Sirui Night Walker APS-C/Super35 mm t1.2 Lens review.

Shortly before my annual trip to film the Theatre and Circus fields of the Glastonbury festival I was offered the use of a set of pre-production Sirui  Night Walker lenses. Currently one of my favourite cameras to shoot with is my FX30, so the opportunity to use a set of fast, mini prime lenses, purpose made for APS-C/Super 35 was an offer to good to refuse.

IMG_0481-Large Sirui Night Walker APS-C/Super35 mm t1.2 Lens review.
Sirui Night Walker 55mm t1.2 lens on my FX30

 

The Night Walkers are small lenses, only 84mm long. But the have a very nice weight and feel to them. They are constructed out of aluminium and feel solid and robust. They have good quality gear rings for a remote follow focus and a pretty decent 270 degree focus throw (although the scale does get a little cramped from 9m to infinity). The drag of the focus ring and iris rings gives a nice feel and for me seems just right. Holding them in your hand they certainly feel like a quality lens. They all have the same front diameter and all take a 67mm filter. 

Currently there are 3 focal lengths, a 24mm, 35mm and a 55mm. It would be nice to have a wider lens in the set at some point but this is a pretty good place to start. 

IMG_0485-Large Sirui Night Walker APS-C/Super35 mm t1.2 Lens review.

I didn’t do any scientific testing, instead I just dived straight in to the shoot. I started by shooting some of the preparations that go on inside the circus big top. We were supplying footage for the BBC to use in a special feature about the circus at Glastonbury and they were very keen to get some behind the scenes footage. During the build it is often very dark inside the big top tent as there is very little external light. So, having very fast lenses was a big help.

I have to admit that I have been shooting a lot with autofocus recently and it took me a little while to get back into the swing of shooting gun with a manual lens. But it really was worth the extra effort and there is something nice about  that very positive connection you get between yourself and the camera when a good quality manual focus cine lens that you just don’t get with most lenses designed primarily for autofocus.

These really are mini cine lenses, designed for video, designed for manual focus.

So, the BIG question – how do they look?

Well, the images they produce looks really nice. At t1.2 they are a touch soft, but not in a nasty way, I think this slight softness actually helps to take the edge off the extreme sharpness of a 4K camera like the FX30. As you stop them down a bit they do get sharper and from around t3.5 they are very sharp. But overall on my FX30 I liked they way they looked wide open. It’s very cliché but I guess I would describe it as a vintage look. I did a lot of pull focusses with them and the breathing is extremely well controlled and barely noticeable across all 3 lenses in the set. 

Flare is also well controlled, although if you really push them shooting directly into the sun or another extremely bright light shadows may become very slightly elevated, but certainly not anything to worry about. Chromatic aberrations are also well minimised. As you would expect there is a bit more when wide open, but stop down a bit and there is barely any CA. 

The bokeh from these lenses is very pleasing. I didn’t notice anything nasty or unpleasant in the out of focus areas, something that often spoils many other budget lenses. The bokeh is smooth and uniform.

Take a look at this video shot entirely with the Night Walkers to get an idea of how they look.

I have to say that shooting with these lenses was a delight. A few years ago I shot in the big top with a Venice and Cooke Anamorphics. Since then I have wanted to get a similar look but without the bulk (or cost). The Night Walkers went a long way towards getting that look.

The best bit about these lenses however is the price.  At the moment  Sirui are offering a very special price of only $309.00 per lens via their Indigogo campaign. After that they will be $349.00. Even at that higher price these lenses are an absolute bargain if you have a camera with an APS-C sensor camera such as the FX30 or a camera with a super 35mm scan mode.

2 thoughts on “Sirui Night Walker APS-C/Super35 mm t1.2 Lens review.”

  1. Hi Alister,
    Can i ask you which shooting mode you
    were using? I Just ordered the 24 mm for
    my Fx30 and wonder if cine ei would be
    the best choise(normaly my preferred shooting
    mode)
    Thank you for any help!

    1. Cine EI. It’s the easiest way to be sure you are getting the very best DR from the camera. Use the right EI for the range of the scene you are shooting and then use an external ND and aperture to control the exposure.

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