mb/s 4:2:2 codec does meant that it ticks all of the BBC’s approval boxes, so you should be able to use it on most broadcast projects. But it is a strange beast on paper. A DSLR-ish form factor, EOS lens mount without focus or iris control, a 4:4:4 ready sensor but only 4:2:2 recording. Hmmm, you know what, I have to wonder if that sensor isn’t going to appear in another camera with RGB or Dual Link recording. Camera price is approx $20k USD, available in January.

As an F3 owner the new Canon PL mount lenses look ver interesting indeed. The 30-300mm T2.9 – T3.7 would be a great lens for shooting music concerts and other similar events, while the 14.5-60mm T2.5 would be a fantastic all round zoom covering the most commonly used focal lengths that I use.

Canon Press Release:

Lights! Camera! Action! Canon Launches Cinema EOS System

 

All-New Cinema Lens Line-up & Digital Video Camcorders to Leave No Story Untold

Canon today announced its full-fledged entry into the motion picture production industry with the launch of the Cinema EOS System. Canon’s new professional digital cinematography system spans the lens, digital video camcorder and digital SLR camera product categories.

 

The Cinema EOS System targets a new area of imaging and builds on a 74-year history of innovation and expertise in the field of optical and imaging technology.

 

The new Cinema EOS System, offers compatibility with Canon’s wide array of high-performance EF lenses, provides cinematographers with a range of unprecedented creative possibilities to ensure that no story is left untold.

 

With the debut of the Cinema EOS System, Canon today introduced seven new 4K EF Cinema Lenses, four zoom lenses and three single-focal-length models, which complement the current diverse line-up of interchangeable EF lenses for EOS SLR cameras.

 

4K EF Cinema Lens Line up

The seven new 4K EF Cinema Lens models include  four zoom lenses covering a wide zoom range from 14.5 mm to 300 mm, two models each for EF and PL lens mounts, and three single-focal-length lenses for EF mounts.   All seven new lenses deliver exceptional 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) optical performance and offer compatibility with Super 35 mm-equivalent sensors.

 

EOS C300/C300 PL Interchangeable-Lens Digital Video Camcorder

The Canon EOS C300/C300 PL is an all new digital video camcorder available in two models: the EOS C300, equipped with an EF lens mount which is compatibility with the wide array of Canon EF interchangeable lenses; and the EOS C300 PL, offering a PL lens mount for use with industry-standard PL lenses. The camcorder features a Super 35 mm, 8.29-megapixel CMOS sensor ideally suited for digital cinematography. 

 

Cinema EOS System: Product Overview

7 New EF Cinema lenses:

CN-E14.5–60mm T2.6 L S – (EF Mount)

CN-E14.5–60mm T2.6 L SP – (PL Mount)

CN-E30–300mm T2.95–3.7 L S – (EF Mount)

CN-E30–300mm T2.95–3.7 L SP – (PL Mount)

CN-E24mm T1.5 L F – (EF Mount)  

CN-E50mm T1.3 L F – (EF Mount)

CN-E85mm T1.3 L F – (EF Mount)

 

2 New Digital Video Camcorders:

EOS C300 – (EF Mount)

EOSC300 PL – (PL Mount)


Using DSLR lenses on 3D rigs.

Just a quick note on a rather obscure subject. I do a lot of 3D work. Buying pairs of PL mount lenses for my F3’s is beyond my budget right now, so I hire in lenses when I need them. However for my own projects I use DSLR lenses, mainly Nikkors and Tokina’s. One thing that i have discovered is that many of the older manual Nikkors have a tendency to shift the image left and right when you focus. This then miss-aligns the rig. The more modern internal focussing lenses are much, much better in this respect with little or no shift at all. The only problem with the more modern IF lenses is that they often don’t have iris rings (so iris is adjusted with a MTF adapter) and the focus control often has a slipping clutch making repeatable focussing a little harder. So neither is perfect. For 3D applications I think the more modern IF lenses are preferable.

PMW-F3, Run “n” Gun, is it worth the effort?

For me early Summer means airshow season and there are a couple of events that I shoot every year. The first is Flying Legends at the Imperial War Museum site at Duxford and features vintage aircraft predominantly from the second world war. The following weekend is the Royal International Air Tattoo, one of the largest military air shows and is all about the latest fast jets and military hardware. For the last 3 years I have been tasked with shooting aircraft being prepared for flight at both shows and for this I have been using a variety of cameras, but almost always some kind of ENG type camera. I’ve used PDW700’s, EX1’s and EX3’s. This year however it was decided to try and use one of my PMW-F3’s in order to take advantage of the shallow Depth of Field and give the footage a higher quality, filmic look.

Of course using the F3 for a shoot like this brings many challenges and one of the reasons for using it on these projects was to discover exactly whether the trade off between ease of use and shallow DoF was worth it. Thankfully, producer Steve Connor (flying machinestv.co.uk) is willing to let me try new things on his productions.

So how was it? Well it was hard work compared to running around with an EX1 or EX3. You have to check, check and double check focus all the time and this slows you down a little. The other thing is the lens. A camera like the EX1 has a 14x zoom lens giving a great range of focal lengths from a good wide angle to a nice long telephoto. With the F3 your lens choices are currently much more limited. While there are some very nice zooms like the Optimo 24-290mm (12x zoom) these just are not practical for run n gun. The Optimo weighs a whopping 24lbs/11kg . The other alternative to PL lenses is to use a DSLR lens. One of my favourites is the old Tokina AT-X Pro 28-70mm as this does not telescope, has a nice big focus scale and proper iris ring, but it’s only a 2.5x wide zoom, not much use for longer shots. The upshot of all this is that you end up doing a lot of lens swaps going from a wide zoom to a longer one (Sigma 70-300mm in my case). In addition the DSLR zooms are varifocal so you can’t zoom during the shot as the focus will shift.

So… I’m running around with the F3 and a rucksack with a couple of lenses and my favourite Vinten 100 tripod, swapping lenses many times for different shots. There’s no one-push auto iris confidence check, no image stabiliser and the batteries don’t last as long. As I said, compared to an EX1 it was hard work. But, I was able to be creative. It was easy to introduce some nice foreground or background soft focus objects. To do gentle pull focuses and to generally get good looking shots as opposed to just getting ordinary looking shots.

When an aircraft is started things can get very busy. There are spinning propellors to be aware of, or dangerous jet blasts (not to mention the noise). Aircraft can taxi with no warning. At these moments I was able to stop down the iris a bit to give myself greater depth of field for a little bit focus tolerance. This is what I like about the F3. It’s got sensitivity to spare so you can pick and choose how much DoF you have.

By the time the second airshow (RIAT) came around I realised that constant lens swapping was costing me shots. So for RIAT I used a Nikon 18-135mm zoom. This 7.5x zoom gave a much better focal length range, but its a rather nasty lens in so much as it’s f3.5 – f5.6 so the aperture changes as you zoom and it’s not particularly fast. It also telescopes and extends a lot as you zoom in, so you can’t use it with a matt box. The focus ring has no scale and iris has to controlled using the MTF adapter iris control. So all in all not my favourite lens, but for this particular shoot it worked out quite well. One thing that did become apparent is that not having a super fast lens, on this particular type of project was not an issue. I could still get reasonable shallow DoF shots when wide and at f3.5. At longer focal lengths the DoF decreases anyway, so shooting at f4 or f5.6 still yields pleasing results.

The footage from the shoots does look good. It has a much nicer look to it than conventional ENG video. The shallow DoF adds a quality feel to the material. While I didn’t shoot as much as I would have done with a more traditional camcorder due to the extra time required for lens changes, focus checking and the need to use the tripod more often, what I did shoot looked better overall so a higher percentage of what I shot will probably make it into the final production.

So as for my original question.. was it worth the effort? Well I think the answer is yes. The F3 can be used for run n gun, but it’s hard work, however the results are worth the extra effort.

Adaptimax Lens Mount Adapters for PMW-F3, Canon and Nikon.

IMG_0648-300x224 Adaptimax Lens Mount Adapters for PMW-F3, Canon and Nikon.
Adaptimax F3 to Canon and Nikon lens mounts

I was sent a couple of Adaptimax lens mount adapters to test on my PMW-F3. I have used some of their EX3 adapters in the past and these worked very well. The new PMW-F3 adapters are finished with a very nice hard black anodised finish and look very smart indeed. I had 3 adapters to try, one F3 to Canon and two F3 to Nikon adapters. The Canon adapter is a “dumb” adapter, so there is no way to control the lenses iris. If your using Canon lenses this means using a DSLR body to set the iris before using the lens on the F3. Obviously this is not ideal, but you do have to consider that there is a massive range of lenses that can be used with this Canon adapter via a secondary adapter ring.

Canon’s flange back distance (the sensor to lens distance) is the shortest in the DSLR world. So this means that there is space to adapt to other lens mounts with longer flange back distances such as M42, Nikon, Pentax, Pentacon etc. This opens up a whole world of possibilities as now you can use those nice M42 Zeiss lenses that can be picked up cheap on ebay by adding a cheap M42 to Canon adapter.

IMG_0651-300x224 Adaptimax Lens Mount Adapters for PMW-F3, Canon and Nikon.
Nikon 50mm f1.8 with Adaptimax F3 Mount.

If you have already invested in Nikon fit glass then you can use a Nikon to Canon adapter or you can use one of Adaptimax’s purpose built F3 to Nikon adapters.

There are two varieties, the original Adaptimax and the Adaptimax Plus. The Plus version includes a long screw that pushes the iris pin on the rear of the lens to give you iris control even when the lens does not have an iris ring. While this is not as elegant as MTF Services rotating adapter barrel, it works fine and the simplicity of the design means the adapter is a little cheaper. The standard version has no iris control, so you need to ensure your lens has a proper iris ring. Priced at £255 for the standard adapters and £265 for the plus versions these are good value for money.

2x PMW-F3’s on my Genus Hurricane Rig.

Well I’m a happy chappy. Took delivery of my second PMW-F3 today so that I can shoot my 3D projects using a pair of F3’s rather than my EX1/EX3. Now I have a working lens converter that allows me to use standard 2/3″ broadcast lenses on the F3 the F3 is fast becoming my default camera for almost everything.  So the I took the decision to trade in my EX3 against a second F3. For lenses on the 3D rig I’m going to use DSLR lenses. Today I checked out my Nikon 50mm f1.8’s and these were just fine but my Tokina 28mm f2.8’s are un-useable as the lens optical axis shifts as you focus causing alignment errors, so I need to find some alternative wide angle lenses. I’d really like two sets of Zeiss PL mount Compact Primes, but that’s way beyond my budget. I might try and stretch to a couple of sets of Zeiss ZF.2’s, but I think that for the moment it’s going to have to be a case of building up pairs of lenses as I can afford them.

Playing with lenses: 2/3″ Broadcast lens on PMW-F3.

OK folks. I wanted to see just how well a 2/3″ broadcast lens would work on an F3, but don’t have $5.5k to fork out on one of the Abel adapters. So with a bit of head scratching, a few, lowish cost lens purchases and a few hours in the workshop I cobbled together my own adapter. At first I tried a 2x magnifier but this didn’t quite give me full sensor coverage and was soft out in the corners. With a little more work I took the magnification up to 2.5x and I have clean corners. I’m really pleased with the performance, although one lens element needs changing for a higher quality element to combat some softness when the iris is fully open.

My old Canon J16x8 f1.8 becomes a 24 to 320mm f4(ish) par-focal lens which is actually quite handy. Next step is to make up a power cable for the lens so I can use the zoom servo.

I’m considering trying to find a manufacturer that can make these up for me properly, the converter should cost a lot less than $5.5k

Playing with Lenses: Pentacon 4, 300mm F4, 19 blade iris.

IMG_0629-300x224 Playing with Lenses: Pentacon 4, 300mm F4, 19 blade iris.
Pentacon 4, 300mm F4 on PMW-F3

UPDATED: SEE UPDATE AT END!

I won this lens on ebay for the grand total of £44.00. Now for that kind of money you don’t normally expect to get a great deal, but this time I got quite a lot. I certainly got a lot of weight and bulk, this is a big lens. It was designed to work with a Pentacon or Kiev medium format camera with a 6″x6″ frame size. The front element is about 3″ (80mm) in diameter, it’s over a foot long and weighs about 5lbs (2.5kg). One of the things that attracted me to it is the iris which has 19 blades giving a very round aperture, so the bokeh is very pleasant looking. The rear of the lens has a Pentacon to M42 mount onto which I screw a M42 to Nikon adapter ring. Due to it’s length and weight it is vital that the lens is supported. The lens comes with a 3/8″ mounting ring with a 3/8″ to 1/4″ insert.

IMG_0631-300x224 Playing with Lenses: Pentacon 4, 300mm F4, 19 blade iris.
19 Blade Iris.

For the moment I’m using the bracket from a Genus DSLR shoulder rig to support the lens until my new Genus lens support bracket arrives.
So… what are the pictures like? Well at F4 it’s a little soft, but stop it down to f5.6 and it sharpens up nicely. I also tried it with a 1.5x and 2x extender as these will soon show up any lens issues. With both the lens performed respectfully well with the iris at f5.6. Stop down to f8 and the lens really performs very well. Of course with the very small s35 sensor compared to the 6″x6″ that the lens was designed for you are only using the center part of the frame, which always tends to be the sharpest part. While it may not perform as well as the latest state of the art long focal length Canon’s or Nikons, this lens does do a pretty good job and if you only occasionally need a long lens, for the money it’s hard to beat.

IMG_0627-300x224 Playing with Lenses: Pentacon 4, 300mm F4, 19 blade iris.
Pentacon 4, 300mm, MTF adapter and F3

UPDATE: To get this lens to work on the F3 I was using a M42 to Nikon adapter. This has a corrective lens in it to enable infinity focus. After playing with this adapter on some other M42 lenses I found it’s performance to be less than satisfactory at large apertures. So I tried the Pentacon 4 again, but this time with a M42 to Canon adapter and one of Steve Shovlar’s new Adaptimax Canon to F3 adapters. The performance improvement was quite noticeable and now I can use the Pentacon fully open at f4 with great results. This really is a rather nice lens.